Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/104

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92
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

door in injuriousness to complete muscular inactivity; and it is remarkable, in looking over tables of the occupations of consumptives, to find that, among those who are reported to have been occupied in out-door work, the majority have belonged to pursuits which imply an extraordinary muscular expenditure.

Rule VII. Excessive Mental Exertion should he avoided by the Consumptive.—It is the fate of some members of the human family, who are of consumptive taint, to have minds of a very active and laborious character. As children, these love reading, and pursuits of an intellectual kind. They are specially precocious; and admiring parents, with proud hopes as to the future of their offspring, encourage an exertion which ought ever to be kept in bounds. As these precocities grow up, their mental development runs out of proportion to the development of the body. On this, muscular labor becomes a bore, and the study or desk the only enjoyable place in life. The result is, not that the mind by its overwork directly wears out the body, but that the body is neglected, and its physical degeneration hastened.

The bad effects show themselves first, according to my observation, in derangement of the digestive system. In young persons of consumptive taint, the impaired nutrition of the whole body, incident to the impaired digestion and broken sleep, tells speedily on the respiration, and supplies the first link in the fatal disease. Let all the absurd poetry about "those dying young whom the gods love" go its way. The gods love and help those who live naturally—and these die old.

I have seen so much mischief arise from the overwork of the mind, in consumptive children and youths, that I have dwelt no longer than is really necessary in treating on the importance of the present rule. If I had a child of decidedly consumptive tendency, he should scarcely touch books at all. He should be taught orally as much as possible; he should be brought up in the open air, and to out-door sports and occupations; and he should be encouraged to enter into every innocent game where the muscles are brought into vigorous play.

The choice of an occupation is best made by adopting the exclusion process. Exclude every calling in which close confinement to the study, the shop, the counting-house, or any other house, absorbs the greater part of life. The agricultural life is, on the whole, the best.

Every occupation will be modified with advantage by the enjoyment of ennobling pleasures. The dance, the lecture, the drama, music, is each good in its season, when attainable without injury to health. But from all crowded assemblies I warn the consumptive to keep away. The pleasure derived from them is nothing in comparison to the evil insured in obtaining it.

Music has a grand influence on some minds, and may be cultivated with advantage under due regulations; but upon wind-instruments