Bath, in the general acceptation of the term, signifies a conve-nient receptacle of water adapted to the various purposes of washing or cleansing, and bracing the body, either by plunging, or continuing in it for a certain time.
Baths may be divided into cold, cool, warm, and hot: and these again into natural and artificial.
In order to treat this interesting subject systematically, we shall consider it according to the division above-mentioned.
Cold Baths are those of a temperature varying from the 33d to the 56th degree of Fahrenheit's thermometer. The general properties of the cold bath consist in its power of contracting the animal fibres', while it dissipates the caloric (or matter of heat) that exists between their interstices, and thus effects a greater approximation of the particles, which were before dilat :d and relaxed by heat. That such is the natural influence of cold, cannot be doubted ; and hence this species of bath, by its powerful action on the whole system, is one of the most important medicinal remedies presented by the hand, and, as it were, supplied by the very bosom of Nature.
Even in the most remote times, cold bathing was resorted to with obvious advantage, by nervous and debilitated persons 5 but in the dark or middle ages, this genuine source of health was totally neglected, till the good sense of Europeans again adopted it as a general reparative, when the prevailing diseases of relaxation and atony rendered the use of such a remedy inestimable.
The superior advantages of cold bathing over all internal corrobo-rauts, consists chiefly in its in diate salutary action on the solids, without the intervention of the organs of digestion and nutrition; without having to perform a usage through numerous channels, before it can exert its efficacy. for this obvious reason, it is peculiarly adapted to those constitutions which, though robust, and apparently healthy, are liable to nervous hysteric, hypochondriacal, and paralytic affections, as well as to fre -quent attacks of flatulency, and consequent indigestion.
Without expatiating, either on the history, or the sensible of the Cold Bath, we shall proceed:
I. To a general enumeration of those cases, in which it cannot be resorted to with advantage and safety;
II. To lay down the necessary rules and directions for the use of this heroic remedy.
With respect to the former, we must be concise, and shall chiefly point out, by negative propositions, those particular states of the body, in which cold bathing must not be attempted: namely, 1. In a full habit of body, 01 what is called general plethora, on account of the frequent febrile disposition attending such individuals ; 2. In hemorrhages or fluxes of blood, open wounds or ulcers, and every kind of inflammation, whether external or internal ; 3. In obstructions of the intestines, or habitual costiveness ; 4. In affections of the breast and lungs, such as difficult respiration, short and dry coughs, etc. 5. When the whole mass of the fluids appears to be vitiated, or tainted with a peculiar acrimony, which cannot be easily defined, but is obvious from a sallow colour of the face, slow healing of the flesh when cut or bruised, and from a scorbutic tendency of the whole body; 6. In gouty and rheumatic paroxysms ; though Sir John Floyer asserts, that "Podagries sometimes have kept their fits off with it ;" 7. In cutaneous eruptions, which tend to promote a critical discharge of humours by the pores (yet the celebrated physician just mentioned, informs us, that great cures have been effected in the leprosy, by bathing in what he calls "Cold Sulphur Water.") 8. During pregnancy ; and 9. In a distorted or deformed state of the body, except in particular cases to be ascertained by professional men. - Sir John farther recommends, but too indis-criminately, the dipping of ricketty children one year old, every morning in cold water; and he is of opi-: that, in adults, it prevents the infection of fevers, by making the body less sensible of the changes of air; that, in old women, it stops violent hemorrhages from the ute-rus; that it has contributed to cure canine madness, poisonous bites of animals, and obstinate agues, by going in previously to the return of the fit, and after all the evacuations of the body have been properly attended to; and, lastly, that the Sea-water Bath has been of eminent service in dropsies, and defective hearing; in which last case, he knew a deaf person who could hear perfectly well, on the day he bathed in the sea.
