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Title: Religion And Health
Author: Walsh, James J. (James Joseph), 1865-1942
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Notes]
  Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly
  braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred
  in the original book.

  This book is derived from a copy on the Internet Archive:

  Obvious spelling or typographical errors have been corrected.
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[End Transcriber's Notes]



JAMES J. WALSH, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.D. etc.





_Copyright, 1920_,
By Little, Brown, and Company.

_All rights reserved_
Published October, 1920

_Norwood Press_

Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co.,

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.






       Introduction                  1


   I   Can We Still Believe?         8

  II   Prayer                       33

 III   Sacrifice                    59

  IV   Charity                      80

   V   Fasting and Abstinence      109

  VI   Holydays and Holidays       120

  VII  Recreation and Dissipation  132

 VIII  Mortification               147

   IX  Excesses                    168

    X  Purity                      184

   XI  Insanity                    205

  XII  Nervous Disease             217

 XIII  Dreads                      234

  XIV  Suffering                   254

   XV  Pain                        265

  XVI  Suicide and Homicide        277

 XVII  Longevity                   294

XVIII  The Bible and Health        306

  XIX  Health and Religion         319

       Index                       333




Physicians are agreed that there is no entirely satisfactory
definition for health. We all know quite well what we mean when we use
the word, but it does not admit of such exact limitations as would
make a scientific formulation of its meaning. Religion is another of
the words which, in spite of its common use, is extremely difficult to
define exactly, and it has often been said that we have no definition
that will satisfy all those who profess religion and certainly not all
those who have made a study of it from the standpoint of the science
of theology. As is true of health, each of us knows pretty thoroughly
what we mean when we use the word, though our definitely formulated
signification for it might not meet with the approval of others,
especially of those who are exacting in their requirements. With the
two principal words in the title incapable of exact definition, it
might seem that the subject matter of this book would be rather vague
at best and unpromising in practical significance. But all this
indefiniteness is in theory. There are no two words in the language
that are more used than health and religion, none that are less vague
in practice and no two subjects have a wider appeal or a more
paramount interest. The linking them together for discussion in common
because of their mutual influence will serve to {2} throw light on
both of them and undoubtedly help toward a better understanding of

Ordinarily the most satisfactory definition of a word can be obtained
from its etymology. Unfortunately in the matter of religion there is a
very old-time division of opinion as to the derivation of the word
which makes etymology of less definite significance than usual. Cicero
suggested that _religio_ came from _relegere_, to go through or over
again in reading, speech or thought, as prayers and religious
observances generally are repeated. On the other hand St. Augustine
and Lactantius insisted on deriving _religio_ from the Latin verb
_religare_, which means to bind again, to bind back, to bind fast. The
word obligation has an analogous origin and illustrates the meaning of
religion as if its form from etymology should have been religation.

It is this latter derivation that has been most commonly accepted in
the modern time. A man may recognize the existence of God and yet not
feel any particular obligations toward Him, but if he binds himself
anew to the deity whom he recognizes, by trying to make his life
accord with the divine will as he views it, then he practices
religion. James Martineau said, "By religion I understand the belief
and worship of Supreme Mind and Will, directing the universe and
holding moral relations with human life."

What will occupy us in this book is the effect of this profound
feeling and sense of obligation toward a higher power on health, that
is, on that wholeness of body and mind which constitutes a normal
condition for human beings.

There are many more relations between the two words than would at
first be suspected or that most people {3} might think possible. The
old high German word _haelu_ or _haelo_, from which our word health is
derived, meant also salvation. The original root _hal_ means haleness
or wholeness and also refers to healing, and curiously enough the word
holiness is derived from the same root. Holiness has now come to refer
to perfection, or at least normality of soul, while health refers to
normality of body. Our word health is related more directly to whole
than it is to heal, in spite of the feeling there might be because of
the spelling that the latter word must represent its immediate origin.
Holiness of soul exactly corresponds in etymology with wholeness of

Cardinal Newman would, I suppose, be an authority on the subject of
religion as satisfying for most people as could be found. In his
"Grammar of Assent", which he wrote in order to define as exactly as
might be possible just how men came to admit certain propositions with
special reference to the acceptance of religion, he gave a definition
of what he meant by the word in as simple words as it is possible to
use, perhaps, to express so large a subject. He said: "By religion I
mean the knowledge of God, of His Will, and of our duties toward Him."
Matthew Arnold, who represents among English-speaking peoples almost
the opposite pole of thought to Cardinal Newman, in what concerns
religion, suggested in "Literature and Dogma" that "Religion, if we
follow the intention of human thought and human language in the use of
the word, is ethics heightened, enkindled, lit up by feeling; the
passage from morality to religion is made when to morality is applied
emotion." Both of these men, in spite of their distance apart, insist
on duty as the essence of religion. Matthew Arnold calls it ethics and
says nothing as to the foundation of it; the great English {4}
Cardinal speaks very simply of our duties toward God. Newman says
nothing of the emotions but appeals only to the reason, while,
curiously enough, the rationalizer in religion emphasizes the

Between these two definitions there is a world of difference that we
shall not attempt to bridge, for we want to treat of the relations and
above all the interaction of religion and health in the widest sense
of these terms. The "Century Dictionary" definition more nearly
resembles that of Cardinal Newman than Matthew Arnold's formula, but
it generalizes in a way that would describe the practice of religion
for a greater number of people and especially for those who still
believe that there are more gods than one. It runs: "Recognition of
and allegiance in manner of life to a superhuman power or superhuman
powers, to whom allegiance and service are regarded as justly due."

Even this definition is not too broad for the subject matter of this
book, for I am one of those who believe that there is a blessing on
every sincere effort of worship of the Higher Power, no matter how
groping it may be. Above all, every regulation of life with reference
to a power above us felt to have a Providence over the world in which
we live has an almost inevitable reaction on health and will lead to
better things. The sincere pursuit of good conduct as an end in life
under a Providence that is recognized will almost necessarily lead to
better knowledge of our relations to the higher powers, and also of
our relations to ourselves and the world around us.

With these preliminaries we are ready to consider religion and health
and their mutual influence, but the inevitable question that suggests
itself is, "Is religion a living force in our time? Has not science
given it its {5} death blow? While it walks the earth as yet, is it
not only as the ghost of an outworn phase of human interest? Is it any
more than merely a superstition in the sense once suggested as the
etymology of this word by James Russell Lowell as if derived from
_superstes_, a survivor, representing, as all superstitions do, a
survival from a previous state of thinking, the reasons for which have
disappeared, though the mental inertia of human beings still keeps
them in vogue?" A good many people in our time, including not a few
of those who are rather prone to consider themselves above the rest of
the world, have not hesitated to express the view that it is only old
fogies and especially those ignorant of modern science who continue to
think that religion can still be taken seriously. Some few of them
have the best of good will in the world and appreciate how much of
benefit was derived from religious belief, benefit which they confess
did good both for the mind and the body of man; and they are even
ready to express sorrow that it has outlived its usefulness, but they
feel that they must insist that religion is now only the wraith of its
former self, a misty congeries of old-fashioned beliefs which the
ignorant alone reverence, accepting it very much as they do ghost
stories in general.

President Schurman of Cornell in an address before the Liberal Club of
Buffalo thirty years ago,  [Footnote 1] reminded us that there are a
number of people who are always ready to proclaim the end of religion
and to weep for it. Religion continues to be as living a force and as
lively as ever in spite of their proclamations, and this has been true
generation after generation practically since the beginning of
Christianity. President Schurman said:

  "Every now and then we hear the requiem of religion chanted alike by
  the spirits who mock and by the pious souls who have 'no language
  but a cry.' I suppose we shall always have professional mourners.
  But it is greatly to be desired that their services should not be
  prematurely given. If there is anything in the world that is alive
  and active, it is just this religious spirit, for whose demise
  certain mourners go about the streets. The body of religion changes,
  the spirit and the life abide forever. To the assertion that
  religion is defunct, I reply by pointing to the intense interest
  which men to-day everywhere feel in religion. It was recently stated
  by a Massachusetts Judge--Burke observed truly that we Americans
  like to appeal to the law--that there is nothing in the world
  perennially interesting but religion. The ground of this dictum is
  to be found in the constitution of humanity; for the human soul
  which the things of sense fail to satisfy can attain its true home
  and its complete self-realization only in conscious communion with
  the Spirit behind the veil."

    [Footnote 1: "Agnosticism," Scribners, New York, 1895. ]

The recent death of Mrs. Humphry Ward recalled the experience with
regard to her book "Robert Elsmere." In a certain narrow circle of
intellectuals it was supposed that this novel represented a veritable
death blow to a series of compromises which had permitted people
familiar with modern progress and science, and especially with the
higher criticism, to continue to practice their religion in peace in
spite of the fact that belief had long since departed. How amusing it
is now and indeed how almost incomprehensible to learn that Mrs.
Humphry Ward's husband, a well-known English critic, suggested shortly
after its publication that her novel had {7} "shaken the very pillars
of Christianity." It is surprising indeed how often the foundations of
religion are supposed to have been completely undermined, and yet the
edifice itself continues to stand and to be the shelter for the vast
majority of mankind from the buffetings of a world that without it
would be almost shelterless for them and a place of trial too hard to

Men are incurably religious, and just as no tribe has been found,
however low in the scale of savagery, which has not formulated for
itself some system of worship of a higher power and definite feelings
of dependence on it, so even those whose minds under the influence of
certain phases of intellectual development lead them away from formal
religion find deep in their hearts the belief and appreciation of
their relations to a power that makes for good, even though it may be
difficult to understand the mystery of it. Long ago the Scriptural
expression was formulated that only the fool who thinketh not in his
heart says there is no God. Due acknowledgment of the thought in
practice, however imperfect it may be, is religion.

