Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

imagining that we are affected with one circumstance respecting this man; them. The consequence of a fancied he came to me one day complaining of disorder for a protracted period, is cer- a violent settled pain in his forehead, tain organic disease. The patient who which he said almost distracted him, fancies he labors under an affection of and requested me to draw it out.' the heart, disturbs the circulation, The pieces of mahogany (false tractors) which is ever influenced by the moral were drawn gently over his forehead emotions, until at last this disturbance for a minute and a half, when the throbcreates the very malady which he bing began to abate, and in two minutes dreaded. The imagination, however, had nearly ceased. In about three has not thus always been destructive of minutes the man arose from the chair health and life. To its influence may saying, “God bless you, sir, now I am be attributed the occasional cures at quite easy.' He was attacked with the tombs of saints, amid the ashes of this pain only once afterwards, which a martyr, or by a canonized bone. affected his vision considerably, but it Many a person has thus cured himself was removed as easily as in the former when he has devoutly attributed his instance.” restoration to health to some saint in

“Such tricks hath strong imagination.” the calendar. The charlatan reaps his harvest from the operation of this Man, says Aristotle, is an imitative principle. The patient's mind is filled animal, and this truth holds good in the with accounts of " surprising cures of production and extension of diseases as undoubted authority," and in conse well as in the habits, occupations and quence takes his draught, mixture or amusements of life. Boerhave records pill, with a sure and certain faith that that “A person fell down in a fit of he will be made whole. Pills of no epilepsy, in the ward of a hospital more abstruse materials than bread and where there were many persons present water have thus been known to effect who witnessed the effects; such was the most marvellous cures. The won- the impression the occurrence made derful remedial powers of Perkins' me- upon the spectators, that many were tallic tractors, which created so much thrown into similar convulsions." We wonder for a while in the world, were find in Babington's translation of Heckundoubtedly, in a large degree, owing er on the “ Dancing Mania,” the folto the influence of the imagination, as lowing further illustration of the influwas proved by the equal success of the ence of sympathy in producing disease. false* tractors : rheumatism, stiffness “In Lancashire, a girl in a cotton factory of the joints, and paralysis, were cured put a mouse upon the bosom of one of by bits of wood, tenpenny nails, dis- her fellows, which frightened her into guised in sealing wax, slate pencils convulsions, which continued for twendignified with a coat of paint, tobacco ty-four hours. Three more were seized pipes, pieces of gingerbread, and other the next day, and six more on the folequally harmless materials.

lowing one, and in four days from the “ John Peacock,” says Dr. Hay- first, the number of patients amounted garth, “had been affected for four to twenty-four.” Lock-jaw is said months with weakness of the hip and sometimes to be taken by a witness of severe rheumatic pains, brought on by the disease, from mere sympathy with working in a damp coal pit. The false the pain and suffering of the patient. tractors were applied; at first they A medical writer, who was an eyecaused considerable pain and very witness to the effects of a great relirestless nights; but after a few trials gious agitation or revival, compares the he began to sleep unusually well, had convulsions of those " who were affectfewer attacks of pain, and appeared ed with the spirit” to the movement of happy and confident in the idea that a a newly caught fish when thrown upon remedy had been discovered for his the land, and another authority,9 in decomplaints. With such a subject the scribing a similar affair in Lanarkshire, event may be easily anticipated. This says the agony under which they lamorning he came to thank me for my bored was expressed not only by words, services. I cannot help mentioning but also by violent agitations of the

• Haygarth on the Imagination. # Dr. Robertson, of Tennessee.

| Good.
$ Dr. Meik.

