« PreviousContinue »
aspires according to its ability to get ligber wrongs it was its own inherent duty to planes of physical health. If we do a redress. dishonorable deed, we suffer from shame Physiologically speaking, an important and repentance ; if we do some injury to duty of each tissue is to reproduce tissue the body, our physical conscience cries similar exactly in character and equal in out in pain at the wrong inflicted. If our quality to itself. Existence goes on with moral consciousness be properly indignant the continued destruction and renewal of at our wrong-doing, it will not content those minute microscopic cells of which itself with mere remorseful imaginings, the body is composed. The body to-day nor is our bodily consciousness content is not the body of yesterday ; the wear with stoarting under the sense of injury, and tear of twenty-four hours' living has but sooner or later sets in motion a repar- resulted in the disintegration and reconative process to rectify the results of acci- struction of more or less of its cell cordent.
stituents. We might imagine that the physical is A change of air will stimulate a flagging superior to the moral conscience in that it conscience to a higher sense of duty, and seems generally to repair its wrongs ; but, it will fulfil its better possibilities by putunfortunately, this is too often only seem ting in material of healthier type. The ing ; it unites the gaping wound, heals result is a sense of renewed life, a raising the patent injury, but in how few cases is of the vitality, a quickening of the nervous it so sensitive and efficient that it rests not powers. We come back from a holiday until the wrong has been fully rectified ! literally another person. But presently But too frequently it scamps its work, and the conscience falls into old lax ways, old puts in inferior material wherewith to indolent shiftless babits, and reconstructs unite the breach. The old scar breaks the body, not on its original lines of out afresh, after pretence for years of health, not according to its better possi. being healed ; just as a man's sin, of bilities, but on the slipshod methods of a which his smarting conscience bad pro- former defalcation. The benefit derived fessed to cure him, breaks out anew in is only temporary ; we sink back soon on wrong-doing.
to the same low health levels as heretoIn how many cases of rheumatic fever, fore. The fault lies largely with ourselves for example, does the body heal the in- in having ever tolerated these levels, in flamed joints, and so renew them that the not having brought the conscience to book, victim does not suffer life-long miseries in not having demanded from the first the from his ill. repaired tissues ? The chronic strict observance of its duty. rheumatism which is an almost invariable Recognizing the obligations and duty sequela of the acute illness is nature's life of this conscience, we should not permit long outcry against inferior material which its temporary aberrations to become habits. has been put in by an unworthy physical But how few of us ever give a thonght to conscience. Cancer very frequently takes the conservation of our health and its its starting-point from the cicatrix of an maintenance at its highest possibilities unold wound, a striking proof of the degen- til the demoralization of our physical conerate tissue which has been used for the science and its degraded levels are materepair of the wound, tissue which is not rially perilling the comfort of existence. only greatly inferior to the material it And then it is too late. The relaxed tone simulates, but is such an alien that it out of which health's elasticity is more or turns and rends the body which nurtures less gone cannot be strung to its normal it.
pitch, the bad habit has become the sysIn all cases, and these are legion, in tem's chronic condition. Not only has which acute disease passes into chronic, the power of aspiration perished, but it the physical conscience has failed in its has jost footing even on the platform duty ; it has failed to keep up the physi- whence it should have aspired. cal standard, whose guardian it is ; it has In many cases of acute illness the blame failed to supply, in the place of cells de- of this degeneration is not unshared by stroyed by disease, cells equal to these in art, which steps in to incommode an alcharacter and vitality; like many a guilty ready inefficient agent. Like the majesty moral consciousness, it spends the rest of of the law, which stretches out its mighty its days in bemoaning and bewailing the hand and incarcerates the transgressor,
who, repentant of his sins, was beginning thereupon experiencing no further inconto right the wrongs he had perpetrated, venience from its importunities, exclaims so also the majesty of medicine too often “I am well ;" just as we, having drugged lays its mighty hand upon the tardy physi- our war-correspondents and put our telecal conscience, soothes its remorse with graphic apparatus out of order, might, on sedatives, dulls its sensitiveness with opi- opening our morning paper, remark, ates, demands that it fulfil its repairing “Peace is restored, I see, because there contract to time, and so impels it to fill in is no news from the seat of war !"" the breach with rough, unfinished mate It sounds paradoxical to say that disease rial. There is no doubt but that we do is a normal healthy process, but this is harm by our indiscriminate relief of symp- strictly true. The phenomena of illness toms. Pain is a symptom of the sensitive- are the symptoms of a struggle which the ness of the nerves on guard at the seat of system is making in order to throw off disease, and this very pain, “ which mis some injurious influence, or to give rest likes us much," acts as a never-failing to some disabled organ. The sufferer sentinel stimulating the brain to send its who, without even temporarily losing his armament of healthy blood, its quantum composure, can digest the bacillus taken of nutritive plasma, in order that the into his stomach, calmly converting it into bodily structure be rightly and properly his own substance, and so turning it to restored, restored on the plan of its orig- his own uses, or in his lungs can comfortinal construction, so delicately, minutely, ably oxygenate it into heat-producing and perfectly, that no man may detect a fuel, is in a better state of health than is weakened spot.