Religion has been with us for all the period that we know anything
about man, for the very cave man buried his dead with manifest
confidence in a hereafter, and there seems no doubt that it will be
with us until this stage of mundane affairs has passed. It affects the
body as well as the mind, as indeed do all the great modes of thought,
and it deserves to be cultivated, not only for its effect on the soul
but also on the mind and heart and the bodily powers. There is no
doubt at all that it means very much, and there is only the question
of facing its significance for the whole man candidly and




There is no doubt that man's quite instinctive attitude toward the
mystery which surrounds him, out of which he came and into which he
goes, has always so influenced his attitude of mind toward his body
and its processes as to affect them deeply. The medicine man with his
appeal to the religious as well as the superstitious feelings of man
always had a potent influence over the most primitive of mankind, but
culture has not obliterated this source of special reaction in men.
Even now, for the great majority of men it still remains true that no
matter how vague their religious instinct may be, it continues to
affect, to a notable extent, their physiological and psychological
functions. An eclipse of the religious instinct is at the basis of the
increase in suicide and also undoubtedly of insanity in our day. The
lack of an abiding faith in Providence is the source of many dreads
and worries that affect health. Every physician is sure to know of
highly educated patients whose ills reflect their mental relation to
the mystery of life and whose symptoms take on or lose significance,
according to their religious feelings.

The question that in our time, however, is coming insistently into a
great many minds is, Can we, as intelligent human beings, reasonably
in touch with man's recent progress in science, be fair with ourselves
and still continue {9} to believe in the great religious truths that
affected our ancestors so deeply? While we may realize all the depth
of the mystery in the midst of which we are, can we, with our little
minds, hope to fathom any of it? This is the questioning feeling that
will not down for a certain number of those who have had educational
advantages. Must we not just confess our inability to, know anything
definite in reality with regard to it, and feel that those who have
thought that they held the key of the mystery were deluding themselves
or allowing themselves to be caught by pseudo-knowledge, an
inheritance from unthinking generations, instead of realities?

Has not the modern advance in science made it very clear to us that
all we can hope to say of man's origin and man's destiny is that we do
not know just what all this mystery that surrounds us is about? Will
not this very rational attitude of mind preclude at least the educated
intelligent people of our generation from having their health affected
in any way by their religion? Above all, if religion is to influence
health, must there not be some regular practice of it, and have not
the scientists of the last generation made it quite clear that this is
out of the question in any sincere and serious way for any one who
knows enough of science and appreciates the present position of our
knowledge of the facts of the relationship of man to the universe?

For a large and growing number of people, as the result of the
prevalence of this impression, the practice of religion seems to be an
interesting but entirely worn-out relic of an older generation when
folk were more easily satisfied with regard to such things than we are
in our enlightened scientific era. Religion is surely not something
that our contemporaries, with their broader {10} outlook on the
meaning of life, can be brought to conform to very readily. The
question "Can We Still Believe?" would seem then to have for answer in
our time at best, "Speculatively, perhaps yes! but practically, no!"

We may still feel the religious instinct, but we can scarcely be
expected to acknowledge religious obligations in any such strictness
as would demand in our already overstrenuous daily life with its many
duties the devotion of time to religious exercises. We surely cannot
be expected to assume any additional obligations or rebind ourselves
to a divinity who seems to be getting farther away from us.

Almost needless to say, if all this be true, then religion can have,
in our time, only a very slight and quite negligible influence on
health. Men may be incurably religious in the mass, as yet, but this
instinct is manifestly passing, for the educated at least, and for
sensible people is now without any significance for physical
processes, though it may at times even yet affect psychological

There is only one fair and practical way to reply to this question
"Can We Still Believe?" especially for those who think that modern
science has obscured the answer, and that is to turn to the lives of
the men who made our modern science and see how they answered it in
their definite relations to religion. The surprise is to find that
while so many people, and not a few of them professors in colleges and
even universities, are of the very often expressed opinion that
science makes men irreligious or at least unreligious, that is not
true at all of our greatest scientists. Most of the men who have done
the great work of modern science have been deeply religious, and a
great many of them have practiced their {11} religion very faithfully.
It is true that not a few of the lesser lights in science have been
carried away by the impression that science was just about to explain
everything, and there was no longer any need of a creator or creation
or of Providence, but that is only because of their own limitations.
Francis Bacon, himself a distinguished thinker in science, declared
some three hundred years ago that his own feeling was that a little
philosophy takes men away from God, but a sufficiency of philosophy
brings them back. His opinion has often been reached by our deepest
thinkers in the modern time, and it is just as true for natural
philosophy as it was for the metaphysical philosophy of the older
time, for Bacon's aphorism had been more than once anticipated in the
early days of Christianity, notably by St. Augustine, and it would not
be hard to find quotations from Greek thinkers along the same line.
The Scriptures said very emphatically, "Only the fool who thinketh not
in his heart says there is no God."

While young scientists then are so prone to feel that science and
religion are in opposition, and a certain number of scientific workers
never seem to outgrow their youthfulness in this regard, it must not
be forgotten that the greatest scientists of the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries have practically all been firm believers in
religion. Lord Kelvin, at the beginning of the twentieth century, at
the moment when he was looked up to by all the world as the greatest
of living physical scientists, did not hesitate to say that "science
demonstrates the existence of a Creator." As president of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science he declared: "But strong,
overpowering proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie all
around us; and if ever {12} perplexities, whether metaphysical or
scientific occur, they turn us away with irresistible force, showing
to us, through nature, the influence of free will, and teaching us
that all living beings depend on one ever-acting Creator and Ruler."

Once when particularly disgusted with the materialistic views of those
who, while denying the existence of the Creator, attributed the
wonders of nature, animate and inanimate, to the potency of a
fortuitous concourse of atoms, Lord Kelvin wrote to Liebig, the great
chemist, asking him if a leaf or a flower could be formed or even made
to grow by chemical forces, and received the emphatic reply, "I would
more readily believe that a book on chemistry or on botany could grow
out of dead matter by chemical processes."

Expressions similar to those of Lord Kelvin and Liebig are
commonplaces in the history of science. Sir Humphry Davy declared,
"The true chemist sees God in all the manifold forms of the external
world." Linnaeus, to whom the modern world confesses that it owes so
much in the organization of botanical science, once exclaimed in what
has well been called a spirit of rapture:

"I have traced God's footprints in the works of His creation; and in
all of them, even in the least, and in those that border on
nothingness, what power, what wisdom, what ineffable perfection!"

It would be very easy to make a long list of extremely great
scientists who were firm believers. Clerk Maxwell once said to a
friend, "I have read up many queer religions; there is nothing like
the old one after all; and I have looked into most philosophical
systems, and I have seen that none will work without a God." Pasteur
declared in his address before the French Academy, when {13} admitted
as a member, "Blessed is the man who has an ideal of the virtues of
the Gospel and obeys it." He had once said, impatient at the
pretensions of pseudo-scientists: "Posterity will one day laugh at the
sublime foolishness of the modern materialistic philosophy. The more I
study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I
pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory."

Kepler, the great astronomer to whom we owe so many significant basic
discoveries, once said:

  "The day is near at hand when one shall know the truth in the book
  of nature as in the Holy Scriptures, and when one shall rejoice in
  the harmony of both revelations."

Sir Isaac Newton, whose modesty was equaled only by the magnitude of
his discoveries, was so impressed with his own littleness in the
contemplation of the wonderful works of God that he declared, a short
time before his death, "I seem to have been only like a boy playing on
the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of
truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Dumas, the great French chemist, for many years the secretary of the
French Academy of Sciences, once suggested the great difference there
is in the matter of religious belief between the original worker in
science and those who know their science only at second-hand. Those
who have acquired their knowledge of science easily have no idea of
the difficulties which the original investigator had to encounter and
how deep are the mysteries which he knows lie all around him. The
second-hand scientist becomes conceited over his {14} knowledge, but
the original investigator becomes humble. Dumas said:

  "People who only exploit the discoveries of others, and who never
  make any themselves, greatly exaggerate their importance, because
  they have never run against the mysteries of science which have
  checked real savants. Hence their irreligion and their infatuation.
  It is quite different with people who have made discoveries
  themselves. They know by experience how limited their field is, and
  they find themselves at every step arrested by the incomprehensible.
  Hence their religion and their modesty. Faith and respect for
  mysteries is easy for them. The more progress they make in science,
  the more they are confounded by the infinite."

Professor P. G. Tait, professor of natural philosophy at Edinburgh
University for the last forty years of the nineteenth century, and who
was the co-author with Lord Kelvin of Thomson's and Tait's "Natural
Philosophy" (the well-known T+T) summed up the question of the
supposed conflict of religion and science rather strikingly and in a
way that makes it easy to comprehend many modern misunderstandings. He

  "The assumed incompatibility of Religion and Science has been so
  often confidently asserted in recent times that it has come to be
  taken for granted by writers of leading articles, etc., and it is,
  of course, perpetually thrust by them broadcast before their too
  trusting readers.