body, by shaking and trembling, by sustained depends much upon the origifaintings and convulsions, and some nal constitution of the mind and the times by excessive bleedings at the force of physical energy which accomnose. Our every-day experience of panies it. Dr. Sweetser is disposed to the effects of revivals, protracted," think that the injurious effect of study and camp meetings, freely confirms the upon the physical health is exaggerated, truth of these statements. The fana- and that the disease which is often the tic preacher, insensible to the sweet accompaniment of a studious life arises influences of the meek spirit and gentle from the transgression of the obvious charities of our Saviour's gospel of laws of a judicious hygiene. That love, skilled in the dialectics of the disorders of the digestive functions are “raw head and bloody bones” school of more frequent in our academic institueloquence, appeals to the fears and tions than in those abroad, is a well passions of an ignorant audience, thun- recognized fact—that there exists a ders out his anathemas and stern de- perfect disregard of physical education, nunciations, and pictures to them in is equally well established. It is not awfully vivid colors, “the burning so in the universities abroad. The gulf,” “the fiery hell," " the unquench- ablest wrangler in the halls of Trinity able flame,” and “the unceasing tor or the first classic of Christ Church, ments,” the terrors that await them in is not seldom the boldest swimmer another world. Thus are their bodies and the stoutest oarsman of the Cam and minds tortured into disease of the and Isis. direst kind. Thus are made unnum It would appear from the statistics bered victims of convulsions, idiocy, collected by Dr. Madden, in his intermadness, bedlam and the church-yard. esting book on the Infirmities of Genius,

Of the influence of study and the that certain intellectual pursuits are exercise of the intellectual powers more conducive to long life than others; upon the physical functions, our author that the average age of the Natural remarks :

Philosophers is seventy-five years,

being the greatest, and that of the “ It is an opinion not uncommonly en- Poets fifty-seven, being the smallest. tertained, that studious habits, or intellec- Those studies which draw most largely tual pursuits, tend necessarily to injure on the imagination, seem less favorable the health and abbreviate the term of life that mental labors are ever prosecuted demand the exercise of the dispassion

to long life than those which simply at the expense of the body, and must consequently hasten its decay. Such a result, however, is by no means essential,

Our author remarks judiciously and unless the labors bé urged to an injudi- with force upon the blighting influence cious excess, when, of course, as in all of a too premature intellectual educaoverstrained exertions, whether of body tion. It would be well for every paor mind, various prejudicial efforts may rent to mark well and digest his perbe naturally anticipated."

tinent observations upon this subject.

The hot-bed system of education, The justice of this view is substan- which is too prevalent among us, is a tiated by the fact of the long life of crying evil. There is nothing so inmany devoted to literary occupations. jurious to the physical health and Boerhave lived to seventy years of age, vigor, as the forcing prematurely the Locke to seventy-three, Galileo to mind, while the body is in its youth and seventy-eight, Sir Edward Coke to weakened by the demand upon its eighty-four, Newton to eighty-five, strength for growth and development. and Fontenelle to a hundred. Leibnitz, It does much towards filling the Volney, Buffon and others, lived to churchyard with the youthful dead. very advanced ages. Many of the greatest men of our own country, as “Præcocibus mors ingeniis est invida Chief Justice Marshall, Jefferson,

semper.Franklin, Jay and others, lived the lives of patriarchs. There seems but Youthful prodigies of learning are little question that a certain extent of too often youthful prodigies of disease. mental activity is beneficial to the health, and that the degree of intel « Premature and forced exertions of the lectual exertion that can be healthfully mental faculties must always be at the

ate reason.

[ocr errors]

risk of the physical constitution. Pa- splendid objects, as histories, fables, rents, urged by an ambition for their in- and contemplations of nature.” The tellectual progress, are extremely apt to proverb, “laugh and grow fat,” implies overtask the minds of their offspring, and a wise philosophical precept. Laughter thus, too often, not only defeat their own aims, but prepare the foundation of bodily

is a good physical exercise, and exerts infirmity and early decay. Such a course, Mirth and cheerfulness of mind exert

a beneficial tendency upon the health. too, is repugnant to the plainest dictates of nature, to be read in the instinctive

a tonic influence on the system. “A propensities of the young, which urge so merry heart doeth good like a medicine, imperiously to physical action.”

but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” “We have frequently seen in early age,» The body of the restless and irritable observes a French writer on health, in mind wastes away, while that of the “ prodigies of memory, and even of eru- contented and undisturbed gives evidition, who were, at the age of fifteen or dence, in its fair round proportions, of twenty, imbecile, and who have continued its thriving and healthful existence. so through life. We have seen other We do not question but that the rates children, whose early studies have so en- of mortality in different professions and feebled them, that their miserable career occupations of life, are influenced by has terminated with the most distressing the various degrees of mental activity diseases, at a period al which they should which they may require for their proper only have commenced their studies."

