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long-continued mental exertion, it will circulate but feebly in other parts, and hence the feet will become cold, the stomach will act slowly, and active muscular exercise can not be taken with profit; and when, on the other hand, other parts of the body require a bountiful supply of blood, as is the case when the stomach is engaged in the process of digestion, and when the muscles generally are called into vigorous action, the brain will be incapable of its greatest efforts. Hence severe mental application should never be attempted just before or after a hearty meal, nor during any active muscular exertion. . .
4. Keeping in view that the brain is a bodily organ, and that thought is its proper stimulus to exertion—that, like an arm in a sling, it dwindles by disuse, and becomes slow and feeble in its movements, we shall not be surprised to find that inactivity of intellect is a frequent predisposing cause of every form of nervous disease. We witness the truth of this in the well-known fact that solitary confinement is so severe a punishment, even to the strongest minds, as often to produce permanent derangement of intellect, and even confirmed idiocy; and it is a lower degree of the same cause which renders continuous seclusion from society so injurious to both mental and bodily soundness. We also see the effects of want of mental occupation in the numerous victims to nervous disease among females of the middle and higher ranks, who, having no calls to exertion in gaining the means of subsistence, and no objects of interest on which to exercise their mental faculties, sink into a state of mental sloth and nervousness, which not only deprives them of much enjoyment, but subjects them to suffering both of body and mind from the slightest causes.
5. An additional illustration, and a very common one, of the bad effects of want of mental occupation, is often presented in the case of a man of mature age and active habits, who, having devoted his life to the toils of business, and having acquired a competency,3 gives up all his business relations, and retires to the country to seek repose and enjoyment. Suppose such a person to have no moral, religious, or philosophical pursuits to occupy his attention and keep up the active exercise of his brain; this organ will lose its health from inaction, and the inevitable result will be, weariness of life, despondency, melancholy, or some other form of nervous disease. Long confinement to an unvarying round of employment, which affords neither scope nor stimulus for one half of the faculties, must also be prejudicial to the health and vigor of the nervous system.
6. But the evils arising from excessive or ill-timed exercise of the brain are also numerous, and equally in accordance with the ordinary laws of physiology. When we use the eye too long, or in too bright a light, it becomes bloodshot; and if we continue to look intently, the irritation at length becomes permanent, and disease, followed by weakness of sight, or even blindness, may ensue. Phenomena precisely analogous* occur when, from intense mental excitement, the brain is kept long in excessive activity. We learn this from occasional cases in which, from some external injury, the brain has been so exposed that its action has been seen.
7. Sir Astley Cooper had a young gentleman brought to him who had lost a portion of his skull just above the eyebrow. "On examining the head,” says Sir Astley, “I distinctly saw the pulsation of the brain was regular and slow; but at this time he was agitated by some opposition to his wishes, and directly the blood was sent with increased force to the brain, and the pulsation became frequent and violent." Who does not know that when one is moderately flushed and heated in debate his mind works more freely and powerfully than at any other time'? And why'? Because then his brain has a healthy activity, occasioned by an abundant supply of its natural stimulus. But let the excitement run too high, and too much blood be sent to the brain, and giddi. ness will ensue, threatening apoplexy; or the brain may be overstrained, the same as an arm, and the consequence be permanent mental debility. ICON-GÉBÉ-TION, too great an accumulation ducing loss of sense and voluntary ro 2 ÅP'-O-PLEX-Y, a disorder of the brain pro- 3 €/M'-PE-TEN-OY, a sufficiency of property.
14 A-NĂL'-O-GOUS, like ; similar.
LESSON XIX.—THE FOOT'S COMPLAINT. 1. “It's really too bad,” cried the Foot in a fever,
"That I am thus walking and walking forever;
While here I am doomed to the mud and the dust.
And the Ear only wakes when the dinner-bell rings;
And as to the Eye-he sees every fine sight.” 3. “Stay, stay,” said the Mouth ; “don't you know, my dear brother,
We all were intended to help one another' ?
4. “Consider', my friend', we are laboring too',
And toiling-nay, don't interrupt me--for you';
Of course, you know well, you would falter and die. 5. “I eat, but 'tis only that you may be strong;
The Hand works for you', friend', all the day long';
So great are his efforts to guide you aright.”
For he felt he had talked in a culpable way,
LESSON XX.-RULES FOR MENTAL EXERCISE. 1. At any time of life excessive and long-continued mental exertion is hurtful, but especially in infancy and early youth, when the structure of the brain is still immature and delicate.
2. While the healthy and backward boy may, without danger, be stimulated to mental exertion, the delicate and precocious child needs constant mental restraint, and much out-door exercise.