Experience, however, has but too often evinced, that this excellent remedy, whether by fresh or salt-water, cannot be implicitly relied upon in those complaints; nor will it be productive of any good effects, unless our conduct, in general, be accommodated to the following rules :
1. It is a vulgar error, that it is safer to enter the water when the body is coo/, and that persons heated by exercise, and beginning to perspire, should wait till they are perfectly cooled. Thus, by plunging into it, in this state, an alarming and dangerous chilness frequently seizes them, and the injury sustained is generally ascribed to their going, into it too warm; while it doubtless arises from the contrary practice. - Dr. J. Currie, of Liverpool, in his valuable "Treatise on the effects of Water in Fevers, " (edit. 2d, 8vo. 1799, price 7s.), says, equal truth and precision, that "in the earlier stages of exer-cise, before profuse perspiration has dissipated the heat, and fatigui bilitated the living power, nothing is more safe, according to my experience, than the cold bath. This is so true, that I have, for some years, constantly directed infirm persons to use such a degree of exercise, before immersion, as may produce some increased action of the vascular system, with some increase of heat, and thus secure a force of re-action under the shock, which otherwise might not always take place. But, though it be perfectly safe to go into the cold bath in the earlier stages of exercise, nothing is more dangerous than this practice, after exercise has produced profuse perspiration, and terminated in languor and fatigue; because in such circumstances the heat is not only sinking rapidlv, but the system parts more easily with the portion that remains."— In short, it is a rule liable to no exception, that moderate exercise ought always to precede cold bathing, to promote the re-action of all the vessels and muscles, on entering the water ; for neither previous rest, nor exercise to a violent degree, are proper on this occasion.
2. The duration of even- cold bathing applied to the whole body, pught to be short, and must be determined by the bodily constitution, and the sensations of the individual; for healthy persons may continue much longer in it than valetudinarians; and both will be influenced by the temperature of the air, so that in summer they can enjoy it for an hour, when, in spring or autumn, one or two minutes may be sufficient, —Under similar circumstances, cold water acts on aged and lean persons with more violence than on the young and corpulent: hence the former, even. in the hottest days of summer, can seldom with safety remain in the bath longer than a quarter of an hour; while the latter are generally able to sustain its impressions for double that time.
3. The head should first come in contact with the water, either by immersion, pouring water upon it, or covering it for a minute with a wet cloth, and then diving head foremost into the water.
4. As the immersion will be felt when it is effected suddenly ; and as it is of consequence that the first impression should be uniform over the body, we must not enter the bath slowly or timorously, but with a degree of boldness. A contrary method would be dangerous ; as it might propel the blood from the lower to the upper parts of the body, and thus occasion a fit of apop exy. For these reasons, the shower lath is attended with considerable advantages, because it transmits the water quickly over the whole body ; and, consequently, is more consistent with the rules before-mentioned.
5. The morning is the most proper time for using the cold bath, unless it be in a river; in which case the afternoon, or from one to two hours before sun-set, will be more eligible; as the water has-then acquired additional warmth from the rays of the sun, and the immersion will not interfere with digestion : on the whole, one hour after a light breakfast, —or two hours before, or four hours after dinner, are the best periods of the day, for this purpose.
6. While the bather is in the Water, he should not remain inactive, but apply brisk general friction, and move his arms and legs, to promote the circulation of the fluids from the heart to the extremities. It would, therefore, be extremely imprudent to continue in the water till a second chillness attacks the body ; a circumstance which would not only defeat the whole purpose intended, but might at the same time be productive of the most injurious effects.
Immediately after the person leaves the bath, it will be necessary for him, with the assistance of another person for dispatch, to wipe and dry his body with a coarse and clean cloth. He should hot afterwards sit inactive, or enter a carriage, unless warmly clothed and wearing flannel next the skin: if season and circumstances permit, it will be more proper, and highly beneficial, to take gentle exercise till the equilibrium of the circulation be restored, and the vessels, as well as the muscles, have acquired a due degree of re-action.