exercise. The politician hurries While excessive mental activity and through an excited and turbulent life, the yielding to the more powerful while the philosopher, calm and conpassions are destructive of health and templative, enjoys a lengthened extend to shorten life, the indulgence in istence. The speculating merchant, the gentler emotions and moderately while he credits himself with the exciting passions exerts a most bene- results of his successful ventures, must ficial influence on the physical system, balance his profits with loss of health stimulating the languid energies of the and days; his ease of mind leaves him body to renewed exertion, gently ex

with

every freighted ship, and many citing the circulation, and giving vigor a “pound of flesh” is bartered away and tone to all the corporeal powers for money lent; while the agriculturist and functions. Thus hope, moderate continues on from year to year in one joy, the pleasurable sensations which unvaried routine of existence, sows arise from the exercise of the social his seed and reaps his harvest, his affections, friendship, gratitude, bene- mind only clouded by a rainy day, and volence, and generosity, the practice his feelings never excited beyond the of the thousand agreeable courtesies emotion caused by a trespass, and lives of life, the interchange of friendly his life of threescore years and ten. sentiment, conversation, and all the

Of the influence of mind upon body, refined charms and pleasures of society, which obtains so extensively, it beserve not only to humanize the mind, hoves the physician to avail himself but to promote the health and vigor of in the treatment of disease. He must the body: “To be free-minded,” says at times throw aside the pestle and a great master of the human mind, mortar, and avail himself of remedies Lord Bacon, “and cheerfully disposed not acknowledged by the colleges in at hours of meat, sleep, and exercise, their Pharmacopæias. As mental causes is one of the best precepts of long are so rife in the production of disease, lasting. As for the passions and studies so mental influences are frequently of the mind, avoid envy, anxious fears, powerful in its cure. Numerous cases angers, fretting inwards, subtle and of disease have been effected by remeknotty inquisitions, joys and exhilara- dies perfectly powerless in themselves, tions in excess, sadness not communi- as far as their direct action upon the cated. Entertain hopes, mirth rather body is concerned. When the body is than joy, variety of thoughts rather diseased, its operations are more dethan surfeit of them, wonder and admi- pendent upon, and are placed more ration, and therefore novelties, studies within the control of the mind, than in that fill the mind with illustrations and health. The epicure, with a stomach

• Tourtelle.

enfeebled by overlabor and digestion, Haller quotes a case of gout cured impaired by indulgence, finds his appe- by a fit of anger. The severest toothtite improve, and his capacity for food ache not unfrequently departs, upon the increase, by attention to style and ele- approach of a dentist armed with a gance in the serving of his dishes, formidable wrench. The most whimwhile a plain and inelegant simplicity sical remedies have proved efficacious which appeals only to the grossness of in cramp; and many other diseases a hungry appetite, fails to excite a have been unable to resist a necklace desire, if it does not produce a positive of toads, rings of coffin nails, and such disgust. In sickness, the delicate fas- epicurean niceties as gladiator's blood, tidiousness of the patient often inter- raw liver, and vultures' brains. Interferes with the operation of a nauseous mittent fevers have been cured by the medicine, and frequently great anxiety swallowing of live spiders, of the for the peculiar operation of a remedy snuff of the candle, and by charms of prevents its action. In fever, the symp- various contrivance. We doubt whether toms increase in intensity by the inost such remedies would prove equally ordinary excitement of the mind. efficacious at the present day ; but Often, the confidence inspired by the assuredly, human nature is not so far gold-headed cane and wise Burleigh- changed, as to be insusceptible of the nod of the physician, exerts a more ex same mental effects as those to which cellent influence than the most effica- such cures are traceable. cious of remedies. When the body is The extensive resources which the weakened by disease, and the powers fine arts disclose, might be made liberal of life almost stilled, a sudden arous use of as a means of curing disease. ing of the mind will give renewed vigor Music, whose influence is so powerful to the wasted frame, cause the blood to on the mental emotions, would prove a course more freely through the veins, fruitful source of useful remedy. We and bestow the physical energy of have ancient authority in favor of its health upon a systein suffering pre- employment. Pythagoras directs cerviously from the debility of disease. tain mental disorders to be treated by

music, Thales cured a disastrous -“ When the mind is quicken'd, out pestilence by its means. Martinius of doubt

Capella affirms that fevers were thus The organs, though defunct and dead removed. Aulus Gellius tells us that a before,

case of sciatica was cured by the inBreak up their drowsy grave, and newly Auence of sweet sounds, and TheoWith casted slough and fresh celerity.”

