|Welcome to the book Civics and Health (1909), by Dr. William H. Allen. To go to the "Table of Contents" immediately, click here. To go immediately to Chapter 36, on Tobacco, click here.
Tobacco pushers and their accessories in politics conceal the breadth of tobacco effects, the enormity of the tobacco holocaust, and the long record of documentation.
The concealment process is called the "tobacco taboo." Other pertinent words are "censorship" and "disinformation."
Here is the text by Dr. William H. Allen of a civics and health book with a chapter on tobacco dangers. It cites facts you don't normally ever find reported, due to the "tobacco taboo."
The phrase "tobacco taboo" is the term for the pro-tobacco media's censorship policy—to not report most facts about tobacco.
As you will see, information about the tobacco danger was already being circulated in 1909, 55 years before the famous 1964 Surgeon General Report. Be prepared.
For titles of more books in this educational series, click here.
Civics and Health
by William H. Allen, Ph.D.
(Boston: Ginn & Co., 1909)
It is a common weakness of mankind to be caught by an idea and captivated by a phrase. To rest therewith content and to neglect the carrying of the idea into practice is a weakness still more common. It is this frequent failure of reformers to reduce their theories to practice, their tendency to dwell in the cloudland of the ideal rather than to test it in action, that has often made them distrusted and unpopular.
With our forefathers the phrase mens sana in corpore sano was a high favorite. It was constantly quoted with approval by writers on hygiene and sanitation, and used as the text or the finale of hundreds of popular lectures. And yet we shall seek in vain for any evidence of its practical usefulness. Its words are good and true, but passive and actionless, not of that dynamic type where words are "words indeed, but words that draw armed men behind them."
Our age is of another temper. It yearns for reality. It no longer rests satisfied with mere ideas, or words, or phrases. The modern Ulysses would drink life to the dregs. The present age is dissatisfied with the vague assurance that the Lord will provide, and, rightly or wrongly, is beginning
to expect the state to provide. And while this desire for reality has its drawbacks, it has also its advantages. Our age doubts absolutely the virtues of blind submission and resignation, and cries out instead for prevention and amelioration. Disease is no longer regarded, as Cruden regarded
it, as the penalty and the consequence of sin. Nature herself is now perceived to be capable of imperfect work. Time was when the human eye was referred to as a perfect apparatus, but the number of young children wearing spectacles renders that idea untenable to-day.
Meanwhile the multiplication of state asylums and municipal hospitals, and special schools for deaf or blind children and for cripples, speaks eloquently and irresistibly of an intimate connection between civics and health. There is a physical basis of citizenship, as there is a physical basis of life and of health; and any one who will take the trouble
to read even the Table of Contents of this book will see that for Dr. Allen prevention is a text and the making of sound citizens a sermon.
Given the sound body, we have nowadays small fear for the sound mind. The rigid physiological dualism implied in the phrase mens sana in corpore sano is no longer allowed. To-day the sound body generally includes the sound mind, and vice versa. If mental dullness be due to imperfect ears, the remedy lies in medical treatment of those organs,—not in education of the brain. If lack of initiative or energy proceeds from defective aeration of the blood due to adenoids blocking the air tides in the windpipe, then the remedy lies not in better teaching but in a simple surgical operation.
Shakespeare, in his wildwood play, saw sermons in stones and books in the running brooks. We moderns find a drarna in the fateful lives of ordinary mortals, sermons in their physical salvation from some of the ills that flesh is heir to, and books—like this of Dr. Allen's—in striving to teach mankind how to become happier, and healthier, and more useful members of society.
Dr. Alien is undoubtedly a reformer, but of the modern, not the ancient, type. He is a prophet crying in our present
wilderness; but he is more than a prophet, for he is always intensely practical, insisting, as he does, on getting things done, and done soon, and done right.
No one can read this volume, or even its chapter-headings, without surprise and rejoicing: surprise, that the physical basis of effective citizenship has hitherto been so utterly neglected in America; rejoicing, that so much in the way of the prevention of incapacity and unhappiness can be so easily done, and is actually beginning to be done.
