« PreviousContinue »
but if by chance I touched a pencil, pen, or needle, I was bitterly rebuked: and more than once I have been beaten for being awkward, and wanting a graceful manner. It is true, my sister associated me with her on some occasions; but she always made a point of taking the lead, calling on me only from necessity, or to figure by her side.
But conceive not, sirs, that my complaints are instigated merely by vanity. No; my uneasiness is occasioned by an object much more serious. It is the practice in our family that the whole business of providing for it's subsistence falls upon my sister and myself. If any indisposition should attack my sister (and I mention it in confidence, on this occasion, that she is subject to the gout, the rheumatism, and cramp, without making mention of other accidents) what would be. the fate of our poor family? Must not the regret of our parents be excessive, at having placed so great a difference between sisters who are so perfectly equal? Alas ! we must perish from distress: for it would not be in my power even to scrawl a suppliant petition for relief, having been obliged to employ the hand of another in transcribing the request which I have now the honour to prefer to you. Condescend, sirs, to make my parents sensible of the injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and the necessity of distributing their care and affection among all their childen equally. I am with a profound respect,
THE LEFT HAND.
ON THE ART OF SWIMMING.
BY THE SAME.
The specific gravity of some human bodies, in comparison to that of water, has been examined by Mr. Robinson, in the American Philosophical Transactions, volume 50, page 30, for the year 1757. He asserts that fat persons with small bones float most easily upon water. When I was a boy, I made two oval pallets each about ten inches long, and six broad, with a hole for the thumb, in order to retain it fast in the palm of my hand. They much resemble a painter's pallets. In swimming I pushed the edges of these forward, and stuck the water with their flat surfaces as I drew them back. I remember I swam faster by means of these pallets : but they fatigued my wrists. I also fitted to the soles of my feet a kind of sandals; but I was not satisfie with them, because I observed that the stroke is partly given by the inside of the feet and the ancles, and not entirely with the soles of the feet.
We have here waistcoats for swimming, which are made of double sailcloth, with small pieces of cork quilted in between them. · I know, by experience, that it is a great comfort to a swimmer, who has a considerable distance to go, to turn himself sometimes upon his back, and to vary in other respects the ineans 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 upon his back. During the great heats of summer, there is no danger in bath
ing, however warm we may be, in rivers which have been thoroughly warmed by the sun. But to throw onesself 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 barvest 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. Alter having swum for an hour or two in the evening, one sleeps cooly the whole night, even during the most ardent beat 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 diarrhæa at a season which does not permit them to use that exercise, a 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. 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 swiminer may pass to great distances, with much facility, 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 kite; and approaching the bank of a pond, which was nearly 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 tiine, being desirous of amusing myself with my kite, and enjoy. ing at the same time the pleasure of swimming, I returned; and losing from the stake the string with the little stick which was fastened to it, went again into the water, where I found, that, lying upon 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 it's 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, tho' I think it not impossible to cross in this manner from Dover to Calais. The packet-boat, however, is still preferable.
As a great part of our life is spent in sleep, it may not be useless to examine what is the art of enjoying undisturbed repose. To this end it is, in the first place, necessary to be careful in preserving health by due exercise and great temperance; for, in sickness, the imagination is disturbed; and disagreeable, sometimes terrible,ideas are apt to present themselves. Exercise should precede meals, not immediately follow them: the first, promotes, the latter, unless moderate, obstructs digestion. If, after exercise, we feed sparingly, the digestion will be easy and good, the body lightsome, the temper cheerful, and all the animal functions performed agreeably. Sleep, when it follows, will be natural and undisturbed. While indolence, with full feeding, occasions night-mares and horrors inexpressible: we fall from precipices, are assaulted by wild beasts, murderers, and demons, and experience every variety of distress.
Observe, however, that the quantities of food and exercise are 'relative things: those who move much may, and indeed ought to eat more; those who use little exercise should neat little. In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eat about twice as much as nature requires. Suppers are not bad, if we have not dined; but restless nights naturally follow hearty suppers after full dinners. Indeed, as there is a difference in constitution, some rest well after these meals; it costs them only a frightful dream, and an apoplexy; after which they sleep till dloomsday. Nothing if more common in the newspapers, than instances os