The best place for cold bathing is in the invigorating water of the sea, or a clear river; and where neither of these can be conveniently resorted to, we recommend Shower Bath ; an apparatus of which may be procured from the tin-man. Its effects are doubt-more powerful than those of common bath: and though the latter covers the surface of the body more uniformly, yet this circumstance by no means detracts from the excellence of the former ; because those intermediate parts, which the water has not touched, receive an electric and sympathetic impression, in a degree similar to those brought into actual contact.
An every drop of water from the shower bath operates as a partial cold bath, its vivifying shock to robust individuals is more extensive, and beneficial, than from any other method of bathing.
Hence this bath is possessed of the following important advantages ; l. The sudden contact of the water may be repeated, prolonged, and modified at pleasure ; 2. The head and breast are tolerably secure, as it descends towards the lower extremities: thus, the circulation is not impeded, breathing is less arretted, and a determination of blood to the head and breast is effectually obviate.' ; 3. As the water descends in single drops, it is more stimulating and pleasant, than the usual immersion; and can be more readily procured and adapted to circumstances; lastly, 4. The degree of pressure from the weight of water, is here likewise in a great measure prevented ; nor is the circulation of the fluids interrupted so as to render the use of this bath in any degree dangerous;—a circumstance of the highest importance ; because by the ordinary immersion, persons are often exposed to injuries which they least apprehend.
As the erection of public baths has, from the remotest ages, been considered an object worthy of national attention, and private solicitude, we have selected a modern Specimen of such a structure as, in our opinion, will be admired, and perhaps adopted in this country, where public spirit, and a cordial support of every useful invention, are equally conspicuous. We allude to the Floating Baths at HambuRGH, an establishiment winch which owes its origin to the en-lightened members of the "Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Useful Trades, " founded in that city, in the year 1765.
These baths were projected by Dr. Moldenhawbr, physician at Hamburgh, and erected by public subscription, on a small lake of fresh water, called the Alster. M. Arens, an eminent architect of the same city, delineated the plan of the building, which, we are informed, is an improvement on similar baths established in the principal towns of the French republic.
Although we have not had an opportunity of comparing the internal construction of the Hamburgh baths, with those floating on the river Thames, near Westminster-bridge ; yet we have reason to believe that they are essen-tially different from any other existing in this country. Induced by this consideration, and convinced of the intrinsic advantages which the former possess, independent of their beautiful external appearance, we have caused accurate representations to be copied from the original plates transmitted to us from Hamburgh, with this difference only, that ours are upon a reduced scale.
Explanation Of the Plates representing the Floating Baths creeled in the City of Hamburgh.
A.—Elevation of the longitudinal Front of the Floating Bath, with its ornamental entrance; of the surrounding gallery, and the tents expanded over the bathing machines, and covered with sail-cloth which had been four times varnished. The wooden roof is also covered with strong sail-cloth, which had been repeatedly coated with tar. The whole vessel is 8O feet in length, and 40 in breadth.
B. - Elevation of the transverse side of the Floating Bath, with its glass doors and windows, through the former of which, the corridor, and through the latter, the cabins on each side receive their light.
C. - Section of the Building: namely, a, b, of the Bathing Ma-chines ; and c, c, of the chambers for undressing and dressing. On each longitudinal side of the vessel, there are (as appears on imspecting Plate II.) six of these chambers, which may be easily opened from within; and on each transverse side are two lateral cabins, partly furnished, and partly designed for store-rooms, to hold various implements.
The corridor, extending from one side-door to the other, within the centre of the building (See Pi. II. B.f), is seven feet and a half wide; and on each side are the bathing machines and chambers.
These chambers for undressing; and dressing, which are provided with sky-lights, and marked c, are seven feet and a half in length, and four feet wide. They are anti-chambers to the bathing machines a, b, and each of the former contains the most necessary articles of furniture, such as a table, chair, looking-glass, cork-couch (for supporting the feet till they are dried, after coming from the bath), pegs for suspending clothes, a boot-jack, etc.