The gratitude of every lover of his country and his kind is due to the author for his interesting and vivid presentation of the outlines of a subject fundamental to the health, the happiness, and the well-being of the people, and hence of the first importance to every American community, every American citizen.
|WILLIAM T. SEDGWICK
|MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY||
|Introduction by MIT Biology Prof. Sedgwick||v
|PART I. HEALTH RIGHTS||
|I. Health A Civic Obligation||3
|II. Seven Health Motives And Seven Catchwords||
|III. What Health Rights Are|
Not Enforced In
|IV. The Best Index To Community Health Is The
Physical Welfare Of School Children
|PART II. HEADING THE|
INDEX TO HEALTH RIGHTS
|V. Mouth Breathing||
|VI. Catching Diseases, Colds, Diseased Glands||
|VII. Eye Strain||
|VIII. Ear Trouble, Malnutrition, Deformities||
|IX. Dental Sanitation||
|X. Abnormally Bright Children||
|XI. Nervousness of Teacher and Pupil||
|XII. Health Value Of "Unbossed" Play|
And Physical Training
|XIII. Vitality Tests and Vital Statistics||
|XIV. Is Your School Manufacturing Physical Defects?||
|XV. THE TEACHER'S HEALTH||
|PART III. COOPERATION IN|
MEETING HEALTH OBLIGATIONS
|XVI. European Remedies: Doing Things At School||
|XVII. American Remedies: Getting Things Done||
|XVIII. Cooperation With Dispensaries|
and Child-Saving Agencies
|XIX. School Surgery and Relief Objectionable, If Avoidable||
|XX. Physical Examination For Working Papers||
|XXI. Periodical Physical Examination After School Age||
|XXII. Habits Of Health Promote Industrial Efficiency||
|XXIII. Industrial Hygiene||
|XXIV. The Last Days Of Tuberculosis||
|XXV. The Fight For Clean Milk||
|XXVI. Preventive "Humanized" Medicine:|
Physician and Teacher
|PART IV. OFFICIAL MACHINERY|
FOR ENFORCING HEALTH RIGHTS
|XXVII. Departments of School Hygiene||
|XXVIII. Present Organization Of School Hygiene
In New York City
|XXIX. Official Machinery For Enforcing Health Rights||
|XXX. School and Health Reform||310
|XXXI. The Press||
|PART V. ALLIANCE OF|
HYGIENE, PATRIOTISM, AND RELIGION
|XXXII. Do-Nothing Ailments||
|XXXIII. Heredity Bugaboos And Heredity Truths||
|XXXIV. Ineffective and Effective Ways|
Of Combating Alcoholism
|XXXV. Is It Practicable In Presenting To Children
The Evils Of Alcoholism To Tell The Truth,
The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The
|XXXVI. Fighting Tobacco Evils||363
|XXXVII. The Patent-Medicine Evil||
|XXX VIII. Health Advertisements That Promote Health||
|XXXIX. Is Class Instruction In Sex Hygience Practicable?||
|XL. The Element of Truth in Quackery; Hygiene Of The Mind||
|XLI. "A Natural Law Is As Sacred As A Moral Principle"||398
PART I. HEALTH RIGHTS
In forty-five states and territories the teaching of hygiene with special reference to alcohol and tobacco is made compulsory. To hygiene alone, of the score of subjects found in our modern grammar-school curriculum, is given statutory right of way for so many minutes per week, so many pages per text-book, or so many pages per chapter. For the neglect of no other study may teachers be removed from office and fined. Yet schoot garrets and closets are full of hygiene text-books unopened or little used, while of all subjects taught by five hundred thousand American teachers and studied by twenty million American pupils the least interesting to both teacher and pupil is that forced upon both by state legislation. To complete the paradox, this least interesting subject happens also to be the most vital to the child, to the home, to industry, to social welfare, and to education itself.
