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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/476

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

found among the wives of the wretches who consider a marriage-contract a license for illimited venery. For girls of a chlorotic disposition, a prurient literature does what sewer-gas would do for a consumptive—though idleness will find other means to supply the want of dime-novels. In such cases, out-door work is worth all the medicines of the drug-market.

A quiet country home is the best refuge from the sufferings of that dreary form of nervous disorders that result from the reaction of deep mental wounds—disappointed hope, reverses of fortune, or the loss of a favorite child. Seasons make no difference; the very hardships of rustic life often act as a balm in such afflictions. After the death of his only son, Goethe sought solace among the pines of the Thuringian forest, like Shenstone in his Ainsford solitude, and Petrarch in his hermitage of Vaucluse. "A sick man," says old Burton, "sits upon a green bank, and, when the dog-star parcheth the plains and dries up the rivers, he lies in a shady bower, fronde sub arborea ferventia tempered astra, and feeds his eyes with a variety of objects, herbs, trees, to comfort his misery—or takes a boat on a pleasant evening, and rows upon the waters, which Plutarch so much applauds, Ælian admires, upon the river Pineus—in those Thessalian fields, beset with green bays, where birds so sweetly sing that passengers, enchanted, as it were, with their heavenly music, omnium laborum et curarum obliviscantur, forget forthwith all labors, care, and grief." Especially if the passenger can be persuaded to row his own boat, and to dismiss the delusion that the night-mists of his Pineus have to be counteracted with a bottle of alcoholic bitters.

In the homes of the poor, nervous afflictions are sometimes the result of insufficient sleep. After a sleepless night, the attempt to engage in labor of an exacting kind will lead to a fever of fidgets and nervous twitchings, and the same consequences may result from the habit of rising every morning before Nature admits that the gain of the night has quite equalized the expenses of the foregoing day. But it is a true saying that we are not nourished by what we eat, but by what we digest, and that an indigestible meal is as bad as a fast-day. Nervous people should remember that unquiet sleep is not much better than sleeplessness, and that the blessing of a good night's rest can be enjoyed only in a well-ventilated bedroom. With the largest possible supply of fresh air by day and by night, with sunshine, out-door exercise, and healthy food, the most obstinate nervous disorders can be gradually overcome; the impediments yield, till the river of life flows with an unobstructed current: the body has been restored to the conditions of existence for which its organism was originally adapted.