The bathing machines a, b, be-low the surface of the water, consist of lour sides, made of laths two inches thick, through which it flows and they are provided with a solid wooden floor, secure 1 by iron These machines are six feet broad and seven long, so whole body may move in them without constraint.
renders them moveable, so that they be d or lowered at pleasure, and little trouble, as appears from the machine b; while the impurities settled at the bottom may be easily removed. At the side of the steps (See PI. II. //.), which extend to the bottom of the bathing machine, the latter is provided with a balluster (PI. II. ?'.), adjacent to which is placed a table and chair. The bathing machines are adapte i to different depths of water, so that every individual may regulate them at. 21/2, 3, 31/2, or 4 feet in depth, and these proportions are marked within the chamber. Above each machine are suspended two strings, one of which is connected with a bell fixed in the corridor, for calling the waiter : by means of the other, the bathing person may exclude the current of air circulating between the bottom of the floating vessel and the sur-face of the water, as there is a wooden board which slides down for that purpose.
A —Represents the construction of the floating vessel, which serves for the foundation of the building. It consists of strong double fir-beams, connected with each other by iron bolts and staples.
B. - Represents the ground-plan of one half of the floating vessel; a the entrance: b, a room on the
: tor the waiter, who is appointed to receive and deliver the admission tickets, etc.; c, the lateral cabins -, d, the undressing and dressing chambers; e the bathing machines ; f, the corridor; g, the surrounding gallery; h, the stair-cases leading into the water ; i, the ballusters at the bathing machines: all these parts have already described in the explanation given of the first plate.
Cool Baiths may be called those which are of a temperature between the- 56th and 76th degrees. of Fahrenheit's scale. They are of great service in all cases where cold bathing has before been recommended, and require nearly similar precautions. As their influence, however, on first entering • them is less violent, though their subsequent effect: may be attended ' with equal advantages, it follows, that even persons of a more deli- ' cate organization may resort to them with greater safetv.
With respect to rules for cool bathing, we refer the reader to those already stated in the preceding analysis; and shall only remark, • that notwithstanding its effects are less perceptible while the body continues in the water, it is necessary that the bather, on coming out. of it, should be wiped dry with the greatest expedition, to prevent catarrbal affections.
Warm Ballis, are such as have a temperature above the 76th, and not exceeding the 96th or 98th of the thermometer. mentioned. There are various springs in Britain, especially those of bath, Clifton, Buxton, and Mat-lock, to which Nature Iras given this temperature, the most benefit to the human body. But whether the tepid bath of this de-ptionbe natural or artificial, it is equally conducive to the restoration of of energy, though its effects have, till lately, been little understood. Physicians, as well as patients, have hithertd been too generally accustomed to consider a warm bath as wea ening the body, and useful only for the removal of certain diseases, especially those of the skin. Experience, however, has amply proved, that there can be no safer and more efficacious remedy in a Variety of chronic or inveterate complaints, than the warm bath, if properly used, and continued for a sufficient length of time. Dr. Marcard, resident physician of Pyrmont, has, in our opinion, satisfactorily demonstrated, that the warm bath, in many cases of debility, from spasms, pain, anxiety, and other causes, as well as to bectic and emaciated persons, is, generally, of eminent service, and almost the only means of restoring their health, and prolonging their lives. Instead of heating the human body, as has erroneously been asserted, the warm bath has a cooling effect, inasmuch as it obviously abates the quickness of the pulse, and reduces the pulsations in a remarkable degree, according to the length of time the patient continues in the water. After the body has been over-heated by fatigue from travelling, violent exercise, or from whatever cause, and likewise after great exertion or perturbation of mind, a tepid bath is excellently calculated to invigorate the whole system, while it allays those tempestuous and irregular motions, which otherwise prey upon, and at length reduce, the constitution to a sick-bed. Its softening and as-suasive power greatly tends to promote the growth of the body; on which account it is peculiarly adapted to the state of such youth as manifest a premature disposition to arrive at a settled period of growth : and it has uniformly been observed to produce this singular effect, in all climates.