phrastus maintains that the bites of

serpents and other venomous reptiles We have a good illustration of this We find it stated in a late medical

can be relieved by similar means.* in Henry IV. The Duke of Northumberland having heard of the death of journal, that the convulsive movements

in a case of St. Vitus's dance were his son Hotspur, while on his sick bed, completely under the control of music, thus speaks :

that they were quickened and increased

by rapid and stirring tunes, subdued “ And as the wretch, whose fever-weak- and repressed by slow and gentle airs. en'd joints

It is a question of deep interest to Like strengthless hinges, buckle under the medical philosopher, how far the life,

constitution of modern society affects Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire Out of his keeper's arms; even so my tion of life. “ It is not the direct and

the production of disease and the duralimbs Weakend with grief, being now enrag'd known risks to our health,” says a with grief

late writer in Blackwood, " which act Are thrice themselves; hence, therefore, with the most fatal effects, but the thou nice crutch !

semi-conscious condition, the atmoA scaly gauntlet now, with joints of steel, sphere of circumstances, with which Must glove this hand; and hence, thou artificial life surrounds us. sickly grief !”

cities of Europe, perhaps London above

move

The great

Millingen's “Curiosities of Medical Experience.”

all others, under the modern modes of means seems to be an extension of the life and business, create a vortex of taste for pleasures of an elevated chapreternatural tumult, a rush and frenzy racter. of excitement which is fatal to far more There is a great want of capacity than are heard of as express victims to among us for the right enjoyment of that system.” Existence in the active life. Surpassing all people in commerworld of a large city necessarily in- cial enterprise and laborious energy, volves, as society is now constituted, skilled beyond example in the " means such a degree of mental wear and tear, and appliances" for the acquisition of that the most robust physical organiza- wealth, we are far in the rearward of tion cannot long sustain it without suf- most nations in the proper appreciation fering The excitement of politics,

of its uses. The end is lost in the trade and commerce, the intellectual struggle for the means. Living in a efforts of the statesman to meet the de- land where the laborer is deemed wormands of his high station, the anxieties thy of his hire, where industry meets of the great merchant whose millions the highest reward and the necessaries are at stake, stimulate the mind to such, and luxuries of life are of easy attainactivity, that disease is inevitable. ment, we strive with a might unequalled Nervous affections, disorders of the by the want-compelling efforts of the brain and insanity, seem the almost un- foreign worker to whom a pause from avoidable evils of our higher civilisa- toil is starvation. We journey along tion.* Those facts, if true of older the rugged road of life, without reposcountries, apply with tenfold more ing by its waysides of pleasantness and force to society as organized in Ame- peace.

Our care-worn countenances rica. The very spirit of our institu- and saddened looks strike the stranger tions urging to constant progression, as a curious illustration of our boasted the frequency of political change, the happiness. The companionable Engabsence of fixedness of social position, lishman, missing among us that spirit the rich man of to-day being the poor of good fellowship which at home man of to-morrow, the continuous strug- prompts the merry gathering and progle for advancement, the prize being longs the social hour, and the pleasureaccessible to all, the disenthralment loving Frenchman, feeling his holiday from antiquated modes of thought and cheerfulness chilled by the dull monothe universal spirit of free inquiry, be tony of our working-day life, conclude get an unrest unknown to more ancient that “all work and no play” has sucforms of society. It is not surprising, ceeded in its legitimate effect of making then, that insanity, nervous diseases Jonathan a " dull boy.” and the disorders of the digestive func We look for a remedy to this unwise tions, the frequent effects of excessive intensity of devotion to business, to the mental activity, should abound to such encouragement (coupled with the iman extent among us.

provement) of the theatres, to public To counteract the morbid influence concerts, the founding of galleries of upon health of the mental restlessness art, the establishment of national holiof our community, men's minds must days, the promotion of social pleasures, be diverted from

and otherwise extending the motives

which may urge to refined enjoyment. “ The passions and cares that wither life;" In the absence of these, the public mind

will continue to seek, in the fanaticism the anxieties, the toil and trouble of of religion and the excitements of trade business, and relaxed by the healthful and politics, for that stimulus which influence of the gentler emotions. To serves to administer to the prevalent promote this end, the most efficacious passion for mental intoxication.

* In absolute monarchies, in Russia and China, for example, insanity and nervous diseases are rare.

« AnteriorContinuar »