« ForrigeFortsæt »
to perform its natural functions, by means of which a tonic influence is exercised over the nervous system, and the whole economy is fortified to resist the abnormal susceptibilities to cold, which the highly artificial habits of our civilisation impose
"It is impossible," says Erasmus Wilson, "to avoid the conclusion, that the close clothing of the body from the moment of birth, and the continuance of the process throughout our lives, must tend to prevent the proper and healthy development of the skin, and also to debilitate it, and that the opposite course of exposing the skin to the air, and promoting its natural functions by means of the bath, must have the contrary effect of hardening and strengthening the skin, and rendering its functions more perfect." A lady, who was always catching cold from the slightest exposure of her skin to the air, said to her brother, who was a physician-"How I wish that my skin were all face." His sensible reply was-" Try and make it all face." But the task was irksome and difficult, for the Bath was not then known in these countries, while by no other means could such a purpose be accomplished so easily, so perfectly, and so pleasurable as by the habitual use of the Bath.
There is only one caution which it is necessary to give in taking the Bath, as regards liability to catching cold. "Pro perly conducted, the bath cannot give cold, and improperly inducted, it is not the bath," is the sound dictum of Erasmus Wilson. Now, an essential point in taking the Bath properly is, to cool thoroughly before proceeding to dress. By doing so the full benefit of the Bath is obtained; subsequent perspiration is prevented by the closing of the pores; and the only liability to take cold from the evaporation from open pores, effectually guarded against.
It is difficult to get some people to understand this. We often meet persons accustomed to the Bath, who, ignorant of its physiology, foolishly imagine they could take cold during the cooling process. They would like the cooling chamber to be of a higher temperature, whereas the very best temperature is that
of the atmosphere in
the depth of winter.
the open air, whatever it may be even in In fact, if the cooling room was altogether roofless, were it not for rain and draughts, its action would be the more beneficial. But under no circumstances can the cooling process, properly conducted, give cold.
Of course all bodily systems are not alike. Some persons cool more rapidly than others, but that makes no difference whatever as respects the temperature of the cooling room. is alike applicable and alike safe for all healthy constitutions, no matter what the temperature may be, and the only safeguard necessary to be observed as an invariable rule is, to cool perfectly totally irrespective of what time may be consumed in the process. Thoroughly cooled, dress quietly, and go out into the open air fearlessly, for you have acquired an impenetrable shield against cold. A moderate walk, in favourable weather, after the Bath, is calculated to do good, just as before taking the Bath a smart walk facilitates its action. Of course it is understood that we are alluding to ordinary healthy bathers, and not to invalids, who should in all cases follow the directions of competent advisers.
We have thus endeavoured to dispose of the alleged dangerous tendency of the Bath to give cold, and we have seen that those prejudices are in antagonism to the unerring laws of physiology, and, therefore, must always be in antagonism to experience. Two conclusions are irresistibly forced on us
First That the bath, properly conducted, cannot possibly give cold, and,
Second-That by no other means can the human system be so effectively fortified to resist the injurious effects of cold and of climatic changes, as by the habitual use of the Bath.
The supposition that the Bath weakens and debilitates opposed to Physiology and experience-The fantastical objections of Dr. Richardson.
A VERY common prejudice against the hot air Bath is, that it has a tendency to weaken and debilitate, and therefore, must necessarily exercise a depressing influence on the vital organism in health, but more especially so in disease. We frequently hear people in ordinary health say "my constitution is not very strong. I am thin enough already, and have no substance to spare. The profuse perspiration that I hear takes place in the bath would sweat the very life out of me."
