SOUPS. The nutritious properties, tone, and sweetness of soup depend in the first place upon the freshness and quality of the meat; secondly on the manner in which it is boiled. Soups should be nicely and delicately seasoned, according to the taste of the consumer, by using parsley, sage, savory, thyme, sweet marjoram, sweet basil, or any of the vegetable condiments. These may be raised in the garden, or obtained at the drug stores, sifted and prepared for use. In extracting the juices of meats, in order that soups may be most nutritious, it is important that the meat be put into cold water, or that which is not so hot as to coagulate the albumen (which would prevent it from being extracted), and then, by slow heat and a simmering process, the most nutritious properties will be brought out.
BEEF SOUP may be made of any bone of the beef, by putting it into cold water, adding a little salt, and skimming it well just before it boils. If a vegetable flavor be desired, celery, carrots, onions, turnips, cabbage, or potatoes, may be added, in sufficient quantities to suit the taste.
MUTTON SOUP may be made from the fore-quarter, in the same manner as described above, thickened with pearl-barley or rice, and flavored to suit the taste.
BOILED FISH. Clean the fish nicely, then sprinkle flour on a cloth and wrap it around them; salt the water, and, when it boils, put in the fish; let them boil half an hour, then carefully remove them to a platter, adding egg sauce and parsley. To bake fish, prepare by cleaning, scaling, etc., and let them remain in salt water for a short time. Make a stuffing of the crumbs of light bread, and add to it a little salt, pepper, butter, and sweet herbs, and stir with a spoon. Then fill the fish with the stuffing and sew it up. Put on butter, salt, pepper, and flour, having enough water in the dish to keep it from burning, and baste often. A four pound fish will bake in fifty or sixty minutes.
BROILED STEAK. Sirloin and porter-house steaks should be broiled quickly. Preserve them on ice for a day or two and their tenderness is much increased. Never broil them until the meal is ready to be served.
BOILED HEAT. When meat is to be boiled for eating, put it into boiling water, by which its juices are coagulated and its richness preserved. The slower it boils, the more tender, plump, and white it will be. Meat should be removed as soon as done, or it will lose its flavor and become soggy.
PORK STEAKS. The best steaks are cut off the shoulder—ham steaks being rather too dry. They should be well fried, in order to destroy the little living parasites, called Trichinae which sometimes infest this kind of meat. They are introduced into the stomach by eating ham, pork, or sausages made from the flesh of hogs infested by them. Thorough cooking destroys them, and those who will persist in the use of swine's flesh can afford to have it "done brown."
BAKED MUTTON. To bake mutton well, a person should have a brisk, sharp fire, and keep the meat well basted. It requires two hours to bake a leg of mutton, weighing eight pounds.
BREAD. The health and happiness of a family depend, to a certain extent, on good, well-baked bread. At all events, our enjoyment would be greater if it were only better prepared. We make the following extract from an article printed by the State Board of Health, concerning the food of the people of Massachusetts: "As an example of good bread we would mention that which is always to be had at the restaurant of Parker's Hotel, in Boston. It is not better than is found on the continent of Europe on all the great lines of travel, and in common use by millions of people in Germany and France; but with us, it is a rare example of what bread may be. It is made from a mixture of flour, such as is generally sold in our markets, water, salt, and yeast—nothing else. The yeast is made from malt, potatoes, and hops. The dough is kneaded from one and a half to two hours, and is then thoroughly baked." The truth seems to be that the kneading, which in this country takes the housewife's time and muscle, in Europe is done by the help of machinery. So here, in large villages and cities, people might furnish themselves with good bread, by means of co-operative associations, even at a less cost than at present.
WATER. The importance of water in the economy of nature is obvious to all. It is the most abundant substance of which we have knowledge. It composes four-fifths of the weight of vegetables, and three-fourths of that of animals. It is essential to the continuance of organic life. Water is universally present in all of the tissues and fluids of the body. It is not only abundant in the blood and secretions, but it is also an ingredient of the solids of the body. According to the most accurate computations, water is found to constitute from two-thirds to three-fourths of the entire weight of the human body. The following table, compiled by Robin and Verdeil, shows the proportion of water per thousand parts in different solids and fluids:
QUANTITY OF WATER IN 1,000 PARTS.
Teeth, 100 Bones, 130 Cartilage, 550 Muscles, 750 Ligaments, 768 Brain, 789 Blood, 795 Synovial fluid, 805 Bile, 880 Milk, 887 Pancreatic juice, 900 Urine, 936 Lymph, 960 Gastric juice, 975 Perspiration, 986 Saliva, 995
THE NATURAL DRINK OF MAN. Water constitutes the natural drink of man. No other liquid can supply its place. Its presence, however, in the body is not permanent. It is discharged from the body in different ways; by the urine, the feces, the breath, and the perspiration. In the first two, it is in a liquid form, in the others in a vaporous form. It is estimated that about forty-eight per cent. is discharged in the liquid, and fifty-two per cent. in the vaporous form; but the absolute as well as the relative amount discharged depends upon a variety of circumstances.
Water is never found perfectly pure, since it holds in solution more or less of almost every substance with, which it comes in contact. Rain falling in the country remote from habitations is the purest water that nature furnishes, for it is then only charged with the natural gases of the atmosphere. In cities it absorbs organic and gaseous impurities, as it falls through the air, and flowing over roofs of houses carries with it soot and dust. Water from melted snow is purer than rain-water, since it descends in a solid form, and is therefore incapable of absorbing gases. Rain-water is not adapted to drinking purposes, unless well filtered. All water, except that which has been distilled, contains air, and it is due to this fact, that aquatic animals can live in it; for example, put a fish in distilled water and it will soon die.
MINERAL IMPURITIES. Rain-water, which has filtered through the soil and strata of the earth, dissolves the soluble materials, and carries them down to lower levels, until they finally collect in the sea. Common well, spring, and mineral waters contain from 5 to 60 grains to the gallon; sea-water contains 2,000 grains while in some parts of the Dead Sea there are 20,000 grams to the gallon. The principal mineral impurities of well and spring water are lime, magnesia, soda, and oxide of iron, combined with carbonic and sulphuric acids, forming carbonates, sulphates, and chloride of sodium, or common salt. The most general, however, are carbonate and sulphate of lime.
Mineral waters are usually obtained from springs which contain a considerable amount of saline matter. Those waters which abound in salts of iron are called chalybeate or ferruginous. Those containing salt are termed saline. Those in which contain sulphur are termed sulphurous. Water derives the quality of hardness from the salts of lime—chiefly the sulphates—which it contains. Hard water, being an imperfect solvent, is unsuitable for washing purposes. There are two varieties of hardness, one of which is temporary, being due to the presence of carbonic acid gas in the water which holds the salts in solution and may be removed by merely boiling the water and thus expelling the gas when the salts are deposited, while the other is permanent and can only be removed by the distillation of the water. It has been ascertained that twelve pounds of the best hard soap must be added to 10,000 gallons of water of one degree of hardness before a lather will remain and, consequently, 0.12 lb. to 100 gallons of water is a measure of one degree of hardness. Since hard water is not so useful in cooking and other domestic purposes, as soft water, causing a great waste of labor and material, it is often highly desirable to soften it, which is effected by the addition of lime in what is known as Clark's process. One ounce of quicklime should be added to 1000 gallons of water for each degree of hardness. It should be first slacked and stirred up in a few gallons and then thoroughly mixed with the entire quantity. Then it should be allowed to remain, and will become clear in about three hours, but should not be drunk for twelve hours.
The purity of drinking water is a matter of much importance. That which contains a minute quantity of lead will give rise to all the symptoms of lead poisoning, if the use of it be sufficiently prolonged. An account is given of the poisoning of the royal family of France, many of whom suffered from this cause when in exile at Claremont. The amount of lead was only one grain in the gallon. Care should therefore be taken to avoid drinking the water which has been contained in leaden pipes. It should always be allowed to run a few minutes before being used.
An excess of saline ingredients, which in small quantities are harmless, frequently produces marked disorders of the digestive organs. A small amount of putrescent matter habitually introduced into the system, as in the use of food, is productive of the most serious results, which can be traced to the direct action of the poison introduced. A case is recorded of a certain locality favorably situated with regard to the access of pure air, where an epidemic of fever broke out much to the astonishment of the inhabitants. Upon observation it was found that the attacks of fever were limited to those families who used water from a neighboring well. The disagreeable taste of the water which had been observed, was subsequently traced to the bursting of a sewer, which had discharged a part of its contents into the well. When the cause was removed, there was no recurrence of the evil effects.
