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sequence of the capacity of the gastric organ, a large quantity is taken, the result will be pernicious, directly or indirectly. Parents are uneasy when their children eat but little, and would encourage them to eat against their inclination. No mistake can be more pernicious to health; and if persevered in, disease will infallibly result from it. When the child wants appetite, instead of being compelled to take food, it must be compelled to take exercise, unless positively ill, and then it must be compelled to take medicine.
The quantity of liquid given to young persons is decidedly injurious. The principal agent in the digesting process, is a solvent juice. The more this is diluted with fluids, the weaker it is, and the less perfect the digestive action. Animal food should be sparingly taken by young persons who use little exercise; and children generally do not need it. Bread and milk, and fruit, are the best articles for those who do not labour. Wine is highly pernicious to young persons. It is a slow but certain poison. Before the body has attained its full growth, there is an overplus of excitability; and if to this is added the powerful agency of wine, or any other stimulating drink, the constitution cannot fail to be hurt. Females are more injured by stimulating drinks than males, because their system is more susceptible of physical excitement. The nervous power is more energetic ; the pulse and respiration are quicker ; and the development of animal heat greater. Hence, I suppose, it is, that they require less covering in cold weather; and suffer more inconvenience from heat than the other sex.
Females are unfortunately compelled by fashion to adopt partial and unequal coverings of the body. A part of the chest is very much covered, while another
part is wholly exposed. The dangers which spring from fashion are more easily pointed out than avoided. They serve at least to place in a clearer light the necessity of inuring young females to exposure, and invigorating them by exercise.
There is one part of female dress, the dangers of which have been made known, but which still, I fear, continues to be practised; I mean the girting the chest.
In what notions of beauty this practice took its origin, I am unable to discover. The angular projections formed by a tightly drawn cord, are in direct opposition to the models of Grecian or Roman beauty. In the flowing robes of the Juno, the Vesta, and Diana, every part is light and graceful. Nor have I been able to discover, in the representation of the Muses or the Graces, any habiliment which would lead us to believe they wore stays or corsets. The taste of the other sex is uniformly opposed to the wasp-like waist and the boarded chest. Yet, strange as it seems, there is scarcely a young lady of fifteen, who has not imbibed a disposition for this species of application, and scarcely a well-dressed lady of any age, whose chest is not confined in such a manner as to impede the motions of respiration and the free use of the muscles of the
upper extremities. It is true we are constantly told that they are uncomfortable without these appendages; but this only shows what great inconveniences we can, by habit, become accustomed to. The Indian nations, who consider the flattened forehead to be a beauty, confine the heads of their infants between two pieces of board corded together, and the child exists under this pressure and may grow up.
Yet there can be no doubt that diseases are generated by it; that some lose their lives, and others
their intellects. Still the fashion continues from age to age; for I have now in my possession flattened heads which must have lived some hundreds of years since, and others which have belonged to individuals of the existing generation.
Nature has so contrived the human chest that there is no superfluous play of the parts composing it. Its movements are just sufficient to give such an expansion to the lungs and such an extent of oxygenation of the blood, as are adequate to the wants of the individual under different occurrences. In females, the chest is shorter than in males; and to compensate for this, the motion of the ribs is naturally more extensive and more frequent. Whatever limits this motion is, therefore, peculiarly injurious to the sex; especially as they are more disposed to consumption and other chronic affections of the lungs. Now, the ligatures in the fashionable dress are placed precisely on that part where the motion should be greatest, that is, the lower part. It is precisely here, that, in case of fracture of the ribs, when we desire to stop the movements of the chest, we apply a tight bandage; though rarely do we venture to make it so tight as the ordinary corsets. The effect of such pressure, begun at an early period of life, will be understood from what has been stated in regard to the spine. The bones must yield to it; their shape becomes permanently altered; the lower part of the breast contracted; the space destined by nature for the heart and lungs diminished; and what the fatal results of all this on these tender and vital organs are, every day's experience shows us. The influence on the health, though slow, is certain. It may not at once produce consumption; but it lays the foundation for ills it would
pain you to hear and me to describe. I will only say, by way of specification, that, among other diseases of which this is the fruitful germ, I have known three instances of perpetual headache, at last bringing on insanity and terminating in death.' The immediate cause of the disease was the compression of the heart and great blood vessels, and the consequent accumulation of blood in the head.
As young ladies are disposed to this practice, probably by fancies communicated by their companions, those who have charge of them should not only prohibit these applications—they should, for themselves, observe whether anything is wrong; and after the young ladies have reached the age when dress is considered a primary object, they should resolutely oppose every encroachment on the rights of the vital organs, beyond what is required by a decent attention to the prejudices of the day.
If I might call your attention to other topics of interest connected with this subject, I should advert to the constant use of cold-bathing, especially the shower-bath, as very conducive to invigoration of the body and to lessening the susceptibility to the injurious effects of cold on the surface of the skin. I would speak of the advantages of regular friction over the whole surface, and especially the chest and the neck, those parts which are constantly to be exposed to the air. The judicious use of the voice by reading aloud, I should highly commend. It invigorates the lungs, and gives action to the whole digestive apparatus ; but I should not speak so favourably of singing—a delightful accomplishment, indeed, but only to be pursued by those whose chests are ample, and pulmonary organs vigorous. These subjects I can
barely allude to, without entering into the details of their particular application, having extended these remarks much beyond my original design.
Let me conclude by entreating your attention to a revision of the existing plans of education, in what relates to the preservation of health. Too much of the time of the better educated part of young persons, is, in my humble opinion, devoted to literary pursuits and sedentary occupations; and too little to the acquisition of the corporeal powers indispensable to make the former practically useful. If the present system does not undergo some change, I much apprehend we shall see a degenerate and sinking race, such as came to exist among the higher classes in France, before the revolution, and such as now deforms a large part of the noblest families in Spain ;* but if the spirit of improvement, so happily awakened, continue, as I trust it will, to animate those concerned in the formation of the young members of society, we shall soon be able, I doubt not, to exhibit an active, beautiful, and wise generation, of which the age may be proud.
· I am informed, by a lady who passed a long time at the Spanish court, in a distinguished situation, that the Grandees have deteriorated by their habits of living, and the restriction of intermarriages to their own rank, to a race of dwarfs, and, though fine persons are sometimes seen among them, they, when assembled at court, appear to be a group of manikins.