  "But the whole thing is a mistake, and a mistake so grave that no
  true scientific man (unless indeed he be literally a
  specialist--such as a pure mathematician, or a mycologist or
  entomologist) runs, in Britain at least, the smallest risk of making

  "When we ask of any competent authority who are the {15} 'advanced',
  the best, and the ablest scientific thinkers of the immediate past
  (in Britain), we cannot but receive for answer such names as
  Brewster, Faraday, Forbes, Graham, Rowan Hamilton, Herschel, and
  Talbot. This must be the case unless we use the word 'science' in a
  perverted sense. Which of these great men gave up the idea that
  Nature evidences a Designing Mind?"

Lord Rayleigh, the physicist and mathematician, professor of
experimental physics at Cambridge and then Tyndall's successor as
professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution, who, after
having been secretary of the Royal Society for some ten years, was
elected to what has been called the highest official position in the
scientific world--the presidency of the Royal Society--wrote in
answer to a question:  [Footnote 2] "I am not able to write you at
length, but I may say that in my opinion true Science and true
Religion neither are nor could be opposed.

"A large number of 'leading scientists' are not irreligious or
anti-Christian. Witness: Faraday, Maxwell, Stokes, Kelvin, and a large
number of others less distinguished."

  [Footnote 2: I owe this and a number of other quotations in this
  chapter to Tabrum "Religious Beliefs of Scientists," London, 1911.]

Practically all the men whose names are connected with the evolution
of electricity in the nineteenth century were thorough-going believers
in revealed religion. Galvani, Volta, Coulomb, Ohm, Ampère, Oersted,
Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy, and many others are among the believers.
Faraday once declared when the dark shadow of death was creeping over
him, "I bow before Him who is the Lord of all, and hope to be kept
waiting patiently for His time and mode of releasing me, {16}
according to His divine word and the great and precious promises
whereby His people are made partakers of the divine nature."

Earlier in life, in the very maturity of the intellectual powers which
made him immortal in science, lest perhaps some one should suggest
that he had lost his mental grasp toward the end, he said: "When I
consider the multitude of associate forces which are diffused through
nature; when I think of that calm and tranquil balancing of their
energies which enables elements, most powerful in themselves, most
destructive to the world's creatures and economy, to dwell associated
together and be made subservient to the wants of creation, I rise from
the contemplation more than ever impressed with the wisdom, the
beneficence, and grandeur beyond our language to express, of the Great
Disposer of all!"

It would be easy to multiply quotations such as this from the great
original workers in modern electricity. Hans Christian Oersted, for
instance, the great Danish scientist, to whom we owe the discovery of
the "magnetic effect" of the electric current, the demonstration of
the intimate relationship between magnetism and electricity, whose
name all Europe rang with in the early part of the nineteenth century,
was a man of really great genius and scientific penetration and yet of
deeply fervent piety. He did not hesitate to say that genuine
knowledge of science necessarily produced a feeling of religious piety
towards the Creator. Lord Kelvin once quoted some words of his in this
regard on a memorable occasion, which are particularly to our purpose

  "If my purpose here was merely to show that science necessarily
  engenders piety, I should appeal to the great truth everywhere
  recognized, that the essence of all {17} religion consists in love
  toward God. The conclusion would then be easy, that love of Him from
  whom all truth proceeds must create the desire to acknowledge truth
  in all her paths; but as we desire here to recognize science herself
  as a religious duty, it will be requisite for us to penetrate deeper
  into its nature. It is obvious, therefore, that the searching eye of
  man, whether he regards his own inward being or the creation
  surrounding him, is always led to the eternal source of all things.
  In all inquiry, the ultimate aim is to discover that which really
  exists and to contemplate it in its pure light apart from all that
  deceives the careless observer by only a seeming existence. The
  philosopher will then comprehend what, amidst ceaseless change, is
  the Constant and Uncreated, which is hidden behind unnumbered
  creations, the bond of union which keeps things together in spite of
  their manifold divisions and separations. He must soon acknowledge
  that the independent can only be the constant and the constant the
  independent, and that true unity is inseparable from either of
  these. And thus it is in the nature of thought that it finds no
  quiet resting place, no pause, except in the invariable, eternal,
  uncaused, all causing, all comprehensive Omniscience.

  "But, if this one-sided view does not satisfy him, if he seeks to
  examine the world with the eye of experience, he perceives that all
  those things of whose reality the multitude feels most assured never
  have an enduring existence, but are always on the road between birth
  and death. If he now properly comprehends the whole array of nature,
  he perceives that it is not merely an idea of an abstract notion, as
  it is called; but that reason and the power to which everything is
  indebted for its essential nature are only the revelation of a
  self-sustained Being. How can {18} he, when he sees this, be
  otherwise animated than by the deepest feeling of humility, of
  devotion and of love? If any one has learned a different lesson from
  his observation of nature, it could only be because he lost his way
  amidst the dispersion and variety of creation and had not looked
  upwards to the eternal unity of truth."

The great contemporary and colleague of Oersted in the demonstration
of the intimate relations between magnetism and electricity who was
quite as outspoken as the Danish scientist in his recognition of the
relations of science and religion, was the Frenchman Ampère, whose
name was chosen as a term for one of the units of electrical science,
because of his great original work in extending our knowledge of
electricity. This choice of his name was made by an international
congress of scientists who felt that he deserved this very great
honor. Ozanam, to whose thoroughly practical Christianity while he was
professor of foreign literatures at the University of Paris we owe the
foundation of the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, which so long
anticipated the "settlement work" of the modern time and have done so
much for the poor in large cities ever since, who was very close to
Ampère and indeed lived with him for a while, said that, no matter
where conversations with him began, they always led up to God. The
great French scientist and philosopher used to take his broad forehead
between his hands after he had been discussing some specially deep
question of science or philosophy and say: "How great is God, Ozanam;
How great is God and how little is our knowledge." Of course this has
been the feeling of most profound thinkers at all times. St.
Augustine's famous vision of the angel standing by the sea emptying it
out with a teaspoon, which has been rendered so living {19} for most
of us by Botticelli's great picture, is but an earlier example of the
same thing. One of Ampère's greatest contemporaries, Laplace, reëchoed
the same sentiment, perhaps in less striking terms, when he declared
that "What we know is but little; while what we do not know is

Writing of Ampère after his death Ozanam, who knew him best, brought
out this extremely interesting union of intellectual qualities, his
science, his faith, his charity to the poor which was proverbial, and
the charming geniality of his character, as well as his manifold human
interests, in a passage that serves very well to sum up the meaning of
the great Frenchman's life.

  "In addition to his scientific achievements this brilliant genius
  has other claims upon our admiration and affection.... It was
  religion which guided the labors of his mind and illuminated his
  contemplations; he judged all things, science itself, by the exalted
  standard of religion.... This venerable head which was crowned by
  achievements and honors, bowed without reserve before the mysteries
  of faith, down even below the line which the Church has marked for
  us. He prayed before the same altars before which Descartes and
  Pascal had knelt; beside the poor widow and the small child who may
  have been less humble in mind than he was. Nobody observed the
  regulations of the Church more conscientiously, regulations which
  are so hard on nature and yet so sweet in the habit. Above all
  things, however, it is beautiful to see what sublime things
  Christianity wrought in his great soul; this admirable simplicity,
  the unassumingness of a mind that recognized everything except its
  own genius; this high rectitude in matters of science, now so rare,
  seeking nothing but the truth and never {20} rewards and
  distinction; the pleasant and ungrudging amiability; and lastly, the
  kindness with which he met every one, especially young people. I can
  say that those who know only the intelligence of the man, know only
  the less perfect part. If he thought much, he loved more."

Ohm, after whom another of the units of electricity is named, was
another of the scientists who realized very clearly the existence of
Providence and in one very disappointing circumstance in life, when he
found that some of his work at which he had spent much time was
completely anticipated by a Norwegian investigator, he said very
simply, "Man proposes but God disposes"; and he chronicled the fact
that without the bait of this discovery which he vaguely foresaw at
the beginning he would not have taken up the work, and yet during the
time when he was at it "A number of things of which I had no hint at
all at the beginning of my researches have come to take the place of
my original purpose and compensate for it." When he undertook his next
work he foresaw that he might not be able to finish it; he had hoped
against hope that he would, and in the preface to the first volume he
declared that he would devote himself to it at every possible
opportunity and that he hoped and prayed that "God would spare him to
complete it." This simplicity of confidence in the Almighty is indeed
a striking characteristic of the man of whose discovery of the law of
electricity Lord Kelvin declared that it was such an extremely simple
expression of a great truth that its significance is probably not
confined to that department of physical phenomena, but it is a law of
nature in some much broader way. Professor George Chrystal of
Edinburgh in his article on electricity in the "Encyclopaedia
Britannica" (IX Edition) says that {21} Ohm's law must now be allowed
to rank with the law of gravitation and the elementary laws of
statical electricity as a _law of nature_ in the strictest sense.