ORGANIC IMPURITIES. "Water is liable to organic contamination from a multitude of causes, such as drainage from dwellings, dust, insects, the decaying of vegetable and animal matter. These impurities may be mechanically suspended or held in solution in the water. Although organic impurities, which are mechanically suspended in water, are poisonous, yet they are generally associated with animalculea, and these feed upon, and finally consume them. Good water never contains animalculae. They are never found in freshly fallen rain-water, remote from dwellings, but abound, to a greater or less extent in cisterns, marshes, ponds, and rivers. These little workers serve a useful purpose since they consume the dead organic matter from the water, and, having fulfilled their mission, sink to the bottom and die. Water which contains organic matter is exceedingly dangerous to health, and its use should be carefully avoided.
In low lands where the current of streams is sluggish, and shallow pools abound, the water is apt to be more or less infected with decaying vegetable substances. Many people living in such localities, and wishing to obtain water with as little trouble as possible, dig a hole in the ground, a few feet in depth, and allow the stagnant surface water to accumulate. This water is used for drinking and cooking. The result is that ague prevails in such localities.
Care should be taken that wells, from which the water is used for household purposes, are located at a distance from barn-yards, privies, sinks, vaults, and stagnant pools.
PURIFICATION OF WATER. There are various methods of purifying water. It may be accomplished by distillation, which is the most perfect method; by filtration through sand, crushed charcoal, and other porous substances, which deprives it of suspended impurities and living organisms; by boiling, which destroys the vitality of all animal and vegetable matters, drives out the gases and precipitates carbonate of lime, which composes the crust frequently seen upon the inside of tea-kettles or boilers; by the use of chemical agents, which may be employed to destroy or precipitate the deleterious substances. Alum is often used to cleanse roily water, two or three grains in solution, being sufficient for a quart. It causes the impurities to settle to the bottom, so that the clear water can be poured or dipped out for use. One or two grains of the permanganate of potassium will render wholesome a gallon of water containing animal impurities.
HOW TO USE WATER. Very little if any water should be taken at meal time, since the salivary glands furnish an abundance of watery fluid to assist in mastication. When these glands are aided with water to "wash down" the food, their functions become feeble and impaired. The gastric juice is diluted and digestion is weakened. Large draughts of cold water ought never to be indulged in, since they cause derangement of the stomach. When the body is overheated, the use of much water is injurious. It should only be taken in small quantities. Thirst may be partially allayed, without injury, by holding cold water in the mouth for a short time and then spitting it out, taking care to swallow but very little. Travelers frequently experience inconvenience from change of water. If the means are at hand, let them purify their drinking water, if not, they should drink as little as possible. Persons who visit the banks of the Ohio, Missouri, or Mississippi rivers and similar localities, almost invariably suffer from some form of gastric or intestinal disease. Water standing in close rooms soon becomes unfit to drink and should not be used. A drink of cold water taken on going to bed, and another on rising are conducive to health, especially in the case of persons troubled with constipation. "Drink water" said the celebrated Dubois to the young persons who consulted him, "drink water, I tell you!" Du Moulin, the great medical authority of his time, wrote, just previous to his death, "I leave two great physicians behind me—diet and water."
TEA AND COFFEE. These substances are almost universally used as beverages, and when properly employed, serve a four-fold purpose: they quench thirst, excite an agreeable exhilaration, repress the waste of the system, and supply nourishment. In consequence of being generally used at meal times, their stimulant properties are employed to promote digestion, and consequently they are not so objectionable as they might otherwise be. The liquids introduced into the stomach at meal times should not be cold. Tea and coffee are drunk warm, while water, except in a few instances, is always drunk cold, the effects of which have already been shown. That their inordinate use may be injurious no body can deny, but this is equally true of other beverages, even pure, cold water. Scientific investigators inform us that the use of these agents as beverages, when judiciously employed, is not injurious. It has been urged that they are poisonous, but if they are, they are very slow in their operation.
When properly prepared, they are very agreeable beverages, and as man will drink more or less at meals, they are allowable; for if their use were excluded, some other beverage would be sought after, and quite likely one of an alcoholic character employed, so of two evils, if this be an evil, let us choose the least. Unlike alcoholic stimulants, they exhilarate without a depressing reaction after their influence has passed off. But one cup should be drunk at a meal, and it should be of moderate strength. The use of large quantities of drink at meals retards digestion by diluting the digestive fluids. The excessive use of large quantities of strong tea or coffee stimulates the brain and causes wakefulness, and produces irritability of the nervous system. When they are productive of such effects, their use is injurious, and should be considerably moderated or wholly discontinued. No criterion can be given by which the amount the system will tolerate can be regulated. What one person may take with impunity, may be deleterious to an other. Individuals differ greatly in this respect. There are some who cannot tolerate them at all, either because of some peculiarity of constitution, or on account of disease. And sometimes when tea is agreeable and beneficial, coffee disagrees with the individual and vice versa. Persons of nervous habits whether natural or acquired, are apt to find their wakefulness and irritability increased by the use of tea, particularly if strong, while coffee will have a tranquilizing effect. Persons of a lymphatic or bilious temperament often find that coffee disagrees with them, aggravating their troubles and causing biliousness, constipation, and headache, while tea proves agreeable and beneficial. Whenever they disagree with the system, the best rule is to abandon their use. We find many persons who do not use either, and yet enjoy health, a fact which proves that they are not by any means indispensable, and, no doubt, were it customary to go without them, their absence would be but slightly missed.
Tea and coffee are adulterated to a very great extent, and persons using them will be greatly imposed upon. This is an evil we cannot remedy. If people make use of them, their experience in selecting them must be their guide; however, it is believed that the Black and Japan varieties of tea are the least apt to be adulterated, and coffee, to insure purity, should be purchased in the berry, and ground by the purchaser.
In preparing tea an infusion should be made by adding boiling water to the leaves, and permitting them to steep for a few minutes only, for a concentrated decoction, made by boiling for a long time, liberates the astringent and bitter principles and drives off the agreeable aroma which resides in a volatile oil.
Coffee should be prepared by adding cold water to the ground berry, and raising it slowly to the boiling point. Long-continued boiling liberates the astringent and bitter principles upon which its stimulant effects to a great extent depend, and drives off with the steam the aromatic oil from which the agreeable taste is derived.
These are divided into three classes: malted, fermented, and distilled. They all contain more or less alcohol, and their effects are, therefore, in some respects similar, and, in the words of Dr. B.W. Richardson, the great English authority on hygiene: "To say this man only drinks ale, that man only drinks wine, while a third drinks spirits, is merely to say, when the apology is unclothed, that all drink the same danger. * * Alcohol is a universal intoxicant, and in the higher orders of animals is capable of inducing the most systematic phenomena of disease. But it is reserved for man himself to exhibit these phenomena in their purest form, and to present, through them, in the morbid conditions belonging to his age, a distinct pathology. Bad as this is, it might be worse; for if the evils of alcohol were made to extend equally to animals lower than man, we should soon have, none that were tameable, none that were workable, and none that were eatable." Researches have shown that the proportion of half a drachm of alcohol to the pound weight of the body, is the quantity which usually produces intoxication, and that an increase of this amount to one drachm immediately endangers the life of the individual. The first symptom which attracts attention, when alcohol commences to take effect upon the body, is an increase in the number of the pulsations of the heart. Dr. Parkes and Count Wolowicz conducted a series of interesting experiments on young adult men. They counted the pulsations of the heart, at regular intervals, during periods when the subject drank only water; and then they counted the beats of the heart in the same individual during successive periods in which alcohol was drunk in increasing quantities.
The following details are taken from their report:
"The highest of the daily means of the pulse observed during the first or water period was 77.5; but on this day two observations were deficient. The next highest daily mean was 77 beats.
If instead of the mean of the eight days, or 73.57, we compare the mean of this one day, viz., 77 beats per minute, with the alcoholic days, so as to be sure not to over-estimate the action of the alcohol, we find:
On the ninth day, with one fluid ounce of alcohol, the heart beat 430 times more. On the tenth day, with two fluid ounces, 1,872 times more. On the eleventh day, with four fluid ounces, 12,960 times more. On the twelfth day, with six fluid ounces, 30,672 times more. On the thirteenth day, with eight fluid ounces, 23,904 times more. On the fourteenth day, with eight fluid ounces, 25,488 times more.
But as there was ephemeral fever on the twelfth day, it is right to make a deduction, and to estimate the number of beats in that day as midway between the twelfth and twenty-third days, or 18,432. Adopting this, the mean daily excess of beats during the alcoholic days was 14,492, or an increase of rather more than thirteen per cent.
