Popular Education - For the use of Parents and Teachers, and for Young Persons of Both Sexes
by Ira Mayhew
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[Transcriber's Note:

The use of ~'s around a word signifies that the word was spaced out in the original l i k e t h i s.]







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, by IRA MAYHEW, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the District of Michigan.

State of Michigan:

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, } Lansing, February 27th 1849. }

HON. IRA MAYHEW, Superintendent of Public Instruction:

SIR: I am instructed by the House of Representatives to transmit to you the following preamble and resolution, and to respectfully inform you that the same were this day unanimously adopted by the House.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. W. HOVEY, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Whereas, In the opinion of this House, a Manual on the subject of Popular Education, embracing such considerations as shall have a tendency to arouse the popular mind to a due appreciation of the importance—in a political, social, moral, and religious point of view—of securing to every child in all our borders a good common school education, together with such instructions to citizens and teachers as shall constitute a directory to the highest improvement of which our primary schools are susceptible, is a desideratum; therefore,

Resolved, by the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan: That the Hon. IRA MAYHEW, the present Superintendent of Public Instruction in this state, be requested to prepare for publication, in book form, the various matters set forth in his public Lectures, delivered by request of the Legislature, in the Hall of the House, during the present session, together with such other matter as, in his judgment, would tend to the further improvement of our system of public instruction; to the end that the necessary information in regard to this subject may be diffused throughout the state and nation.

* * * A Preamble and Resolution similar to the preceding were likewise adopted by the Senate.


Who is sufficient for these things? is a question which any one may well ask when sitting down to the preparation of a treatise on popular education. The author of this work would have shrunk from the undertaking, but from deference to the judgment of the honorable body that unanimously invited its preparation. He has also been encouraged not a little by many kind friends, one of whom, distinguished for his labors in the department of public instruction, writing from New England, says, "I rejoice at your good beginnings at the West. You have a noble and inspiring field of action. 'No pent-up Utica contracts your powers.' I beseech you, fail not to fill it with your glorious educational truth, though you should pour out your spirit and your life to do so."

The duties required by law of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Michigan are comparatively few. The author, however, five years ago, and soon after entering upon the discharge of those duties, undertook voluntary labors for the purpose of awakening a deeper interest with all classes of the community in behalf of common schools, and of inspiring confidence in their redeeming power, when improved as they may be, constituting, as they do, the only reliable instrumentality for the proper training of the rising generation. These labors, which were hailed as promising great usefulness, and which were prosecuted in every county of the state, were every where received with unexpected favor, and constitute the foundation of the present volume. Many of the subjects then discussed are here greatly amplified.

Among the lectures referred to in the resolution under which this work has been undertaken, was one on the "Michigan School System." But as the Convention for the revision of the Constitution of this state is now in session, it has been deemed advisable to omit, in this connection, the extensive consideration of the details of that system. This may constitute the theme of a small manual which shall hereafter appear.

In the present volume the author has endeavored so to present the subject of popular education, which should have reference to the whole man—the body, the mind, and the heart—and so to unfold its nature, advantages, and claims, as to make it every where acceptable. Nay, more, he would have a good common education considered as the inalienable right of every child in the community, and have it placed first among the necessaries of life. For the better accomplishment of his object, he has freely drawn from the writings of practical educators, his aim being usefulness rather than originality. This course has been adopted, in some instances, for the sole purpose of enforcing the sentiments inculcated by the authority of the names introduced. Acknowledgments have generally been made in the body of the work. These may have been unintentionally omitted in some instances, and especially in those portions of the work which were written several years ago, and the sources whence information was drawn are now unknown.

An examination of the table of contents, and especially of the index at the end of the volume, will show the range of subjects considered, and their adaptation to the wants and necessities, I may say, of the several classes of persons named in the title-page, for whose use it was undertaken. Written, as it has been, for Parents and Teachers, and for Young Persons of both sexes, it is what its title implies—a treatise on Popular Education—and is equally applicable to the wants of families and schools in every portion of our wide-spread country.

With all its imperfections, of which no one can be more sensible than the author, this volume is given to the public, with the hope that it may contribute, in some degree, to advance the work of general education in the United States, but more especially in the State of Michigan.


Monroe, Mich., July 4th, 1850.


CHAPTER I. In what does a correct Education consist? Page 13

CHAPTER II. The Importance of Physical Education 28

CHAPTER III. Physical Education—The Laws of Health 44

CHAPTER IV. The Laws of Health—Philosophy of Respiration 81

CHAPTER V. The Nature of Intellectual and Moral Education 111

CHAPTER VI. The Education of the Five Senses 146

CHAPTER VII. The Necessity of Moral and Religious Education 193

CHAPTER VIII. The Importance of Popular Education 224 Education dissipates the Evils of Ignorance 226 Education increases the Productiveness of Labor 253 Education diminishes Pauperism and Crime 286 Education increases human Happiness 311

CHAPTER IX. Political Necessity of National Education 325 The Practicability of National Education 353

CHAPTER X. The Means of Universal Education 362 Good School-houses should be provided 372 Well-qualified Teachers should be employed 410 Schools should continue through the Year 440 Every Child should attend School 442 The redeeming Power of Common Schools 454

INDEX. 461




I call that education which embraces the culture of the whole man, with all his faculties—subjecting his senses, his understanding, and his passions to reason, to conscience, and to the evangelical laws of the Christian revelation.—DE FELLENBERG.

From the beginning of human records to the present time, the inferior animals have changed as little as the herbage upon which they feed, or the trees beneath which they find shelter. In one generation, they attain all the perfection of which their nature is susceptible. That Being without whose notice not even a sparrow falls to the ground, has provided for the supply of their wants, and has adapted each to the element in which it moves. To birds he has given a clothing of feathers; and to quadrupeds, of furs, adapted to their latitudes. Where art is requisite in providing food for future want, or in constructing a needful habitation, as in the case of the bee and the beaver, a peculiar aptitude has been bestowed, which, in all the inferior races of animals, has been found adequate to their necessities. The crocodile that issues from its egg in the warm sand, and never sees its parent, becomes, it has been well said, as perfect and as knowing as any crocodile.

Not so with man! "He comes into the world," says an eloquent writer, "the most helpless and dependent of living beings, long to continue so. If deserted by parents at an early age, so that he can learn only what the experience of one life may teach him—as to a few individuals has happened, who yet have attained maturity in woods and deserts—he grows up in some respect inferior to the nobler brutes. Now, as regards many regions of the earth, history exhibits the early human inhabitants in states of ignorance and barbarism, not far removed from this lowest possible grade, which civilized men may shudder to contemplate. But these countries, occupied formerly by straggling hordes of miserable savages, who could scarcely defend themselves against the wild beasts that shared the woods with them, and the inclemencies of the weather, and the consequences of want and fatigue; and who to each other were often more dangerous than any wild beasts, unceasingly warring among themselves, and destroying each other with every species of savage, and even cannibal cruelty—countries so occupied formerly, are now become the abodes of myriads of peaceful, civilized, and friendly men, where the desert and impenetrable forest are changed into cultivated fields, rich gardens, and magnificent cities.

"It is the strong intellect of man, operating with the faculty of language as a means, which has gradually worked this wonderful change. By language, fathers communicated their gathered experience and reflections to their children, and these to succeeding children, with new accumulation; and when, after many generations, the precious store had grown until memory could contain no more, the arts of writing, and then of printing, arose, making language visible and permanent, and enlarging illimitably the repositories of knowledge. Language thus, at the present moment of the world's existence, may be said to bind the whole human race of uncounted millions into one gigantic rational being, whose memory reaches to the beginnings of written records, and retains imperishably the important events that have occurred; whose judgment, analyzing the treasures of memory, has discovered many of the sublime and unchanging laws of nature, and has built on them all the arts of life, and through them, piercing far into futurity, sees clearly many of the events that are to come; and whose eyes, and ears, and observing mind at this moment, in every corner of the earth, are watching and recording new phenomena, for the purpose of still better comprehending the magnificence and beautiful order of creation, and of more worthily adoring its beneficent Author.

"It might be very interesting to show here, in minute detail, how the arts of civilization have progressed in accordance with the gradual increase of man's knowledge of the universe; but it would lead too far from the main subject." The preceding sketch may remind us of the low condition of man in a state of ignorance and barbarism, and of the high condition to which he may be brought by cultivation. We possess a material and an immaterial part, mutually dependent on each other. On one hand, we may well say to corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. On the other hand, the Psalmist says of man, Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.