Whether the subject of hygiene is necessarily dull, whether the statutes requiring regular instruction in the laws of health are violated with impunity, whether health principles are flaunted by health practice at school,—these are questions of immediate concern to parents as a class, to employers as a class, to every pastor, every civic leader, every health officer, every taxpayer.
Interviews with teachers and principals regarding the present apathy to formal hygiene instruction have brought
HEALTH A CIVIC OBLIGATION
out the following points that merit the serious consideration of those who are struggling for higher health standards.
1. There is many a slip 'twixt the making of a law and its enforcement. If laws regarding hygiene instruction are not enforced, we should not be surprised. It has been nobody's business to see whether and how hygiene is being taught. The moral crusade spent itself in forcing compulsory laws upon the statute books of every state and territory. Making a fetish of Legislation, the advocates of anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco instruction failed to see the truth that experienced political reformers are but slowly coming to see—Legislation which does not provide machinery for its own enforcement is apt to do little good and frequently will do much harm. Machinery, however admirably adapted to the task to be done, will get out of order and become useless, or even harmful, unless constantly watched and efficiently directed.
Of what possible use is it to say that state money may be withheld from any school board which fails to enforce the law regarding instruction in hygiene, if state officials never enforce the penalty? So long as the penalty is not enforced for flagrant violation, what difference does it make whether the reason is indifference, ignorance, or desire to thwart the law?
Fortunately, it is easy for each one of us to learn how often and in what way the children in our community are being taught hygiene, and how the schools of our state teach and practice the laws of health. If either the spirit or the letter of the law regarding instruction in hygiene is being violated, we can measure the penalty paid in health and morals by our children and our community. We can learn whether law, text-book, curriculum, or teacher should be changed. We can insist upon discussion of the facts and upon remedies suggested by the facts.
2. Teachers give as one reason for neglecting hygiene, that
they are often compelled to struggle with a curriculum which
requires more than they are able to teach and more than pupils are able to learn in the time allowed. While an overcharged curriculum may explain, it surely does not justify, the violation of law and the dropping of hygiene from our school curriculum. If there is any class of citizen who should teach and practice respect for law as law, it is the teacher. Parents, school directors, county and state superintendents, university presidents, social workers, owe it not only to themselves, but to the American school-
teacher, either to repeal the laws that enjoin instruction in hygiene or else so to adjust the curriculum that teachers can comply with those laws. The present situation that discredits both law and hygiene is most demoralizing to
teacher, pupil, and community.
Many of us might admire the man teacher who frankly says he never explains the evils or cigarettes because he himself is an inveterate
smoker of cigarettes. But what must we think of the school system that shifts to such a man the right and the responsibility of deciding whether or not to explain to underfed and overstimulated children of the slums the truth regarding cigarettes? If practice and precept must be consistent, shall the man be removed, shall he change his habits, shall the law regarding instruction in hygiene be changed, or shall other provision be made for bringing child and essential facts together in a way that will not dull the child's receptivity?
3. Teachers are made to feel that while arithmetic and
reading are essential, hygiene is not essential. Whatever may be the facts regarding the relative value of arithmetic and hygiene, whether or not our state legislators have made a mistake in declaring hygiene to be essential, are questions altogether too important for child and state to be left to the discretion of the individual teacher or superintendent. It is fair to the teachers who say they cannot afford to turn aside from the three R's to teach hygiene, to admit
properly supported state health authorities will save many times the cost of their health work in addition to thousands of lives.
County or district machinery is little known in America. For that reason rural sanitary administration is neglected and rural hospitals are lacking. In the British Isles rural districts are given almost as careful inspection as are cities. Houses may not be built below a certain standard of lighting, ventilation, and conveniences. Outbuildings must be a safe distance from wells. Dairies must be kept clean. Patients suffering from transmissible diseases may be removed by force to hospitals. What is more to the point, rural hospitals have proved that patients cared for by them are far more apt to recover than patients cared for much more expensively and less satisfactorily at home, while less likely to pollute water and milk sources or otherwise to endanger health.