he who flies into a state of excitement, Medicine does well when she busies her- loses his head, and frets and fumes hiinself in stimulating and assisting a tardy, self into a fever in bringing his forces to inefficient physical conscience ; but she resist the attack ; but this latter is immust surely do injury when she opposes mensely superior in health to another the operations of a conscience which is whose physical morale is at so low an ebb healthily sensitive and active, and knows that it does not object to the noxious conbest along which lines the reparative proc- tact, but permits the entry of disease ess should proceed. We cannot blame germs into its citadel, and their free adthe doctor because his patient ignorantly mixture with and demoralization of its appeals to his sympathies against his own citizens. interests, but we must blame the art of Scarlet fever is the terrified cry of the medicine which does not teach both pa- childish physical conscience at the contact tient and doctor that the temporary incon- of the baleful germ ; the innocent compovenience of a symptom must not be con sure is startled, the sensitive balance oversidered before the permanent interests of thrown. The tender skin glows with a a life. The patient's query to his phy- vivid blush at the touch of the intruder ; sician is not "How long should I remain the scarlet rash is the danger signal mountin bed in order to restore my health to its ed by the sentinels of health, and at all original integrity ?” but “ How long, 0, these outposts a vigorous attempt is made you Æsculapian tyrant, do you mean to to rout the foe. keep me here ?" He will not spare time Measles, diphtheria, typhoid, typhus, for an absolute and perfect recovery ; he small-pox, all these are phenomena of rehas so little consideration for his body, sistance made by the constitution against upon the condition of which his future some element of evil introduced into its well-being depends, that instead of grate- midst; the various symptoms of these fully and religiously regarding its needs, several affections arising from the action he requires its warning cries to be stifled of the particular organs or glands to which in order that he may work out his own the body deputes the task of dealing with further wreckage unhindered.
the enemy. The natural outcome of this demand is In scarlet fever the skin and throat are that the doctor must perforce use all his made the points of exit of the foe, and in art in so dulling the physical conscience forcibly thrusting him through these gateand so blunting its sense of duty, that it ways friction and congestion and damage no longer cries out at its wrongs and asks result on the threshold. According to for restitution. The patient so treated the speed with which he can be ejected,
is the limit of his time and opportunity to of the body and its needs they must suf. deteriorate and injure the general health ; fer, even though they do not complain. according to the denseness and violence A man may sin and sin again, but we of his numbers is the injury done on the cannot argue that because he feels no rethreshold of his expulsion. The special norse, because his blunted moral sense bas garrison whose duty it was to get rid of ceased to warn him of and struggle against him, may do so at the expense of its own his soul's contamination, that therefore existence. The foe may be thrust forth his evil-doing does not harm him. while the garrison is left blocked by the the contrary, we look upon him as in a dead and dying, whose putrefaction and far lower depth of moral ill-health than is disintegration may poison the city it died he who sins and repents, and sins and rein defending. This is according to the pents, even though he sin unto seventy force and deadliness of the enemy, accord- times seven. ing to the quick sensitiveness of the con Hospital nurses, just after return from science in perceiving his presence, its a holiday, more frequently than any other power of promptly and properly arraying time succumb to infectious disease. So its forces against him, and, last of all, of long as they remain in the germ-laden, dethe healthy integrity and efficiency of the pressing hospital air, they are far less liaforces so arrayed.
ble to infection. A rest and change to In considering the question philosophi- fresh, pure atmosphere raises the tone of cally, we can but regard a large class of the physical consciousness, makes it more diseases as symptoms of a reactionary appreciative of unwholesome influences, effort of health to throw out of the system and it rises at once in healthy rebellion some material or element inimical to it. against these ; whereas, in the deteriorated The capacity for sickness is, therefore, in condition which hospitalism induces, the a degree, a test of health, in that it is a system tolerates and makes no protest measure of the sensitiveness of the physi- against the germs which assail it. Such cal conscience. There are, cf course, per- possibilities of tolerance are, of course, sons whose health is so perfect that their sacrifice of individual welfare to general physical, like their moral, conscience is expediency, but let us recognize them as able to dispose calmly of the evils wbich being only this ; do not let us flatter ourthreaten it; but there are more who only selves that the victims of such necessities by a temporary uprising and loss of bal- enjoy all life's advantages, and let us in ance can so bring their strength to resist justice to them lessen to the utmost the the ills that assail them. In still greater disadvantages of such necessitous circumnumber are they whose physical, like their stances. moral, consciences are not fastidious and Taking into consideration these facts, do not trouble to fight the shadowy foes we cannot but wonder if the “protecof ideal life, moral or physical.
