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IN President's Eliot's last Annual Report the improved health of the students within the last twenty years is ascribed to the greater attention given in intelligent families to the care of the body. This brings again to mind the thought that the higher our education the better should be the care which we learn to take of our bodily organs, since when they are in the healthiest condition they do us the best service. It is superfluous, however, to give to persons possessed of even the moderate wisdom of college students reasons why we should attend to the laws of health. As a theory, the necessity of caring for our bodies is admitted by all; but Theory does not always walk hand in hand with her less flighty sister, Practice; she often wanders unattended, as in the present case. There are two main reasons, I think, why our practice does not always follow our theory in the matter of health: First, carelessness. Too many of us consult, in regard to our meals and exercise, what we find to be the convenient, rather than what we know to be the healthful course. Any one observing the number of fellows hastening back from Memorial Hall between ten or fifteen minutes after the breakfast hour begins, must come to one of two conclusions, - either that there is next to nothing fit to eat on the bounteously spread tables in the grand Alumni Dining Hall, or else that the students are guilty of the bad habit of Americans of rapid eating. Of course the former of these two hypotheses cannot be thought true even for a moment; hence we must accept the latter, and believe that in after years dyspepsia will not be an infrequent visitor to these gobblers.
The second reason why many students give so little attention to their health is that they are ignorant of the construction of the human body, and of the "rules and regulations" necessary to be observed in order to keep this wonderful servant of the human will in perfect working condition. At home the majority of us learn only general maxims in this regard, such as, "Don't get in a perspiration and then stand in a draught," or "When you don't feel quite well omit a meal and give Nature a chance to recover"; but of the circulation of the blood, of the effects of different kinds of food on the system, of the working of the glands, of the relation of the various parts of the body, we know almost nothing. In school we may learn that our body has many wonderful organs, but experience only teaches us to distinguish their use from their abuse.
Here at Harvard we have one course (Nat. Hist. 3), which relates in some degree to the construction of the human body; but the word "Comparative" in connection with the "Anatomy" proves a bugbear to many who would like to know something of their own frames, but cannot spare time to investigate the nature of the twenty-nine vertebrae in the tail of the Archeopteryx, or the peculiar structure of the tooth of the Labyrinthodon.
The article on University Lectures in a recent number of the Magenta expressed a need that is widely felt. The Physiology and Hygiene of the Human Body is one subject on which a course of Lectures, illustrated by specimens, would be appreciated and gladly attended by many students. Surely there are several instructors here who are competent to enlighten our mental darkness in this regard, and relieve us from our painful, not to say shameful, ignorance. Feeling the benefit of the Shaksperian and Homeric readings, and of the lectures on French literature; like Oliver Twist, we cry for "more." We hope the Faculty will find it possible to supply our need in this matter by a course of weekly lectures, given in the evening if necessary, to begin in the not distant future.
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