Volta, whom the international congress of electricity so deservedly
honored by giving his name to one of the units of electricity, is the
genius who first constructed an instrument which would give a
continuous flow of electricity. The Voltaic pile is a very great
invention. Volta was much more, however, than merely an ingenious
inventor. He was a great scientist who made discoveries not only in
electricity but in various other branches of physical science. He was
one of the eight foreign members of the French Institute, Knight
Commander of the Legion of Honor, one of the first members of the
Italian Academy and the gold medalist of the French Academy. There was
nothing he touched in his work that he did not illuminate.

His was typically the mind of the genius, ever reaching out beyond the
boundaries of the known,--an abundant source of leading and light for
others. Far from being a doubter in matters religious, his scientific
greatness seemed only to make him readier to submit to what are
sometimes spoken of as the shackles of faith, though to him belief
appealed as a completion of knowledge of things beyond the domain of
sense or the ordinary powers of intellectual acquisition.

In Volta's time as in our own some of the less important workers in
science had their faith disturbed by their knowledge of science and
attributed that result to science rather than to the limitations of
their own minds. One of them declared that though Volta continued to
practice his religion, this was more because he did not want to offend
friends and did not care to scandalize his {22} neighbors and
especially the poor folk around him in his country home, whom he did
not want to be led by his example into giving up what he knew to be
the most fruitful source of consolation in the trials of life, rather
than because of sincere conviction. Volta, having heard this report,
deliberately wrote out his confession of faith, so that all the world
of his own and the after time might know it. When he wrote it he was
just approaching his sixtieth year and was in the full maturity of his
powers. He lived for twelve years afterwards, looked up to as one of
the great thinkers of Europe and as one of the most important men of
Italy in his time.

  "If some of my faults and negligences may have by chance given
  occasion to some one to suspect me of infidelity, I am ready, as
  some reparation for this and for any other good purpose, to declare
  to such a one and to every other person and on every occasion and
  under all circumstances that I have always held, and hold now, the
  Holy Catholic Religion as the only true and infallible one, thanking
  without end the good God for having gifted me with such a faith, in
  which I firmly propose to live and die, in the lively hope of
  attaining eternal life. I recognize my faith as a gift of God, a
  supernatural faith. I have not, on this account, however, neglected
  to use all human means that could confirm me more and more in it and
  that might drive away any doubt which could arise to tempt me in
  matters of faith. I have studied my faith with attention as to its
  foundations, reading for this purpose books of apologetics as well
  as those written with a contrary purpose, and trying to appreciate
  the arguments pro and contra. I have tried to realize from what
  sources spring the strongest arguments which render faith most
  credible to natural reason and such as cannot fail to make {23}
  every well-balanced mind which has not been perverted by vice or
  passion embrace it and love it. May this protest of mine, which I
  have deliberately drawn up and which I leave to posterity,
  subscribed with my own hand and which shows to all and every one
  that I do not blush at the Gospel--may it, as I have said, produce
  some good fruit.

    "Signed at Milan, January 6, 1815, Alessandro Volta."

Silvio Pellico, whose volume, "My Ten Years' Imprisonment", is one of
the precious little books of literature that seem destined to enduring
interest, had doubted in the midst of his trials and hardships the
presence of Providence in the world and the existence of a hereafter.
In the midst of his doubts he turned to Volta.

"In thy old age, O Volta!" said Pellico, "the hand of Providence
placed in thy pathway a young man gone astray. 'Oh! thou,' said I to
the ancient seer, 'who hast plunged deeper than others into the
secrets of the Creator, teach me the road that will lead me to the
light.' And the old man made answer: 'I too have doubted, but I have
sought. The great scandal of my youth was to behold the teachers of
those days lay hold of science to combat religion. For me to-day I see
only God everywhere.'"

In spite of traditions to the contrary great physicians in their
relation to faith are like the great discoverers in electricity. As a
rule the greater they are as original workers in the medical sciences
the more emphatic their expressions of their belief in religion and
its efficacy in the relief of human ills. The opinions of a few of our
greatest physicians in the modern era of medicine are quoted here as
examples of their attitude of mind.

Sir Richard Owen, probably the greatest anatomist of {24} the
nineteenth century, was a convinced Christian and saw nothing in
scientific truth inimical to the Christian faith. In an address before
the Young Men's Christian Association, he asked his "fellow

  "Has aught that is essentially Christian suffered--have its truths
  ceased to spread and operate in mankind--since physical doctrines,
  supposed or 'declared contrary to Holy Writ', have been established?

  "Allay, then, your fears, and trust in the Author of all truth, who
  has decreed that it shall never perish; who has given a power to man
  to acquire that most precious of his possessions with an
  intellectual nature that will ultimately rest upon due demonstrative

Sir James Paget, sometime president of the Royal College of Surgeons
of England and vice-chancellor of London University, looked upon as
one of the most distinguished of medical scientists in his time, after
whom a special disease described by him has been named, in answer to
the question as to the attitude of scientists toward religion said:
"You will find among scientific men very few who attack either
theology or religion. The attacks imputed to them are made, for the
most part, by those who, with a very scanty knowledge of science, use,
not its facts, but its most distant inferences, as they do whatever
else they can get from any source, for the overthrow of religious

Sir Samuel Wilks, another of the presidents of the Royal College of
Physicians and distinguished in many other ways among the physicians
of Great Britain, in his Harveian Oration expressed himself very
definitely in this matter of the relations of science and religion,
and his quotation from our own Oliver Wendell Holmes adds to the
interest of what he has to say.


  "Hear what a learned professor of anatomy, Wendell Holmes, can say:
  'Science represents the thought of God discovered by man; by
  learning the natural laws he attaches effects to their first cause,
  the will of the Creator', or in the poetic language of Goethe:
  'Nature is the living garment of God.'

  "Science conducts us through infinite paths; it is a fruitful
  pursuit for the most poetic imagination. We take the world as we
  find it and endeavor to unravel its mysteries; but the Alpha and
  Omega we know not. Enough for us to look at what is lying around us;
  it is a part we see and not the whole, but we can say with the poet,
  'We doubt not, through the ages one increasing purpose runs.'"

Professor Sims Woodhead, well known as one of the distinguished
contributors to pathology in the nineteenth century and who was,
before being professor of pathology at Cambridge the director of the
Laboratories of the Conjoint Board of the Royal College of Physicians
(London) and Surgeons (England) may very well be taken as a
representative of the medical scientists of the last generation of the
nineteenth century. It has been said that where there are three
physicians there are two atheists, and perhaps this may be true among
the smaller fry of the profession, but it certainly is not among the
most distinguished members of it. Such men as Pasteur, Lord Lister,
Robert Graves, Corrigan, Laënnec, Claude Bernard, Johannes Müller, are
the outspoken contradiction of it. Pathology and anatomy, in both of
which subjects Professor Woodhead was a teacher, are often said to be
rather serious in their inroads on the faith of the men who pursue
them closely. Professor Woodhead is on record categorically with
regard to this subject of {26} the relations of the Bible and
religion, and science and religion, and his words are well worth while
quoting here.

  "As regards the statement that 'recent scientific research has shown
  the Bible and Religion to be untrue', nothing is further from the
  real fact; the more the Bible is tested the more it is found to be
  made up of historical documents. Moreover, it is recognized that the
  Bible, as a record of truths, never falls foul of Science in its
  search after truth, and scientific men are too true to themselves to
  take the stand that they will not accept truth of any kind.

  "I agree with you that certain theories put forward in the name of
  Science may be opposed to certain theological dogmas; but men are
  certainly coming to see that between the facts of Science and the
  essential teachings of the Christian religion there is never any
  real opposition; and by the 'Christian Religion' I mean the religion
  of Christ, not what some people have wished to read into it; and by
  'science' I mean a search for truth and knowledge, and by 'men of
  science' I mean men engaged in that search."

Professor John W. Taylor, one of the distinguished physicians of Great
Britain and president of the British Gynecological Society, summed up
the answer to the question "Can We Still Believe?" in words that show
how devout a great medical scientist can be:

"What can we 'hold by' as Christians? We can hold by the Faith of the
early Apostles as enunciated in the Apostles' and the Nicene Creeds,
and plainly foreshadowed in 1 Cor. xv. This was written within thirty
years of our Lord's crucifixion and must have been 'received' by St.
Paul immediately on his conversion." Any one who will turn to that
chapter of First Corinthians will {27} find that it contains all the
essentials of Christian faith, yet here is a great modern physician
finding in it the expression of his own mental attitude toward
religion in our time.

Biologists, in spite of popular impressions to the contrary, have
paralleled physicians in this regard. To cite but one or two:

Professor George Romanes, who was considered not alone one of the
leaders of scientific thought in England, but one of the foremost
naturalists of modern times, after expressions as a younger man that
showed his deep and even devout belief in religion, wrote somewhat
later a defense of atheism on scientific grounds. Some years
afterwards, in the maturity of his powers, he prepared a
thorough-going recantation of this in the shape of a work designed to
show the fallacy of his former atheistic views, in which he said:

  "It is a general, if not a universal rule that those who reject
  Christianity with contempt are those who care not for religion of
  any kind. 'Depart from me' has always been the sentiment of such. On
  the other hand, those in whom the religious sentiment is intact, but
  who have rejected Christianity on intellectual grounds, still almost
  deify Christ. These facts are remarkable."

  "Unbelief," Professor Romanes concluded, "is usually due to
  indolence, often to prejudice, and never a thing to be proud of."