With national machinery the chapter on Vital Statistics has already dealt. We shall undoubtedly soon have a national board of health. Like the state boards, its first function should be educative. In addition, however, there are certain administrative functions where inefficiency may result in serious losses to nation, state, and locality. National quarantine, national inspection of meats, foods, and drugs are administrative functions of vital consequence to every citizen.
Authorities are acquainted at the present time with the fact that the sanitary administration of the army and navy is unnecessarily and without excuse wasteful of human energy and human life. In the Spanish American War 14 soldiers died of disease for 1 killed in battle; in the Civil War 2 died of disease to 1 killed in battle; during the wars of the last 200 years 4 have died of disease for 1 killed in battle. Yet Japan in her  war with Russia, by using means known to the United States Army in 1860, gave health precedence over
everything else and lost but 1 man to disease for 4 killed in battle. Diseases are still permitted to make havoc with American commerce because the national government does not apply to its own limits the standards which it has successfully applied to Cuba and Panama.
"The Japanese invented nothing and had no peculiar knowledge or skill; they merely took occidental acience and used it. The remarkable thing is not what they [Ed. Note: Japanese health officials] did, but that they were allowed to do it [Ed. Note: by politiicans]. It is a terrible thing that Congress should choose to make one of its rare displays of economy in a matter where a few thousand dollars saved means, in case our army should have anything to do, not only the utterly needless and useless loss of thousands of lives, but an enormous decrease of military efficiency, and might, conceivably, make all the difference between victory and defeat."
SCHOOL AND HEALTH REPORTS
For every school-teacher or school physician responsible for the welfare of children at school, there are fifty or more parents responsible for the physical welfare of children at home. Therefore it is all important for parents to know how to read the index for their own children, tor their children's associates, and for their community. School reports and health reports should tell clearly and completely the story of the school child's physical needs.
NECESSARY TO EFFICIENT DEMOCRACY
It is impracticable at the present time to expect a large number of men and women to be interested in the reports published by school and health boards, for, with few exceptions, little effort is made to write these report so that they will interest the parent. Fortunately, a small number of persons wishing to be intelligent can compel public offices to ascertain the necessary facts and to give them to the public. So backward is the reporting of public business
|All >||Municipal >||School Rays >||Volun- >||The
| >||Bureau >||Health Rays >||teer > ||Gene-
|Official >|| >||Probation >||Fact >||ral
|>||of >||Franchise >||Cen- > ||Pub-
|Experience >||Statistics >||Municipal Art >||ters >||lic
that at the present time there is probably no service that a citizen can render his community which would prove of greater importance than to secure proper publicity from health and school boards.
Generally speaking, these published reports fail to interest the citizen, not because officials wish to conceal, but because officials do not believe that the public is interested. A mayor of Philadelphia once furnished a notable [evil] exception. He called at the department of health and complained against publishing the number of cases of typhoid and smallpox lest stories in the newspapers "frighten the city and injure business." A sanitary inspector who was in the room asked if Philadelphia's business was more important than the health of Philadelphia's citizens. As a result of her "impertinence" the inspector was removed. [Ed. Note: Censorship as per the mayor's demand, resulted.] That same year an epidemic of smallpox spread through all the rural districts and cities of Pennsylvania, because physicians thought it would be kinder to the patients not to make known to their neighbors the presence of so disagreeable a disease. Almost all health and school authorities, however, can be made to see the advantage of taking the public into their confidence, because public confidence means both public recognition and greater success in obtaining funds. With more funds comes the power to do more work.
