« AnteriorContinuar »
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF TRAVELLING.
Now these and many other facts which I could adduce, offer incontestible proof how much the morbid susceptibility to transitions from heat to cold from drought to drenchings is reduced by travelling. The vicissitudes and exertions which I have described would lay up half the effeminate invalids of London, and kill, or almost frighten to death, many of those who cannot expose themselves to a breath of cold or damp air, without coughs or rheumatisms, in this country.
The next effect of travelling which I shall notice, is its influence on the organs of digestion. This is so decided and obvious, that I shall not dwell on the subject. The appetite is not only increased; but the powers of digestion and assimilation are greatly augmented. A man may eat and drink things, while travelling, which would make him quite ill in ordinary life.
These unequivocally good effects of travelling on the digestive organs, account satisfactorily for the various other beneficial influences on the constitution at large. Hence dyspepsia, and the thousand wretched sensations and nervous affections thereon dependent, vanish before persevering exercise in travelling, and new life is imparted to the whole system, mental and corporeal. In short, I am quite positive that the most inveterate dyspepsia (where no organic disease has taken place) would be completely removed, with all its multiform sympathetic torments, by a journey of two or three thousand miles through Switzerland, Germany, or the British Isles, especially Wales or Scotland, conducted on the principle of combining active with passive exercise in the open air, in such proportions as would suit the individual constitution and the previous habits of life.
There is but one other effect of travelling to which I shall allude, before I close this Section ; but I think it is a very important one—if not the most important of all. It is the influence which constant change of air exerts on the blood itself. Every one knows the benefits which are derived from change of air, in many diseases, when that change is only from one part to another, a few miles separated. Nay, it is proved, beyond all possibility of doubt, that the change from what is considered a good, to what is thought a bad air, is often attended with marked good effects. Hence it is very reasonable to conclude, that the mere change of ore kind of air for another has an exhilarating or salutary effect on the animal economy. It is true, that we have no instruments to ascertain in what consists this difference of one air from another, since the composition of the atmosphere appears to be nearly the same on all points of earth and ocean. But we know, from observation, that there are great differences in air, as far as its effects on the human frame are concerned. Hence it would appear that the individual, confined to one particular air, be it ever so pure, languishes at length, and is bettered by a change. This idea is supported by analogy. The stomach, if confined to one species of food, however wholesome, will, in time, languish and fail to derive that
nutriment from it, which it would do if the species of food were occasionally changed. The ruddy complexion, then, of travellers, and of those who are constantly moving from place to place, as stage-coachmen, for example, does not, I think, solely depend on the mere action of the open air on the face, but also on the influence which change of air exerts on the blood itself in the lungs. I conceive, then, that what Boerhaave says of exercise, may be safely applied to change of air. • Eo magis et densum, et purpureum sanguinem esse, quò validius homo se exercuerit motu musculorum.' It is to this constant change of air, as well as to the constant exercise of the muscles, that I attribute the superiority of the plan of travelling which I have proposed, over that which is usually adopted—where health is the entire object. On this account, I would recommend some of my fair country-women (who have leisure as well as means) to improve the languid states of their circulation, and the delicacy, or, more correctly speaking, the pallor of their complexions, by a system of exercise in the open air, that may give colour to their cheeks, firmness to their muscles, tone to their nerves, and energy to their minds.
But it is not to be supposed that, to reap the advantages of “ CHANGE OF Air," we must climb the Alps, the Apennines, Ben Nevis, or Snowdon, Doubtless the exercise and amusement of travelling are powerful auxiliaries to the benefits resulting from the mere “CHANGE OF Air”—but even the latter alone, or with a very moderate portion of exercise, is capable of yielding immense benefit, both as a restorative and preservative of health, to the valetudinary and sedentary inhabitants of large cities. HAMPSTEAD and HighGATE, which are not more than three miles from the centre of this vast metropolis, save thousands of lives annually, and check the wear and tear of civic life to an almost incredible extent—and that by the weekly gulp of fresh air which they serve out to the Sunday crowds from modern Babylon. It appears from a recent pamphlet by Mr. Roberton of Manchester, that some philanthropic individuals of that great manufactory of cottons and maladies have established what is called the “SOUTHPORT CHARITY,” a watering-place residence that admits poor artisans or rather their wives, for three weeks at a time. The author portrays the almost magic effects of this temporary retreat from the cares of a family and from foul air, on the sickly frames of
“When, on the expiration of her term she returns to her surgeon, he finds her nearly or perfectly recovered ; and gladly admits that a temporary change of condition, like this, has incomparably more influence in the restoration of health than the most skilful medical treatment has in thrice the tine without it.” It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, that some such charitable institution were formed in London and all large cities, for affording three weeks' air and exercise annually to some of the indigent and valetudinary inhabitants.
DIARY OF A PHILOSOPHER,
PURSUIT OF HEALTH AND RECREATION,
&c. &c. &c.