In the Scriptures we learn the origin and history of man—the subject of education. He was created in the image of his Maker. It was his delightful employment, in innocency, to dress the beautiful garden in which he dwelt. Presently we learn he transgressed. His subsequent career becomes infelicitous. In the earlier history of the human race, the days of his pilgrimage were protracted several hundred years. In process of time, because of the prevalence of sin, a universal deluge swept away the entire family of man, save one—a preacher of righteousness—and those of his household. Subsequently his days were shortened to three score years and ten. Much of this time is consumed in helpless infancy, in sleep, and in securing the necessary means of supporting animal life. This, it would seem, is calamity enough; but not so. Man finds himself beset with temptations on every side, to deepen and perpetuate his degradation, by giving reign to unbridled passion.

But a Light has shined upon his dark pathway, pointing him to a brighter country, and beckoning him thither. Under these adverse circumstances, it becomes the duty of the Educator to unfold the opening energies of his youthful charge; to mold their plastic character, and to assist their efforts in the recovery of that which was lost, and in the attainment of immortality and eternal life.

These are strong views, I am aware; but nothing less would be adequate to the nature and wants of man. In these views I am fully sustained by nearly every writer of any distinction in Europe and America. In a volume of prize essays on the expediency and means of elevating the profession of the educator in society, published in London, under the direction of the central society of education, one of the writers, introducing a quotation from an American author, says, I can not resist the pleasure of quoting a few of Alcott's brief sentences, by way of conclusion to the present division of the argument. The voice that has been sent athwart the Atlantic may find an echo in some British bosoms.

These are its words: "Education includes all those influences and disciplines by which the faculties of man are unfolded and perfected. It is that agency that takes the helpless and pleading infant from the hands of its Creator, and, apprehending its entire nature, tempts it forth, now by austere, and now by kindly influences and disciplines, and thus molds it at last into the image of a perfect man; armed at all points to use the body, nature, and life for its growth and renewal, and to hold dominion over the fluctuating things of the outward. It seeks to realize in the soul the image of the Creator. Its end is a perfect man. Its aim, through every stage of influence, is self-renewal. The body, nature, and life are its instruments and materials. Jesus is its worthiest ideal—Christianity its purest organ. The Gospels are its fullest text-book—genius is its inspiration—holiness its law—temperance its discipline—immortality its reward."

Says Dr. Howe, in a lecture before the American Institute of Instruction, "Education should have for its aim the development and greatest possible perfection of the whole nature of man: his moral, intellectual, and physical nature. My beau ideal of human nature would be a being whose intellectual faculties were active and enlightened; whose moral sentiments were dignified and firm; whose physical formation was healthy and beautiful: whoever falls short of this, in one particular—be it in but the least, beauty and vigor of body—falls short of the standard of perfection. To this standard, I believe, man is approaching; and I believe the time will soon be when specimens of it will not be rare."

The following thoughts are drawn from a treatise on the "Mental Illumination and Moral Improvement of Mankind," by that very judicious and celebrated writer, Dr. Dick, of Scotland. The education of human beings, considered in its most extensive sense, comprehends every thing which is requisite to the cultivation and improvement of the faculties bestowed upon them by the Creator. It ought to embrace every thing that has a tendency to strengthen and invigorate the animal system; to enlighten and expand the understanding; to regulate the feelings and dispositions of the heart; and, in general, to direct the moral powers in such a manner as to render those who are the subjects of instruction happy in themselves, useful members of society, and qualified for entering upon the scenes and employments of a future and more glorious existence.

It is a very common but absurd notion, and one that has been too long acted upon, that the education of youth terminates, or should terminate, about the age of thirteen or fourteen years. Hence, in an article on this subject in one of our encyclopedias, education is defined to be "that series of means by which the human understanding is gradually enlightened, between infancy and the period when we consider ourselves as qualified to take a part in active life, and, ceasing to direct our views to the acquisition of new knowledge or the formation of new habits, are content to act upon the principles we have already acquired."

This definition, though accordant with general opinion and practice, is certainly a very limited and defective view of the subject. In the ordinary mode of our scholastic instruction, education, so far from being finished at the age above stated, can scarcely be said to have commenced. The key of knowledge has indeed been put into the hands of the young; but they have never been taught to unlock the gates to the temple of science, to enter within its portals, to contemplate its treasures, and to feast their minds on the entertainments there provided. Several moral maxims have been impressed on their memories; but they have seldom been taught to appreciate them in all their bearings, or to reduce them to practice in the various and minute ramifications of their conduct. Besides, although every rational means were employed for training the youthful mind till the age above named, no valid reason can be assigned why regular instruction should cease at this early period.

Man is a progressive being; his faculties are capable of an indefinite expansion; the objects to which these faculties may be directed are boundless and infinitely diversified; he is moving onward to an eternal world, and, in the present state, can never expect to grasp the universal system of created objects, or to rise to the highest point of moral excellence. His tuition, therefore, can not be supposed to terminate at any period of his terrestrial existence; and the course of his life ought to be considered as nothing more than the course of his education. When he closes his eyes in death, and bids a last adieu to every thing here below, he passes into a more permanent and expansive state of existence, where his education will likewise be progressive, and where intelligences of a higher order may be his instructors; and the education he received in this transitory scene, if it was properly conducted, will found the ground-work of all his future progressions in knowledge and virtue throughout the succeeding periods of eternity.

There are two very glaring defects which appear in most of our treatises on education. In the first place, the moral tuition of youthful minds, and the grand principles of religion which ought to direct their views and conduct, are either entirely overlooked, or treated of in so vague and general a manner, as to induce a belief that they are considered matters of very inferior moment; and, in the business of teaching, and the superintendence of the young, the moral precepts of Christianity are seldom made to bear with particularity upon every malignant affection that manifests itself, and every minor delinquency that appears in their conduct, or to direct the benevolent affections how to operate in every given circumstance, and in all their intercourses and associations. In the next place, the idea that man is a being destined to an immortal existence, is almost, if not altogether overlooked. Volumes have been written on the best modes of training men for the profession of a soldier, of a naval officer, of a merchant, of a physician, of a lawyer, of a clergyman, and of a statesman; but I know of no treatise on this subject which, in connection with other subordinate aims, has for its grand object to develop that train of instruction which is most appropriate for man considered as a candidate for immortality. This is the more unaccountable, since, in the works alluded to, the eternal destiny of human beings is not called in question, and is sometimes referred to as a general position which can not be denied; yet the means of instruction requisite to guide them in safety to their final destination, and to prepare them for the employments of their everlasting abode, are either overlooked, or referred to in general terms, as if they were unworthy of particular consideration. To admit the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul, and yet to leave out the consideration of it, in a system of mental instruction, is both impious and preposterous, and inconsistent with the principle on which we generally act in other cases, which requires that affairs of the greatest moment should occupy our chief attention. If man is only a transitory inhabitant of this lower world; if he is journeying to another and more important scene of action and enjoyment; if his abode in this higher scene is to be permanent and eternal; and if the course of instruction through which he now passes has an important bearing on his happiness in that state, and his preparation for its enjoyments—if all this be true, then surely every system of education must be glaringly defective which either overlooks or throws into the shade the immortal destination of human beings.

If these sentiments be admitted as just, the education of the young becomes a subject of the highest importance. There can not be an object more interesting to Science, to Religion, and to general Christian society, than the forming of those arrangements, and the establishing of those institutions, which are calculated to train the minds of all to knowledge and moral rectitude, and to guide their steps in the path which leads to a blessed immortality. In this process there is no period in human life that aught to be overlooked. We must commence the work of instruction when the first dawning of reason begins to appear, and continue the process through all the succeeding periods of mortal existence, till the spirit takes its flight to the world unknown.

While we would bring clearly into view the nature of that education which is needful for man, considered as a candidate for immortality, we would by no means overlook those subordinate aims which have reference to his present condition, and the relations he sustains in this life. The two are so intimately connected, and sustain such a reciprocal relation to each other, that each is best secured by that system of training and in the use of those appliances by which the other is most successfully promoted. In training the rising generation for the proper discharge of their duty to themselves and to one another—as children, and subsequently as parents; as members of society and citizens of free and independent states—we at the same time best promote their interests as candidates for immortality. It is equally true that any system of education which omits to provide for man's highest and enduring wants as an immortal being, in a proportionate degree falls short of providing for his dearest interests and best good in this life.

The system of education which we should promote comprehends whatever may have any good influence in developing the mind, by giving direction to thought, or bias the motives of action. To lead infancy in the path of duty, to give direction to an immortal spirit, and to teach it to aspire by well-doing to the rewards of virtue, is the first step of instruction. To youth, education imparts that knowledge whose ways are usefulness and honor, and by due restraint and subordination, makes individual to intwine with public good in a just observance of laws, comprehending the path of duty. To manhood, it "leads him to reflect on the ties that unite him with friends, with kindred, and with the great family of mankind, and makes his bosom glow with social tenderness; it confirms the emotions of sympathy into habitual benevolence, imparts to him the elating delight of rejoicing with those who rejoice, and, if his means are not always adequate to the suggestions of his charity, soothes him at last with the melancholy pleasure of weeping with those who weep." To age, it gives consolation, by remembrance of the past, and anticipation of the future. Wisdom is drawn from experience, to give constancy to virtue; and amid all the vicissitudes of life, it enables him to repose unshaken confidence in that goodness which, by the arrangement of the universe, constantly incites him to perpetual progress in excellence and felicity. Education is the growth and improvement of the mind. Its great object is immediate and prospective happiness. That, then, is the best education which secures to the individual and to the world the greatest amount of permanent happiness, and that the best system which most effectually accomplishes this grand design. How far this is accomplished by the present systems of education is not easily determined, but that it fails in many important considerations can not admit of a doubt.