Other details with regard to health reports will be found in the chapter on Vital Statistics. As to school reports, little though has been given in the past to their educational possibilities. A book was recently published—School Reports and School Efficiency—by the Committee on the Physical Welfare of School Children, which tells the origins of school reports; contains samples of reports froia one hundred cities; gives lists of questions frequently answered, occasionally answered, and never answered; and shows how to study a particular report so as to learn whether or not important questions are answered. The United States commissioner
FIGHTING TOBACCO EVILS
"It is not necessarily vicious or harmful to soothe excited nerves." This editorial comment explains, even if it condemns while trying to justify, the tobacco habit. To soothe excited nerves by lying to them about their condition and by weakening where we promise to nourish, is vicious and harmful just as other lying and robbery are vicious and harmful. Yet two essential facts in dealing with tobacco evils must be considered: tobacco does soothe excited nerves, and the harm done to the majority of smokers seems to them to be negligible. For these two reasons the tobacco user, unless frightened by effects already visible, refuses to listen to physiological arguments against his amiable self-indulgence. Cheerfully he admits the theoretical possibility that by its method of soothing nerves, tobacco kills nerve energy. But in all sincerity he points to men who have found the right stopping point up to which tobacco hurts less perhaps than coffee or tea, candy or lobster, overeating or undersleeping. Therefore the physician, the bishop, the school superintendent, candidly run the necessary risk for the sake of nerve soothing and sociability.
Less harm would be done by tobacco if it were more [immediately] harmful. Like so many other food poisons, its use in small quantities does not produce the prompt, vivid, unequivocal results that remove all doubt as to the user's injuries and intemperance. As inability to see the physiological effect upon himself encourages the tobacco user to continue smoking or chewing, so failure to identify evil physiological effects upon the smoker [Ed. Note: and pusher targeting and fraud] encourages the nonuser [child] to begin
smoking or chewing. A very few smokers give up the habit because they fear its results, but too often the man who can see the evil results would rather give up almost anything else. The one motive that most frequently stops inveterate smoking—fear—is the least effective motive in dissuading those who have not yet acquired the habit; every young man, unless already suffering from known heart trouble, thinks he will smoke moderately and without harm. Unfortunately, every boy who begins to smoke succeeds in picturing to himself the adult who shows no surface sign of injury from tobacco, rather than some other boy who has been stunted physically, mentally, and morally by cigarettes.
For adult and child, therefore, it behooves us to find some other weapons against tobacco evils in addition to fear of physiological injuries. Among these weapons are:
1. Enforcement of existing laws that make it an offense against society for dealer, parent, or other person to furnish children under sixteen with tobacco in any form; and raising the age limit to twenty-one, or at least to eighteen.
2. Enforcement of restrictions as to place and time when smoking is permitted.
3. Agitation against tobacco as a private and public nuisance [Ed. Note: and institutionalizing this Iowa style].
4. Explanation of commercial advantages of abstinence.
Because the childish body quickly shows the injurious effects of what in adults would be called moderate smoking, the proper physical examination of school children will reveal injuries which in turn will show where and to what extent the cigarette evil exists among the children of a
community. Even the [Ed. Note: harm-intending] scientists who claim that "in some cases tobacco aids digestion," or that "tobacco may be used without bad effects when used moderately by people who are in condition to use it," declare emphatically that tobacco "must not be used in any form by growing children or youths." Prohibitive laws [Ed. Note: such as Iowa's] can be rigidly enforced if a small
amount of attention is given to organizing the strong public sentiment that exists against demoralizing children by tobacco. Thus children and youths will not need to make a decision regarding their own use of tobacco until after other arguments than physiological fear have been used for many years by parent, teacher, and society.
One effective weapon is the sign on a ferryboat or street car: "No smoking allowed on this side," or "Smoking allowed on three rear seats only." Public halls and vehicles in increasing numbers either prohibit smoking altogether or put smokers to some considerable inconvenience. The trouble involved in going to places where smoking is permitted tends gradually to irritate the nerves beyond the power of tobacco to soothe. Again, many men would rather not soothe their excited nerves after five, than have their nerves excited all day waiting for freedom to smoke. Restrictions as to time or place make possible and expedite still further restrictions. Thus gradually the army of occasional smokers or nonsmokers is being recruited from the army of regular smokers.