Such like observations from persons who have had no experience of the Bath, and are ignorant of its physiology, may be excusable, as they arise from an erroneous idea of the effects produced on the human system by the action of heat-effects which are, as yet, very imperfectly understood even by enlightened physicians. The most satisfactory answer, however, that can be given to observations of the kind-indeed, to all objections to the Bath-is, that experience has so far demonstrated the complete falsity of every theory and speculative conjecture that attribute to its judicious use injurious tendencies. Reasoning from pre-conceived opinions based on imperfect knowledge, no matter how logically the process may be conducted, can be of no value whatever when opposed to the well-ascertained facts of an intelligent experience. Nature cannot err, and if we find that, as a general rule, the Bath strengthens and invigorates, we must conclude that its action is designed by Providence to be beneficial, though thousands of theorists affirmed the contrary.
But, at this point a class of theorists start up to teach us a new philosophy. They affirm that experience is not a safe guide! -that we must not repose confidence in our own sensations -that when we experience relief from the Bath, and feel that it really does us good, we are to regard our feelings not as evidence of “healthful exhaltation," but as more truly indicating a state of "ruinous depression!"
This marvellous theory we find propounded by Dr. W. B. Richardson in his address to the Provincial Medical Association of England in 1861. The use of the Bath as a therapeutic agent under the control of a Physic Doctor he would permit, but its ordinary use "as a social enjoyment or luxury"-wonderfully preservative of health and preventive of disease—he deprecates as having ruinous tendencies! The very sensation of "great pleasure and satisfaction," which attends the administration of the Bath is, in his opinion, "a misfortune!" He philosophically reasons thus—
"In the palmy days of blood-letting, when every one was periodically bled, the argument in favour of the practice was, that it produced for a time a lightness and an agreeable feeling. The respiration of nitrous oxide gas, and even in a certain stage of opium-narcotism, the same mental liberty is experienced. But what is the meaning of this sensation? Is it one of power? I believe not. I believe it is simply a transitional decline."
Observe how this learned theorist reasons, with a consummate confidence, on the palpably false assumption that the action of the Bath on the human system is exactly similar to the action of a death-dealing phlebotomy, and how irrationally he concludes, though in keeping with his premises, that, therefore, the injurious consequences must be the same. There is in his mind a perfect accord as between similar causes producing similar effects, though the difference between blood-letting and the Bath is as great as between the action of a deadly poison and of wholesome food. Blood-letting, which, unfortunately, for the countless thousands it consigned to premature graves, the profession, until recently, universally practised, had the effect of
abstracting from the system the vital fluid on which its very existence depends, whereas the action of the Bath is to purify and replenish that fluid, and maintain it in a normal condition of healthful vitality. And yet Dr. Richardson avers there is a perfect similarity of action between blood-letting and the Bathboth produce "a lightness and an agreeable feeling," which is an evidence of "transitional decline!" In the same way nitrous oxide gas, opium and other deleterious agents taken into the system give, for a time, "sensations of lightness and ease," to be followed by injurious depression; and because the Bath also imparts sensations of lightness and ease, its use must also be injurious to health and life!
But the doctor transcends himself when he proceeds to descant on the debilitating influences the Bath is calculated to exercise over health. He absolutely ventures so far as to assert that it has an inevitable tendency to deteriorate the physical and mental qualities which are the glory of the English people! This certainly is a most portentous theory, and consistently with it he predicts a direful fate for England should the bath ever become a national institution, to be used "as a social enjoyment or luxury." He does not, indeed, go to such an extreme as some of his profession did in reprobation of Jenner and vaccination, when it was asserted that the human species would be transformed by vaccine ichor into cows and bulls! But the doctor holds that the Bath will do nearly as bad. the names by which the bath is generally known, and exclaims -"Turkish and Roman are words of ill omen.' The Romans, degenerating, lost the empire of the world, and the doctor's reading of history tells him that the Bath did it all! The Turks once threatened to overrun Europe, but are now sunk in the atrophy of national decay, and the Bath is alone to blame! Therefore the learned theorist patriotically lifts his prophetic voice to warn his countrymen against the fate of the Romans and the Turks, should they permit the bath to become as it is fast doing a national, nay, a household institution!
He refers to
Starting with the ridiculous assumption that the use of the