It is feared that, by a great majority, a wrong estimate is made of education. Is it not generally considered as a means which must be employed to accomplish some other purpose, and consequently made subservient and secondary to the employments of life? Is it not considered as being contained in books, and a certain routine of studies, which, when gone through with, is believed to be accomplished, and consequently laid by, to be used as interest may suggest or convenience demand? Education comprehends all the improvements of the mind from the cradle to the grave. Every man is what education has made him, whether he has drunk deep at the Pierian spring, or sipped at the humblest fountain. The philosopher, whose comprehensive mind can scan the universe, and read and interpret the phenomena of nature; whose heaven-aspiring spirit can soar beyond the boundaries of time, indulge in the anticipation of immortality, and discern in the past, the present, and the future the all-pervading spirit of benevolence, is equally the child of education with him whose soul proud science never taught to feel its wants, and know how little may be known.

As we have already said, man possesses a material and an immaterial part, mutually dependent on each other. These are so intimately connected, and sustain such a reciprocal relation to each other, that neither can be neglected without detriment to both. The body continually modifies the state of the mind, and the mind ever varies the condition of the body. Mental and physical training should, then, go together. That system of instruction which relates exclusively to either, is a partial system, and its fate must be that of a house divided against itself. Education has reference to the whole man. It seeks to make him a complete creature after his kind, giving to both mind and body all the power, all the beauty, and all the perfection of which they are capable.

Our systems of education have hitherto fallen far short of this high and only true standard. Education, in too many instances, has been confined, almost entirely, to either the physical, intellectual, or moral energies of men. With the greater part, it has been limited to the physical powers. No effort has been made to develop any but their bodily strength, animal passions, and instinctive feelings. Accordingly, the great mass of mankind are raised but little above inferior animals. They labor hard, and boast of their strength; gratify their passions, and glory in their shame; eat and drink, sleep and wake, supposing to-morrow will be like the present. They are scarcely aware of their rational, intellectual powers, much less of their ever-expanding and never-dying spirits; consequently they feel but imperfectly their responsibility, and are governed principally by the fear of human authority. They have been taught to fear or reverence nothing higher. Their education is confined to animal feeling—physical energies. They have no conception of any thing beyond. The whole intellectual world, and all hereafter, is narrowed down to the animal feeling of the present time. How erroneous! How badly educated! And what are we to anticipate when only the physical energies of men generally are thus developed? Why, surely, what we are beginning to witness—namely, physical power, trampling on all authority.

The education of others is confined principally to intellect. Not that their physical powers are not necessarily more or less developed, but that their attention is directed almost exclusively to intellectual attainments. From the earliest infancy their minds are taxed, though their bodies are neglected, and their souls forgotten. Nor is it unfrequent that their physical strength gives way under the constant pressure of intellectual studies. And thus they are subjected to all the evils of physical inability—the sufferings of living death, in consequence of an erroneous education. Besides, they are destitute of all those kinder feelings and sympathetic emotions which alone result from the cultivation of the moral susceptibilities, and become insensible to the more delicate affections of the soul, and elevating hopes of the truly virtuous. They have nothing on which to rest for enjoyment but intellectual attainments. And even these are small compared with what they might have been under a different course of education. Yet with what delight are the first developments of intellect discovered by the natural guardian of the infant mind! and with what anxious solicitude are they watched through advancing youth and manhood by those employed in their education. In either stage the development of intellect alone seems worthy of an effort. And yet, when carried to the utmost, what may we expect of one destitute of virtue, and without strength of body? Little to benefit himself or others. Like Columbus, Franklin, or La Place, he may employ his intellect in useful discoveries; or, like Hume, Voltaire, and Paine, to curse the world. In either case he may lead astray, and should never be trusted implicitly. As the bark on the ocean without compass or chart, that rides out the storm or sinks to the bottom, he may guide us in safety, or ruin us forever!

The education of others, again, is confined mostly to their moral energies. Those of the body are almost forgotten, only as nature forces their development upon the reluctant soul within. And those of intellect are deemed unworthy of a thought, except as necessary in the rudest stages of society; while the moral susceptibilities are cultivated to the utmost. They are brought into action in every situation. They are employed in private, in the social circle, and around the public altar. Nor are those employing them ever satisfied. They become fanatics—religious enthusiasts. They have zeal without knowledge, and seem resolved on bringing all to their standard. They enlist in the work all the sympathies of the soul—its tenderest sensibilities and most compassionate feelings. Without intellect to guide, and physical strength to sustain them, they sink under moral excitement, and become deranged: a result that might be anticipated from such an education; and one that is often developed, in some of its milder features, among the reformers of the day. Nor may you reason with them. Reckless of consequences and regardless of authority, they are not to be convinced or persuaded. They are right, and know they are right, for the plain reason that they know nothing else, and will not be diverted from their course. What degradation! Who would not shrink from such an education? the development of the moral energies merely? It never qualified men for the highest attainment—the utmost dignity of which they are susceptible.

Diversified as are the developments of human character, and dissimilar as they may appear to the careless observer, there are peculiar characteristics of men that render them similar to one another, and unlike every other being. In their natures, original susceptibilities, and ultimate destinies, they are alike. They are material, intellectual, and spiritual; animal, rational, and immortal. On these uniform traits of character education should be based. It should develop and strengthen the animal functions; classify and improve the rational faculties; and purify and elevate the spiritual affections in harmonious proportion and perfect symmetry.

The animal functions of the human system are to be developed and strengthened by education. Hitherto they have been assigned to the province of nature, and deemed foreign to the objects of education. But a more unphilosophical and dangerous theory has seldom been embraced, as the melancholy results abundantly testify. We shall therefore devote a chapter to physical education, which seems to lie at the foundation of the great work of human improvement; for, as we have seen, in the present state the mind can manifest itself only through the body; after which we shall proceed to the consideration of the other grand divisions of the great work of education.



The influence of the physical frame upon the intellect, morals, and happiness of a human being, is now universally admitted. The extent of this influence will be thought greater in proportion to the accuracy with which the subject is examined. Bodily pain forms a large proportion of the amount of human misery. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that a child should grow up sound and healthy in body, with the utmost degree of muscular strength that education can communicate.—LALOR.

The importance of the department of the great work of education which we now approach has not hitherto been duly appreciated by parents and teachers generally. I shall therefore devote more space to this subject than is usual in works on education, but not more, I trust, than its relative importance demands. Physical, intellectual, and moral education are so intimately connected, that, in order duly to appreciate the importance of either, we must not view it separate and alone merely, but in connection with both of the others. And especially is this true of physical education. However much value, then, we may attach to it on its own account, considering man as a corporeal being, we shall have occasion greatly to magnify its importance when we come to direct our attention to his intellectual culture, and still more when we view it in connection with his moral training. Then, and not till then, shall we be enabled, in some degree, properly to appreciate the importance of physical education.

It has been objected, says Dr. Combe,[1] that to teach any one how to take care of his own health, is sure to do harm, by making him constantly think of this and the other precaution, to the utter sacrifice of every noble and generous feeling, and to the certain production of peevishness and discontent. The result, however, he adds, is exactly the reverse; and it would be a singular anomaly in the constitution of the moral world were it otherwise. He who is instructed in, and is familiar with grammar and orthography, writes and spells so easily and accurately as scarcely to be conscious of attending to the rules by which he is guided; while he, on the contrary, who is not instructed in either, and knows not how to arrange his sentences, toils at the task, and sighs at every line. The same principle holds in regard to health. He who is acquainted with the general constitution of the human body, and with the laws which regulate its action, sees at once his true position when exposed to the causes of disease, decides what ought to be done, and thereafter feels himself at liberty to devote his undivided attention to the calls of higher duties. But it is far otherwise with the person who is destitute of this information. Uncertain of the nature and extent of the danger, he knows not to which hand to turn, and either lives in the fear of mortal disease, or, in his ignorance, resorts to irrational and hurtful precautions, to the certain neglect of those which he ought to use. It is ignorance, therefore, and not knowledge, which renders an individual full of fancies and apprehensions, and robs him of his usefulness. It would be a stigma on the Creator's wisdom if true knowledge weakened the understanding, and led to injurious results. Those who have had the most extensive opportunities of forming an opinion on this subject from extensive experience, bear unequivocal testimony to the advantages which knowledge confers in saving health and life, time and anxiety.