The anti-nuisance motive follows closely upon the drawing of sharp lines of time and place for the use of tobacco. Like treason, smoking in the presence of nonsmokers can be considered respectable only when the numbers who profess and practice it are numerous. If the two first-mentioned weapons are effectively used, there will be an increasing proportion of nonsmokers and not-yet-smokers who will give attentive ear to proof that nicotinism is a nuisance. The physical evidences of the cigarette habit can easily be made distasteful to all nonsmokers if frankly pointed out,—the yellow fingers, the yellow teeth, the nasty breath, the offensive excretions from the pores that saturate the garments of all who cannot afford a daily change of underwear. The anti-nuisance argument is always insidious and abiding. In the presence of nonsmokers accustomed to
regard tobacco using as a nuisance, smokers become self-conscious and sensitive [Ed. Note: or violent].
Men and women [Ed. Note: those without abulia] alike would prefer a reputation for cleanliness to the pleasures of tobacco. The educational possibility of fighting tobacco
with the name "nuisance" was recognized the other day by an editorial that protested against a law to prevent women from using cigarettes in restaurants.
Chewing has practically disappeared, not because it ceased to soothe excited nerves but because it was seen to be a nasty nuisance.
Finally, the selfishness of the smoker is a nuisance that continues only because it has not been called by its right name. "Do you mind if I smoke?" was a polite question two hundred years ago when tobacco was rare enough to make smoking a distinction, or fifty years ago when everybody smoked at home and in public. But it is effrontery to-day when people do mind, when smoking pollutes the air of drawing room and office, and while soothing the excited nerves of the smoker lowers the vitality of nonsmokers compelled to breathe smoke-laden air.
It is selfish to intrude upon others a personal weakness or a .personal appetite. It is selfish to divert from family purposes to "soothing excited nerves" even the small amounts necessary to maintain the cigar or cigarette habit. It is selfish to run the risk of shortening one's life, of reducing ones earning capacity. Because the tobacco habit is selfish it is anti-social and a nuisance, and should be fought by social as well as personal weapons, as are other recognized nuisances, such as spitting in public or offensive manners.
|"The way for any man who has the desire to reform some woman addicted to the cigarette habit is insidiously and gently to point out the injurious effects on her appearance. Cigarette smoking stains a woman's fingers and discolors her teeth. It also tends to make her complexion sallow and to detract from the rubhess of her lips. It bedims the sparkle of her eyes. It makes her less attractive mornings." [Ed. Note: better yet, institutionalize cigarette manufacturing bans].|
The economic motive for avoiding and for eliminating tobacco is gaining in strength. The soothing qualities of all drugs are found to be expensive to physical and business energy if enjoyed during business hours. Strangely enough, employers who smoke are quite as apt as are nonsmokers, to forbid the use of tobacco by employees at work. Some of this seeming inconsistency is due to a dislike for cheaper tobacco or for mixed brands in one atmosphere; some of it is due to the smoker's knowledge that "soothing nerves" and sustained attention do not go hand in hand, while "pipe dreams" and unproductive meditation are fast companions; finally no little of the opposition to tobacco in business is due to fear of fire.
These various motives, combining with the anti-nuisance motive among nonsmokers, have led many business enterprises to prohibit the use of tobacco in any form on their premises or during business hours, even when on the premises of others. Notable examples are railroad that permit no passenger trainman to use tobacco while on duty. (Freight trainmen are restricted more tardily because the risk of damages is less and the anti-nuisance objection is wanting.)
From penalising excessive use and prohibiting moderate use in business hours, it is a short cut to choosing men who never use tobacco and thus never suffer any of its
effects and never exhibit any of its offensive evidences. No young man expects to obtain a favorable hearing if he offers himself for employment while smoking or chewing tobacco. Business men dislike to receive tobacco-scented messengers. Cars and elevators contain signs prohibiting lighted cigars or cigarettes. Insurance companies reject men who show signs of excessive use of tobacco. Why? Because they
are apt to die before their time. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company of New York City rejects applicants for motormen and conductors "for excessive or long-continued use of tobacco." Why? Because, other things being equal,
such men are more apt to lose their nerve in an emergency and to fail to read signals or instructions correctly.