The first day of alcohol gave an excess of one per cent., and the last of twenty-three per cent.; and the mean of these two gives almost the same percentage of excess as the mean of the six days.
Admitting that each beat of the heart was as strong during the alcoholic as in the water period (and it was really more powerful), the heart on the last two days of alcohol was doing one-fifth more work.
Adopting the lowest estimate which has been given of the daily work done by the heart, viz., as equal to 122 tons lifted one foot, the heart, during the alcoholic period, did daily work in excess equal to lifting 15.8 tons one foot, and in the last two days did extra work to the amount of twenty-four tons lifted as far.
The period of rest for the heart was shortened, though, perhaps, not to such an extent as would be inferred from the number of beats; for each contraction was sooner over. The beat on the fifth and sixth days after alcohol was left off, and apparently at the time when the last traces of alcohol were eliminated, showed, in the sphygmographic tracing, signs of unusual feebleness; and, perhaps, in consequence of this, when the brandy quickened the heart again, the tracing showed a more rapid contraction of the ventricles, but less power than in the alcoholic period. The brandy acted, in fact, on a heart whose nutrition had not been perfectly restored."
The flush often seen on the cheeks of those who are under the influence of alcoholic liquors, and which is produced by a relaxed and distended condition of the superficial blood vessels, is erroneously supposed by many to merely extend to the parts exposed to view. On this subject, Dr. Richardson says: "If the lungs could be seen, they, too, would be found with their vessels injected; if the brain and spinal cord could be laid open to view, they would be discovered in the same condition; if the stomach, the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, or any other vascular organs or parts could be laid open to the eye, the vascular engorgement would be equally manifest. In the lower animals I have been able to witness this extreme vascular condition in the lungs, and once I had the unusual, though unhappy opportunity of observing the same phenomenon in the brain of a man who, in a paroxysm of alcoholic delirium, cast himself under the wheels of a railway carriage. The brain, instantaneously thrown out from the skull by the crash, was before me within three minutes after the accident. It exhaled the odor of spirit most distinctly, and its membranes and minute structures were vascular in the extreme. It looked as if it had been recently injected with vermilion injection. The white matter of the cerebrum, studded with red points, could scarcely be distinguished when it was incised, it was so preternaturally red; and the pia mater, or internal vascular membrane covering the brain, resembled a delicate web of coagulated red blood, so tensely were its fine vessels engorged. This condition extended through both the larger and the smaller brain, cerebrum, and cerebellum, but was not so marked in the medulla, or commencing portion of the spinal cord, as in the other portions.
In course of time, in persons accustomed to alcohol, the vascular changes, temporary only in the novitiate, become confirmed and permanent. The bloom on the nose which characterizes the genial toper is the established sign of alcoholic action on the vascular structure.
Recently, physiological research has served to explain the reason why, under alcohol the heart at first beats so quickly, why the pulse rises, and why the minute blood-vessels become so strongly injected.
At one time it was imagined that alcohol acts immediately upon the heart by stimulating it to increased motion; and from this idea,—false idea, I should say,—of the primary action of alcohol, many erroneous conclusions have been drawn. We have now learned that there exist many chemical bodies which act in the same manner as alcohol, and that their effect is not to stimulate the heart, but to weaken the contractile force of the extreme and minute vessels which the heart fills with blood at each of its strokes. These bodies produce, in fact, a paralysis of the organic nervous supply of the vessels which constitute the minute vascular structures. The minute vessels when paralysed offer inefficient resistance to the force of the heart, and the pulsating organ thus liberated, like the main-spring of a clock from which the resistance has been removed, quickens in action, dilating the feebly resistant vessels, and giving evidence really not of increased, but of wasted power."
The continued use of alcoholic liquors in any considerable quantity produces irritation and inflammation of the stomach, and structural disease of the liver. Dr. Hammond has shown that alcohol has a special affinity for nervous matter, and is, therefore, found in greater quantity in the brain and spinal cord than elsewhere in the body. The gray matter of the brain undergoes, to a certain extent, a fatty degeneration, and there is a shrinking of the whole cerebrum, with impairment of the intellectual faculties, muscular tremor, and a shambling gait.
Large doses of alcohol cause a diminution of the temperature of the body, which in fevers is more marked than in the normal state.
In addition to the organic diseases enumerated above, and delirium tremens, the following diseases are frequently the result of the excessive use of alcoholic liquors: epilepsy, paralysis, insanity, diabetes, gravel, and diseases of the heart and blood-vessels.
The physiological deductions of Dr. Richardson are so much in accord with our own that we quote them in full:
"In the first place we gather from the physiological reading of the action of alcohol that the agent is narcotic. I have compared it throughout to chloroform, and the comparison is good in all respects save one, viz.: that alcohol is less fatal than chloroform as an instant destroyer. It kills certainly in its own way, but its method of killing is slow, indirect, and by disease.
The well-proven fact that alcohol, when it is taken into the body, reduces the animal temperature, is full of the most important suggestions. The fact shows that alcohol does not in any sense act as a supplier of vital heat as is commonly supposed, and that it does not prevent the loss of heat as those imagine 'who take just a drop to keep out the cold,' It shows, on the contrary, that cold and alcohol, in their effects on the body, run closely together, an opinion confirmed by the experience of those who live or travel in cold regions of the earth. The experiences of the Arctic voyagers, of the leaders of the great Napoleonic campaigns in Russia, of the good monks of St. Bernard, all testify that death from cold is accelerated by its ally alcohol. Experiments with alcohol in extreme cold tell the like story, while the chilliness of the body which succeeds upon even a moderate excess of alcoholic indulgence leads directly to the same indication of truth.
The conclusive evidence now in our possession that alcohol taken into the animal body sets free the heart, so as to cause the excess of motion of which the record has been given above, is proof that the heart, under the frequent influence of alcohol, must undergo deleterious change of structure. It may, indeed, be admitted in proper fairness, that when the heart is passing through these rapid movements it is working under less pressure than when its movements are slow and natural; and this allowance must needs be made, or the inference would be that the organ ought to stop at once, in function, by the excess of strain put upon it. At the same time the excess of motion is injurious to the heart and to the body at large; it subjects the heart to irregularity of supply of blood, it subjects the body in all its parts to the same injurious influence; it weakens, and, as a necessary sequence, degrades both the heart and the body.
Speaking honestly, I cannot, by any argument yet presented to me, admit the alcohols by any sign that should distinguish them from other chemical substances of the paralysing narcotic class. When it is physiologically understood that what is called stimulation or excitement is, in absolute fact, a relaxation, a partial paralysis, of one of the most important mechanisms in the animal body, the minute, resisting, compensating circulation, we grasp quickly the error in respect to the action of stimulants in which we have been educated, and obtain a clear solution of the well-known experience that all excitement, all passion, leaves, after its departure, lowness of heart, depression of mind, sadness of spirit. We learn, then, in respect to alcohol, that the temporary excitement it produces is at the expense of the animal force, and that the ideas of its being necessary to resort to it, that it may lift up the forces of the animal body into true and firm and even activity, or that it may add something useful to the living tissues, are errors as solemn as they are widely disseminated. In the scientific education of the people no fact is more deserving of special comment than this fact, that excitement is wasted force, the running down of the animal mechanism before it has served out its time of motion.
It will be said that alcohol cheers the weary, and that to take a little wine for the stomach's sake is one of the lessons that comes from the deep recesses of human nature. I am not so obstinate as to deny this argument, There are times in the life of man when the heart is oppressed, when the resistance to its motion is excessive, and when blood flows languidly to the centres of life, nervous and muscular. In these moments alcohol cheers. It lets loose the heart from its oppression; it lets flow a brisker current of blood into the failing organs; it aids nutritive changes, and altogether is of temporary service to man. So far, alcohol may be good, and if its use could be limited to this one action, this one purpose, it would be amongst the most excellent of the gifts of science to mankind. Unhappily, the border line between this use and the abuse of it, the temptation to extend beyond the use, the habit to apply the use when it is not wanted as readily as when it is wanted, overbalance, in the multitude of men, the temporary value that attaches truly to alcohol as a physiological agent. Hence alcohol becomes a dangerous instrument even in the hands of the strong and wise, a murderous instrument in the hands of the foolish and weak. Used too frequently, used too excessively, this agent, which in moderation cheers the failing body, relaxes its vessels too extremely; spoils vital organs; makes the force of the circulation slow, imperfect, irregular; suggests the call for more stimulation; tempts to renewal of the evil, and ruins the mechanism of the healthy animal before its hour for ruin, by natural decay, should be at all near.