[1] Principles of Physiology applied to the Preservation of Health.

If, indeed, ignorance were itself a preventive of the danger, or could provide a remedy when it approached, then it might well be said that "ignorance is bliss;" but as it gives only the kind of security which shutting the eyes affords against the dangers of a precipice, and consequently leaves its victim doubly exposed, it is high time to renounce its protection, and to seek those of a more powerful and beneficent ally. Every medical man can testify that, natural character and other circumstances being alike, those whose knowledge is the most limited are the fullest of whims and fancies; the most credulous respecting the efficacy of every senseless and preposterous remedy; the most impatient of restraint, and the most discontented at suffering.

If any of my readers be still doubtful of the propriety or safety of communicating physiological knowledge to the public at large, continues the author from whom we last quoted, and think that ignorance is in all circumstances to be preferred, I would beg leave to ask him whether it was knowledge or ignorance which induced the poorer classes in every country of Asia and Europe to attempt to protect themselves from cholera by committing ravages on the medical attendants of the sick, under the plea of their having poisoned the public fountains? And whether it was ignorance or knowledge which prompted the more rational part of the community to seek safety in increased attention to proper food, warmth, cleanliness, and clothing? In both cases, the desire of safety and sense of danger were the same, but the modes resorted to by each were as different in kind as in result, the efficacy of the one having formed a glaring contrast to the failure of the other.

Dr. Southwood Smith, the able author of a volume entitled "The Philosophy of Health," says, The obvious and peculiar advantages of this kind of knowledge are, that it would enable its possessor to take a more rational care of his health; to perceive why certain circumstances are beneficial or injurious; to understand, in some degree, the nature of disease, and the operation as well of the agents which produce it as of those which counteract it; to observe the first beginnings of deranged function in his own person; to give to his physician a more intelligible account of his train of morbid sensations, as they arise; and, above all, to co-operate with him in removing the morbid state on which they depend, instead of defeating, as is now, through ignorance, constantly the case, the best concerted plans for the renovation of health. It would likewise lay the foundation for the attainment of a more just, accurate, and practical knowledge of our intellectual and moral nature. There is a physiology of the mind as well as of the body, and both are so intimately united that neither can be well understood without the study of the other. The physiology of man comprehends both. Were even what is already known of this science and what might be easily communicated made a part of general education, how many evils would be avoided! how much light would be let in upon the understanding! and how many aids would be afforded to the acquisition of a sound body and a vigorous mind! prerequisites more important than are commonly supposed to the attainment of wisdom and the practice of virtue.

Human physiology, says Dr. Combe, in his admirable treatise on that subject, from which I have already quoted, is as important in its practical consequences as it is attractive to rational curiosity. In its widest sense, it comprehends an exposition of the functions of the various organs of which the human frame is composed; of the mechanism by which they are carried on; of their relations to each other, or the means of improving their development and action; of the purposes to which they ought severally to be directed, and of the manner in which exercise ought to be conducted, so as to secure for the organ the best health, and for the function the highest efficacy. A true system of physiology comes thus to be the proper basis, not only of a sound physical, but of a sound moral and intellectual education, and of a rational hygiene; or, in other words, it is the basis of every thing having for its object the physical and mental health and improvement of man; for, so long as life lasts, the mental and moral powers with which he is endowed manifest themselves through the medium of organization, and no plan which he can devise for their cultivation, that is not in harmony with the laws which regulate that organization, can possibly be successful.

Let it not be said that knowledge of this description is superfluous to the unprofessional reader; for society groans under the load of suffering inflicted by causes susceptible of removal, but left in operation in consequence of our unacquaintance with our own structure, and of the relation of different parts of the system to each other and to external objects. Every medical man must have felt and lamented the ignorance so generally prevalent in regard to the simplest functions of the animal system, and the consequent absence of the judicious co-operation of friends in the care and cure of the sick. From ignorance of the commonest facts in physiology, or from want of ability to appreciate their importance, men of much good sense in every other respect not only subject themselves unwittingly to the active causes of disease, but give their sanction to laws and practices destructive equally to life and to morality, and which, if they saw them in their true light, they would shrink from countenancing in the slightest degree.

Were the intelligent classes of society better acquainted with the functions of the human body and the laws by which they are regulated, continues this judicious writer, the sources of much suffering would be dried up, and the happiness of the community at large would be essentially promoted. Medical men would no longer be consulted so exclusively for the cure of disease, but would be called upon to advise regarding the best means of strengthening the constitution, from an early period, against any accidental or hereditary susceptibility which might be ascertained to exist. More attention would be paid to the preservation of health than is at present practicable, and the medical man would then be able to advise with increased effect, because he would be proportionally well understood, and his counsel, in so far, at least, as it was based on accurate observation and a right application of principles, would be perceived to be, not a mere human opinion, but, in reality, an exposition of the will and intentions of a beneficent Creator, and would therefore be felt as carrying with it an authority to which, as the mere dictum of a fallible fellow-creature, it could never be considered as entitled.

It is true that, as yet, medicine has been turned to little account in the way of directly promoting the physical and mental welfare of man. But the day is, perhaps, not far distant, when, in consequence of the improvements both in professional and general education now in progress, a degree of interest will be attached to this application of its doctrines far surpassing what those who have not reflected on the subject will be able to imagine as justly belonging to it, but by no means exceeding that which it truly deserves.

Every person should be acquainted with the organization, structure, and functions of his own body—the house in which he lives: he should know the conditions of health, and the causes of the numerous diseases that flesh is heir to, in order to avoid them, prolong his life, and multiply his means of usefulness. If these things are not otherwise learned, they should be taught—the elements of them at least—in our primary schools. This instruction would come, perhaps, most appropriately from the members of the medical profession. But either society generally, or physicians themselves, or both, have mistaken the true sphere of a physician's usefulness, and what ought to constitute the grand object of his profession, namely, the prevention of disease, and the general improvement of the health, and not the CURING of diseases merely. The physician, like the clergyman in his parish, should receive a salary; and he should be occupied, chiefly, in teaching the laws of health to his employers; in imparting to them instruction in relation to the means of avoiding the diseases to which they are more particularly exposed, and in laying before them such information as shall be needful, in order to the highest improvement of their physical organization, and the transmission to posterity of unimpaired constitutions. This he may do by public lectures, at suitable seasons of the year; and by visiting from house to house, and imparting such information as may be particularly needed. The physician should not allow any of his employers blindly to disregard the laws of health, or, knowing them, to violate them unreproved. He should be accounted the best physician, other things being equal, whose employers have the least sickness, and uniformly enjoy the best health. When the relation existing between the members of the medical profession and the well-being of society generally comes to be better understood, and physicians are employed in accordance with the principles just stated, their greatest usefulness to the communities they serve will be found to consist in teaching well men and women how to retain and improve their health, and rear a healthy offspring, and not in partially curing diseased persons who are constantly violating the laws of health. These views will doubtless be new to many of my readers, and seem to them very strange! But let me inquire of such what they would think of the clergyman who should neglect to instruct his parishioners in the ennobling doctrines of morality and religion, and should suffer them to go on in sin unrebuked, until they become a burden to themselves? who should wait until his counsels were solicited before he sounds the note of alarm, and points the guilty sinner to "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world?" and who should confine his labors almost entirely to condemned criminals? Such conduct on the part of clergymen would doubtless be regarded by these very persons as passing strange! The course commonly pursued in the employment of physicians is equally unphilosophical, and floods society with a legion of evils—physical and intellectual, social and moral—three fourths of which might be avoided, by the proper exercise of the medical profession, in one generation; and ultimately, nineteen twentieths, if not ninety-nine one hundredths of them. As I have already said, this instruction would come, perhaps, most appropriately from the members of the medical profession. But if these things are not taught elsewhere, I repeat it, they should be taught—the elements of them at least—in our primary schools.

I can not better enforce the importance of physical education than by quoting from a lecture "on the education of the blind," by one of the most distinguished practical educators[2] in this country. "That the proportion of the blind to the whole population might be diminished by wise social regulations, and by the dissemination of knowledge of the organic laws of man, there is not a doubt; but whether the time has come, or ever will come, is another question. At any rate, to so enlightened a body[3] as I have the honor of addressing, suggestions of methods by which the extent of blindness may be limited will neither be misapplied, nor liable to offend a mawkish sensibility. That the blindness of a large proportion of society is a social evil will not be denied, nor will the right which society has to diminish that proportion be questioned. But how? in a very simple way; by preventing the transmission of an hereditary blindness to another generation; by preventing the marriage of those who are congenitally blind, or who have lost their sight by reason of hereditary weakness of the visual organs, which disqualifies them to resist the slightest inflammation or injury in childhood.