Armed with these weapons against tobacco, parents and teachers can effectively introduce physiological arguments against excessive use, against use by those who suffer from nervous or heart trouble, and against any use whatever by those who have not reached physical maturity. By avoiding physiological arguments that children will not—cannot—believe contrary to their own eyes, parents and teachers are able to speak dogmatically of that which children will believe,—injuries to children, evils of excess, restrictions as to time and place, and offensiveness to nonsmokers.
But even here it is wrong [Ed. Note: as, for example, Iowa saw], as it is inexpedient, to leave the physical strength of the next generation to the persuasive power of parents and teachers or to the faith and knowledge of minors. Society should protect all minors against their own ignorance, their own desires, the ignorance of parents and associates, and against the economic motive of tobacco sellers by machinery that enforces the law.
"A NATURAL LAW IS AS SACRED AS A MORAL
When a grammar-school boy I learned from the game Quotations" that Louis Agassiz, scientist, had written the sentence with which I introduce a final appeal for living that will permit physical and civic efficiency. Agassiz has been called "America's greatest educator," and again "the finest specimen yet discovered of the genus homo, of the species intelligens." The story of his long life as teacher of teachers reads like a romance. But among his gifts to education and citizenship none can be made to mean more than the simple proposition that natural law is as sacred as a moral principle. All who remember this "beatitude" will be helped to solve many perplexing problems of dress, diet, play, education, philanthropy, morals, and civics.
Reverence for the natural carries with it a distaste for the unnatural. Those who obey natural law soon come to regard its violation as a nuisance when not immoral. On the other hand, compromise with the unnatural, like compromise with vice, quickly leads first to tolerance and thence to interest and practice. Therefore the importance of giving children Agassiz's conception of the sacredness of the laws that govern the human body. A passion for the natural is a strong foundation for habits of health and a priceless possession for one who wishes to know morality in its highest sense.
"Natural" is less attractive to us than it would be had Agassiz first interpreted it for us rather than Rousseau or present-day exponents of "the simple life," "back to nature,"
and "back to the land." It is too often forgotten that no one sins against natural law more grievously than the primitive man or the isolated man in daily contact with non-human nature. Communing with nature seems not only to require communing with man but to give joys in proportion as the nature lover is concerned for the human society of which he is a part. Natural law does not become a moral principle until man is benefited or injured by man's use of nature's resources within and about him. Natural living according to natural law must be something sounder, more belLutiful, and more progressive than can be read into or out of mountains, trees, brooks, and sky, or primitive society.
Natural law points to a Nature Fore as well as a Nature Back, to a Nature Up and Beyond as well as a Nature Down and Behind. The Nature that was yesterday will not do for to-morrow, any more than a man is willing to give up his nature aspirations for the careless, animal ways of romping childhood. Civilization is constantly urged at each step to repeat the prayer of Holmes's old man who dreams for the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table:
But every experiment in turning back exalts the present and the future. Gifts as well as problems are seen to come
Oh for one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring!
I'd rather laugh a bright-haired boy
Than reign a gray-beard king!
Off with the wrinkled spoils of age!
Away with learning's crown!
Tear out life's wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!
One moment let my life blood stream
From boyhood's fount of flame!
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!
with complexity, and civilization flatly refuses to relinquish these gifts. Sound maturity is better than youth or age:
Problems of health and of civics can never be solved by appealing to Nature Back, when only the few could be healthy, when one baby in three died in infancy, when old age was toothless and childish, when infection ravished nations, when the average life was twenty years shorter than now, and when unspeakable filth was tolerated in air, street, and house. They can all be solved by appeals to Nature Fore, which holds up an ideal of mankind physically able to enjoy all the benefits and to conquer all the dangers of civilization. It is not looking back, but looking in and forward that reveals what natural law promises to those who obey it.