It is assumed by most persons that alcohol gives strength, and we hear feeble persons saying daily that they are being 'kept up by stimulants.' This means actually that they are being kept down; but the sensation they derive from the immediate action of the stimulant deceives them and leads them to attribute passing good to what, in the large majority of cases, is persistent evil. The evidence is all-perfect that alcohol gives no potential power to brain or muscle. During the first stage of action it may enable a wearied or a feeble organism to do brisk work for a short time; it may make the mind briefly brilliant; it may excite muscle to quick action, but it does nothing substantially, and fills up nothing it has destroyed, as it leads to destruction. A fire makes a brilliant sight, but leaves a desolation. It is the same with alcohol.
On the muscular force the very slightest excess of alcoholic influence is injurious. I find by measuring the power of muscle for contraction in the natural state and under alcohol, that so soon as there is a distinct indication of muscular disturbance, there is also indication of muscular failure, and if I wished by scientific experiment to spoil for work the most perfect specimen of a working animal, say a horse, without inflicting mechanical injury, I could choose no better agent for the purpose of the experiment than alcohol. But alas! the readiness with which strong, well-built men slip into general paralysis under the continued influence of this false support, attests how unnecessary it would be to subject a lower animal to the experiment. The experiment is a custom, and man is the subject.
The true place of alcohol is clear; it is an agreeable temporary shroud. The savage, with the mansions of his soul unfurnished, buries his restless energy under its shadow. The civilized man overburdened with mental labor, or with engrossing care, seeks the same shade; but it is shade, after all, in which, in exact proportion as he seeks it, the seeker retires from perfect natural life. To search for force in alcohol is, to my mind, equivalent to the act of seeking for the sun in subterranean gloom until all is night.
It may be urged that men take alcohol, nevertheless, take it freely, and yet live; that the adult Swede drinks his average cup of twenty-five gallons of alcohol per year and remains on the face of the earth. I admit force even in this argument, for I know under the persistent use of alcohol there is a limited provision for the continuance of life. In the confirmed alcoholic the alcohol is, in a certain sense, so disposed of that it fits, as it were, the body for a long season, nay, becomes part of it; and yet it is silently doing its fatal work. The organs of the body may be slowly brought into a state of adaptation to receive it and to dispose of it. But in that very preparation they are themselves made to undergo physical changes tending to the destruction of their function, to perversion of their structure, and to all those varied modifications of organic parts which the dissector of the human subject learns to recognize,—almost without concern, and certainly without anything more than commonplace curiosity,—as the devastations incident to alcoholic indulgence."
The statistics collected from the census of the United States for 1860, and given by Dr. De Marmon, in the New York Medical Journal for December, 1870, must carry conviction to all minds of the correctness of the foregoing deductions:
"For the last ten years the use of spirits has, 1. Imposed on the nation a direct expense of 600,000,000 dollars. 2. Has caused an indirect expense of 600,000,000 dollars. 3. Has destroyed 300,000 lives. 4. Has sent 100,000 children to the poorhouses. 5. Has committed at least 150,000 people into prisons and workhouses. 6. Has made at least 1,000 insane. 7. Has determined at least 2,000 suicides. 8. Has caused the loss by fire or violence, of at least 10,000,000 dollars' worth of property. 9. Has made 200,000 widows and 1,000 orphans."
If these were the statistics twenty-four years ago, with our greatly increased population, what must they be to-day? We will let the reader draw his own conclusions.
MALTED LIQUORS. Under this head are included all those liquors into the composition of which malt enters, such as beer, ale, and porter. The proportion of alcohol in these liquors varies greatly. In beer, it is from two to five per cent.; in Edinburgh ale, it amounts to six per cent.; in porter, it is usually from four to six per cent. In addition to alcohol and water, the malted liquors contain from five to fourteen per cent. of the extract of malt, and from 0.16 to 0.60 per cent. of carbonic acid. They possess, according to Pereira, three properties: they quench thirst; they stimulate, cheer, and, if taken in sufficient quantity, intoxicate; and they nourish or strengthen. The first of these qualities is due to the water entering into their composition; the second, to the alcohol; the third is attributed the nutritive principles of the malt.
OBJECTIONS TO THEIR USE AS BEVERAGES. These articles are either pure or adulterated. In their pure state the objection to their use for this purpose lies in the fact that they contain alcohol. This, as we have seen, is a poisonous substance, which the human system in a state of health does not need. Its use, when the body is in a normal condition, is uncalled for, and can only be deleterious. Beverages containing this poison are more or less deleterious to healthy persons, according to the amount of it which they contain.
These liquors are frequently adulterated, and this increases their injurious effects. The ingenuity of man has been taxed to increase their intoxicating properties; to heighten the color and flavor, to create pungency and thirst; and to revive old beer. To increase the intoxicating power, tobacco or the seeds of the Cocculus indicus are added; to heighten the color and flavor, burnt sugar, liquorice, or treacle, quassia, or strychnine, coriander, and caraway seeds are employed; to increase the pungency, cayenne pepper or common salt is added; to revive old beer, or ale, it is shaken up with green vitriol or sulphate of iron, or with alum and common salt.
FERMENTED LIQUORS. These are cider and wine. Cider contains alcohol to the amount of from five to ten per cent., saccharine matter, lactic acid, and other substances. New cider may be drunk in large quantities without inducing intoxication, but old cider is quite as intoxicating as ale or porter.
The composition of wine is very complex, the peculiar qualities which characterize the different varieties cannot be ascertained by chemical analysis. Wine is a solution of alcohol in water, combined with various constituents of the grape. The amount of alcohol in wines ranges from six to forty per cent. As beverages, these are open to the same objections as those manufactured from malt. As a medicine, wine is a useful remedy. Concerning its use in this capacity, Prof. Liebig says: "Wine is a restorative. As a means of refreshment when the powers of life are exhausted—as a means of compensation where a misappropriation occurs in nutrition, and as a means of protection against transient organic disturbances, it is surpassed by no product of nature or art." That an article is useful in medicine, however, is no reason why it should be used as a beverage by those in health. It is rather an argument against such a practice. For it is generally true that the drugs used to restore the diseased system to health, are pernicious or poisonous to it when in a normal condition.
DISTILLED LIQUORS. These are whiskey, brandy, and the kindred productions of the still. Whiskey is a solution of alcohol in water, mixed with various other principles which impart to it peculiar physical properties. The amount of alcohol which it contains varies from forty-eight to fifty-six per cent. Old whiskey is more highly prized than the more recent product of the still, from the fact that when kept for some years certain volatile oils are generated which, impart to it a mellowness of flavor.
Brandy is a solution of alcohol in water, together with various other substances. It contains from fifty to fifty-six per cent. of alcohol. Pure brandy is distilled from wine, 1,000 gallons of wine yielding from 100 to 150 gallons of brandy, but a very large proportion of the brandy is made with little or no wine. It is made artificially from high wines by the addition of oil of Cognac, to give it flavor, burnt sugar to give it color, and logwood or catechu, to impart astringency and roughness of taste. The best brandy is obtained by distillation from the best quality of white wines, from the districts of Cognac and Armagnac in France.
There is no physical agent which exerts a more constant or more powerful influence upon health and life, than the atmosphere. The climate in these latitudes is exceedingly variable, ranging all the way from 110 deg. Fahr. in summer to 40 deg. below zero in the winter season. The body of every individual should be so protected from cold, that it can maintain a mean temperature of 98 deg. Fahr.
When the body is warm there is a free and equal circulation of the blood throughout all the structures. When the surface is subjected to cold, the numerous capillaries and minute vessels carrying the blood, contract and diminish in size, increasing the amount of this fluid in the internal organs, thus causing congestion. The blood must go somewhere, and if driven from the surface, it retreats to the cavities within. Hence this repletion of the vital organs causes pain from pressure and fullness of the distended blood-vessels, and the organic functions are embarrassed. Besides, cold upon the surface shuts up the pores of the skin, which are among the most active and important excretory ducts of the system. It is evident, then, that we require suitable clothing, not only for comfort, but to maintain the temperature and functions essential to health and life.
The chief object to be attained by dress is the maintenance of a uniform temperature of the body. To attain this end, it is necessary that the exhalations of the system, which are continually escaping through the pores of the skin, should be absorbed or conducted away from the person. These exudations occur in the form of sensible or insensible perspiration, and the clothing, to be healthy, should be so porous as to allow them freely to escape into the air.
A substance should also be chosen which is known to be a poor conductor of heat. That generated by the system will thus be retained where it is needed, instead of being dispersed into the atmosphere.