In every department of science one finds the representatives of the
various branches of scientific study in harmony on this subject of
religion and science. Professor George Boulger, whose work has been
mainly done in botany and who was a fellow of a number of the
scientific societies of England and vice-president of the Selborne
{28} Society, has some very direct expressions in the matter that add
to the significance of what has been said by others.

  "In philosophy, in physics, and in astronomy I am content to place
  myself on the side of Bacon, of Newton, of Napoleon. I believe, with
  Bacon, that 'a little Philosophy inclineth Man's Minde to Atheisme;
  but depth in Philosophy bringeth Men's Mindes about to Religion.'
  With Newton I am content to 'seem to have been only like a boy
  playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then
  finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
  the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.' With
  Napoleon--not a man of science but a man of the world, a man of
  action--I would say to our neo-Epicureans as he did to his sceptical
  officers, pointing to the stars, 'Gentlemen, you may talk all night,
  but who made all these?'"

He recognized how many difficulties there might be for the scientist,
but felt, as Cardinal Newman once said, that hundreds of difficulties
may not make a single doubt. Professor Boulger has dealt with some of
these cruder difficulties with trenchant directness.

  "I am perfectly aware of the temptation of the physiological
  laboratory, when one is face to face with the facts of the
  localisation of brain-functions and the influence of purely physical
  conditions upon mentality, until one is almost led to Buchner's
  gross misstatement that 'the brain secretes thought as the liver
  secretes bile'; but here, as ever, it is at the very base of the
  problem that the unsolved mystery shows itself insoluble. Force,
  Matter, Life, Thought, Will,--what are they, whence come they?
  Science deals with their phenomena, their manifestations. With John
  Ray I would term the study of nature a pious duty, one suited to a
  Sabbath day and not {29} improbably one of the main occupations of
  the endless Sabbaths hereafter.... But true science will never
  presume to say that it can deal with anything beyond these
  phenomena. As I am as convinced that the Christian Faith is a Divine
  revelation as I am that 'Nature' is the creation of the Divine First
  Cause, it is, of course, to me unthinkable that there could be any
  conflict between them."

Not only the scientists themselves but the philosophic students of the
whole range of modern thought who took the information imparted by the
specialists and coordinated it for the purpose of finding the
philosophic conclusions to be drawn from it all as to man's life and
destiny and the meaning of it all have recognized the place of
religion in Life and its significance for humanity.

Mr. Frederic Harrison, the well-known English apostle of Comte, whose
Positivism might possibly have been expected to lead him away from
such ideas, did not hesitate in the midst of that wave of skepticism
which spread over Europe shortly after the "silly seventies" when so
many even of the well-informed thought that natural selection was
going to explain everything for us and solve all the mysteries, to
utter some very strong words on the subject that well deserve to be
recalled. In his book, "The Creed of a  Layman," he said, for

  "I believe that before all things, needful beyond all else, is true
  religion. This only can give wisdom, happiness and goodness to men
  and a nobler life to mankind. Nothing but this can sustain, guide
  and satisfy all lives, control all characters and unite all men.
  True religion must rule in every heart, brain and will, over every
  people of the whole earth; inspire every thought, hallow every
  emotion and be the guide of every act."


And by what he termed the true religion Mr. Harrison did not mean
merely some vague deism or some shadowy belief in a vaguer power that
made for righteousness, but a very definite personal relationship to a
personal God who was not only to be looked up to and reverenced but
who was to be loved.

  "The paramount importance to Man of Religion--at once dominant over
  brain and heart--a living reality and working power--the necessity
  for this has not only never left me at any time but year by year has
  grown deeper as a conviction and more familiar as a rule of life.
  But as the indispensable need of true religion grew stronger in my
  mind, I more and more came to feel that religion would end in vague
  sentimentality unless it has an object of devotion distinctly
  grasped by the intellect and able to kindle ardent emotions. The
  nature--if not the name--of the Supreme Being is in truth decisive.
  Unless the Supreme Power be felt to be in sympathy with the
  believer, be akin to the believer, be in active touch with his life
  and heart, such a religion is merely a dogma; it cannot be a guide
  of life in the spring of action--the object of love."

Agnosticism, so fashionable in educational circles at the end of the
nineteenth century, has practically disappeared, or at least has
suffered such an eclipse that its adherents are comparatively few.
There was a time in the generation that is still alive when a great
many educators who felt that they were the leaders of thought in our
time were quite sure that agnosticism would be the only mode of
intellectual reaction which the educated man could possibly think of
allowing to take place in him by the time the year of grace 1920 had
come. Instead agnosticism, like so many other movements of similar
{31} kind founded on human thinking, in accord with the fashion of the
moment, has dwindled into insignificance. Fortunately there were some
educators who even twenty-five years ago recognized the real portent
of it and stated their opinions so emphatically as to keep the
educational world of their time from being entirely run away with.
President Schurman of Cornell said:

  "Agnosticism is the apotheosis of skepticism. It is skepticism as a
  creed, as a system, as an ultimate resting-place. Those who proclaim
  it strangely misread the processes and the conditions of our
  spiritual life. _They make the aimless gropings of the youthful
  intellect an ideal for the thinking of mature men_. Only, instead of
  the awful earnestness of the inquiring youth, they often affect an
  indifference to the great problems which oppress him. As though we
  could be indifferent to the highest interests of the human spirit!
  So long as life lasts, so long must we strive to grasp the ultimate
  truth of things. To shut our eyes to problems is an ostrich policy.
  Man is called by an inner voice to strive, and strive, and strive,
  and not to yield. Agnosticism would eradicate this noble endeavor.
  Its only justification, so far as I can see, is that men never
  attain the absolute truth, but only make successive approximations
  to it."

Such men seem to forget the great lesson that the differential
calculus has taught us. It represents one of the greatest developments
of modern mathematics. It does not solve problems by absolute
solutions but by such approximations as make the answer which cannot
be reached very clear. It has been of immense value in adding to the
knowledge of mankind and in giving science particularly a command over
principles that would otherwise seem impossible. Religion requires
{32} faith to complete it. Knowledge can never more than approximate
conclusions with regard to many religious questions. Such
approximations, however, like the answers in differential calculus,
represent real advances on the road to knowledge that are of great
value in directing men toward what is best in life.

Mr. Frederic Harrison has answered this question "Can We Still
Believe?" by insisting that belief in the hereafter is the most
precious heritage that man has, to be fostered above all else. He

  "The great truth of a life beyond the grave is indeed one of the
  best possessions of Man, the fondest of all noble, living and
  working doctrines on earth. When Paul first preached it in that
  sublime song of triumph over death, which has so often thrilled us
  to the marrow as we stood round the coffined dead, he gave the human
  race a new and imperishable hope to last while the planet
  endures.... Let us cherish and hold fast this glad tiding of good

Any one who faces the question of religion seriously realizes that not
only it is not a thing of the past but that the rationalistic
tendencies of the later nineteenth century have had their usual
inevitable reaction emphasized by the Great War, so that men are
readier to be swayed by religious influences than ever before. The
more one studies the problems of health of mind and of body connected
with religion, and the strong factor that it is for the making of
character, the shaping of destiny and the cultivation of happiness,
the more one realizes the truth of Napoleon's expression that if
religion were to disappear we should have to reinvent it, because of
the immense benefit that it represents for mankind.




In spite of a very prevalent impression in the matter, the
all-important element of religion is not attendance at church or the
public exercise of religious functions, or even the joining in
religious celebrations, for all these may be accomplished by routine
without an element of real devotion to the Creator in them. They may
even be gone through with hypocritically while all the time one is
thinking of merely worldly things, or even of the effect that one is
producing on others by the show of devotion, though with such slight
advertence as to make the devotions of extremely little value or even
a sort of insult to the Almighty if the negligent attitude of mind is
assumed deliberately. Bodily participation in worship is a necessary
adjunct of the expression of religious feeling, but it is of course of
just so much less importance than the mental worship of the Creator as
the body is less important than the mind. Mental adoration of the
Deity is accomplished through prayer, which is the all-important
personal element of religion.

Prayer in the words of the old Christian teachers is "A raising up of
the mind to God asking for help, begging for forgiveness for past
errors and thanking Him for all that He has done for us." Real prayer
is no mere formula of words, and some very fervent prayers are made
without being formulated into words at all. I remember {34} once
suggesting in a medical meeting that prayer was an extremely valuable
adjunct to the treatment for certain milder forms of disturbed
mentality and for the dreads and obsessions that haunt men and women,
that is, in general for that very important class of diseases which in
our day are grouped under the term psychoneuroses. A physician friend,
in discussing the suggestion, said that no words that he knew would
dispel or be of the slightest help in any of these conditions as they
came under his observation. Prayer is not, however, a formula of
words, but an act of the mind and the heart and the will, for to be
genuine, it should contain acknowledgment, affection and resolve. My
colleague's failure to appreciate the true meaning of prayer and his
apparent persuasion that the words were the all-important element in
prayer are not surprising, for rather frequently it happens that the
personal experience of the professional classes as to prayer is not
calculated to be really enlightening.

