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except by the direct vigilance of a mistress ; and even she is seldom duly alive to the matter unless the habit of attention has been inwrought from her very childhood, or unless her family have been sufferers from neglect.
As prevention is better than cure, and precaution better than unavailing regret, it is earnestly recommended to young persons to cultivate a habit of enjoying the fresh and pure air, by which alone health can be promoted. That a sleeping room may be
pure, the windows should be opened early in the morning. The best plan to secure this, is for each inmate to open the windows of her own chamber before she quits it: this should be so thoroughly wrought into a habit in early life, so that the young lady would no more forget to open her window than to put on her frock. This personal habit will qualify her to be the monitor of others; for, being accustomed to taste the pure air of the morning, if she should enter an apartment where the same precaution has not been observed, she would instantly perceive the defect, and instinctively proceed to rectify it. In fine weather, chamber-windows should remain open through the day, and be closed before the damps of evening come on; in rainy or foggy weather, it is not desirable to keep them open so long; but in the very worst weather they should at least be open a few minutes once or twice in the day, to change and refresh the air: the worst air that can be admitted from without, is better than the confined effluvia arising from one or more persons having slept there. Sitting-rooms should be purified by the admission of air for a few minutes after each meal ; nor should passage or staircase windows be forgotten, as they carry a current of air throughout the house. This subject has been dwelt upon at some length, from an earnest desire to infix on the minds of young persons a deep and habitual sense of its importance. So much for air in the house.
It is equally important to the human frame to enjoy the purifying and invigorating influence of air out of doors. To say nothing of exercise, it is indispensable to every person in health to be daily exposed to the influence of the open air. The length and degree of this exposure will of course be varied by the state of the weather, and the circumstances of the individual; but health will neither be vigorous nor long perpetuated, where this daily exposure is neglected or set aside for every trifling cause.
2. Connected with air, may be mentioned habits of cleanliness, as highly conducive to health. The frequent and liberal use of cold water, to which not merely the face, neck, and hands should be suhjected, but the whole body, either by the plunging or shower bath, or at least by means of a large sponge, or a coarse towel, is very important: these frequent and thorough ablutions are not only.essential to thorough cleanliness, but will be found delightfully refreshing and invigorating; and a powerful preventive of colds and other diseases; as they promote the healthy circulation of the blood, and soften the skin, and free it from scurf and other impurities.
3. Nor is exercise a matter of less importance. The muscles and joints are formed for motion; and to a person in health, exercise is a real pleasure. All animals delight to skip and frisk about,
according to their various natures: if confined to one spot, they speedily become dull and unhealthy; the blood cannot circulate properly, the lungs cannot draw in a full breath, the food cannot be well digested and turned to nourishment, and the flesh either wastes away or becomes unnaturally fat and lumpy. Even inanimate things are injured for want of exercise : a lock that is never used becomes choked with dust, or eaten through with rust; nor is the human frame less susceptible of injury in this respect. In a group of young persons it is easy to tell, from their very complexion, the manner of their movements, and the tone of their spirits, those who are accustomed to close, sedentary employments, or to habits of languid indolence, and those who are accustomed to take active exercise in the open air. It is very desirable to walk where freedom may be indulged: a lively ramble in the woods or meadows, or a game at hoop, ball, or shuttle-cock in the garden, do ten times more good than a stiff, stately walk on the gay promenade. Besides this, much good exercise may be taken in-doors : making the beds, rubbing the furniture, churning, and other useful domestic employments, will do more towards keeping the roses on the cheeks, than many bottles of medicine, with this advantage, that there is no long bill to pay. Even the act of going up stairs is very beneficial in strengthening the lungs : climbing a hill in the open air is still more advantageous ; it opens the chest, gives room for the lungs to play, secures the thorough circulation of the blood, and promotes both appetite and digestion.
4. The expansion of the chest is an object of great importance. The chest (or ribs and breast-bone) is the case in which the lungs and heart carry on their wonderful operations. Mention was made, a page or two back, of the care which a young lady would take, in packing up a bonnet, to have the case of such a size as not to crush or press it: did it ever occur to her as a matter of importance, that the case which contains her lungs and heart should be of a proper size, or that it was at all a matter of her concern to keep it so? What would she think if she saw a strong man take a thick cord, and tie it tightly round her frail band-box? She would know at once, that her bonnet must be entirely spoiled, and there would be an end of it; and if a strong rope were tied as tightly as possible round her waist, it would soon put an end to her too; and the person who should do it, or attempt to do it, would be considered a murderer; but the same thing may be done by herself as effectually, and as criminally, though more gradually. By the pressure of steel and whalebone, and the tight lacing of stays, the body may be much more closely compressed than in its original form: by long continued use, a degree of pressure may be endured, equal to that which, if suddenly attempted, would have terminated life. The young lady may persuade herself and friends, that her stays are not at all tighter than is comfortable ; but if she could see a model of her form as it now is, compared with one of what it was when she wore the light easy dress of childhood, she would surely be disgusted at the hideous disproportion with which she had disfigured the handy work of God; and terrified to think, if the chest was originally of the proper proportion for
its precious contents, in what a cramped and crushed condition must these contents be carrying on their movements now! She would, in all probability, be reminded of certain spasms, and palpitations, and pains in the side, and fainting, which she had in vain endeavoured to conceal from her anxious parents, and for which perhaps she had been uselessly dosed with steel and assafoetida ; and perhaps her conscience would testify that she was herself the sole cause of her own sufferings, and her parents' alarms. Perhaps it would be too late to remedy the evil, and she would sink into an early grave, the victim of consumption, brought on by the barbarous practice of unnaturally compressing the form, and preventing the healthy play of the vital organs. Perhaps, convinced of the sin and folly of her past conduct, she would lay aside her torturing corsets; and, conscientiously following the directions of her judicious friends, endeavour if possible to repair the mischief. In such a case, peculiar attention would be needed to the kind and degree of exercise, to the form and texture of apparel, to the quality and quantity of food ; in short, she must be under a strict regimen, and in time, perhaps, she might in some degree regain that free and healthy exercise of the animal functions, of which her folly had deprived her ; but it is probable that, through after-life, she would, more or less, occasionally suffer. How much better had it been from the first to yield to the dictates of reason and nature, and never to sacrifice at the shrine of folly and wanity so inestimable a treasure as health ! Remember, it is quite impossible that any unnatural pressure should be enforced on any part of