But in the training of children particularly, in avoiding effeminacy, there is danger of running into the other extreme, and in pursuing what is called "hardening? soon harden them into their graves. The constitution of the child should be closely studied, and the utmost prudence observed in the "hardening" process. The child should be sufficiently clothed, and a continued sensation of chilliness never permitted. A cold bath every morning fortifies the body against the cold of the day, but even this should not be indulged in unless followed by a glow of warmth.
In warm climates, if any thing, a greater amount of care is necessary to maintain health under the enervating and debilitating effect of continued heat, the animal functions should be kept naturally active and vigorous, and no organ overtasked beyond its strength. Exposure to the intense heat of the sun may produce fearful congestion, and dissipation of every kind may so impair the functions of nature as to render her an easy prey to the ravages of disease. The same amount of food or the same variety as in a colder climate would not only be unnecessary but highly injurious. The external temperature is nearly if not quite the same as the internal. But little animal heat is therefore required, and but little oxygen in comparison with colder regions is inspired, and consequently if a large amount of nutritious food is introduced into the system it is not consumed, but clogs and fetters the operations of nature. Nature in the abundant fruits and vegetables scattered throughout that climate has designated the proper food for use.
A pure atmosphere is essential to life and health, and when it becomes poisoned by decaying vegetable matter or the generation of unwholesome gases, disease is the consequence, either assuming the form of an epidemic, and sweeping over the land like a besom of destruction, or showing its influence in the gradual decay and prostration of the vital powers.
Local causes produce changes in the atmosphere, and give rise to peculiar diseases. Thus at the base of lofty mountains, as the Alps in Switzerland, we more generally find Goitre, or swelled neck; the smiling plains of Italy are saddened by the presence of a loathsome cutaneous affection; the Campagna, in the vicinity of Home, presents a smiling and beautiful appearance, yet its noxious exhalations poison the atmosphere, and often produce in those who have merely passed over its flowery surface, the seeds of an incurable disease. In new countries, where the virgin soil is being turned up to the warmth of the sun, and even in old, where there is much standing water, and in the vicinity of swamps, the air is poisoned by a malaria, which gives rise to the chills and fever. Yet in either of these cases, what chemist is sufficiently skillful to tell the precise amount of this poison sufficient to produce disease. We can neither see, taste, nor smell anything more than usual, and yet we inhale a poison most destructive to health and even life. We sometimes find in nature infinitesimal doses, as well as in our peculiar school of medicine.
The composition of atmospheric air we have already mentioned. When taken into the system it consists of about 78 per cent of nitrogen, 21 of oxygen, and 1 of carbonic acid, but when expelled from the lungs it is loaded with moisture, and notwithstanding the amount of nitrogen remains nearly the same, from eight to nine per cent. of oxygen has disappeared and been replaced by carbonic acid.
The inspirations of an adult are at least fifteen in a minute, and the average consumption of air not far from 20 cubic inches at each inspiration, so that a single individual requires for respiration at least 300 cubic inches of air in one minute. Therefore in the same time 21 inches of oxygen disappear and are replaced by the same amount of carbonic acid, and in one hour each individual takes in through the lungs at least 1440 cubic inches, the place of which is supplied by the same amount of carbonic acid. Thus each averaged sized adult consumes about 45,000 cubic inches of oxygen, and gives out about 40,000 cubic inches of carbonic acid in 24 hours. The only part of the air capable of supporting life is the oxygen, and when the oxygen of the atmosphere is partly consumed or vitiated by means of the vast addition of carbonic acid, the lungs are deprived of their arte* rializing power, and respiration consequently is seriously impaired. Take, for instance a mouse and confine it in a tight glass jar full of air, and for a short time it seems to suffer no inconvenience, but as the consumption of oxygen, and the exhalation of carbonic acid goes on, the little victim pants as if struggling for air, and in a short time dies convulsed, as if drowned or strangulated. Does it require more than the simple statement of the above facts to convince all of the absolute necessity of pure air, and well-ventilated rooms. The practice of crowding several individuals in tight rooms cannot be too strongly condemned. And yet it is by no means rare to witness several persons occupying one room, and that heated by a tight iron stove, with no way of establishing a current of air or draft in the room. The air is not only vitiated by so many breaths, but the oxygen consumed by the stove.
But a few years since I was called one evening to visit a poor person very sick with the ship fever. I found a kind of hovel, almost surrounded by water, consisting of one room, perhaps fifteen or sixteen feet square, in the centre of which stood a stove almost red hot, in which the cooking of the whole family was done. This room was occupied by nine persons, five of whom were under the full influence of the low, putrid, and sinking ship fever. This was by no means an isolated case. Every physician accustomed to practice in our towns is constantly meeting cases in close and crowded rooms where disease has its full sweep, and where the remedy they require, and without which they will die, is pure air. In cities, particularly among the poorer classes of our population, a fruitful source of crime, sickness, and those frightful epidemics, and pestilential diseases, which are so fife among thern, and from them spreads through the community, is impure air, want of cleanliness and nourishing food. The smiling country is open before them with the pure air of heaven eddying around the hill-tops and along the valleys. The mighty west, with dark forests, running streams, cool and sparkling fountains, a rich and virgin soil, beckons them to a home of peace and plenty, with less expense than they incur in the crowded rooms and confined air of the city. And yet it is often the case, that the poor prefer the city, with all its deprivations, to the country and plenty. You notice the effect of breathing-vitiated air in pale and haggard faces, sunken eyes and cheeks, lassitude, want of energy, and dizziness or pain in the head. Happily the public mind is waking up to the necessity, if they wish to preserve health, of having well-ventilated homes, churches and school-rooms.
Cleanliness is absolutely essential to vigorous health, as will be readily seen when we reflect on the. intimate sympathy existing between the skin and all the internal organs. When we remember that-the skin is perforated with an innumerable number of perspiratory tubes, which carry off from the system in the form of insen-sible pertpiration an average amount of thirty-three ounces of changed and worn-out material, aside from what is thrown off in the form of visible perspiration, often amounting to two or three pounds in the course of an hour, and that if these pores are contracted or closed by cold or any other cause, this large amount of useless matter must be retained in the system or thrown on other organs, such as the lungs, stomach, liver, and kidneys, we can readily perceive how important it is that the skin should be kept vigorous and healthy.
To avoid this closing of the pores, in the first place be careful to keep the clothing next the skin fresh and clean, as it very soon becomes saturated with perspiration. Clothing worn during the day should in no case be worn at night. The bed also should be thoroughly aired before being prepared for the night.
The head should be kept clean, as a collection of dandruff often produces pain and even eruptions on the scalp. Unguents, and washes of all kinds, with the exception of water, should as a general thing be avoided. Many of these preparations contain poisons highly prejudicial to health, and when applied to the hair create pain in the head, and general derangement of the nervous system. Thus, some of these washes and unguents contain arsenic, others Spanish Fly, and others still, lead and a variety of poisons.
Above all to insure a healthy skin, water should be used in abundance. Thorough ablutions of the entire body should be just as much a part of the daily work as eating.