On many a former occasion, the receding cliffs of old England have called forth
“ The voice of sorrow from the bursting heart." When the vessel's prow turned to foreign and unhealthy climes, when the “ dangers of the sea and the violence of the enemy," were absorbed in the wretchedness of parting from all that human nature holds dear-when the stern mandates of war compelled the youth of Britain to spend the prime of life in traversing the ocean or campaigning on hostile shores—then the separation from friends and native home excited feelings which, in periods of peace, cannot be recognized or appreciated. But it is a wise ordination of Nature that time and the frequent repetition of impressions the most dolorous, render the sensations thereby excited less and less vivid, till at length they are scarcely perceptible. We may remember these impressions and sensations, but we cannot recall them that is, we cannot renew them. There is, perhaps, nearly as much pleasure in the mellowed recollection of these triste emotions, after a lapse of years, as there was pain on their first occur
The remembrance of storms weathered, dangers escaped, battles survived, misfortunes overcome, excites a pleasing, though somewhat melancholy, musing in the mind, which those who have not experienced human vicissitudes can never know. With the assurance of this fact, Æneas cheered his terrified and desponding countrymen and shipmates, in the dreadful hurricane off the coast of Carthage :
Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit. There was nothing, however, in the present voyage, if it deserves that name, to call forth melancholy reflections. No passion perturbed the mind-no cloud overcast the sky-scarcely a ripple was seen on the surface of the
Dover Castle and the neighbouring batteries arrested not the at
tention ; but Shakespeare's Cliff can never be dissociated from one of the sublimest passages which the poet ever penned. Never was description more exaggerated than in this instance ! A cliff by no means perpendicular, and not perhaps more than three or four hundred feet high, is painted as one of the most frightful precipices that eye ever ventured to look over.
the murmuring surge That on th' unnumbered idle pebbles chafes,
Can scarce be heard so high ! Many a time have I sat on the edge of this cliff, and distinguished the pebbles on the beach, though the bard diminishes the crows and choughs “that wing the mid-way air ” to the size of beetles ! The only three places which I have ever seen to come at all near the poet's representation of Dover Cliffs were the Eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar, the spectator being placed near O'Hara's Tower-LADDER Hill in St. Helena, looking down from the Battery into the sea--and the Cliffs overhanging the Mediterranean, on several parts of the new road between Genoa and Nice, especially near Monaco. These precipices are three or four times the height of Dover Cliffs and 'tis really “fearful and dizzy" to cast one's eye over the horrid boundaries! I am aware that Shakespeare is here painting a most frightful imaginary precipice, for necessary purposes in the drama, and therefore should not be considered as violating truth by a description of Dover Cliff. But the popular opinion is that the poet is here portraying from Nature, what, in fact, he is drawing from imagination.
I have said there was scarcely a ripple on the surface of the ocean, and yet the vessel was cleaving the tide at the rate of eight miles an hour! He who has broiled for a fortnight or three weeks on the Equator
“ When not a breath disturb’d the deep serene,” can hardly fail to bless the man who first invented sTEAM-who compelled into strange and unnatural union two conflicting elements, fire and water, from which he conjured, with magic wand, a third element, more powerful than either or both of its parents! Of the wonders which steam has worked in the useful arts of Peace it is unnecessary to speak. Of the revolutions which it may effect in the destructive art of war, yon solitary tower on the heights of Boulogne, with all its tumultuous recollections, and certain harrangues in a late CHAMBER of DEPUTIES, are calculated to awaken some feverish anticipations.' A Martial Deputy there hinted to an admiring audience, that steam will effect that which the elements have hitherto prevented—the invasion of England. And how ? By bringing the physical strength and moral courage of Frenchmen into immediate contact with the inferior, of course) physical power and personal courage of Britons ! The delicacy of such a conclusion need not be animadverted on; but the validity of it should
be tried by reference to HISTORY, rather thau FEELING. History, however, seems to have yielded little wisdom to the martial Deputy. It would be vain to tell him that half a million of meu in arms--and those men Britons, on their own shores, fighting for their hearths and altars, would not be easily subdued by the largest army which his master, NAPOLEON, ever brought into the field. Steam only is wanting to waft an army across the Channel, and victory appears certain ! Now the aspirations after steam must imply the superiority of the English fleet at the moment of invasion ; for, of what use would steam be, if the invaders had possession of the sea, and could choose their own time and place of landing? But, while the English fleet is superior, steam cannot effect the purpose of the Deputy. Boulogne Harbour, the only proximate place where the troops could embark in flat-bottomed vessels, with any prospect of success, can contain no ships of war, and if a flotilla, impelled by steam, attempted to cross the Channel, it would be inevitably destroyed. It could only make the attempt in a storm, when the English ships were blown into the Downs; or during a calm, when their sails were useless. The former is impossible—the latter would be discomfited by steam itself—for English engines will never be wanting to tow a sufficient number of frigates or line-of-battle-ships into the track of the flotilla—and then their destination would be speedily decided.* Machinery will be opposed to machinery; and, for various reasons, the British is likely to be the best. Never will it be possible to construct large men-of-war with the addition of steam machinery and paddles. A few broadsides would soon render steam not only useless, but dangerous. Steam may prove useful in towing ships of war—but never can effectively mix with cannon and gunpowder. It is to be hoped, however, that two nations of equal moral courage and physical force will only contend, in future, for the mastery in arts, science, and literature-leaving war, and all its disastrous consequences, to barbarians, who have little internal happiness to lose, and much of their martial renown to acquire. The proud laurel wilt not grow on either side of the Channel, except beneath the shadow of the mournful cypress or funereal yew—and that at the expense of the peaceful OLIVE! May the latter be cultivated exclusively by France and England during the remainder of the present century!
Is this the once celebrated fortress, where long sieges were sustained and powerful armies repulsed? Yes! Let any one walk round its ramparts, and he will acknowledge, that they exhibit a complete picture of desolation and decay! The moats are choaked up with mud and weeds—the walls are ra
* The above was written in 1830. Passing and past events have induced me to leave out some observations contained in the first edition.