Professor James confesses that unfortunately comparatively few
educated people have the real power of prayer; those who have,
however, possess a magnificent source of renewed energy that can be of
the greatest possible service to them. He says:

  "Relatively few medical men and scientific men, I fancy, can pray.
  Few can carry on any living commerce with 'God.' Yet many of us are
  well aware of how much freer and abler our lives would be, were such
  important forms of energizing not sealed up by the critical
  atmosphere in which we have been reared. There are in every one
  potential forms of activity that actually are shunted out from use.
  Part of the imperfect vitality under which we labor can thus be
  easily explained. One part of our mind dams up--even _damns_
  up!--the other parts."


Manifestly the well-known professor of psychology envied those who
lived lives of prayer and felt that he was missing something in life
from not possessing the developed faculty to enjoy their privileges.
Like so many other of the good things of life, prayer, to be really
efficient for all the good it can produce, must be a habit and must be
practiced as a rule from very early years. Otherwise it is hard to
make it such a factor in living as is significant for the best, and
professional men commonly have not given enough time to the practice
in their earlier years to make it of potency when it may be needed.

It is of course not long vocal prayers--though many people find not
only consolation, but strength for their work and the added capacity
to bear their trials in these--but the frequent raising up of the
heart and mind to the Power above us, striving to put our intentions
in line with His in the hope to do our work so that it will not be
unworthy of the best aspirations that He has put in our hearts, that
counts. Many of the saints have suggested that all our work should be
a prayer begun with the right intention, pursued, no matter how
difficult it may be, with the feeling that this is what we ought to do
here and now, and finished with the offering of it to the Creator who
has lent us the energy to accomplish it. _Ora et Labora_, pray and
work, was the motto which Benedict, who revolutionized the social
conditions of Europe by bringing back the dignity of labor and lifting
men's minds out of the rut of the cult of their bodies, into which
they had fallen at the close of the Roman Empire, gave to the members
of his order. It was really not two things but one that he meant. What
his sons accomplished as the result of his great motto we are only
just beginning to recognize. They saved the old {36} classics for us,
kept the torch of education burning when barbarism might have quenched
it, passed it on to the new generation, yet at the same time saved and
developed agriculture so that, as President Goodell of the
Massachusetts Agricultural College said, they made some of the best
agricultural schools, in the best sense of that term, that have ever
been made, and organized health and happiness for the country people
as they have never been made possible before or since, except in the
very modern time.

In the chapter on longevity there are some statistics which might very
well and easily have been increased in numbers with regard to the
effect of St. Benedict's foundation on the length of life that men
have lived. Even now, in the midst of all our improvement in
sanitation which has so lowered the death rate among mankind, we find
that nearly fifteen hundred years after Benedict's work was first
begun, his direction to make life a compend of work and prayer is
having its effect in prolonging existence for the followers of his
rule to-day. He himself would probably have said that it was the
combination of these two that proved so effective in this important
matter of lengthening life. We find that people outside the
monasteries work enough, however, but fail to pray, so it would seem
that prayer is a particularly important factor for monastic longevity,
at least. Length of life comes, however, from a healthy mind in a
healthy body, and nothing so conduces to the possession of a healthy
mind as the habit of prayer, since it enables man to throw off to some
extent at least--and the deeper the prayer habit the more it will do
it--the solicitudes and anxieties with regard to the past and the
present and the future which disturb so many people. As Ignatius
Loyola, the {37} wise founder of the Jesuits, said: "Pray as if
everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you; but
leave everything to the Almighty, for you might as well since His Will
will surely be accomplished anyhow."

It would be very easy to think that such habits of prayer in the midst
of work would only be possible if the work that one was engaged at was
not very interesting or was not taken very seriously and was being
accomplished in more or less of a routine. In particular many
scientific students, and especially those who are interested in
psychology, would probably feel quite sure that very great results
could not be accomplished in any important work if distractions of
this kind were allowed and above all encouraged.

It is interesting then to take some of the examples of men who are
known to have formed and maintained such habits and yet accomplished
very great work for mankind. The list might be made a very long one;
we shall mention only a few of the most distinguished. Almost in our
own time Pasteur said, as we have already quoted: "The more I study
nature the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray
while I am engaged at work in the laboratory." A distinguished
contemporary of his in France in his earlier years was Leverrier.
There is no doubt at all about his power of concentration; he is the
scientist who discovered the planet Neptune by mathematics alone
without the aid of a telescope. He constantly kept a crucifix in his
observatory and used to turn his eyes to it frequently for
recollection and then go on with his calculations. There is a
well-known picture of Vesalius, who so well deserves the title of
Father of Modern Anatomy, at work in his {38} anatomical rooms with a
crucifix before him. The composition is founded on the tradition that
the great anatomist was a devout man who prayed as he worked. He made
a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in his older years in expiation for a
fault committed.

In spite of traditions to the contrary, a great many of our scientists
of the last two centuries whose work has meant most for modern
medicine have been men to whom prayer meant very much. There are
traditions of Morgagni, the distinguished father of modern pathology,
as Virchow hailed him, which show that never a day passed without his
raising his heart in prayer. Volta and Galvani, whose names have
become so familiar in modern electricity, were both of them well known
for their devotion to the practice of daily religious duties. French
scientists were not less devout. Laënnec, a Breton by birth, lost none
of the devoutness of his early years so characteristic of the Bretons
even when he was in the midst of the great work which enabled him to
write the greatest medical book in modern times. Ozanam has told us
that when he himself felt thoroughly discouraged and ready to think
religion something that any one who wanted to keep up with modern
thought would have to give up, he wandered into a church, hoping that
prayer might help him to dispel his doubts and difficulties and found
there praying before the altar devoutly his great professor of
science, Ampère.

Deep thinkers, whether of scientific temper of mind or not, have
recognized the value of prayer. Vesalius' great contemporary,
Michelangelo, who is perhaps the greatest intellectual and artistic
genius that the world has ever known--sculptor, architect, painter,
poet, and unsurpassed in all these modes of human expression {39} at
their highest--was another for whom his crucifix meant much and who
frequently turned to it. One of his greatest sonnets is dedicated to
the Crucified One. Of Leonardo da Vinci's private life we we know less, but
on his death bed he left a sum of money to be used to provide candles
to burn before the altar of the little village church at which he had
prayed as a boy, so that evidently something of that old fervor of
spirit was his at the end. Leonardo da Vinci's mind was one of the
most acute in the whole history of mankind. He was a great painter,
sculptor, architect, and also a great engineer, a great scientific
discoverer, an inventor of all sorts of useful appliances and a
veritable marvel of comprehensive appreciation of the significance of
even the most obscure things. He is a founder in half a dozen
sciences, paleontology, biology, anatomy, physics and mechanics, and
nothing makes one feel the smallness of the ordinary man like reading
a sketch of Leonardo's achievements.

Of course the clergymen scientists have been men of prayer, but few
people realize how many of them have made distinguished contributions
to the domain of science. Poggendorf's "Biographical Lexicon" contains
the names of nearly a thousand clergymen who have made such
contributions to science as deserve that their fame should be thus
enshrined among the scientists of history. One of the greatest
astronomers of the nineteenth century was Father Secchi, a Jesuit,
some of whose work was done for a time in America. Among the most
distinguished names in modern science are Abbé Breuil and Father
Obermaier, who have taught the world so much about the cave man. Both
of them are well known for their faithful performance of their
religious duties in the midst of their scientific work.


Raising up the heart and mind in the midst of work, instead of
increasing distractions, rather helps to control them. Distractions
will come and may prove seriously wasteful of time, but are caught in
the habit of lifting up the mind occasionally, and then the original
work is taken up with renewed energy. Above all, such a habit of
prayer keeps people from getting into a state of irritable haste about
their work in which they consume a lot of energy without getting much
done and wear out their nervous systems by the feeling of nervousness
that comes over them. To do anything under a sense of pressure is
nearly always to disturb the best efforts of the mind and skimp the
work. Doing things in this way leads to that bane of modern existence,
nervous breakdown, which has become ever so much commoner since men
forgot that it is not labor for ourselves that counts so much as labor
for others, and that an over-anxiety to get things done for selfish
reasons burns up nervous energy faster than anything else. Fussy,
irritable effort to work gets on the nerves sooner than any amount of
calm effort would. Prayer as I have described would be the cure for
it. St. Theresa's well-known prayer is the antidote.   [Footnote 3]

  [Footnote 3:
     Let nothing disturb thee,
     Let nothing affright thee,
     All things are passing,
     God never changeth.
     Who God possesseth
     In nothing is wanting.
     Alone God sufficeth.
           (Longfellow translation.) ]

When the life of the late Cardinal Vaughan of London appeared, one of
the most surprising things in it was the story of the distinguished
English Cardinal's habit of prayer. Almost needless to say he was an
extremely busy man. Important problems in the administration {41} of
his immense archdiocese and in the relationship of the English
Catholics to their fellow citizens came before him every day. He had
to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and make his decisions
promptly and thoroughly, for a great many details necessarily devolved
on him. Somehow he found time for hours of prayer during the day, and
those who knew him best felt sure he would have declared that so far
from distracting him in his work or taking time from it in any real
sense of the word, it would have been quite impossible for him to
accomplish all he did without this habit of prayer. It was this which
enabled him to keep a placid mind and make his decisions easily and
firmly in the midst of his work. He himself would undoubtedly have
added that he felt he actually derived help from the Infinite through
prayer, which enabled him to do his work ever so much better than
would have been possible by his own unaided effort. There have been
many others, and not a few of them who were not churchmen, who have
felt this same way even in our strenuous times.

