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burning. As this gas is much heavier than common air, it may occupy the lower portion of a room near the floor, while the air above may be nearly free from its influence. Persons have also lost their lives by descending into deep pits, wells, and mines, which contain carbonic acid gas. Before venturing into such places the precaution should be used of letting down a lighted candle; if the light be extinguished, or burn feebly, carbonic acid may be known to exist there.*
11. From the principles explained, it must be evident to every one that whatever deprives the lungs of their natural supply of oxygen, prevents the complete purification of the blood, by retaining the poisonous carbonic acid gas in the system, thereby sowing the seeds of disease and death. When air is taken into the lungs in breathing, so as to fill them, the lungs swell out, and the chest enlarges by its own free action, so as to give them an abundance of room; but if the muscles and ribs of the chest be restrained by pressure from expanding freely, the required supply of oxygen can not be obtained.
12. And yet, notwithstanding all that has been said and written on this subject, there are those who scarcely seem to
The effect produced upon the ribs by compressing the chest, through a long continued practice of tight lacing, may be seen in Fig. 14, which is no caricature, but is what is often seen in real life. In Fig. 13 the ribs are seen in their natural healthy position, gradually swelling out from above, and affording abundance of room for a full inflation of the lungs. In Fig 14 the chest has been made by tight lacing to assume the form of an inverted cone; the ribs are brought much more closely together than is natural, and pressed downward; and the capacity of the lungs is diminished nearly one half. In the same proportion is the supply of oxygen diminished, and the impurities of the blood retained in the system.
*When discovered it may often be absorbed by quick lime, if it can not be drawn off or dissipated by ventilation.
be aware, if we may judge from their actions, that any harm can arise from compressing the ribs, and thereby preventing the free expansion of the lungs! Many will doubtless be startled on being seriously told that tight lacing of the chest poisons the current of life at its fountain head! But there is abundant warrant for the oft-repeated assertion, however harsh it may seem, that this practice is only a fashionable mode of self-murder! Yet weak-minded mothers, as devoid of correct taste as they are destitute of just notions of parental duty, and holding a silly fashion dearer than life itself, continue to initiate their daughters in this folly and wickedness; and they begin this torture of their children at the tender age when the bones of the body are so soft and yielding, that they soon grow into the deformity with which Art attempts to supplant Nature!
13. The consequences of compressing the chest by tight lacing, or by tight-fitting dresses, as described by all physicians and physiologists, are usually these. If the victim be originally strong and robust, the flushed face soon indicates the torture which the brain endures. Nature, restrained in one direction, makes known its wants in another, and gives undue expansion to the head, arms, and shoulders, and lower extremities. The hands and feet become large and clumsy, the spine becomes distorted, and the body is made crooked. But persevering Art at length overcomes the energy of Nature, and a long train of nervous affections gradually tortures the victim to death.
14. But if, on the other hand, the victim be originally frail and delicate, Nature is soon conquered, and the final result is more speedily attained. As a first indication of the consuming poison within, the glow of health fades from the cheek, and the rose gives place to the lily, the appetite is soon gone, digestion becomes bad, and a hectic10 flush and hacking cough, the precursors11 of a hasty consumption, point too surely to an early grave.
15. Some persons have small taper waists from birth; but, as it is against the general law of Nature, and an indication of a frail and sickly body, it may justly be considered a deformity. Such, indeed, it was regarded by the ancient Greeks,
whose model of female beauty, the Venus de Medicis,12 still the acknowledged standard among the refined and intelligent of all nations, presents, in the fully developed waist, that perfect natural symmetry of the human form which alone is consistent with the healthy action of the organs of life.
16. The defect of a waist unhealthily small may generally be remedied, and a healthy form attained, by a judicious exercise of the lungs, by walking in the open air, reading aloud, singing, sitting erect, and fully inflating13 the lungs at each inspiration.14 If the exercise be properly managed and persevered in, it will expand the chest and give tone and health to the lungs; but if it be ill-timed or carried to excess, it will be productive of injury.
17. We would say to all, then, who desire health and beauty-for the latter can never be attained without the former-take care of your lungs, and give them all that freedom of action and pure air which nature demands for them. Do not think you can violate with impunity the laws which a wise and just Providence has established for your well-being. "Let His work be preserved in its simplicity and perfection, and let not the whims of folly or the caprice of fashion, by distorting the shape, attempt to make improvements on the masterpiece of the Almighty."