tion" offered us by the inoculators is not Men who work in sewers but rarely obtained by destroying the healthy innosuffer from typhoid fever and other simi- cence of the physical conscience. We lar diseases, to which noxious gases and must remember that the inoculator cannot noxious germs render other persons liable. offer us freedom from attack; he promThey get used to it, and so it does not ises only to blunt the conscience so that its harm them, we say ; but if we properly composure shall not be disturbed when explain ourselves, we shall say that it is the attack is made. We must remember not because it does not harm them, but also that the reason for such disturbance because their physical sense is so blunted of our composure, the reason we are so by use that it is dumb under its injuries. prostrated that we must take to our beds For there can be no doubt but that the and suffer pain and thirst and fever, is behealth must suffer. It is impossible to cause onr forces are being used to vanquish continually breathe poison into the lungs a foe, because there is a struggle going on without suffering therefrom. The nega- within us, real and intense, in order that tive condition of not breathing in pure this foe shall not injure the perfect citadel fresh supplies of oxygen is perverted into of our health, an absolute injurious position of contam But if no cry warn us that the invasion inating the blood with fætid gases. These is made, if no gathering of our forces men must suffer ; by the very constitution drain our strength, if no prostration allow
these forces to be drawn off to the scene would, on the removal of injurious influof action, it is no proof that the foe is ences, gradually restore the weakened ornot equally harmful ; on the contrary, the gans to their former state of health, the very fact that he is not met and opposed, ideal of health permeating the system and but is permitted free entry, only makes rousing the degenerated cells to a sense of our graver danger. It is our very health former excellence and capability. Such that kills us, we may say ; we die in a recuperative power should be possible to smart struggle for the integrity of our em all ; it, however, exists but rarely, and in pire. Nature maintains her level of excel- those only whose consciousness is sensitive lence by pitting us against a vigorous foe; and quick, and will not rest until the lowbut if we will not fight, if we decline the ered standard is raised to its previous contest, and servilely submit to the smiter, height. Having but few such fine conif we are too base to struggle for ideals, sciences to deal with, treatment lies usually what can she do with her degenerate in the direction of lowering the general sons? If we decline and elude the means forces to the inefficiency of one. by which she tests us, she must perforce In recognizing that science has been let us go our way and degenerate still compelled to give way to popular feeling, further into the outer darkness.
and to sacrifice occasionally human interWe recognize in medicine a line of ests to expediency, we must not lose sight treatment known as a levelling-down proc. of the fact that inedicine is only one of ess. That is, having tried in vain to raise many means we use to destroy our bodily the level of health at which an individual sense of rectitude. The greater number lives, having found that he cannot be of us start in life with this object set beplaced in possession of the energies of fore us as a duty. We do not look npon health without rousing the tell tale cry
of our body's sensitiveness as something old sins committed against his constitu- which subtends our body's health, and tion, without his physical conscience ra's. therefore something to be as carefully ing the spectre of remorse and repining so preserved as is our love of truth and honor. wofully as to make life intolerable, our We regard it rather as a weakness to be only expedient is to systematically lower overcome, an element of self-indulgence the standard of health, to deaden the which relaxes the tone of our physique. healthy consciousness, so that instead of And this it may be if over cultivated, but, reaching up in remorseful imaginings it in fear of erring, we generally spoil the shall content itself with a mean of lower delicate elasticity of this bond whose power levels. We give, therefore, nerve depress- of recoil is the measure of health. The ants, and limit the food supplies until the Spartans systematically lowered the temenergies are so lowered that they cannot perature of their emotional sense, and reafford the luxury of aspiration, and so no garding the condition of ice as the highest further remorseful regrets are awakened. form of the current of feeling, chilled and We have no alternative than this. Our repressed it until all tender human affecpatient must live, and if he cannot live tion was frozen at its source. luxuriously and as a gentleman, with an In very similar fashion do we regard honorable competency, a constitutional in- and maltreat the natural physical sensiheritance which furnishes him with life's tiveness of the body. We enforce hard luxuries and enjoyments, he must needs studies and long bours of application and live'as a day-laborer, from hand to mouth, athletics upon delicate, highly-strung boys with his mental as well as his physical and girls, whose bodily conscience cries possibilities degraded to a lower plane. out in weariness and anæmia and disease
A chain is no stronger than its weakest at the strain which is put upon it. We link ; a man is no stronger than his weak- know better than to expose the unformed est organ. If he have, for example, wil- ignorant moral nature of the child to tempfully spoiled his digestive capacity by al- tation it knows not how to resist ; we first coholic or food excess, all his powers must strengthen in gentleness its quiet delicate henceforward be measured by the degree growth, nurturing and cherishing it acof this incapacity, ali his forces must be cording to its needs, as a higher part readjusted to the weakness of this one. which must not be rudely dealt with and
We can imagine a physical conscience blighted. Were we to do likewise with which, healthily aspiring and efficient, the body, we should soon attain what is
so vital a need of to-day, something which shoulders bent. If you have formed an at least approximates to a standard of ideal of physical excellence and comely healtb.
