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INFLUENCE OF THE PASSIONS OVER BODILY HEALTH.
THOSE who seriously resolve to preserve their health, must previously learn to conquer their passions, and keep them in absolute subjection : for be a man ever so temperate in his diet, and regular in his exercise, yet still some unhappy passions, if indulged to excess, will prevail over all his regularity, and prevent the good effects of his temperance.
Fear, grief, envy, hatred, malice, revenge, and despair, are known to weaken the nerves, retard the circulation, hinder perspiration, impair the digestive organs; and to produce spasms, obstructions, and hypochondriacal disorders.
Valerius Maximus gives fatal instances of terror. Violent anger creates bilious, inflammatory, convulsive, and apoplectic disorders, especially in hot constitutions.
Pliny and Aulus Gellius gives us fatal instances of extreme joy.
Sylla, the Roman dictator, having freed Italy from civil wars, returned to Rome. He said, he could not sleep the first night, his soul being transported with excessive joy, as with a strong and mighty sensation.
Those who brood over cares, are the first attacked by putrid diseases, and the hardest to cure.
The hopes of ending their days among their native rocks and mountains, make the Swiss fight under any banner.
The Royal Highlanders, from their institution, until they became mixed with men of other countries, were real volunteers. Many of them have fallen by the sword-in other respects they were remarkably healthy. New corps have since been raised; and men have been beguiled from their families, and boys from their mothers’ laps. No soooner were they wafted to distant shores, than they began to pine away. Men accustomed to cold, hunger, and fatigue, fell victims to the maladie du pays.
Africans transported to the colonies, no sooner cast their eyes on the hated shores, than they refuse sustenance, die of what sailors call the “ sulks,” and have often been known to plunge into the ocean, from a notion that their departed spirits will regain their liberty.
* This disease is called, by physicians, nostalgia, or longing for homeman unaccountable desire of returning to one's country-and is only curable by returning to the paternal rouf. The French, among whom the disease is called mal du pays, as also the Swiss, are said to be particularly liable to it; and the latter, when taken into foreign service, very frequently desert, from this cause. Its effect on the Africans is more violent, and not unfrequently impels them to dreadful acts of suicide. Sometimes it plunges them into deep and incurable melancholy, which induces the unhappy sufferers to end a miserable existence, by a more tedious, though equally certain method that of dirt eating : from whence arises the disease called Negro cachexy.
Can drugs reach the seat of such diseases ?
Moderate joy, virtue, contentment, hope, and courage, invigorate the nerves, accelerate the fluids, promote perspiration, and assist digestion.
Lord Verulam observes, that cheerfulness of spirits is particularly useful when we sit down to meats, or go to rest.
“ If any violent passions should surprise us at these seasons, it would be prudent to defer eating, or going to bed, until the mind recovers its natural tranquillity.”
It is observable that the perspiration is larger from any vehement passion of the mind, when the body is quiet, than from the strongest bodily exercise, when the mind is composed. Hence it is inferred that those who are prone to anger cannot bear much exercise, because the exuberant perspiration of both might waste too fast.
It is also remarkable, that disorders which arise from vehement agitation of the mind, are more stubborn than those which arise from violent exercise, because the latter are cured by rest and sleep, which have no influence on the former. People who cannot submit to lose, should desist from gaming.
EXERCISE, VARIETY OF LOCOMOTION, &c.
In general that sort of exercise is best to which one has been accustomed, which best agrees, and in which people take delight.
That exercise is best which is taken when the stomach is empty. The extent of exercise is to be estimated by the constitution. For the delicate and infirm, that sort of exercise is most proper which is performed by external helps,—as gestation in wheel carriages, horse-litters, sedan-chairs, sailing, &c.
Julius Cæsar was of a weak, delicate constitution by nature, which he hardened by exercise. Plutarch tells us he turned his very repose
into action. After exercise, every man ought to rest before he sits down to dinner.
Cold small liquors, after exercise, are pernicious.
The weary labourer makes a happy meal on brown bread, bacon, and sprouts :
Drink hearty draughts of ale from plain brown bowls,
And snatch the hasty rasher from the coals.* After sound sleep, a man rises stout and refreshed, and ready for the next day's labour.
* See Dr. Stevenson, on Nervous Disorders.
The rich and affluent, who cram themselves with dainties, and high-seasoned meats, dun the ears of physicians with their complaints. They would enjoy health, which they do nothing to preserve.
Those who wear out their minds, while they save their bodies, grow pale by study, and die cachectic.
Men who live in one round of sloth ; great men, who, by their rank, are exempted from the common employments of life, are either continually tormented with carking cares--or, should they apply themselves to amusements, these are inactive-cards, dice, rouge et noir, &c. Can we then wonder that those who anticipate old age, should be troubled with stone, gravel, gout, palsy, apoplexy:
Hence gout and stone affect the human race,