The warm bath is of very great utility to such individuals as are troubled with a parched and rough skin ; it lias also been found to af-ford relief in many paraytic, bilious, hypochondriaci!, hysteric, and even insane cases, as well as to forward the cure of scorbutic and leprous eruptions, when strict attention had been paid to both diet and regimen. In palsy, likewise, modern observers assert, that warm bathing is one of the most effectual remedies; though the late Dr. MEAd expressly maintained, that it is prejudicial to all paralytics.— Dr. Charleton, of Bath, was the first who refuted this assertion ; because he had seen, in the hospital of that city, numerous and manifest proofs of its efficacy in paralytic cases. This judicious physician remarks, in his "Inq into the Efficacy of Warm Bathing in Palsies, " printed in 1770, that he was induced to turn his attention to this subject, by the prevalence and increase of nervous diseases, but particularly on account of the palsy, which formerly used to be the attendant of the aged, but has now become the too frequent and miserable companion of youth. Of 996 paralytics, most of whom had resisted the powers of medicine, 813 were benefited by the proper application of the warm bath. - It is perhaps necessary to remind the reader, that this desirable effect may be derived from the waters of Bath (of which we shall treat in a subsequent article), as well as from every other bath; whether furnished by Nature or Art, provided its temperature does not exceed 98°. We have purposely inserted Dr. Charleton's account under the head of" Warm Baths, " though roe waters in the city of Bath must, consistently with our division, be classed under the following head.
4. Hot Baths are those which have a temperature above 98 or 100- degrees of Farenheit and are occasionally increased to 110 or 120° and upwards, according to the particular nature of the ease, and the constitution of the patient. As no prudent person, we trust, will have recourse to a hot bath, without medical advice, we shall but briefly enumerate a few particulars relative to its use, as well as its effects.
1. Hot bathing, whether natural or artificial, is supposed to be the most general solvent of all the humours of the body ; 2. It consequently is the most probable mean of removing obstructions of every kind; 3. Previous evacuations are necessary, to cleanse, the first passages, and prepare the habit; for which purpose repeated emetics are often safe and useful; 4. Attenuating and aperitive medicines are proper to render the humours more fluid, and promote the discharge of noxious particles and whatever caused the obstructions; 5. Too great a degree of heat, or too long a continuance in the bath too heating a bed after it; profuse per-ation ; exposure to cold air on bathing days; eating of high seasoned dishes, or drinking of spirituous liquors, during a course of bathing, are always improper, often dangerous, and sometimes fatal; 6. The. head should in no case be dipt. till the bather is rising out of the water 7. A course of bathing should be long, but regulated by intervals, according to the various effects perceived by the bather; 8. The temperate seasons of the year are most proper, safe, and beneficial both for drinking and bathing. On the whole, there can be no stated rules laid down, as every Is upon the peculiar Circumstanes of each patient; and hence Dr. Oliver asserts, in his " Practical Essay on the use and abuse of Warm(hot)Bathing, etc that by the prudent use of the hot bath, most chronical disorders, and gouty cases in particular, not in an in/lamed state, may be relieved, and sometimes cured ; while persons in high health may be greatly injured by wantonly sporting with so powerful an alterative of the animal machine, either from sickness to health, or from health to sickness.