A whole series of the generals in command of important departments of
the French army were men who never let a day pass without prayer and
who often raised their hearts and minds up to the Power above them for
help in their work and also for resignation that the will of the Most
High might be accomplished. General Pau, for instance, was one of
these. When, during the war, he was presented with flowers by the
children of villages through which he passed, he would say, "These
must be for the altar," and then he would ask the children to pray for
the success of the French army and would insist that for victory "we
must pray very much." General de Castelnau was another of these men
who {42} found a resource and a real help in prayer. He felt that the
prayers of others helped him. That is the index of real recognition of
the value of prayer. "I beg you to implore Him especially to give me
light and courage; there is no position where one is more completely
in His hands than that which I hold." He wrote to Monsignor Ricard,
Archbishop of Auch, "More than ever I find by experience the
all-importance in war, as elsewhere, of the 'imponderables' and these
'imponderables' are manifestly in His hands Who knows all and guides

We might go on with such examples. For instance, Marshal Pétain, who
at the end of the war was in command of the French troops, was another
of these strong men of prayer. Earlier in the Great War he had been in
command at Verdun, transferred there just as it seemed almost
impossible to believe that the Germans could be kept from taking the
place. The words of his first order issued the day of his
arrival--"They shall not pass"--show the character of the man. He was
almost reckless in his bravery when it was necessary to impress his
troops with the need to go on, no matter what it cost. Alone and on
foot he led his troops under a rain of German shells at Saint Bon;
after that he could ask anything of his men. General Gouraud, whose
masterly defense of the Allied line when the Germans made their great
final unsuccessful attack stamps him as one of the greatest military
leaders of the day, had been wounded a number of times before this,
but refused to give up, and when, early in the war, one of his arms
had to be amputated and the surgeons were afraid that he would object,
he said very simply, "Go on, if you think it necessary; I offer it to
God for France." His recovery from his several wounds at that time
seemed almost impossible, so in gratitude for it he {43} hung an
_ex-voto_ in white marble at the shrine of Our Lady of Victories in
Paris. General Fayolle is another striking example of prayerfulness in
a practical man. He had intended to spend a year of his retirement,
which came just before the war opened, in following the footsteps of
St. Paul's missionary voyages. He offered himself for service and
proved a great leader, yet a simple, kindly man whom his soldiers
called Père Fayolle. A letter of his directed to the Mayor of Mainz
showed very clearly that while he remembered and realized all the
cruelty of the German occupation of Belgium and France, there was no
fear of reprisals from the French, just though they might be. He is a
man of deep knowledge of his religion as well as of firm piety, and he
is famous for his matter-of-fact common sense. He has all the
qualities which some people, because they have had so little
experience in the matter, assume are not to be found in a man who
believes thoroughly in and practices prayer.

A good deal has been said in recent years about the practice of "going
into the silence" and finding there renewal of self. Like so many
other new modes of expression, this is merely a new formula for that
very old religious custom, meditation, and some of the old writers on
spiritual subjects, not only generations ago but actually many
hundreds of years before modern history began, laid down the rules for
it rather carefully. Meditation can be a source of some of the most
valuable suggestive, helpful consolation as well as profound
enlightenment in difficult problems that human nature has. Above all
it generates a calm that makes for peace of mind and, therefore,
health of body. John Boyle O'Reilly recognized its deeper meanings a
generation ago when he wrote:


  "The infinite always is silent:
  It is only the finite that speaks.
  Our words are the idle wave-caps
  On the deep that never breaks.
  We may question with wand of science,
  Explain, decide, and discuss;
  But only in meditation
  The Mystery speaks to us."

Most of the religious orders, and it is in them particularly that the
effect of religion on health and happiness and efficiency and increase
of the power to achieve, under the influence of profoundly religious
motives, can be studied, require by rule that their members shall
spend at least half an hour in meditation each morning; and with many
of them, of course, an hour or more is required. They prepare for it
the night before by reading some passage in the life of Christ, or by
taking some special lesson from His teaching; the next morning they
reflect how this can be exemplified in their own daily lives and
proceed to make certain practical applications of it to the everyday
concerns with which they are occupied.

It is surprising how efficient in living up to their very best during
the day this makes a great many of the members. There are exceptions,
of course, who fail to derive the proper benefit from the practice
because they do not devote themselves to it with sufficient
earnestness to secure its advantages, but most of them, as the result
of this daily period of morning prayer, are rendered capable of going
through a monotonous round of hard daily work and succeed in getting
excellent results and in keeping cheerful and light-hearted in the
midst of what might otherwise seem a very trivial mode of life. The
motives thus imparted to them often make even the trifles of life of
great interest and significant import.


As a result of their life of prayer, members of religious orders have
ever so many less complaints than people who live under corresponding
circumstances, largely within doors amid a rather monotonous round of
existence. It is extremely rare to find religious devotees who "enjoy
poor health" as so many of the laity do. Having less complaints they
suffer less from disease, for after all discomfort depends on two
factors,--one the irritation and the other the mode of its reception.
An irritable person will suffer tortures, though under the same
circumstances a placid, composed person will be but very little
disturbed. Whenever there is much reaction, there is always an
increase of the pain that has to be borne. Whenever much attention is
paid to discomfort, the concentration of mind on it multiplies by the
law of avalanche the number of cells in the brain affected, and this
multiplies the actual discomfort felt. A few thousand cells may be
affected by a particular focus of irritation, but if all the other
cells of the brain are concentrated on this sensation, each of them,
and there are many millions of them, will share something at least of
the discomfort. Besides, concentration of attention sends more blood
or rather opens the blood vessels in the irritated neighborhood
somewhat in the way that a blush opens them up on the cheeks, and this
hyperemia increases the sensitiveness of the part. The individual,
then, who by the help of prayer lessens his complaints actually
lessens his discomfort. To stand a thing patiently for a high motive
actually makes the pain suffered less than it otherwise would be.

When a man can look calmly forward to the future and say
wholeheartedly, "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven," a
great many things are easier to bear {46} because of the recognition
of the fact that they are the will of a Providence who oversees
everything that is being accomplished, and that somehow, somewhere,
all is to be for the best. When men recall to themselves the words,
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," or "Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," word it as
you will, they are reminded of how much they owe to the Father in
heaven, and, therefore, how much they ought to be willing to pay back,
not only for what they have been given but also for all the failures
that they have made, to say nothing of serious faults. Suffering then
comes to have a real meaning that any one, even the least
intellectual, can understand, and by that very fact it becomes easier
to bear. I have often found that I could do a great deal for nervous
patients by suggesting that they adopt some morning practice of
prayer. Usually the best thing for my Catholic patients was to advise
them to go to Mass. For this they had to get up at a definite hour,
dress promptly, and usually be some blocks away from home by eight
o'clock. Some such duty as this, requiring promptitude and taking the
mind off oneself and the little troubles that often loom so large in
the morning, is an excellent thing for neurotic patients. The great
characteristic of the neuroses is that they make people feel depressed
when they first awake. They often feel tired and incapable and find it
hard to begin the day well; and beginning the day well often means
more than anything else in dispelling nervous symptoms and dreads and
inhibitions. Most nervous people realize that when they have to get up
promptly at about seven o'clock, as for instance after a night on a
train, they have almost none of the feelings of oppression that greet
their arising {47} when they can turn over in bed and drowse a little
longer and let the troubles which have awakened ever so much more
promptly than their incentives to do things soak in and take
possession of them. To get up and accomplish a duty that gives some
satisfaction soon proves to be a wide-open gate of escape from these
early morning "blue devils" of which so many of the nervous complain
so bitterly.

The differential diagnosis between merely nervous symptoms and the
feelings of tiredness and incapacity which come from organic disease
can often be made from the early morning symptoms. Nervous patients
feel their worst in the very early morning. They often wonder how they
will be able to get through the day without breaking down. After an
hour or two they begin to feel somewhat better, though life still
looks blue enough. On towards ten o'clock they think that the sun may
shine for them again. By noon, especially if they have done something
in the meantime, they feel much better, and after their lunch in the
early afternoon they begin to be quite chipper; toward evening they
usually are persuaded that after all life may be worth living, and by
the time they are ready to go to bed--and unfortunately they are
tempted to put off going to bed until rather late because they do feel
so well--they are inclined to wonder how it is possible that they felt
so depressed in the morning. The sufferer from organic disease,
however, always feels best in the early morning and begins to get
tired toward noon; the evening is his time of least enjoyment, and he
is quite ready to get to bed rather early. For the neurotic patient
waking to a sense of his troubles at once, nothing is better than a
prompt lifting up of his mind to God to offer Him the new {48} day
that He has given, no matter how it may turn out, and a readiness to
take things as they come so that His will may be fulfilled.

In nervous patients one would almost have the feeling that their wills
did not wake up nearly so soon as their memories, or even quite so
soon as their intellects, such as they have. Their wills need to be
aroused. For men setting-up exercises of various kinds are
particularly valuable because the will has got to be used in doing
them; many a young soldier who during the war was waked up at the
unearthly hour of five o'clock and had perforce to get out of bed,
found himself full of pains and aches not only of body, but of mind,
and wondered how he could stand it. After ten minutes of setting-up
exercises, with the blood coursing through his muscles and deep
breaths of outdoor air to oxygenate sluggish tissues, he felt like
another man. The days seemed nothing to endure then. For a good many
nervous women the exercise of getting to church after prompt rising
and dressing and then the occupation of mind with deep, serious
thoughts of prayer, will do very much what the setting-up exercises
did for the young soldiers during the war. I have tried this so often
on patients that I know whereof I speak, and I can think of nothing
that does them more good than to have some such enlivening incident
that satisfies their hearts and minds and starts them at once doing
something that will help them throw off the fear thoughts so prone to
crowd in.