We might add that the better the material for accomplishing these purposes, the less will be needed to be worn; for we do not wish to wear or carry about with us any more material than is necessary. It so happens that all of these qualities are found combined in flannel. The value of this article worn next to the skin cannot be over-rated, for while it affords protection from cold during the winter months, it is equally beneficial during the heat of summer, because it imbibes the perspiration, and being very porous, allows it to escape. The skin always feels soft, smooth, and pliable, when it is worn; but, when cotton takes its place, it soon becomes dry and harsh. Its natural adaptability to these purposes, shows that it is equally a comfort and a source of health. Where the skin is very delicate, flannel sometimes causes irritation. In such cases a thin fabric of linen, cotton, or silk, should be worn next the skin, with flannel immediately over it. Where there is a uniform and extreme degree of heat, cotton and linen are very conducive to comfort. But they are unsuitable in a climate or season liable to sudden fluctuations in temperature.
The value of furs, where people are exposed to extreme cold, cannot be overestimated. They are much warmer than wool, and are chiefly used as wraps on going outdoors. They are too cumbrous and expensive for ordinary wear in this latitude, but in places near the poles they constitute the chief clothing of the inhabitants.
The quantity of clothing worn is another important item. The least that is necessary to keep the body well protected and evenly tempered when employed is the rule of health. Some people, instead of wearing flannels next to the body, put on other material in greater abundance, thus confining the perspiration to the skin and making the body chilly. The amount of clothing is then increased, until they are so heavily clad that they cannot exercise. It is far better to wear one thickness of flannel next to the skin, and then cotton, or woolen, for outside garments, and be able to exercise, thus allowing the blood to circulate and to assist in the warming process.
One great fault in dress consists in neglecting to properly clothe the upper extremities. Some people do not reflect upon the necessity, while others are too proud to be directed by plain common sense. In the winter season, the feet should be covered with woolen stockings. The next matter of importance, is to get a thick, broad-soled shoe, so large that it will not prevent the free circulation of the blood. Then for walking, and especially for riding, when the earth is wet and cold, or when there is snow on the ground, wear a flannel-lined rubber or "Arctic" over-shoe. Be sure and keep the feet comfortable and warm at all times.
Our next advice is to keep the legs warm. We were called not long ago, to see a young lady who had contracted a severe cold. She had been to an entertainment where the apartments were nicely warmed, and from thence had walked home late in the evening. We inquired into the circumstances of the case, and ascertained that she wore flannel about her chest, and that she also wore rubbers over her shoes, but the other portions of the lower extremities were protected by cotton coverings. In short, her legs were not kept warm, and she took cold by going out from warm rooms into a chilly atmosphere. A good pair of woolen leggings might have saved her much suffering. The results of insufficient protection of the lower extremities are colds, coughs, consumption, headaches, pain in the side, menstrual derangements, uterine congestion and disorders, besides disablement for the ordinary and necessary duties of life. All these may be prevented by clothing the legs suitably, and wearing comfortable flannels.
Young people can bear a low temperature of the body better than old people, because they possess greater power of endurance. But that is no reason for unnecessary exposure.
The amount of clothing should be regulated according to the heat-generating power of the individual, and also according to the susceptibility to cold. No two persons are exactly alike in these respects. But it is never proper for young people to reject the counsels of experience, or treat lightly the advice to protect themselves thoroughly against the cold. Many a parent's heart has ached as he has followed the mortal remains of a darling child to the grave, knowing that if good advice had been heeded, in all human probability, the life would have been prolonged.
The most deleterious mechanical errors in clothing are those which affect the chest and body. Tight lacing still plays too important a part in dress. It interferes with the free and healthy movements of the body, and effects a pressure which is alike injurious to the organs of respiration, circulation, and digestion. The great muscle of respiration, the diaphragm, is impeded in its motion, and is, therefore, unable to act freely. The large blood-vessels are compressed, and when the pressure is excessive the heart and lungs are also subjected to restraint and thrown out of their proper positions. From the compression of the liver and stomach, the functions of digestion are impeded, a distaste for solid food, flatulency and pain after eating are the unmistakable proofs of the injury which is being inflicted.
The evil effects of such pressure are not confined to actual periods of time during which this pressure is applied. They continue after it has been removed and when the chest and trunk of the body have thus been subjected to long-continued pressure they become permanently deformed. These deformities necessarily entail great suffering in child-bearing.
The evil effects of mechanical pressure on other parts of the body are not uncommon. The leg is sometimes so indented by a tight garter that the returning flow of blood through the veins is prevented, and a varicose condition of these vessels is produced.
Irregular and excessive pressure on the foot by imperfectly fitting shoes or boots produce deformities of the feet and cause much suffering. The high heels which are so common on the shoes of women and children inflict more than a local injury. Every time the body comes down upon the raised heel with its full weight a slight shock or vibration is communicated throughout the entire extent of the spinal column, and the nervous mechanism is thereby injured. Furthermore, displacements of the pelvic organs frequently result from these unnatural and absurd articles of dress. Women of fashion are subjected to much annoyance from wearing long, flowing skirts suspended from their waists to trail uselessly on the floor and gather dust. It is impossible for the wearers of these ridiculous garments to exercise their limbs properly or to breathe naturally. Indigestion, palpitation, shortness of breath, and physical degeneracy are the inevitable consequences of their folly. The skirts should always be suspended from the shoulders and not from the hips. It is especially important that the clothing of children should not fit too tightly.
It is very important that the clothing should be kept clean. That which is worn for a long time becomes saturated with the excretions and exhalations of the body, which prevent free transpiration from the pores of the skin, and thereby induce mental inactivity and depression of the physical powers. Unclear clothing may be the means of conveying disease. Scarlet fever has been conveyed frequently by the clothing of a nurse into a healthy family. All of the contagious diseases have been communicated by clothing contaminated in laundries.
Certain dyes which are largely used in the coloring of wearing apparel are poisonous, and give rise to local disease of the skin, accompanied in some instances, with constitutional symptoms. The principal poisonous dyes are the red and yellow aniline. A case of poisoning from wearing stockings colored with aniline dyes, in which there were severe constitutional symptoms, came under our observation at the Invalids' Hotel recently.
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PHYSICAL EXERCISE. MENTAL CULTURE. SLEEP. CLEANLINESS.
A well-developed physical organization is essential to perfect health. Among the Greeks, beauty ranked next to virtue, and an eminent author has said that "the nearer we approach Divinity, the more we reflect His eternal beauty." The perfect expression of thought requires the physical accompaniments of language, gesture, etc. The human form is pliable, and, with proper culture, can be made replete with expression, grace and beauty. The cultivation of the intellectual powers has been allowed to supplant physical training to a great extent. The results are abnormally developed brains, delicate forms, sensitive nerves and shortened lives. That the physical and mental systems should be collaterally developed, is a fact generally overlooked by educators. The fullness of a great intellect is generally impaired when united with a weak and frail body. We have sought perfection in animals and plants. To the former we have given all the degree of strength and grace requisite to their peculiar duties; to the latter we have imparted all the delicate tints and shadings that fancy could picture. We have studied the laws of their existence, until we are familiar with every phase of their production; yet it remains for man to learn those laws of his own being, by a knowledge of which he may promote and preserve the beauty of the human form, and thus render it, indeed, an image of its Maker. When the body is tenanted by a cultivated intellect, the result is a unity which is unique, commanding the respect of humanity, and insuring a successful life to the possessor. Students are as a rule pale and emaciated. Mental application is generally the cause assigned when, in reality, it is the result of insufficient exercise, impure air, and dietetic errors. An intelligent journalist has remarked that "many of our ministers weigh too little in the pulpit, because they weigh too little on the scales." The Greek Gymnasium and Olympian Games were the sure foundations of that education from which arose that subtle philosophy, poetry, and military skill which have won the admiration of nineteen centuries. The laurel crown of the Olympian victor was far more precious to the Grecian youth than the gilded prize is to our modern genius. A popular lecturer has truly remarked, that "we make brilliant mathematicians and miserable dyspeptics; fine linguists with bronchial throats; good writers with narrow chests and pale complexions; smart scholars, but not that union, which the ancients prized, of a sound mind in a sound body. The brain becomes the chief working muscle of the system. We refine and re-refine the intellectual powers down to a diamond point and brilliancy, as if they were the sole or reigning faculties, and we had not a physical nature binding us to earth, and a spiritual nature binding us to the great heavens and the greater God who inhabits them. Thus the university becomes a sort of splendid hospital with this difference, that the hospital cures, while the university creates disease. Most of them are indicted at the bar of public opinion for taking the finest young brain and blood of the country, and, after working upon them for four years, returning them to their homes skilled indeed to perform certain linguistic and mathematical dexterities, but very much below par in health and endurance, and, in short, seriously damaged and physically demoralized." We read with reverence the sublime teachings of Aristotle and Plato; we mark the grandeur of Homer and the delicate beauties of Virgil; but we do not seek to reproduce in our modern institutions the gymnasium, which was the real foundation of their genius. Colleges which are now entering upon their career, should make ample provision for those exercises which develop the physical man. This lack of bodily training is common with all classes, and its effects are written in indelible characters on the faces and forms of old and young. Constrained positions in sitting restrict the movements of the diaphragm and ribs and often cause diseases of the spine, or unnatural curvatures, which prove disastrous to health and happiness. The head should be held erect and the shoulders thrown backward, so that at each inspiration the lungs may be fully expanded.