[2] Dr. Samuel G. Howe, director of the New England Institution for the Education of the Blind, 1836.

[3] The American Institute of Instruction.

"I am aware that many people would condemn this proposition as cruel, because it might add to the sadness of the sufferers; and that the whole seven thousand five hundred blind in this country would rise up and scout it, as barbarous and unnatural; for I have experienced the effects of contradiction to the wills of individual blind persons in this respect. But my rule is, the good of the community before that of the individual; the good of the race before that of the community. To give you an instance: the city of Boston, with a population of eighty thousand, is represented in the Institution for the Blind by two blind children only; and I know of but four in the whole population; while Andover, with but five thousand, is fully and ably represented by seven;[4] and it has three more growing up.

[4] This makes the ratio of representation in the institution from Andover fifty six times greater than from the city of Boston.

"Now how is this? Why, the blind of Andover are mostly from a common stock; three of them are born of one mother, who has had four blind children. Another of the pupils is cousin, in the first degree, to these three; and two other pupils are cousins in a remote degree. Then, from other places, there are two brothers, who have a third at home. There is one blind girl, who has two blind sisters at home. Then there are two pairs of sisters.

"In the immediate vicinity of Boston, I know of a family in which blindness is hereditary; the last generation there were five. Of these five one is married, and has four children, not one of whom can see well enough to read; and if the others marry, they may increase the number to twelve or twenty.

"Now apply this state of things to the whole country, and have you any difficulty in conceiving how it happens that there are seven thousand five hundred blind in the United States? And can you doubt whether or not this great proportion of blind to the whole community might not be considerably diminished, if men and women understood the organic laws of their nature? understood that, very often, blindness is the punishment following an infringement of the natural laws of God; and if they could be made to act upon the holy Christian principles, that we should deny ourselves any individual gratification, any selfish desire, that may result in evil to the whole community?

"I would that every individual whom I have the honor to address would assist in the education of the blind, so far as to give them just and Christian views of this subject. I would that all should work for society; not for society to-day alone, but for the society of future ages; not in any one narrow, partial way, but upon a broad scale, and in every way in which they can be useful. If a person congenitally blind, or strongly predisposed to become so, or one who marries a person so born or so disposed, has blind offspring in consequence of it, I ask, is he not as responsible, in a moral point of view, for the infirmity of his children as though he had put out their eyes with his own hands?

"You may suppose, perhaps, that the infirmity of blindness would incapacitate sufferers from winning the affections of seeing persons; and that, with respect to two blind persons, the sense of incapacity to support a family would prevent them from uniting themselves. In the first place, I answer, that seeing people do no better than the blind. Even a blind man may perceive that many marriages are mere matters of course, resulting from juxtaposition of parties; and rarely matters where the purer affections and higher moral sentiments are consulted. And, in the second place, that incapacity of supporting a family will not weigh a feather in the balance with desire, unless the intellectual and moral nature is enlightened and cultivated. Do we not see, every day, cases of misery entailed upon whole families, because one of the parties had overlooked or disregarded moral infirmity, which ought to have been a greater objection than any physical defect—than even blindness or deafness?

"But no process of reasoning is required, for there stand the facts. The blind not only seek for partners in life, but are sometimes sought by seeing persons; and numerous instances have occurred within my knowledge. It is true, that despair of success in any other quarter, or an equally unworthy motive, may induce some to seek for partners among the blind, or the blind to unite with the blind; but still, there is the evil.

"My observation induces me to think that the blind, far more than seeing persons, are fond of social relations, and desirous of family endearments. A moment's thought would induce one to conclude that this would naturally be the case; a moment's observation convinces one that it is so. Now I have found among them some of the most pious, intelligent, and disinterested beings I ever knew; but hardly more than one who was prepared to forego the enjoyments of domestic relations. And how can we expect them to be so, more than seeing people? The fact is, but very few persons in the community give any attention to the laws of their organic nature, and the tendency to hereditary transmission of infirmities. Very few consider that they owe more to society than to their individual selves; that if we are to love our neighbor as ourself, we must, of course, love all our neighbors, collectively, more than the single unit which each one calls I.

"I would that considerations of this kind had more weight with the community generally. I would that the subject were more attended to, and that the violation of the laws of our organic nature were less frequent in our country. There is one great and crying evil in our system of education; it is, that but part of man's nature is educated, and that our colleges and schools doom young men for years to an uninterrupted and severe exercise of the intellectual faculties, to the comparative neglect of their moral, and still more of their physical nature. Nay, not only do they neglect their physical nature—they ABUSE it; they sin against themselves and against God; and though they sin in ignorance, they do not escape the penalties of His violated laws. Hence you see them pale, and wan, and feeble; hence you find them acknowledging, when too late, the effects of severe application. But do they acknowledge it humbly and repentingly, as with a consciousness of sin? No, they often do it with a secret exultation, with a lurking feeling that you will say or think, 'Poor fellow, his mind is too much for his body!' Nonsense! his mind is too weak; his knowledge too limited; he is an imperfect man; he knows not his own nature. But if he has no conscientiousness, no scruple about impairing his own health and sowing the seeds of disease, he has less about entailing them upon others. And a consumptive young man or woman—the son or daughter of consumptive parents—hesitates not to spread the evil in society, and entail puny faces, weakness, pain, and early death upon several individuals, and punish their children for their own sins.

"Is this picture too high-colored? Alas! no. And if I showed you satisfactorily that sin against the organic laws caused so great a proportion of blindness, how much more readily will you grant that the same sin gives to so many of our population the narrow chest, the hectic flush, the hollow cough, which makes the victim doomed, by his parent, to consumption and early death! Do you not see, every Sabbath, at church, the young man or woman, upon whose fair and delicate structure the peculiar impress of the EARLY DOOMED is stamped? and as a slight but hollow cough comes upon your ear, does it not recall the death-knell which rang in the same sad note before to the father or mother? Who of you has not followed some young friend to his long resting-place, and found that the grass had not grown rank upon the grave of his brother? that the row of white marbles, beneath which slept his parents and sisters, were yet glistering in freshness, and that the letters which told their names and their early death seemed clear as if cut but yesterday?

"They tell us that physical education is attended to in this country; and yet, where is the teacher, where is the clergyman even, who dares to step forth in these cases, and say to those who are doomed, you must not and shall not marry? and where are the young men and women who would listen to them if they did? It is not that they are wanting in conscientiousness; they may be conscientious and disinterested; but they do not know that they are doing wrong, because they are not acquainted with the organic laws of their nature. All that is done in schools or colleges toward physical education is the mere strengthening of the muscular system by muscular exercise; but this is not half enough. These remarks may be deemed irrelevant to my subject, but they can not be lost to an audience whose highest interest is the education of man; and if I am mistaken in supposing that little attention has been paid to the subject, its importance will guaranty its repetition."

Before dismissing this subject, I will introduce two additional quotations from American authors, whose opinions are received by the medical profession in this country not only, but throughout Europe. In both instances, I copy from works published in Great Britain, into which the opinions of these American writers have been quoted. In regard to hereditary transmission, Dr. Caldwell observes: "Every constitutional quality, whether good or bad, may descend, by inheritance, from parent to child. And a long-continued habit of drunkenness becomes as essentially constitutional as a predisposition to gout or pulmonary consumption. This increases, in a manifold degree, the responsibility of parents in relation to temperance. By habits of intemperance, they not only degrade and ruin themselves, but transmit the elements of like degradation and ruin to their posterity. This is no visionary conjecture, the fruit of a favorite and long-cherished theory. It is a settled belief resulting from observation—an inference derived from innumerable facts. In hundreds and thousands of instances, parents, having had children born to them while their habits were temperate, have become afterward intemperate, and had other children subsequently born. In such cases, it is a matter of notoriety that the younger children have become addicted to the practice of intoxication much more frequently than the older, in the proportion of five to one. Let me not be told that this is owing to the younger children being neglected, and having corrupt and seducing examples constantly before them. The same neglects and profligate examples have been extended to all, yet all have not been equally injured by them. The children of the earlier births have escaped, while those of the subsequent ones have suffered. The reason is plain. The latter children had a deeper animal taint than the former."—Transylvania Journal.

Physiologists in general coincide in the belief that a vigorous and healthy physical and mental constitution in the parents communicates existence in the most perfect state to their offspring, while impaired constitutions, from whatever cause, are transmitted to posterity. In this sense, all who are competent to judge are agreed that the Giver of life is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him or violate his laws. Strictly speaking, it is not disease which is transmitted, but organs of such imperfect structure that they are unable to perform their functions properly, and so weak as to be easily put into a morbid state or abnormal condition by causes which unimpaired organs are able to resist.