By using numerous tests which have been suggested in preceding chapters we can learn how far we and our communities obey natural law when working and playing. Health for health's sake has nowhere been urged. On the contrary, healthful living has been frankly valued for its aid to efficient living by individual and by community; wherefore the emphasis upon others' health and upon the civic aspects of our own health. Tests furnish us with the technic necessary to efficient living; civics, with the larger reason; natural law, with the "pillar of fire by night" to help us choose our path among habits and pleasures whose immediate results upon efficient living cannot easily be determined.
Fashions, tastes, mannerisms, personal indulgences, have been left for Agassiz to deal with. Generally speaking, we all know of numerous acts committed and numerous acts
|The smiling angel dropped his pen,—
"Why, this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
And be a father too!"
omitted in our daily routine that convict us of not living up to our knowledge of physiology and hygiene,—wearing tight shoes or tight corsets, drinking strong coffee, smoking, reading while reclining, failing to insure clean air and clean bodies. Then there are other acts whose omission or commission violate no physical law so far as we can see, but whose unnaturalness we concede,—putting chalk on the eyebrows, wearing false hair or curious puffs, putting perfumery in the bath or on handkerchiefs, assuming artificial poses of body or mouth. These violations of natural law are forced upon us by "style" or "custom" or family convenience. When we come to choose between following fashions and disobeying them, we generally decide that it is better to do a foolish or slightly harmful thing than to occasion criticism, mirth, or even special notice by our dress or our abstemiousness.
Last night I went to a dinner party at eight. I ate and ate a great variety of palatable foods that Nature Back never knew. After two hours of eating I imbibed for two hours the tobacco smoke of the gentlemen who made up the party. I knew that eight o'clock was too late for me to begin eating, that two hours was too long to eat, that the tobacco of others was bad for my health and for to-day's efficiency. All this I knew when I accepted the invitation to dinner. I went with no intention of presenting others from smoking or of lecturing my host or his chef or his guests for the unhygienic practices of our day. Yet the physical ills were more than offset by certain definite gains to the school children of New York that will result from last night's meeting. Natural law was abated in part. But I declined certain dishes that would not agree with me, helped myself sparingly to many dishes, avoided tobacco and wines, and by a three-mile walk in the open air, a bath, and a good long night's sleep have almost recovered my right to talk of the sacredness of natural law.
Nature Back says I should not have gone to this dinner. But I was compelled to go. I know I am going to others. I cannot do my work unless I overdraw my current health account. Nature Fore tells me that effective cooperation with others will frequently require me to eat at the dinner hour of others, to retire at others' sleeping time, to wear what others will approve, to violate natural law. But Nature Fore also tells me how to build up a health reserve so that I can meet these emergencies without endangering my health credit.
Nature Back demands "dress reform." Nature Fore tells me that I can march in step with my contemporaries without either attracting attention or discrediting and affronting nature law. Passion for the natural has effected numerous reforms in dress, diet, and social habits, until commerce provides a natural adaptation of practically every fashion. With regard to few things is it necessary to-day for any one who reads magazines to do violence to bodily health for fashion's sake. We may wear what we will, eat what we prefer, decline what is unnatural for us, without inviting censure. The debauches of those unfortunate people who live an unnatural, purposeless existence, affect such a small number that their laws need not be considered here. Natural law makes obedience to itself attractive; hence commerce is rapidly learning to cater to distaste for the unnatural. With few exceptions, only temporary concessions to unnatural living are required in order to dress and act conventionally.
Nature Back throws little light upon conditions necessary for modern labor. It can do nothing but demand the abolition of the factory, the big store, the tenement, the school. Nature Fore says we cannot abolish the means of working out the highest forms of cooperation. But we can make them compatible with natural living. We can modify conditions so that earning a livelihood will not compel workers
to violate natural law at any or all times. The greatest need of factory and tenement reform is for parents and teachers to make a religion of Nature Fore and to instill its principles in the minds of children. Parents and teachers must live the natural before they can make children love the natural. Parents and teachers cannot possibly be natural in this day, cannot live or love natural law unless they know the machinery by which their communities are combating conditions prejudicial to health, morals, and civic efficiency.