health, he stands before you its striking “I train my child to do without flan- antithesis. Yet he can, as he tells you, nels, to wear the same clothing winter and perform great feats of endurance ; be summer, and to go about with so much seems almost tireless in his energy. How length of bare leg, bare arm, and bare can this be? Whatsoever may be his throat and chest. It hardens him so that characteristics, no one with a soul for he does not feel the cold,” we hear our physiology can suspect them of being ansneighbor say, which translated reads, “I thing but morbid. And that they are. so accustom the child to being constantly His physical sensitiveness is dulled and cold, I by use so harden the sensitiveness does not cry out in healthy reactive of his nervous system, that it no longer energy ; it does not even quietly tell its complains because the limbs are chitled truth of the body's utter weariness and and ill-nourished, the blood stagnant, and reduction to the lowest ebb. It is a duil the general vitality depressed ;' his phys- brutish conscience which does not even ical conscience has become blunted in the mumble in revolt. But the informed eye same way that the fine delicacy of his can see wbat his conscience's eye should skin has become coarsened by exposure, be the first to perceive. It seems a beanand it will, without protest, endure a de- tiful piece of living sensitiveness reduced gree of temperature which is distinctly in- to a thing of mechanical action and automjurious to health.
atism ; of serses dulled, and cells deWhere, in the name of all that is inter- teriorated, of elastic fibre rendered rigid ; rogative, is the advantage ! The deterio- of springy cartilages calcified ; of delicate rating effect of constant cold is not avoid- nervous tissue, which was meant to thrill ed ; the system must suffer though it is and throb with the subtle joy of life, devoiceless, in exactly the same manner that graded into mere telegraph wires for the the child's moral development would suf- transmission of muscle-messages ; of eyes fer by relation with constant falsehood that were made beautiful with feeling and even though his sense of right and wrong sympathetic to the loveliness they saw, were so spoiled by custom that he did not degenerated into mere organs of vision ; falter and cry out “ I am a liar and must of lips which were modelled in nature's suffer for my sins.”
workroom, curved with fine feeling and We over-walk and over-work our chil. sweet human dignity, marvellously formed dren till, tired of emitting its dumb pro- alike for strong and tender speech, contest of pallid lips and weary eyes, the sys- verted into mere gateways for the ingestem at last breaks down in illness, which tion of material to be manufactured into is a louder, more indignant rebellion muscularity ; of a frame which was inagainst its ill-usage. But it is of no use ; tended to express the strength and gracethe prostration is not rightly understood fulness and subtlety of evoluted man, deas a withdrawal of the forces from their generated into a system of motor levers ; normal distribution, in order that they of sensitive nervous fingers transformed may be devoted to the recuperation of into mere instruments of utility ; of the some one or other exhausted faculty ; we hardening of tender hands, hands that continue our régime of depressing and were made tender to touch the world's dulling the physical conscience till this wounds. All this is apparent to him who barometer of health no longer responds to reads truly ; but the conscience whose the influence it is its duty to notify, no duty it is to arrest the downward progress longer registers the degree of injurious- lies blind and dumb before it, blighted in ness of such influences.
its early growth, stunted in its later de“ I can walk from morning till night velopment. without tiring; I can bicycle or play All conditions of nerve-exhaustion recricket all day long and never feel it !" sult from a dull unspeaking conscience your friend will tell you, glorying in these which allows this rapid constitutional disunnatural powers of his constitution. His turbance to be a facilis descensus. Many face is sallow and drawn, and marked with persons would have been saved from such nervous, anxions lines ; his lips are white a state of constitutional bankruptcy had a and heavy ; his frame is emaciated ; his healthy (!) illness stayed their downward