My last quotation on this point is from a lecture delivered by Dr. Warren before the American Institute of Instruction, copied into the "Schoolmaster," a work published in London under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge:

"Let me conclude by entreating your attention to a revision of the existing plans of education in what relates to the preservation of health. Too much of the time of the better educated part of young persons is, in my humble opinion, devoted to literary pursuits and sedentary occupations, and too little to the acquisition of the corporeal powers indispensable to make the former practically useful. If the present system does not undergo some change, I much apprehend we shall see a degenerate and sinking race, such as came to exist among the higher classes in France before the Revolution, and such as now deforms a large part of the noblest families in Spain;[5] but if the spirit of improvement, so happily awakened, continues—as I trust it will—to animate those concerned in the formation of the young members of society, we shall soon be able, I doubt not, to exhibit an active, beautiful, and wise generation, of which the age may be proud."

[5] I am informed by a lady who passed a long time at the Spanish court, in a distinguished situation, that the grandees have deteriorated by their habits of living, and the restriction of intermarriages to their own rank, to a race of dwarfs; and, though fine persons are sometimes seen among them, they, when assembled at court, appear to be a group of manikins.



If man is ever to be elevated to the highest and happiest condition which his nature will permit, it must be, in no small degree, by the improvement—I might say, the redemption—of his physical powers. But knowledge on any subject must precede improvement.—ALCOTT.

Physical and moral health are as nearly related as the body and the soul.—HUFELAND'S Art of Prolonging Life.

If the reader is persuaded that the views presented in the last chapter on the importance of physical education are truthful—and they are concurred in by physiologists generally—he will naturally desire to become acquainted with the laws of health, that, by yielding obedience to them, he may improve his physical condition, and most successfully promote his intellectual and moral well-being. I might, then, here refer to some of the many excellent treatises on this subject; but I shall probably better accomplish the object for which this work has been undertaken by presenting, within as narrow limits as practicable, a summary of these laws.

In every department of nature, waste is invariably the result of action. In mechanics, we seek to reduce the waste consequent upon action to the lowest possible degree; but to prevent it entirely is beyond the power of man. Every breath of wind that passes over the surface of the earth, modifies the bodies with which it comes in contact. The great toe of the bronze statue of Saint Peter at Rome has been reduced, it is said, to less than half its original size by the successive kisses of the faithful.

In dead or inanimate matter, the destructive influence of action is constantly forced upon our attention by every thing passing around us, and so much human ingenuity is exercised to counteract its effects that no reflecting person will dispute the universality of its operation. But when we observe shrubs and trees waving in the wind, and animals undergoing violent exertion, year after year, and continuing to increase in size, we may be inclined, on a superficial view, to regard living bodies as constituting an exception to this rule. On more careful examination, however, it will appear that waste goes on in living bodies not only without intermission, but with a rapidity immeasurably beyond that which occurs in inanimate objects.

In the vegetable world, for instance, every leaf of a tree is incessantly pouring out some of its fluids, and every flower forming its own fruit and seed, speedily to be separated from, and lost to its parent stem; thus causing in a few months an extent of waste many hundred times greater than what occurs in the same lapse of time after the tree is cut down, and all its living operations are at a close.

The same thing holds true in the animal kingdom: so long as life continues, a copious exhalation from the skin, the lungs, the bowels, and the kidneys goes on without a moment's intermission, and not a movement can be performed which does not in some degree increase the circulation, and add to the general waste. In this way, during violent exertion, several ounces of the fluids of the body are sometimes thrown out by perspiration in a very few minutes; whereas, after life is extinguished, all the excretions cease, and waste is limited to that which results from ordinary chemical decomposition.[6]

[6] For the views presented in the preceding paragraph (as also in several that follow) I would acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Andrew Combe's treatise on the "Physiology of Digestion." From the "Principles of Physiology," by the same author, I have already quoted. These admirable works will prove an invaluable treasure to persons desirous of becoming acquainted with the laws of health.

So far, then, the law that waste is attendant on action applies to both dead and living bodies; but beyond this point a remarkable difference between them presents itself. In the physical or inanimate world, what is once lost or worn away is lost forever; but living bodies, whether vegetable or animal, possess the distinguishing characteristic of being able to repair their own waste and add to their own substance. The possession of such a power is essential to their existence. But there is a wide difference between them in other respects. In surveying the respective modes of existence of vegetables and of animals, we perceive the fixity of position of the one, and the free locomotive power of the other. The vegetable grows, flourishes, and dies, fixed to the same spot of earth from which it sprang. However much external circumstances change around it, it must remain and submit to their influence. At all hours and at all seasons, it is at home, and in direct communication with the soil from which its nourishment is extracted. But it is otherwise with animals: these not only enjoy the privilege of locomotion, but are compelled to use it, and often to go a distance in search of food and shelter. The necessity for a constant change of place being imposed on them, a different arrangement became indispensable for their nutrition. The method which the Creator has provided is not less admirable than simple. To enable animals to move about, and at the same time to maintain a connection with their food, they are provided with a stomach. In this receptacle they can store up a supply of materials from which sustenance may be gradually elaborated during a period of time proportioned to their necessities and mode of life. Animals thus carry with them nourishment adequate to their wants; and the small nutritive vessels imbibe their food from the internal surface of the stomach and bowels, where it is stored up, just as the roots or nutritive vessels of vegetables do from the soil in which they grow. The possession of a stomach or receptacle for food is accordingly a distinguishing characteristic of the animal system.

The sole objects of nutrition being to repair waste and to admit of growth, the Creator has so arranged that within certain limits it is always most vigorous when growth or waste proceeds with the greatest rapidity. Even in vegetables this provision is distinctly observable. It is also strikingly apparent in animals. Whenever growth is proceeding rapidly, or the animal is undergoing much exertion and expenditure of material, an increased quantity of food is invariably required. On the other hand, where no new substance is forming, and where, from bodily inactivity, little loss is sustained, a comparatively small supply will suffice. In endowing animals with the sense of appetite, including the sensation of hunger and thirst, the Creator has effectually provided against any inconvenience which might otherwise exist, and given to them a guide in relation to both the quality and quantity of food needful for them, and the times of partaking of it, with that beneficence which distinguishes all his works. He has not only provided an effectual safeguard in the sensations of hunger and thirst, but he has attached to their regulated indulgence a degree of pleasure which never fails to insure attention to their demands, and which, in highly-civilized communities, is apt to lead to excessive gratification. Their end is manifestly to proclaim that nourishment is required for the support of the system. When the body is very actively exercised, and a good deal of waste is effected by perspiration and exhalation from the lungs, the appetite becomes keener, and more urgent for immediate gratification; and if it is indulged, we eat with a relish unknown on other occasions, and afterward experience a sensation of internal comfort pervading the frame, as if every individual part of the body were imbued with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction; the very opposite of the restless discomfort and depression which come upon us, and extend over the whole system, when appetite is disappointed. There is, in short, an obvious and active sympathy between the condition and bearing of the stomach, and those of every part of the animal frame; in virtue of which, hunger is felt very keenly when the general system stands in urgent need of repair, and very moderately when no waste has been suffered.

We have seen that waste is every where attendant upon action, and that the object of nutrition is to repair waste and admit of growth. We come now to consider the Process of Digestion.

All articles used for food necessarily undergo several changes before they are fitted to constitute a part of the body. In the process of digestion, four different changes should be noticed. More might be specified.

1. MASTICATION.—The first step in the preparation of food for imparting nourishment to the system consists in proper mastication, or chewing. Food should be thoroughly masticated before it is taken into the stomach. This is necessary in order to break it up and reduce it to a sufficient degree of fineness for the efficient action of the gastric juice. Besides, the action of chewing and the presence of nutrient food constitute a healthful stimulus to the salivary glands, situated in the mouth. By this means, also, the food not only becomes well masticated, but has blended with it a proper amount of saliva, upon both of which conditions the healthy action of the stomach depends. We have here another illustration of the beneficence of the Creator, who has kindly so arranged that the very act of mastication gratifies taste, the mouth being the seat of this sensation. But if we disregard these benevolent laws, and introduce unmasticated food into the stomach, the gastric juice can act only upon its surface, and changes of a purely chemical nature frequently commence in food thus swallowed before digestion can take place. Hence frequently arise—and especially in children and persons of delicate constitution—pains, nausea, and acidity, consequent on the continued presence of undigested aliment in the stomach.

2. CHYMIFICATION.—As soon as food has been thoroughly masticated and impregnated with saliva, it is ready for transmission to the stomach. This interesting part of the process of digestion, called deglutition or swallowing, is most easily and pleasantly performed, when the alimentary morsel has been well masticated and properly softened, not by drink, which should never be taken at this time, but by saliva. When the food reaches the stomach, it is converted into a soft, pulpy mass, called chyme; and the process by which this change is effected is called chymification. This is the second principal step in digestion, and is effected immediately by the action of the gastric juice. This powerful solvent is secreted by the gastric glands, which are excited to action by the presence of food in the stomach. In health, the gastric secretion always bears a direct relation to the quantity of aliment required by the system. If too much food is taken into the stomach, indigestion is sure to follow, for the sufficient reason that the gastric juice is unable to dissolve it. This is true even when food has been well masticated; but it becomes strikingly apparent when a full meal has been hastily swallowed, both mastication and insalivation having been imperfectly performed.

