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ways standing. 2. Never to study in a window. 3. Never to go to bed with his feet cold.
Night studies are very prejudicial to the constitution, and ought to be avoided by all who wish to prolong their lives, and to be useful in their day and generation. Thuanus tells us of Acidalius, that his excessive application to study was the occasion of his untimely death; and that his sitting up of nights brought upon him a distemper which carried him off in three days, at the age of 28. Lord Bacon greatly impaired his constitution by this. Hervey and Toplady the same; and it is said of Dr. Owen, that he would have gladly exchanged all the learning he had gotten by night studies for the health he had lost thereby. Nocturnal studies (says Dr. Knox,) too long and too closely continued, seldom fail to injure the eyes, and together with them the whole nervous system. They who are impelled by necessity to work by night and by day, must, indeed, submit with patience to their destiny; but that he who is master of his time should chain himself down to a more exhausting toil than the labour of the galley slave, is a species of folly approaching to insanity. And, indeed, I know of nothing more likely to produce madness than intemperate study, with want of exercise, want of air, and want of sleep. It will, after all, be but a poor comfort, to have gone through a whole li. brary, and to have lost our eyes and our senses in the course of the laborious progress.”
However fond of study, therefore, let the student pày some attention to health. I know how it is when the mind is in pursuit of some favourite intellectual object, and how difficult it is for
the student who loves his study better than his life to think of relaxation (especially when he finds no immediate inconveniencies.) But, should this book fall into the hands of any such, I entreat them to consider 'the advice of a physician, who thus observes—" Few diseases prove more fatal to the studious than consumptions of the lungs. It is necessary to observe, that this organ cannot be duly expanded in those who do not take proper exercise; and where that is the case, obstructions and adhesions will ensue. Not only want of exercise, but the posture in which studious per
.. sons generally sit, is very hurtful to the lungs.. Those who read or write much are ready to contract a habit of bending forwards, and often press with their breast upon a table or bench. This posture cannot fail to hurt the lungs. As studious people are necessarily much. within doors, they should make choice of a large and well aired place for study. This would not only prevent the bad effects which attend confined air, but would cheer the spirits, and have a most happy influence both on the body and mind. It is said of Euripides, the tragedian, that he used to retire to a dark cave to compose his tragedies; and of Demosthenes, the Grecian orator, that he chose a place for study where nothing could be heard or seen. With all deference to such venerable names, we cannot help condemsing their taste. A man may surely think to as good a purpose in an elegant apartment as in a cave; and may have as. happy conceptions where the all-cheering rays of the sun render the air wholesome, as in places. where they never enter. 6. Those who read or write, much should be: very attentive to their posture. They ought to sit and stand by turns, always keeping as nearly in an erect posture as possible. Those who dictate, may do it walking. It has an excellent effect frequently to read or speak aloud. This not only exercises the lungs, but almost the whole body. Hence studious people are greatly benefited by delivering discourses in public. Public speakers, indeed, sometimes hurt themselves by over-acting their part; but this is their own fault. The martyr to mere vociferation merits not our sympathy."
Whatever love we bear to retirement, however attached we may be to study, it is highly necessary that we should attend to exercise and lawful amusements for the sake of our health.
Charles V, during his celebrated solitude, sometimes cultivated the plants in his garden with his own hands, and sometimes rode out in the neighbourhood; and often relieved his mind in forming curious works of mechanism. Descartes spent the afternoon in the conversation of his friends, and in the cultivation of a small garden. After having in the morning settled the place of a planet, in the evening he would amuse himself with watering a flower. Barclay in his leisure hours was a florist. Balzac amused himself with making pastils. Pecresc found his amusements amongst his medals and antiquarian curiosities. Rohault wandered from shop to shop to observe the mechanics labour. Cardinal de Richlieu, amongst all his great occupations, found a recreation in violent exercise, such as jumping, &c. It is said of the very laborious Mr. Poole, that his common rule was, while he was engaged
in writing his famous Synopsis, to rise about three or four o'clock in the morning, and continue his studies till the afternoon was pretty far advanced, when he went abroad, and spent the evening at some friend's house in cheerful conversation.
“ I might here mention the effects which exercise has upon all the faculties of the mind, by keeping the understanding clear, the imagination untroubled, and refining those spirits that are necessary for the proper exertion of our intellectual faculties, during the present laws of union between soul and body. It is to a neglect in this particular that we must ascribe spleen, which is so frequent in men of studious and sedentary tempers, as well as the vapours to which those of the other sex are so often subject.”
A JUDICIOUS history of superstition, it has been observed, would be a curious and entertaining work, and would exhibit the human character in a remarkable point of view. The general features of it have been the same in all ages; but it assumes certain peculiarities, according to the diversity of character of different nations. It gained admission into the science of medicine at an early period. It prevailed also in natural philosophy; and every one knows the prevalence it has had in the religious world.
Simeon, a Syrian shepherd, after addicting himself to the senseless austerities of the monkish life, passed thirty-seven years standing on the top of five pillars of six, twelve, twenty-two, thirty-six,
and forty cubits high. Habit and exercise instructed him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes prayed in an erect attitude, with his out. stretched arms in the figure of a cross; but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after numbering twelve hundred and forty-four repetitions, at length de. sisted from the endless account. The progres of an ulcer in his thigh might shorten, but it could not disturb, this celestial life: for he expired without descending from his column.
Chares V, as an expiation for his sins, gave himself discipline in secret, with such severity, that the whip of cords which he employed as the instrument of his punishment was found after his decease tinged with his blood. Nor was he satisfied with these acts of mortification. The timorous and distrustful solitude which always. accompanies superstition still continued to dis. quiet him, and, depreciating all that he had done, prompted him to aim at something extraordinary, at some new and singular act of piety, that would display his zeal, and merit the favour of heaven. The act on which he fixed was as wild and uncommon as any that superstition ever suggested to a disordered fancy. He resolved to celebrate his own obsequies before his death. He ordered his tomb to be erected in the chapel of the monastery. His domestics marched thither in funeral procession, with black tapers in their hands. He himself followed in his shroud: He was laid in his coffin with much solemnity. The service for the