Physical exercise should never be too violent or too prolonged. Severe physical labor, and athletic sports, if indulged in to an extreme degree, produce undue excitability of the heart, and sometimes cause it to become enlarged. There is a form of heart disease induced by undue exertion which may be called a wearing out or wasting away of that organ. It is common in those persons whose occupations expose them to excessive physical labor for too many hours together. This feebleness of heart is felt but little by vigorous persons under forty years of age, but in those who have passed this age it becomes manifest. However, when any person so affected is attacked by any acute disease, the heart is more liable to fail, and thus cause a fatal termination.
Aneurism of the aorta or the large arteries branching off from it, which is a dilatation of the walls of these vessels, caused by the rupture of one or two of their coats, is generally induced by excessive physical strain, such as lifting heavy weights, or carrying weights up long flights of stairs, violent horseback exercise, or hurrying to catch a train or street car.
AN ERECT CARRIAGE is not only essential to health, but adds grace and beauty to every movement. Although man was made to stand erect, thus indicating his superiority over all other animals, yet custom has done much to curve that magnificent central column, upon the summit of which rests the "grand dome of thought." Many young persons unconsciously acquire the habit of throwing the shoulders forward. The spinal column is weakened by this unnatural posture, its vertebrae become so sensitive and distorted that they cannot easily support the weight of the body or sustain its equilibrium. It is generally believed that persons of sedentary habits are more liable to become round-shouldered than any other class of individuals. Observation shows, on the contrary, that the manual laborer, or even the idler, often acquires this stooping posture. It can be remedied, not by artificial braces, but by habitually throwing the shoulders backwards. Deformed trunks and crooked spines, although sometimes the effects of disease are more frequently the results of carelessness. Jacques has remarked that "one's standing among his fellow-men is quite as important a matter in a physiological, as in a social sense." Walking is one of the most efficient means of physical culture, as it calls all the muscles into action and produces the amount of tension requisite for their tonicity. Long walks or protracted physical exercise of any kind should never be undertaken immediately after meals. The first essential to a healthful walk is a pleasurable object. Beautiful scenery, rambles in meadows rich with fragrant grasses, or along the flowery banks of water-courses, affords an agreeable stimulus, which sends the blood through the vital channels with unwonted force, and imparts to the cheeks the ruddy glow of health. Our poets acknowledge the silent influence of nature. Wordsworth has expressed this thought in his own sublime way:
"The floating clouds their state shall lend To her: for her the willow bend; Nor shall she fail to see, E'en in the motions of the storm Grace that shall mould the maiden's form By silent sympathy. The stars of midnight shall be dear To her: and she shall lean her ear In many a secret place, Where rivulets dance their wayward round, And beauty, born of murmuring sound, Shall pass into her face."
BASE BALL, CRICKET, BOXING, AND FENCING, are all manly exercises when practiced solely with a view to their hygienic advantages and as such have our approval.
THE ART OF SWIMMING was regarded by the Greeks as an important accomplishment. As a hygienic agency, it occupies a high place in physical culture. The varied movements impart strength and elasticity to the muscles. It is as charming a recreation for women and girls as for men and boys. Furthermore, it is not only a means of physical culture, but is often essential for self-preservation.
THE EXERCISES OF THE GYMNASIUM are especially productive of health and longevity. The most important of these are balancing, leaping, climbing, wrestling, and throwing, all of which are especially adapted to the development of the muscles. In conclusion, we offer the following suggestions, viz: all gymnastic exercises should be practiced in the morning, and in the open air; extremes should be avoided; and it should be always borne in mind, that their chief object is to combine, in a proper proportion, mental and physical development. In every relation of life we should cultivate all those faculties which pertain to our physical, moral, and mental natures, subdue our passions, and nature will bestow upon us her richest rewards of health, beauty, and happiness.
If one were asked what athletic exercise deserves to be the most popular in America to-day, the answer would of necessity be cycling. The bicycle is being used by people of all ages and conditions of health in daily life; its hygienic value as a means to healthy exercise cannot be overestimated. In this, as in everything else, immoderation is to be condemned, particularly where persons have not had sufficient training to take long "spins," or attempt racing. Beginners should ride only 10 or 12 minutes at a time—resting then to permit the circulation to become equalized. In all cyclists, at all ages, in veteran riders as well as those not practiced in the art, there is, in the beginning of each attempt, a quickened circulation; the pulse is full and bounding, and rarely falls under a hundred pulsations per minute. So long as the exercise is continued, an increase of cardiac motion is observable, and a vigorous circulation is kept up. This accounts for the astounding journeys a fully trained cyclist can accomplish, and also for his endurance without sleep. In spite of the quickened motion of the heart, rarely have riders been known to grow giddy or show symptoms of cardiac embarrassment. A good rider may climb a hill without trouble, yet be unable to climb a flight of stairs without breathlessness and palpitation. Bicycle riding as a means for acquiring strength and vigor, improving the circulation and developing the respiratory organs, is unexcelled. Fast riding, or "scorching," among those not used to physical exertion, and leaning over the handle-bars so as to ride in a stooping position, are to be heartily condemned. The latter prevents the lungs from getting their full expansion, and cultivates a tendency to round shoulders. Men or women suffering from diseases of the sexual organs should, before riding, consult the physician having their case in charge.
RIDING ON HORSEBACK is a fine exercise for both sexes. It promotes digestion, improves the circulation, and expands and develops the respiratory organs. The pure, fresh air, pleasant scenery, and pleasurable excitement, impart renewed vigor to the equestrian. In the Southern States it is a universal accomplishment, and children are taught to ride as well as to walk.
DANCING. Notwithstanding the fact that dancing has been perverted to the basest purposes, has been made the fruitful source of dissipation, and has often laid the foundation for disease, it is yet capable of being made to minister to health and happiness. As a means of physical culture, it favors the development of the muscular system, and promotes health and cheerfulness. When practiced for this purpose, Jacques terms it "the best of all indoor exercises," as it brings to bear upon the physical system a great number of energizing and harmonious influences.
The brain, like all other organs of the body, requires alternate exercise and repose; and, in physical endurance, it is subject to general physiological laws. When exercised with moderation it acquires strength, vigor, and an accelerated activity. Excessive mental exertion is liable to result in softening of the brain, and various nervous diseases, sometimes culminating in insanity, and in many instances proving fatal to life. The mere votaries of pleasure who avoid all effort of the mind, fall into the opposite error. In all cases of intellectual activity, the exertions should be directed to some subject interesting to the student. In this manner duty will become a pleasure, which in turn will re-invigorate the mental functions.
When the mind in confined to one subject for any considerable length of time together, it becomes fatigued, and requires relaxation, recreation, rest. This may be obtained by directing the attention to some other subject, either study or amusement, the latter of which is preferable. The amusement, however, may be of an intellectual or physical character or both combined, and will, if properly conducted, restore vigor to both mind and body.
Prominent among physical phenomena is the mutual relation between the brain and the organs of nutrition. Mental exertion should be avoided for at least one hour after a hearty meal, and all mental labor which requires concentration of thought ought to be accomplished in the earlier portion of the day, when the brain is refreshed and repaired by the night's repose. Mental, like physical endurance, is modified by age, health and development. A person accustomed to concentration of thought, can endure a longer mental strain than one inured to manual labor only. One of the most injurious customs, is the cultivation of the intellect at the expense of the physical powers.