The time usually occupied in the process of chymification, when food has been properly masticated, varies from three to four hours. Digestion is sometimes effected in less time, as in the case of rice, and pigs' feet soused; but it more commonly requires a longer period, as in the case of salt pork and beef, and many other articles of food, both animal and vegetable.

By the alternate contraction and relaxation of the muscular coat of the stomach, which is excited to action by the presence of food, a kind of churning motion is communicated to its contents that greatly promotes digestion; for by this means every portion of food in turn is brought in contact with the gastric juice as it is discharged from the internal surface of the stomach. This motion continues until the contents of the stomach are converted into chyme, and conveyed into the first intestine, where they undergo another important change.

3. CHYLIFICATION.—As fast as chyme is formed, it is expelled by the contractile power of the stomach into the duodenum, or first intestine. It there meets with the bile from the liver, and with the pancreatic juice. By the action of these agents, the chyme is converted into two distinct portions: a milky white fluid, called chyle, and a thick yellow residue. This process is called chylification, or chyle-making. The chyle is then taken up by the absorbent vessels, which are extensively ramified over the inner membrane or lining of the bowels. From the white color of the contents of these vessels, they have been named lacteals or milk-bearers, from lac, which signifies milk. These lacteals ultimately converge into one trunk, called the thoracic duct, which terminates in the great vein under the clavicle or collar bone, hence called the subclavian vein, just before that vein reaches the right side of the heart. Here the chyle is poured into the general current of the venous blood, and, mingling with it, is exposed to the action of the air in the lungs during respiration. By this process, both the chyle and the venous blood are converted into red, arterial, or nutritive blood, which is afterward distributed by the heart through the arteries, to supply nourishment and support to every part of the body. The change which takes place in the lungs is called sanguification, or blood-making. The chyle is not prepared to impart nourishment to the system until this change takes place. Respiration, then, is, in reality, the completion of digestion. This interesting and vital part of the process of digestion will be considered more fully in the following chapter.

Before passing from this part of the subject, a few remarks of a more general nature seem called for. The nerves of the stomach have a direct relation to undigested but digestible substances. When any body that can not be digested is introduced into the stomach, distinct uneasiness is speedily excited, and an effort is soon made to expel it, either upward by the mouth or downward by the bowels. It is in this way, says Dr. Combe, that bile in the stomach excites nausea, and that tartar emetic produces vomiting. The nerves of the bowels, on the other hand, are constituted in relation to digested food; and, consequently, when any thing escapes into them from the stomach in an undigested state, it becomes a source of irritative excitement. This accounts for the cholic pains and bowel-complaints which so commonly attend the passage through the intestinal canal of such indigestible substances as fat, husks of fruits, berries, and cherry-stones.

The process of digestion, which commences in the stomach, is completed in the intestines. Physiologists have hence sometimes called the former part of the process, or chymification, by the more simple term stomach digestion; and the latter, or chylification, has been termed intestinal digestion. The bowels have distinct coats corresponding with those of the stomach. By the alternate contraction and relaxation of the muscular coat, their contents are propelled in a downward direction, somewhat as motion is propagated from one end of a worm to the other. It has hence been called vermicular, or wormlike motion. Some medicines have the power of inverting the order of the muscular contractions. Emetics operate in this manner to produce vomiting. Other medicines, again, excite the natural action to a higher degree, and induce a cathartic action of the bowels. When medicines become necessary to obviate that kind of costiveness which arises from imperfect intestinal contraction, physicians usually administer rhubarb, aloes, and similar laxatives, combined with tonics. But when the muscular coat of the bowels is kept in a healthy condition by a natural mode of life, and is aided by the action of the abdominal muscles, it rarely becomes necessary to administer laxative medicines.

The inner or mucous coat of the stomach and bowels is generally regarded by physiologists as a continuation of the skin. They greatly resemble each other in structure, and they are well known to sympathize with each other. Eruptions of the skin are very generally the result of disorders of the digestive organs. On the other hand, bowel complaints are frequently produced by a chill on the surface. The mucous coat and the skin are both charged with the double function of excretion and absorption. By the exercise of the former function, much of the waste matter of the system, requiring to be removed, is thrown into the intestines, and, mingling with the indigestible portion of the food, forms the common excrement; while by the exercise of the latter function the nutritive portion of their contents is taken up, and, as we have seen, passes into the general circulation, and contributes either to promote growth or to repair waste.

4. EVACUATION.—This is the fourth and last principal step in the process of digestion. After the chyle is separated from the chyme and passes into the circulation, the indigestible and refuse portion of the food, which is incapable of nourishing the system, passes off through the intestinal canal. In its course its bulk is considerably increased by the excretion of waste matter which has served its purposes in the system, and which, mingling with the innutritious and refuse part of the food, is thrown out of the body in the form of excrement. If the contents of the bowels are too long retained, uneasiness is produced. Hurtful matter, also, which should pass off by evacuation, is reabsorbed, passes again into the general circulation, and is ultimately thrown out of the system either by the lungs or through the pores of the skin.

This part of the process of digestion is very important, for it is impossible to enjoy good health while this function is imperfectly performed. To secure full and natural action in the intestinal canal, several principal conditions are necessary. These are, first, well-digested chyme and chyle; second, a due quantity and quality of secretions from the mucous or lining membrane of the bowels; third, a free and full contractile power of the muscular coat, and the unrestrained action of the abdominal and respiratory muscles; and, finally, a due nervous sensibility to receive impressions and communicate the necessary stimulus. The contractile power of the muscular coat, and the free passage of the intestinal contents from the stomach downward, are greatly aided by the constant but gentle agitation which the whole digestive apparatus receives during the act of breathing, and from exercise of every description. By free and deep inhalations of air into the lungs, the diaphragm is depressed and the bowels are pushed down. But when the air is thrown out from the lungs, the diaphragm rises into the chest, and the bowels follow, being pressed upward by the contractile power of the abdominal muscles. During exercise, breathing is deeper and more free, which gives additional pressure to the bowels from above. The abdominal muscular contraction is also, in turn, more vigorous and extensive, and thus the motion is returned from below. Persons that take little or no exercise, or who allow the chest and bowels to be confined by tight clothing, lose this natural stimulus, and frequently become subjects of immense suffering from habits of costiveness. These should be removed if possible, and they generally can be by a proper course of discipline. This should have reference to both diet and exercise. Such articles of food should be used as tend to keep open the bowels. This should be combined with the free exercise of the lungs and the abdominal muscles. In addition to these, there should be a determination to secure a natural evacuation of the bowels at least once a day. This is regarded by physiologists generally as essential to health. Efforts should be continued until the habit is established. Some definite period should be fixed upon for this purpose. Soon after breakfast is, on many accounts, generally preferable.

TIME FOR MEALS.—Before passing from the subject of digestion, I will submit a few thoughts in relation to the times for eating. It has already been observed that three or four hours are generally necessary for the digestion of a simple meal. Usually, perhaps, a greater length of time is required. It is also an established doctrine, based upon the results of careful examination and experiment, that the stomach requires an interval of rest, after the process of digestion is finished, to enable it to recover its tone before it can again enter upon the vigorous performance of its function. As a general rule, then, five or six hours should elapse between meals. If the mode of life is indolent, a greater time is required; if active, less time will suffice. Where the usages of society will allow the principal meal to be taken near the middle of the day, the following time for meals is approved by physiologists generally: breakfast at 7 o'clock, dinner at half past 12, and tea at 6. Luncheons and late suppers should be avoided; for the former will always be found to interfere with the healthful performance of the function of digestion, and the latter will induce restlessness, unpleasant dreams, and pain in the head. "A late supper," says the author of the Philosophy of Health, "generally occasions deranged and disturbed sleep; there is an effort on the part of the nerves to be quiet, while the burdened stomach makes an effort to call them into action, and between these two contending efforts there is disturbance—a sort of gastric riot—during the whole night. This disturbance has sometimes terminated in a fit of apoplexy and in death."