Having now given a con. view of the four principal kinds of bath, with regard to the temperature 0 " the water, we shall likewise notice another curious mode of bathing, as practised by the hardy Russians.—We allude to the Sweating or VapourBaths, which are used by persons of every rank and age, in almost every disorder; before and after a journey, hard work, etc- These are frequented at least once a week, or as often as possible, whether in a state of health or sicknecss : the extraordi-nary degree of heat produced by the evaporation of water thrown upon red-hot stones, in a close room, raises the thermometer to 146, or 168 degrees ; the latter of which numbers is a degree of of heat considerably above that which melts wax, and only 12° below that for boiling spirit of wine. In such a bath, the Russians he naked on a bench, and continue there, notwithstanding a profuse perspiration, sometimes for two hours, occasionally pouring hot Water over their bodies : thus some, with a view to promote perspiration, and completely to open the pores, are first rubbed, and then gently flagellated with leafy brandies of birch; while others wash their bodies with warm or cold water} and all of them at length plunge over head in a large tub of water. Many, however, rush out almost dissolved in sweat; and either throw themselves immediately from the bath-room into the adjoining river, or, in winter, roll themselves in snow during the most piercing cold, without suffering any inconvenience, and probably with advantage ; for we understand that rheumatisms are scarcely known in Russia; and there is great reason to attribute this exemption to the use of the vapour-bath. Indeed, they differ from all the balnea of antiquity, as well as from those of the modern Orientals, in the circumstance of not being dry sweating-baths ; whence their peculiar excellence in many cases where hot Water-baths would be inefficacious, or even hurtful. By exciting an unusual degree of perspiration, they promote clean.iness, while they render 'the skin soft and smooth: hence, again, they cannot be compared to the voluptuous baths of the Greeks and Romans; because all the consequences of effeminacy and luxury are here completely obviated. From the prejudices imbibed during" a soft and effeminate education, this sudden transition from heat to intense cold, appears to us unnatural and dangerous; but it certainly hardens the body of the Russian, and enables him to brave all the vicissitudes of the weather, and all the severities of his climate.
To conclude this interesting subject, we shall avail ourselves of a few additional observations, extracted from a late work of acknow-ledged merit, entitled, "A View of the Russian Empire, etc." (in three vols. 8vo. London, 1799. price ll. 7s. boards), by the Rev. W. Tooke, who resided many years in that country ; and to whose sentiments we cordially subscribe.
It is not to be doubted that the Russians owe their longevity, their robust state of health, their little disposition to certain mortal diseases, and their happy and chear-ful temper, mostly to these baths ; though climate, aliment, and habits of living, likewise contribute their share. - The great lord chancellor Bacon, and other sagacious observers of nature and of mankind, have lamented, and certainly not "without cause, that this bathing has fallen into disuse among the modern nations of Europe, and justly wish the practice back again in all our towns and villages. In fact, when we consider that the old physicians so early introduced into their practice this remedy of Nature's own invention, and employed it with such great success; when we recollect that Rome, for five hundred years together, had no physicians, but only baths, and that to this day a multitude of nations cure almost all their maladies merely by baths ; we cannot avoid regarding the dismission of them as the epocha of a grand revolution which has been wrought in the physical state of the human race, in our quarter of the world.
The natural perspiration, the most important of all excretions, must naturally go on better in body constantly kept soft by bathing. A great number of impurities which privily lay in us, the train to tedious and dangerous distempers, are timely removed, ere they poison the blood and the juices.— All exanthematic diseases are abated by bathing, consequently then the small-pox; and if this dreadful disorder be actually less fatal in Russia than in other countries, this phenomenon need not be attributed to any other cause than the vapour-baths."
Bath (Earth), is a modern contrivance, which was introduced into this country by a late notorious empiric: it consists of a cavity dug in the ground, into which patients descend as far as the chin, while the interstices are expeditiously tilled up with fresh mould, so that the soil may come in contact with every part of the body.
Earth-Baths are often employed by the Spaniards, in cases of hectic fever, and pulmonary consumption : a few years since, they became fashionable in London, as well as at Bath ; but, having often been misapplied by fanciful and ignorant persons, they were soon relinquished, and have now fallen into disrepute. - Such baths, however, have occasionally proved very efficacious in the sea-scurvy; and, if judiciously managed, under medical superintendance, they may be of essential service in cases of incipient phthisis.