« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
NEW MODE OF BATHING.
EXTRACTS OF LETTERS TO M. DUbourg.
London, July 28, 1768.
I GREATLY approve the epithet which you give, in your letter of the 8th of June, to the new method of treating the fmall-pox, which you call the tonic or bracing method; I will take occafion, from it, to mention a practice to which I have accuftomed myself. You know the cold bath has long been in vogue here as a tonic; but the shock of the cold water has always appeared to me, generally fpeaking, as too violent, and I have found it much more agreeable to my conftitution to bathe in another element, I mean cold air. With this view I rife.
I rife early almost every morning, and fit in my chamber without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season, either reading or writing. This practice is not in the leaft painful, but, on the contrary, agreeable; and if I return to bed afterwards, before I dress myself, as fometimes happens, I make a fupplement to my night's reft of one or two hours of the most pleafing fleep that can be imagined. 1 find no ill confequences whatever refulting from it, and that at least it does not injure my health, if it does not in fact contribute much to its prefervation.I fhall therefore call it for the future a bracing or tonic bath.
March 10, 1773
I fhall not attempt to explain why damp clothes occafion colds, rather than wet ones, because I doubt the fact; I imagine that neither the one nor the VOL. I. I other
other contribute to this effect, and that the caufes of colds are totally independent of wet and even of cold. I propofe writing a short paper on this fubject, the first moment of leisure I have at my dif posal.-In the mean time I can only fay, that having fome fufpicions that the common notion, which attributes to cold the property of stopping the pores and obftructing perfpiration, was ill founded, I engaged a young phyfician, who is making fome experiments with Sanctorius's balance, to eftimate the different proportions of his perfpiration, when remaining one hour quite naked, and another warmly clothed. He pursued the experiment in this alternate manner for eight hours fucceffively, and found his perspiration almost double during thofe hours in which he was naked.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENERALLY
PREVAILING DOCTRINES OF LIFE
To the fame.
YOUR obfervations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propofe for recalling to life thofe who appear to be killed by lightning, demonftrate equally your fagacity and humanity. It appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but little understood.
A toad buried in fand will live, it is faid, until the fand becomes petrified; and then, being inclosed in the stone, it may still live for we know not how many ages. The facts which are cited in fupport of this opinion, are too numerous I 2
and too circumstantial not to deserve a
certain degree of credit. As we are accuftomed to fee all the animals with which we are acquainted eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to conceive how a toad can be fupported in fuch a dungeon. But if we reflect, that the neceffity of nourishment, which animals experience in their ordinary ftate, proceeds from the continual waste of their fubftance by perfpiration; it will appear lefs incredible, that fome animals in a torpid ftate, perfpiring less because they ufe no exercise, fhould have lefs need of aliment; and that others, which are covered with scales or fhells, which ftop perfpiration, such as land and fea turtles, ferpents, and fome fpecies of fish, should be able to fubfift a confiderable time without any nourishment whatever.-A plant, with its flowers, fades and dies immediately, if expofed to the air without having its roots immerfed in a humid foil, from