THE SKIN.—This membranous covering, which is spread over the surface of the body to shield the parts beneath, serves also as an excreting and secreting organ. By the great supply of blood which it receives, it is admirably fitted for this purpose. The whole animal system, as we have seen, is in a state of transition, decay and renovation constantly succeeding each other. While the stomach and alimentary canal take in new materials, the skin forms one of the principal outlets by which particles that are useless to the system are thrown out of the body. Every one knows that the skin perspires, and that checked perspiration is a powerful cause of disease and death; but few have any just notion of the extent and influence of this exhalation. When the body is overheated by exercise, a copious sweat breaks out, which, by evaporation, carries off the excess of heat, and produces an agreeable feeling of coolness and refreshment. The sagacity of Franklin led him to the first discovery of the use of perspiration in reducing the heat of the body, and to point out the analogy subsisting between this process and that of the evaporation of water from a rough porous surface, so constantly resorted to in the East and West Indies, and in other warm countries, as an efficacious means of reducing the temperature of the air in rooms, and of wine and other drinks, much below that of the surrounding atmosphere. This is the higher and more obvious degree of the function of exhalation. But in the ordinary state of the system, the skin is constantly giving out a large quantity of waste materials by what is called insensible perspiration; a process which is of great importance to the preservation of health, and which is called insensible, because the exhalation, being in the form of vapor, and carried off by the surrounding air, is invisible to the eye. But its presence may often be made manifest, even to the sight, by the near approach of a dry cool mirror, on the surface of which it will soon be condensed so as to become visible. It is this which causes so copious deposits upon the windows of a crowded school-room in cold weather. A portion of these exhalations, however, proceed from the lungs.

There is an experiment that may be easily tried, which affords conclusive evidence that the amount of insensible perspiration is much greater than it is ordinarily supposed to be. Take a dry glass jar, with a neck three or four inches in diameter, and thrust the hand and a part of the fore-arm into it, closing the space in the neck about the arm with a handkerchief. After the lapse of a few minutes, it will be seen, by drawing the fingers across the inside of the jar, that the insensible perspiration even from the hand is very considerable. Many attempts have been made to estimate accurately the amount of exhaled matter carried off through the skin; but many difficulties stand in the way of obtaining precise results. There is a great difference in different constitutions, and even in the same person at different times, in consequence of which we must be satisfied with an approximation to the truth.

Although the precise amount of perspiration can not be ascertained, it is generally agreed that the cutaneous exhalation is greater than the united excretions of both bowels and kidneys. Great attention has been given to this subject. Sanctorius, a celebrated medical writer, weighed himself, his food, and his excretions, daily, for thirty days. He inferred from his experiments that five pounds of every eight, of both food and drink, taken into the system, pass out through the skin. All physiologists agree that from twenty to forty ounces pass off through the skin of an adult in usual health every twenty-four hours. Take the lowest estimate, and we find the skin charged with the removal of twenty ounces of waste matter from the system every day. We can thus see ample reason why checked perspiration proves so detrimental to health; for every twenty-four hours during which such a state continues, we must either have this amount of useless and hurtful matter accumulating in the system, or some of the other organs of excretion must be greatly overtasked, which obviously can not happen without disturbing their regularity and well-being. It is generally known that continued exposure in a cold day produces either a bowel complaint or inflammation of some internal organ. Instead of expressing surprise at this, if people generally understood the structure and uses of their own bodies, they would rather wonder why one or the other of these effects is not always attendant upon so great a violation of the laws of health, which are the laws of God.

The lungs also excrete a large proportion of waste matter from the system. So far, then, their office is similar to that of the kidneys, the liver, and the bowels. In consequence of this alliance with the skin, these parts are more intimately connected with each other, in both healthy and diseased action, than with other organs. Whenever an organ is unusually delicate, it will be more easily affected by any cause of disease than those which are sound. Thus, in one instance, checked perspiration may produce a bowel complaint, and in another, inflammation of the lungs, and so on. Hence the fitness, in prescribing remedies, of adapting them not only to the disease itself, but of taking into the account the cause of the disease. A bowel complaint, for example, may arise either from overeating or from a check to perspiration. The thing to be cured is the same in both cases, but the means of cure ought obviously to be different. In one instance, an emetic or laxative, to carry off the offending cause, would be the most rational and efficacious remedy; in the other, a diaphoretic should be administered, to open the skin and restore it to a healthy action. Facts like these expose the ignorance and impudence of the quack, who undertakes to cure every form of disease by one remedy.

It has already been remarked that the skin is charged with the double function of excretion and absorption. We have a striking illustration of the exercise of the latter function in the vaccination of children and others, to protect them from small-pox. A small quantity of cow-pox matter is inserted under the external layer of the skin, where it is acted upon, and in a short time taken into the system by the absorbent vessels. In like manner, when the perspiration is brought to the surface of the skin, and confined there, either by injudicious clothing or by want of cleanliness, there is much reason to believe that its residual parts are again absorbed. It is established by observation that concentrated animal effluvia form a very energetic poison. We can, then, see why the absorption of the residual parts of perspiration produces fever, inflammation, and even death itself, according to its quantity and degree of concentration. This leads me to notice the importance of

BATHING.—The exhalation from the skin being so constant and extensive, and the bad effects of it when confined being so great, it becomes very important that we provide for its removal. This can be most easily and effectually accomplished by frequently bathing the whole body. This is a luxury within the reach of all, but one which is unappreciated by those who have not enjoyed it. An aged gentleman said to me recently, that in early life he "used to go a swimming frequently and enjoyed it much; but," he added, "I have not bathed or washed myself all over for the last thirty years!" This, it is believed, is an extreme case. But it is to be feared there are not wanting instances in which persons do not bathe the entire person once a month, or once a year even! When the residual parts of the perspiration are not removed by washing or bathing, they at last obstruct the pores and irritate the skin. It is apparently for this reason that, in the Eastern and warmer countries, where perspiration is very copious, ablution and bathing have assumed the rank and importance of religious observances. Those who are in the habit of using the flesh-brush daily are at first surprised at the quantity of white dry scurf which it brings off; and those who take a warm bath for half an hour at long intervals can not have failed to notice the great amount of impurities which it removes, and the grateful feeling of comfort which its use imparts. It is remarked by an eminent physician, that the warm, tepid, cold, or shower bath, as a means of preserving health, ought to be in as common use as a change of apparel, for it is equally a measure of necessary cleanliness. Many, no doubt, neglect this, and enjoy health notwithstanding; but many more suffer from its omission; and even the former would be greatly benefited by employing it. Cleanliness, then, is as essential to health as to decency. Still more, it promotes not only physical health, but contributes largely to strengthen and invigorate the intellectual faculties, and to elevate and purify the affections. It comes, then, to be ranked among the cardinal virtues.

To secure the benefits of bathing or ablution, a great amount of apparatus is not necessary. A shower-bath, or plunge-bath, may not be best for all. Every one can procure a wash-bowl and one or two quarts of water, which are all that is necessary. To prevent the reduction of heat in the system by evaporation, and especially in cold weather, it will usually be found best to bathe the body by sections. It is generally agreed that the morning is the best time for bathing. Immediately on rising, then, the clothing being removed, let the head, face, and neck be washed as usual, and thoroughly dried by the use of a towel. Proceed to wash the chest and abdomen, which may be dried as before, after which a coarse towel or a flesh-brush should be vigorously applied, until the skin is perfectly dry, and there is a pleasant glow upon the surface. The back and limbs, in turn, should be washed, dried, and excited to a healthy and pleasant glow by friction. This last is of the utmost importance. If not easily secured, salt or vinegar may be added to the water, both of which are excellent stimulants to the skin.[7] When these are used, and care is taken to excite in the surface, by subsequent friction with a coarse towel, flesh-brush, or hair glove, the healthful glow of reaction, it will be found to contribute largely to both physical and mental comfort. The beneficial results will be more apparent if, while bathing and rubbing the chest and abdomen, pains are taken to throw back the shoulders, expand the lungs, and enlarge the chest.

[7] It will frequently be found more convenient, and will be well-nigh as serviceable, to wash in soft water as usual, and excite a reaction in the skin in the use of a towel that has been dipped in brine and dried.

By an act of the Legislature of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, passed in April last, it is required that "physiology and hygiene shall hereafter be taught in the schools of that commonwealth, in all cases in which the school committee shall deem it expedient."

When physiology is not made a study in school, the teacher should not fail to give familiar and instructive lectures on the subject. I know of instances where, by this simple means, the habits of a whole school, composed of several hundred youth of both sexes, have been radically changed; and the practice of daily ablution has ceased to be the luxury of the few, having become the necessity not only of teachers and scholars, but of the families in which they reside. There is the most satisfactory evidence that cleanliness is conducive to health.[8] How important it is, then, that habits of cleanliness be formed at an early age.

[8] The friends of educational reform may well take courage from the increased attention which the subject of physical education is of late receiving from the pulpit and the press, those mighty conservators of the public weal. Since the text was prepared for the press, the following remarks and pertinent inquiry have appeared in the Family Favorite for February, 1850. They are quoted from a Discourse by the editor, the Rev. James V. Watson, on the First Sabbath of the New Year:

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