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and to vary in other respects the means of procuring a progressive motion.
When he is seized with the cramp in the leg, the method of driving it away is to give to the parts affected a sudden, vigorous, and violent shock; which he may do in the air as he swims on his back. .
i... During the great heats of summer there is no danger in bathing, however warm we may be, in rivers which have been thoroughly warmed by the sun. But to throw oneself into cold spring water, when the body has been heated by exercise in the sun, is an imprudence which may prove fatal. I once knew an instance of four young men, who having worked at harvest in the heat of the day, with a view of refreshing themselves plunged into a spring of cold water: two died upon the spot, a third the next morning, and the fourth recovered with great difficulty. A copious draught of cold water, in similar circumstances, is frequently attended with the same effect in North America.
The exercise of swimming is one of the most healthy and agreeable in the world. After having swam for an hour or two in the evening, one sleeps coolly the whole night, even during the most ardent heat of summer. Perhaps the pores being cleansed, the insensible perspiration increases and occasions this coolness.—It is certain that much swimming is the means of stopping a diarrhea, and even of producing a constipation. With respect to those who do not know how to swim, or who are affected with a diarrhoea at the
season which does not permit them to use that* exercise,-^ warm bath, by cleansing and purifying the skin, is found very salutary, and often effects a radical cure. I speak from my own experience, frequently repeated, and that of others to whom I have recommended this.
You will not be displeased if I conclude these hasty remarks by informing you, that as the ordinary method of swimming is reduced to the act of rowing with the arms and legs, and is consequently a laborious and fatiguing operation when the space of water to be crossed is considerable; there is a method in which a swimmer may pass with facility, to great distances by means of a sail. This discovery I fortunately made by accident, and in the following manner.
When I was a boy I amused myself one day with flying a paper kitel and approaching the bank of a pond, which was near a mile broad, I tied the string to a stake, and the kite ascended to a very considerable height above the pond, while I was swimming. In a little time, being desirous of amusing myself with my kite, and enjoying at the same time the pleasure of swimming,! returned; and, loosing from the stake the, string with the little stick which was fastened to it, went again into the water, where I found, that, lying on my back and holding the stick in my hands, I was drawn along the surface of the water in a very agreeable manner. Having then engaged another boy to carry my clothes round the pond, to a place which I pointed out to him on the other side, I began to cross the pond with
my kite, which carried me quite over without the least fatigue, and with the greatest pleasure imaginable. I was only obliged occasionally to halt a» little in my course, and resist its progress, when it appeared that, by following too quick, I lowered the kite too much; by doing which occasionally I made it rise again—I have never since that time practised this singular mode of swimming, though I think it not impossible to cross in this manner from Dover to Calais. The packet-boat, however, isistill preferable.,
, NEW MODE OF BATHING.
EXTRACTS OF LETTERS TO M. DUBOURG.
London, July 28, 1768^
I GREATLY approve the epithet you give, in your letter of the 8th of June, to the new method of treating the small pox, which you call the ionioor bracing method: I will take occasions from it, to mention a practice to which I have accustomed 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 speaking, as too violent, and I have found it much more agreeable to my constitution to bathe in another element, I mean cold air. With this view I rise early almost every morning, and sit iii 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 least painful, but on the contrary, agreeable; and if I return to bed afterwards, before I dress myself, as sometimes happens, I
make a supplement to my night's rest of one or two hours of the most pleasing sleep that can be imagined. I find no ill consequences whatever resulting from it, and that at least it does not injure my health, if it does not in fact contribute much to its preservation.—I shall therefore call it for the future a bracing or tonic bath.
March 10, 1773.
I shall not attempt to explain why damp clothes occasion colds, rather than wet ones, because I doubt the fact: I imagine that neither the one nor the other contribute to this effect; and that the causes of colds are totally independent of wet and even of cold. I propose writing a short paper on this subject, the first leisure moment I have at my disposal.—In the mean time I can only say, that having some suspicions that the common notion, which attributes to cold the property of stopping the pores and obstructing perspiration, was ill-founded, I engaged a young physician, who is making some experiments with Sanctorious's balance, to estimate the different proportions of his perspiration when remaining one hour quite naked, and another warmly clothed. He pursued the experiment in this alternate manner for eight hours successively, and found his perspiration almost double during thosfr hours in which he was naked.
OBSERVATIONS On The GENERALLY PREVAILING DOCTRINES Of LIFE And DEATH.
TO THE SAME.
YOUR observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to have been killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and humanity. It appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but little understood. >'
A toad, buried in sand, will live, it is said, until the sand 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 support of this opinion, are too numerous and too circumstantial not to deserve a certain degree of credit. As we are accustomed to see all the animals with which we are acquainted eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to conceive how a toad can be supported in such a dungeon. But if we reflect, that the necessity of nourishment, which animals experience in their ordinary state, proceeds from the continual waste of their substance by perspiration; it will appear less incredible that some animals in a torpid state, perspiring less because they use no exercise, should have less need of aliment; and that others, which are covered with scales or shells, which stop perspiration, such as land sea turtles, serpents, and some species of fish, should be able to subsist a considerable time without any nourishment whatever.—A plant, with its