3. Cheerful feelings, as they exert an enlivening influence over the whole system, conduce greatly to a healthy activity of the brain, and increase its power for exertion
4. The growing child requires more sleep than the adult; and the close student more than the idler. In proportion as mental excitement is opposed to sleep, it exhausts the body.
5. The length of time the brain may be safely used is modified by many circumstances, such as those of age, mental habits, health of the brain, and health of the system. If the brain has long been habituated to profound study, it will not be so soon fatigued as when its habits have been indolent.
6. The brain finds relief from exhaustion in frequent change of studies and occupation. The early part of the day, when the exhausted energies of body and mind have been restored by repose, is the best time for study.
7. As quiet of the brain is essential to quiet sleep', active study should cease some time before retiring to rest.
8. We should not enter upon continued mental exertion', or arouse deep feeling, immediately before or after violent muscular exercise.
9. Moderate mental exertion is more necessary in old age than in mature years. In middle life, while the body is gaining strength, the exhaustion of the brain from overexcitement may be repaired; but no such result follows overexertion in the decline of life. The current history of the day furnishes numerous sad examples of premature death from overtasked brains at an advanced period of life. .
10. The physical, intellectual, and moral faculties should receive, daily, their appropriate share of culture, that all may grow in harmony together. Just in proportion as mind is cultivated in some one direction only, the result is that species of monomania which we see in men of one idea; and when the physical alone is cultivated, we have the mere bully or bravado.
11. When the brain is overcharged with blood, as often occurs from toc
great mental exertion, or from disease or accident, the most ready and safe means of relief is to make warm applications to the feet and hands, which will tend to draw the blood from the brain to the extremities.
12. Exercise is as natural to the mind as to the body; hence all healthy children delight in constant mental occupation; and if they can not obtain it in judicious mental culture and honest employment, they will be apt to seek it in the haunts of dissipation, and perhaps in those of crime. It is a physiological as well as a moral truth, that “Idleness is the parent of vice ;" and it is no less the teaching of physiology than of experience, that, if we will not educate the ignorant, we may expect to support them as paupers or criminals.
LESSON XXI.--ADVICE TO A HARD STUDENT.
“ Seek variety in recreation and study."
Nor plod each weary day,
A servant to its clay.
Some contemplations high':
Look upward' to the sky'.
At noontide wield the pen';
To-morrow' talk with men.'
Or toy with running brooks; •
The honey of thy books.
A gladiator strong',
But strive not over long.
And let life's surges beat,
Far, far beneath thy feet.
Mid intellectual snow;
And roam where waters flow;
At the domestic hearth';3
And join the children's mirth'.
To feed in turns thy mental life,
And fan its flame divine';
Maintain a balance true',
Give forth its music due.-CHARLES MACKAY. · AL-TĖR'-NĀTE, or ÅL'-TER-NĀTE, to ex-/3 HEÄRTH (härth). This is the approved change; perform by turns.
pronunciation, although the writer, above, 2 RI'-FLE, seize and bear away.
makes it rhyme with mirth.
LESSON XXII.—NEGLECT OF HEALTH.
SAMUEL JOHNSON. 1. THERE is among the fragments of the Greek poets a short hymn to Health, in which her power of exalting the happiness of life, of heightening the gifts of fortune, and adding enjoyment to possession, is inculcated with so much force
and beauty that no one, who has ever languished under the • discomforts and infirmities of a lingering disease, can read it
without feeling the images dance in his heart, and adding, from his own experience, new vigor to the wish, and from his own imagination new colors to the picture. The particular occasion of this little composition is not known, but it is probable that the author had been sick, and in the first raptures of returning vigor addressed Health in the following manner:
2. “ Health, most venerable of the powers of heaven! with thee may the remaining part of my life be passed, nor do thou refuse to bless me with thy residence. For whatever there is of beauty or of pleasure in wealth, in descendants, or in sovereign command, the highest summit of human enjoyment, or in those objects of human desire which we endeavor to chase into the toils of love; whatever delight, or whatever solace is granted by these celestials, to soften our fatigues, in thy presence, thou parent of happiness, all those joys spread out, and flourish; in thy presence blooms the spring of pleasure, and without thee no man is happy."
3. Such is the power of health, that without its co-operation every other comfort is torpid and lifeless, as the powers of vegetation without the sun. And yet this bliss is often thrown away in thoughtless negligence, or in foolish experiments on our own strength; we let it perish without remembering its value, or waste it to show how much we have to spare; it is sometimes given up to the management of levity and chance, and sometimes sold for the applause of jollity and debauchery.