MENTAL CULTURE DURING CHILDHOOD. One of the greatest mistakes which people make in the management of their children, is to overtask their mental faculties. Although it is exceedingly gratifying to see children acquire knowledge, and manifest an understanding far beyond their years, this gratification is often purchased too dearly, for precocious children are apt to die young. The tissue of the brain and nerves of children is very delicate; they have not yet acquired the powers of endurance which older persons possess. The greater portion of the nutriment assimilated, is required for growth and organic development, and they can ill afford its expenditure for mental manifestations. They receive impressions easier and learn much more readily than in after life, but it is at the expense of the physical organization. Their mental faculties continue to be developed by the expenditure of brain nutriment, while physical growth and the powers of endurance are arrested. It is much better to give physical development the precedence in order that the mental organism may be well supported and its operations carried into effect; for it must be apparent to all that an ordinary intellect in a healthy body, is capable of accomplishing infinitely more than a strong mind in a weak body. Regularity should be observed in exercising the mental functions. For this reason a fixed order in the pursuit of any literary occupation is very essential. The pursuit of the most abstruse studies will thus become habitual and comparatively easy, a consequence of systematic application. Mental labor should always cease when the train of thought becomes confused, and there is the slightest sensation of depression. All distracting influences should be absent from the mind, in order to facilitate intense study, for the intellect cannot attend perfectly to two subjects at the same time. Painful sensations always have a tendency to paralyze mental exertion. Great care should be taken that the head is not subjected to injury of any kind, as it is almost invariably accompanied by some nervous derangement. Exposure to extreme heat should be carefully avoided. An attack of sun-stroke although it may not be immediately fatal, may occasion tumors in the brain, or some organic disease.
For all animated beings sleep is an imperious necessity, as indispensable as food. The welfare of man requires alternate periods of activity and repose. It is a well-established physiological fact, that during the wakeful hours the vital energies are being expended, the powers of life diminished, and, if wakefulness is continued beyond a certain limit, the system becomes enfeebled and death is the result. During sleep there is a temporary cessation of vital expenditures, and a recuperation of all the forces. Under the influence of sleep "the blood is refreshed, the brain recruited, physical sufferings are extinguished, mental troubles are removed, the organism is relieved, and hope returns to the heart."
The severest punishment which can be inflicted upon a person, is to entirely deprive him of sleep. In China, a few years since, three criminals were sentenced to be kept awake until they should die. To do this it was necessary to keep a guard over them. The sentinels were armed with sharp, pointed instruments, with which to goad the victims and thus prevent them from sleeping. Life soon became a burden, and, although they were well fed during the time, death occurred sooner than it would have done had starvation been the punishment.
SLEEPING ROOMS. The sleeping room should be large and well ventilated, and the air kept moderately cool. The necessity for a fire may be determined by the health of the occupant. Besides maintaining a proper temperature in the room, a little fire is useful, especially if in a grate, for the purpose of securing good ventilation. The windows should not be so arranged as to allow a draught upon the body during the night, but yet so adjusted that the inmate may obtain plenty of fresh air.
THE BED should not be too soft, but rather hard. Feathers give off animal emanations of an injurious character, and impart a feeling of lassitude and debility to those sleeping on them. No more coverings should be used than are actually necessary for the comfort of the individual. Cotton sheets are warmer than linen, and answer equally as well.
SLEEPING ALONE. Certain effluvia are thrown off from our persons, and when two individuals sleep together each inhales from the other more or less of these emanations. There is little doubt that consumption, and many other diseases, not usually considered contagious, are sometimes communicated in this manner. When it is not practicable for individuals to occupy separate beds, the persons sleeping together should be of about the same age, and in good health. Numerous cases have occurred in which healthy, robust children have gradually declined and died within a few months, from the evil effects of sleeping with old people. Again, those in feeble health have been greatly benefited, and even restored, by sleeping with others who were young and healthy.
TIME FOR SLEEP. Night is the proper time for sleep. When day is substituted for night, the sleep obtained does not fully restore the exhausted energies of the system. Nature does not allow her laws to be broken with impunity.
Children require more sleep than old persons. They are sometimes stupefied with "soothing syrups," and preparations of opium, in order to get them temporarily out of the way. Such narcotics are very injurious and dangerous. We have known a young child to be killed by a single drop of laudanum. This practice, therefore, cannot be too emphatically condemned.
HOW TO PUT CHILDREN TO BED. The following characteristic lines are from the pen of Fanny Fern, and contain such good advice that we cannot refrain from quoting them: "Not with a reproof for any of the day's sins of omission or commission. Take any other time than bed-time for that. If you ever heard a little creature sighing or sobbing in its sleep, you could never do this. Seal their closing eyelids with a kiss and a blessing. The time will come, all too soon, when they will lay their heads upon their pillows lacking both. Let them at least have this sweet memory of happy childhood, of which no future sorrow or trouble can rob them. Give them their rosy youth. Nor need this involve wild license. The judicious parent will not so mistake my meaning. If you ever met the man or the woman, whose eyes have suddenly filled when a little child has crept trustingly to its mother's breast, you may have seen one in whose childhood's home 'dignity' and 'severity' stood where love and pity should have been. Too much indulgence has ruined thousands of children; too much love not one."
POSITION IN SLEEP. The proper position in sleep is upon the right side. The orifice leading from the stomach to the bowels being on this side, this position favors the passage of the contents into the duodenum. Lying on the back is injurious, since by so doing the spine becomes heated, especially if the person sleeps on feathers, the circulation is obstructed and local congestions are encouraged. The face should never be covered during sleep, since it necessitates the breathing of the same air over again, together with the emanations from the body.
THE AMOUNT OF SLEEP. The amount of sleep required varies with the age, habits, condition, and peculiarities of the individual. No definite rule can be given for the guidance of all. The average amount required, however, is eight or nine hours out of the twenty-four. Some persons need more than this, while others can do with less. Since both body and mind are recuperated by sleep, the more they are exhausted the more sleep is required. A person employed at mental labor should have more than one who is merely expending muscular strength. Six hours of unbroken sleep do more to refresh and revive than ten when frequently interrupted. If it is too prolonged it weakens and stupefies both body and mind. If an insufficient amount is taken the flagging energies are not restored. Persons who eat much, or use stimulants generally require more than others. To sleep regularity is desirable. If a person goes to bed at a certain hour for several nights in succession, it will soon become a habit. The same holds true with regard to rising. If children are put to sleep at a stated hour for several days in succession, it will soon become a habit with them.
"Cleanliness is next to godliness," and is essential to the health and vigor of the system. Its importance cannot be overestimated, and it should be inculcated early on the minds of the young. "Even from the body's purity, the mind receives a secret sympathetic aid."
When we consider the functions of the skin, with its myriads of minute glands, innumerable little tubes, employed in removing the worn-out, useless matter from the system, we cannot fail to appreciate the utility of frequent bathing with soap and water. Unless these excretions are removed, the glands become obstructed, their functions are arrested, and unpleasant odors arise. Many persons think because they daily bathe the face, neck, and hands, dress the hair becomingly and remove the dirt from their clothing that the height of cleanliness has been reached. From a hygienic point of view, bathing the entire body is of much greater importance.
Notwithstanding the necessity for cleanliness of the body, we occasionally meet with persons who, although particular about their personal appearance, permit their bodies to be for weeks and even months without a bath. Such neglect should never exceed one week. Plenty of sunlight and at least one or two general baths every week are essential to perfect health. Cleanliness is necessary to health, beauty, attractiveness, and a cheerful disposition.
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HYGIENE OF THE REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS.
The structure and functions of organized bodies are subject to continual alteration. The changes of nutrition and growth, which are constantly taking place in the tissues render them at the same time the seat of repair and waste, of renovation and decomposition, of life and death. The plant germinates and blossoms, then withers and decays; animal life, in like manner, comes into being, grows to maturity, fades, and dies. It is, therefore, essential to the perpetuation of life, that new organisms be provided to take the place of those which are passing out of existence. There is no physiological process which presents more interesting phenomena than that of reproduction, which includes the formation, as well as the development of new beings.
Since self-preservation is Nature's first law, the desire for food is a most powerful instinct in all living animals. Not inferior to this law is that for the perpetuation of the race; and for this purpose, throughout the animal and vegetable kingdoms, we find the Biblical statement literally illustrated: "Male and female created He them."
Health is the gauge by which the prosperity of a people may be measured. Were we to trace the history of nations,—their rise and fall,—we would find that much of the barbarism and crime, degradation and vice, as well as their decline and final extinction, was due to licentiousness and sexual excesses. Since there is an intimate relation between mind and body, when the body is enfeebled the mind becomes enervated. Morbid conditions of the body prevent the highest mental development, and, on the other hand, when the mind is debilitated, general depravity, physical as well as mental, is the result. The highest development of the body results from the equal and harmonious cultivation of all the mental powers. The perfect development and health of the physical organs is therefore essential to the happiness of mankind. But, before health can be insured the nature and general functions of the physical system must be understood. This being done, the question naturally arises: How can health be best maintained and longevity secured?
