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ON PRESERVING THE HEALTH OF A
From the same There is a story of a certain great physician, who gave four rules for the preservation of health. When he died, his books were sold : one, which was said to contain very valuable precepts of health, but which the bidders were not permitted to open, sold at a high price. When the purchaser got it home, he was at first disappointed at finding that it contained nothing more than four simple rules; but, on further consideration, he was induced to put the rules in practice; by which means he was restored to a state of health to which he had long been a stranger; and he often spoke of the old physician's book as the cheapest and most valuable purchase he ever made in his life. The rules were these :- Keep the head cool. Keep the feet warm. Take a light supper. Rise early."
These simple rules comprehend a vast deal more than may appear at first sight. A word or two on each will show this.
1. “Keep the head cool.” All tight bandages on the head are very hurtful, especially to infants. The less of any kind that is worn on the head, by day or by night, the better. Children whose hair is kept thin, and who sleep without nightcaps, are far less likely to catch infectious diseases than the generality of children. • To keep the head cool,” persons must
avoid every kind of excess, and maintain moderation in every pursuit, and in every pleasure. The great eater and the great drinker have generally a burning forehead and a cloudy brain. The passionate man, and the intemperate, are strangers to perfect health, as well as to peace of mind. Even too hard study occasions an aching and burning head.
2. “Keep the feet warm. To do this, activity and exercise are necessary, that all the various circulations of the body may be properly carried on. Care must be taken to avoid getting the feet damp, or immediately to remove the effects of such an accident by rubbing the feet till dry and warm, and putting on dry stockings and shoes; or else soaking the feet in warm water and getting into bed. Cold feet always show something amiss in the general health, which ought to be found out, and set to rights. This uncomfortable feeling often proceeds from indigestion, and a disordered state of the stomach and bowels. The same course suggested for keeping the head cool, will at the same time tend to keep the feet properly warm, namely, moderation, activity, and calmness of temper. An intemperate, an indolent, or an ill-tempered person, is never really healthy : and, as it is in the power of every one to avoid such vicious habits, and even to resist and break them off when acquired, in that sense and to that degree, every man is the disposer of his own health, and has to answer for trifling with it.
3. " Take a light supper." It is a sign of ill health when people have the strongest relish for food late in the day; and the indulgence of that irregular appetite tends to increase the evil. Formerly it was the fashion, though a very bad one, to eat substantial, and often luxurious suppers. There was then a common saying
. After dinner sit a while,
.After supper walk a mile." In this homely distieb there is much sound wisdom. One moderately hearty meal of animal food daily is sufficient for nourishment, and conducive to health. After taking it, a short period of comparative repose is desirable, but not the total repose of sleep. After that, several hours of activity, and then a slight repast, such as will not require much exercise of the digestive powers, when the whole system ought to be resigned to complete repose.
Those who eat a hearty supper generally have disturbed, uneasy sleep, and wake at a late hour, languid and drowsy, feeble, sullen, and irritable, with a burning forehead, cold feet, and a disinclination to food and labour.
Some labouring men, however, are obliged to content themselves at mid-day with a slight refreshment which they can carry with them, and depend on returning home to their principal meal when labour is done. In this case, the meal should be quite ready for them on their return home; and they should not go to bed directly on eating it, but employ themselves for an hour or two on some moderately active pursuit, which, being of a different nature from their daily labour, will come in as an agreeable variation ; such, for instance, as gardening, or carpentering, for the man who has laboured through the day in the loom or on the shop-board.
4. “ Rise early.” Nothing is more conducive to health and excellence of every kind than early rising. All physicians agree in this; and all persons who have attained a good old age, in whatever particulars they might differ from each other, have been distinguished as early risers. Some persons require more sleep than others; but it may be laid down as a general rule, that there is no grown person to whom a period of sleep longer than seven, or, at the very most, eight hours, can be either necessary or beneficial. But a person in health may easily know how much sleep he requires, by going to bed every night at a stated time, and uniformly rising as soon as he awakes, however early that may be. By steadily pursuing this plan for a few days, or at most a few weeks, a habit will be acquired of taking just the rest that nature requires, and regularly awaking out of one sound and refreshing sleep to new vigour and activity; and when this habit is thoroughly formed, it would be no less disagreeable, than useless and injurious, for such a person, having once beheld the bright morning sun, to turn on his pillow and say, " A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep."
The earlier rest is taken, the more satisfying and beneficial it will be found. “ One hour before midnight is worth two hours afterward."
This is a common and a true saying ; but it is not to be supposed that two hours in the morning will make up for the loss of one at night. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The loss of night sleep is injurious, but indulgence in day slumbers is still more so. In case of having been disturbed one night, the best way to replace the loss is to go to bed one hour or two earlier, rather than be later in the morning. Attention to these particulars would do mach to preserve health.
In addition to these remarks, the following are worth observation. Bed-rooms should be airy, and, if possible, lofty ; a low ceiling in a bed-room is very injurious ; so also for a bedroom to be crowded with several beds, or with several persons sleeping in the same room. Windows should be made to open wide, and, if possible, to open from the top. It is unwholesome to sleep under a great quantity of clothes, or to have the curtains closely drawn round the bed..
Every window should be opened as early as possible in the morning, and closed before the damps of evening come on.
Beds should be stripped, and left open some hours, that they may be fresh and wholesome for sleeping in again. Ceilings and walls