1 IN-HAL'ED, drawn into the lungs.
2 CHEM-IC-AL, pertaining to chemistry; a more intimate union than can be obtained by mere mixing.
8 AP-O-PLEC'-TIC, arising from apoplexy;
10 HE¤'-TI¤, arising from fever.
11 PRE-CUR'-SOR, a forerunner; that which indicates the approach of an event.
3 COM-BUS-TION, burning; the action of fire in consuming a body.
4 STU-POR, inaction; dullness.
5 VEN-TI-LA-TED, exposed to the action of 12 MED'-I-CIS. wind or pure air.
6 DE-LIR'-I-OUS, insane; frantic.
7 MOR'-TAL, violent; deadly.
13 IN-FLAT-ING, puffing out with air.
14 IN-SPI-RA'-TION, the act of drawing air into the lungs.
* Deformity of the spine may be caused or increased by wrong positions either in sitting or in sleeping. If the body be placed in a perfectly horizontal position during sleep, all pressure will be removed from the cartilage cushions between the vertebræ of the spine, and thus, for seven or eight hours out of the twenty-four, they will be enabled gradually to return to their natural form. It is found by measurement that, in this way, the spine is every night lengthened-the cartilages recovering, by their elasticity, a slight increase of thickness. Thus every person is a little taller in the morning than at night.
But when a person sleeps with a high pillow, so that the spine is bent through the night, this relieving process is not allowed to certain portions of the spinal column. Where delicacy of constitution particularly affects the back, the spine becomes more or less distorted by this position. This shows why children should not be allowed high pillows, and why they should be taught to sleep on both sides, if there is any danger of their bolstering up their heads too high.
THE SKIN.-ITS COMPLICATED MECHANISM.
1. THE skin is a very curious piece of mechanism,' and it performs many wonderful and important offices. The more we study it, the more we shall find in it to surprise us; the more to admire in the wisdom which planned it; and the more fully we shall be convinced that the preservation of health depends as much upon the proper care we take of it, as of the organs within the body.
2. The skin is not merely a thin covering for the body, just to keep it warm, or to protect the parts from injury. It is something more than this. When we examine it we find that it is really very complicated in structure, and we begin to wonder what can be the object of so curious a piece of machinery.
3. First, all over the surface of the body is a very thin and transparent layer, called the cuticle,3 or scarf-skin. It is, at first, a thin fluid that is poured out from the blood-vessels of the skin, and which, spreading over the true skin, becomes hardened into a thin layer. It is constantly forming, and constantly passing away. It has neither nerves nor bloodvessels, and is therefore without feeling. It is like the outer or rough bark of trees. On the under side of the cuticle is a thin colored layer, that gives color to the complexion.
4. Below the cuticle is what is called the true skin; and this is full of, 1st, arteries and veins, or capillary blood-vessels; 2d, nerves; 3d, lymphatic vessels; 4th, oil-tubes; and, 5th, perspiratory tubes. Let us see if we can understand something of the number, arrangement, plan, and uses of these vessels; for we may be assured this complicated mechanism was not made in vain.
THE CAPILLARIES OF THE SKIN.-5. The arteries, bringing the blood from the heart, branch out all over the skin in a net-work of minute fibres; and in this net-work, so fine that the eye can not trace all its parts, the veins begin, and, gathering up the blood, carry it back to the heart again. This net
work connecting the arteries and veins, spread all through the true skin like the smallest imaginable hairs interlacing and crossing each other in every direction, is a part of what is called the capillary system. The drawing here given, showing an artery carrying the blood to the capillaries, and a vein taking it back to the heart, is a magnified view of what, in reality, is not so large as a pin-head.
6. But these capillary blood-vessels are not only spread over the skin, but also over and through every muscle, and bone, and nerve, and to every part of the body that requires nourishment. By the blood coming from the arteries every part is thus nourished; and by the veins the waste particles are carried away to be thrown out of the system. So numerous are these capillary vessels in the skin, that if the skin be punctured by the finest needle, some of them will be broken by it.
NERVES OF THE SKIN.-7. All the veins, and arteries, and capillaries, are so covered with a net-work of nerves, that no part of the skin can be punctured without piercing a nerve, and causing pain. But, although the skin is the organ of touch, and every where capable of exciting feeling, yet the nerves, by which we feel, do not come quite to the surface. They are all covered by the outer layer, or cuticle, which we have described.
8. When the cuticle is taken off, the true skin is found to be covered with little erect cones, called pa-pil'-læ, which, however, can scarcely be seen by the naked eye. Each one of these pa-pil'-la penetrates nearly through the cuticle; and each one, although so small that we can scarcely see it, contains a loop of blood-vessels and a twig of a nerve; and these
Fig. 16 shows some of the pa-pil'-læ from the palm of the hand, greatly magnified. They are about the one hundredth part of an inch in height; but it would take 250 of them, placed side by side, to make an inch in diameter.
The pa-pil'-læ are numerous wherever the sense of touch is very acute- that is, wherever they are most needed, as at the ends of the fingers, and the tip of the tongue. They are numerous in the tip of the snout of the mole, at the end of the elephant's trunk, and at the