INFLUENCE OF FOOD. We have previously noticed the effects which food, exercise, and other hygienic agencies, have upon digestion, circulation, and respiration; and we find that they exert a not less potent influence upon the health of the generative organs. Excessive stimulation excites the sexual passions. For this reason, children should not be immoderately indulged in highly seasoned foods. Those persons who have great muscular vigor are endowed with violent passions, and unless restrained by moral considerations, are very likely to be overcome by their animal propensities.
Alcoholic stimulants have a debasing influence upon the whole system, and especially upon the sexual organs; they excite the animal and debase the moral nature; they exhaust the vitality, and, after the excitement, which they temporarily induce, has passed away, the body is left in a prostrated condition.
PHYSICAL LABOR MODIFIES THE PASSIONS. Labor consumes the surplus vitality which a person may possess, and no better protective can be found against the gratification of the passions, unless it be high moral training, than daily toil extended to such a degree as to produce fatigue. Labor determines the blood to the surface and to other parts of the body, and prevents excitement and congestion of the sexual centers. If, by education or association, the passions of children be excited, they will be increased. If, on the contrary, they be taught to avoid these social or solitary evils, they will be abated. Let them be educated to work and the intellectual faculties will assert their sway, the moral powers will be strengthened, and the body better developed, for purity of mind is the result of the perfect development of man.
INFLUENCES OF CLIMATE. Individuals possess distinguishing peculiarities characteristic of the nation to which they belong. Climate exerts a powerful influence upon mankind. In tropical regions the inhabitants are enervated, effeminate, and sensual. The rich live in luxury and ease, vice is unrestrained and license unbridled. When the animal propensities are allowed to predominate, the mental faculties are kept in subjection. Hence races that inhabit those latitudes rarely produce scholars or philosophers. A warm climate hastens the development of the reproductive organs. Men and women become mature at a much earlier age in those regions, than in countries where the temperature is lower. In like manner there is a tendency to premature enfeeblement, for the earlier the system matures, the sooner it deteriorates.
MAN IS A SOCIAL BEING. History demonstrates that when man is deprived of the society of women, he becomes reckless, vicious, depraved, and even barbarous in his habits, thus illustrating the maxim: "It is not good for man to be alone." Social intercourse promotes mental and physical development. The development of the individual implies the unfolding of every power, both physical and mental. Nothing so regulates and restrains passion as a healthy condition of the organs through which it finds expression. And every organ of the body is powerful in proportion to its soundness. The propensities play a prominent part in the education of the child. When properly disciplined and held in subordination to the higher faculties, they constitute an important factor in the economy of man. Boys are more liable to be morbidly excited when secluded from the society of girls, and vice versa. Again, when the sexes are accustomed to associate, the passions are not apt to be aroused, because of the natural antagonistic constitutional elements. The influence of the one refines, and ennobles the other. Let children be taught to understand their natures, and knowing them, they will learn self-government. "As man rises in education and moral feeling he proportionately rises in the power of self-restraint; and consequently as he becomes deprived of this wholesome law of discipline he sinks into self-indulgence and the brutality of savage life.
The passions may be aroused by the language, appearance or dress of the opposite sex. A word spoken without any impure intent is often construed in a very different sense by one whose passions color the thought, and is made to convey an impression entirely unlike that which was intended by the speaker. Also, the dress may be of such a character as to excite the sexual passion. The manner in which the apparel is worn is often so conspicuous as to become bawdy, thereby appealing to the libidinous desires, rather than awakening an admiration for the mental qualities.
OBSCENE LITERATURE. Literature is a powerful agent either for good or evil. If we would improve the morals, choice literature must be selected, whether it be that which realizes the ideal, or idealizes the real. Obscene literature, or books written for the express purpose of exciting or intensifying sexual desires in the young, goads to an illicit gratification of the passions, and ruins the moral and physical nature.
It not unfrequently happens that a child is born with a vigorous, mental organism which promises a brilliant future, but manhood finds him incompetent, debilitated, and totally incapacitated for mental or manual labor. This may be the result of youthful indiscretion, ignorantly committed, but not unfrequently it is the effect of a pernicious literature which inflames the imagination, tramples upon reason, and describes to the youth a realm where the passions are the ruling deities.
Many persons are born into the world with disordered organizations for which they are not themselves responsible. Such individuals are entitled to the sympathy of humanity. Dyspepsia, scrofula, consumption, and a thousand ills to which mankind is heir, are inherited from parents, the results of ill-assorted marriages. Intoxicated parents often produce offspring utterly demented. Children of healthy parents, with good constitutions, are usually healthy and intelligent. There are marked varieties of character in children of the same parents. One manifests great precocity, another is below the average in mental attainments; one is amiable, another irritable in disposition; indeed, there are often as great differences between children of the same, as of different families. This is due to the physical and mental conditions of the parents, more especially the mother, not only at the time of the impregnation but also during the period intervening between conception and the birth of the offspring. The ancients regarded courage as the principal virtue. By us, purity is so estimated. Moral purity is an essential requisite to the growth and perfection of the character.
SELF-ABUSE. Untold miseries arise from the pollution of the body. Self-pollution, or onanism, is one of the most prolific sources of evil, since it leads both to the degradation of body and mind. It is practiced more or less by members of both sexes, and the habit once established, is overcome with the greatest difficulty. It is the source of numerous diseases which derange the functional activity of the organs involved, and eventually impair the constitution. This vicious habit is often practiced by those who are ignorant of its dangerous results. Statistics show that insanity is frequently caused by masturbation.
Immoderate indulgence in any practice is deleterious to the individual. Emphatically true is this with regard to sexual excesses. Not unfrequently does the marriage rite "cover a multitude of sins." The abuse of the conjugal relation produces the most serious results to both parties, and is a prolific source of some of the gravest forms of disease. Prostatorrhea, spermatorrhea, impotency, hypochondria, and general debility of the generative organs, arise from sexual excesses.
The health of the reproductive organs can only be maintained by leading a temperate life. The food should be nourishing but not stimulating. Lascivious thoughts should be banished from the mind, and a taste cultivated for that literature which is elevating in its nature, and the associations should be refining and ennobling. Let these conditions and the rules of hygiene, be observed, and virtue will reward her subjects with a fine physique and a noble character.
Woman, from the nature of her organization, has less strength and endurance than man. Much, however, of the suffering and misery which she experiences arises from insufficient attention to the sexual organs. The menstrual function is generally established between the ages of twelve and fourteen. For want of proper instruction, many a girl through ignorance HAS caused derangements which have enfeebled her womanhood or terminated her life. At this critical period the mother cannot be too considerate of her daughter's health. Preceding the first appearance of the menses, girls usually feel an aching in the back, pains in the limbs, chilliness, and general languor. The establishment of this function relieves these symptoms. Every precaution should be taken during the period to keep the feet dry and warm, to freely maintain a general circulation of the blood, to avoid exertion, and to refrain from standing or walking too much. Menstrual derangements should never be neglected, for they predispose to affections of the brain, liver, heart, and stomach, induce consumption and frequently end in death. Young women should, therefore, properly protect themselves, and avoid extremes of heat and cold.
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PRACTICAL SUMMARY OF HYGIENE.
1. The first step which should be taken for the prevention of disease, is to make provision for the health of the unborn child. Greater care should be exercised with women who are in a way to become mothers. Those who are surrounded by all the luxuries which health can bestow, indulge too much in rich food, and take too little exercise; while the poor get too little nourishment, and work too hard and too long. A woman in this condition should avoid over-exertion, and all scenes which excite the passions or powerful emotions. She should take moderate exercise in the open air; eat moderately of wholesome food, and of meat not oftener than twice a day; take tea or coffee in limited quantities, and avoid the use of all alcoholic liquors; she should go to bed early and take not less than nine hours sleep; her clothing should be loose, light in weight, and warm. She should take every precaution against exposure to contagious or infectious diseases.
2. There is no better method for preventing the spread of contagious diseases than perfect isolation of the infected, and thorough disinfection of all articles of clothing or bedding which have been in contact with the infected. Many persons erroneously believe that every child must necessarily have the measles, and other contagious diseases, and they, therefore, take no precautions against the exposure of their children. The liability to infection diminishes as age advances, and those individuals are, as a rule, the strongest and best developed who have never suffered from any of the contagious diseases. Although, vaccination is the great safeguard against-pox, yet it should never prevent the immediate isolation of those who are suffering from this disease.