It is surprising often to learn what things are accomplished by people
who find an unfailing resource for their powers physical and mental in
prayer. I had the privilege of knowing a frail little woman whose life
seemed to be one long prayer, so entirely was every {49} action guided
by what she felt God would like her to do at any particular time; and
during very nearly sixty years she directed the destinies of a
community of women who did more for the charities and education of an
important State than any other single factor that I know. She
organized hospitals, multiplied schools, built homes for the care of
orphans, established an academy with excellent standards in the days
when educational criteria were low, and put a climax to her work by
building a college for women in which hundreds of young women are now
being educated in the best sense of that word,--that is, not only
having their minds stuffed with knowledge, but having their thinking
powers aroused and, in Huxley's expressive phrase, having their
"passions trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a
tender conscience." I am sure that Huxley's further words might be
used of the graduates,--that they have "learned to love all beauty,
whether of nature or of art, to hate all vileness and respect others
as themselves." The little woman who did all this, frail little thing
she often seemed, would have said, I feel certain, that she derived
the energy to do it all from prayer.

Some years ago I wrote a sketch of another one of these women of
prayer, a little Italian noblewoman who, touched by the condition of
the poor Italians in America--only by America she meant both
Americas--came over here to help them. She organized Columbus
hospitals in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Denver. She established
literally hundreds of schools. She gathered around her a band of
several thousand young women who devoted themselves to the
accomplishment of anything and everything that would help the Italians
in this country. They were not all Italians themselves, but they were
won to {50} the work by the ardent enthusiasm and the marvelously
charming personality of this little woman. The United States would
seem to be field large enough for her zeal or for that of any one, but
she did not think so, so she went down to South America and organized
to similar good purpose down there, having herself carried on one
occasion across the Cordilleras in a hamper on mule-back. It seemed
almost impossible that any one could have all the energy that she had
and the initiative, and yet with it charming tact, winning ways and
the prudence that enabled her to find her path in some of the most
difficult circumstances. She said over and over again that she owed
her power to prayer. Many times when she was told that she must rest,
she just prayed and went on.

Sometimes the stories of these old-fashioned, prayerful women of our
time will be told properly. They hid themselves from publicity as
sedulously as most people seek it. I think it one of the most precious
privileges of life to have known a score of such women, East and West.
Some of them actually seemed to achieve the impossible and even
ventured to get up from sick beds to do what they felt they must do,
yet they pushed through successfully. Not infrequently they had to
stand all sorts of hardships. Over and over again I have heard the
story of pioneer work in the midst of privations that would surely
seem must break down health; yet many of these women lived to be well
beyond seventy and sometimes even beyond eighty years of age. They
were strengthened, consoled, held up in trial by prayer, and it
enabled them to tap layers of energy in their physical beings which
they themselves scarcely knew they possessed and concerning which
other people were {51} so dubious that they felt sure the workers
would die young of exhausted vitality. Many wondered why some of them
did not suffer from nervous prostration. Men and women of prayer
seldom suffer from nervous prostration in the ordinary sense of the
word, and what is called that in them is very often the manifestation
of some organic ailment which has not been recognized.

As to the power of prayer to enable people to stand suffering and
pain, that is discussed in the chapters on these special subjects.
Raising the mind and heart to God will do more to make even the
extremity of pain bearable than anything else in the world. I have
known a man under an engine, almost literally cooking to death from
the steam that was escaping near him, in poignant agony, take on a
quiet, peaceful look after a priest had crawled under the engine to
give him the last rites of the Church; and though his groans would
still escape from him involuntarily, it was mainly words of prayer
that came and he was evidently in a very different state of mind from
that which governed him but a few moments before when only the
physical side of his case was occupying his mind. Many a soldier
during the war found that when a dread came over him, and he feared
that his courage might leave him, especially when men were falling
thick and fast all around, a little prayer would lift him up and give
him new courage; and when he was so tired that it seemed as though he
could not go on any farther it would enable him to tap a new level of
energy and get his second wind, as it were, and "carry on."

There are a great many people nowadays, and unfortunately they are
ever so much more frequent among the educated classes than among those
who have not had the benefit of an education, who seem to think that
prayer {52} is a confession of weakness. When a man or a woman has
recourse to prayer they would be inclined to say that it is because he
or she has not the strength of character and personality that enables
them to stand up under the trials of life and to face difficulties
valiantly and hopefully. Impressions like this have been rather
fostered among the modern intellectual classes who, it must be
recalled, are not always intelligent.

We saw in the first chapter that while there is a very prevalent
impression that somehow science is opposed to religion and that
scientists find it utterly impossible to accept religious beliefs
seriously and indeed can only pity those who continue to cherish such
outworn superstitions, practically all the greatest scientists of
modern times have been deep believers.

What is true with regard to scientists and belief in religion is true
also with regard to the strongest characters of the world and prayer.
The greatest moral force of the war, the man who stood as Horace long
ago said the perfect man, _totus teres atque rotundus_, should stand,
unmoved, even though the world is falling in pieces around him, was
Cardinal Mercier. When they asked him at the luncheon given to him in
New York by some two thousand of our most prominent commercial
representatives how he, a bishop, "brought up in the peace and quiet
of a university, should stand unmoved in the presence of the greatest
military power on earth and insist on the rights of his country and
his people", his very simple reply was, "As a bishop, there was
nothing else that it occurred to me for the moment to do."

Some of Cardinal Mercier's favorite maxims show how deeply he feels
whence comes his strength. He said, for instance, that "the ideal of
life is a clear sense of {53} duty." His favorite quotation is from
St. Theresa, that well-known expression, "whenever conscience commands
anything, there is only one thing to fear and that is fear." His maxim
for daily life was "The whole duty of man consists in doing God's will
to-day. I care to have no vain regrets with regard to the past and no
idle dreams as to the future, but I shall be quite satisfied if God
gives me His grace to accomplish His Holy Will to-day." It is easy to
see from these that the Cardinal feels his utter dependence on a
Higher Power and the necessity for keeping as closely in touch with
that Higher Power by prayer as possible. There is no doubt at all
about his supreme strength of character and his placid, yet unbending
resolution to accomplish what he sees as duty. There is no doubt,
also, that he feels that he draws his strength to accomplish whatever
he can from prayer. His daily recourse to it, far from being a sign of
weakness in any sense, simply represents the man's own feeling of his
inadequacy to accomplish what his conscience dictates unless he is
strengthened from on High.

Perhaps it is to be expected that a churchman would find his strength
in prayer, but it must not be forgotten that the greatest military
leader of this war, who because of the immense armies that he had to
lead must be considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all
time, confesses also that the source of whatever power he had came
from prayer. Over and over again during the time while he was the
commander-in-chief of the Allied armies. Marshal Foch was discovered
at prayer in some quiet chapel, manifestly absorbed in communion with
God. When congratulated on what he had accomplished, he said at once,
"Do not thank me, but thank the Author of all good to whom the victory
is due." He {54} was often known to ask for prayers and when on the
morning of the first battle of the Marne he met the chaplain of one of
his regiments, he said to him, "Pray for us, father; we advance from
here or die here to-day."

There is a story that comes from his own headquarters that when
sometimes he was thought to be asleep he was found at prayer. When his
first decision as commander-in-chief of the Allied armies had to be
made, and he had to determine whether Amiens should be surrendered to
the enemy and a defense made on lines behind that city, both Haig, in
immediate command of the British forces, as well as Pétain, the French
commander, are said to have advised retirement. Foch listened
patiently to their reasons and then asked for twenty minutes by
himself before making his decision, declaring that he would give it in
that time. He spent those minutes walking up and down the garden in
the slight rain that was falling, very much in the concentrated manner
that he was known to assume when praying. At the end of twenty minutes
he declared that Amiens was to be held at all cost,--and it was. This
was the first great step in the breaking of the enemy morale. When
three months later, on the 18th of July--after the Germans had tried
for three days to come through his lines and had practically succeeded
and then, lacking in men and munitions had to stop--Marshal Foch
launched his counter-offensive which represented the beginning of the
end of the war, it was easy to understand the strain through which he
had just passed and the immensity of the responsibility of the
decision that he had to make. After the orders for the
counter-offensive had been sent out he said, "Now I must rest." As can
readily be imagined he had slept {55} but little on any of the three
preceding nights. Half an hour after he retired there came a dispatch
which the high staff decided must be communicated to the
general-in-chief. They hesitated for some time to wake him, but there
was nothing else for it. His adjutant found him on his knees.

The practice of prayer, then, instead of being an index of weakness of
character, is on the contrary a note that is found exemplified in a
great many men who are distinguished for their strength of character.
It is the strong man above all who knows his own weakness and realizes
how incapable he is of doing very great things of himself. It is the
conceited man who is confident that he can accomplish anything that he
wants out of his own strength and often fails. Great generals almost
as a rule have been men who turned aside from the immense calls made
upon them by their military responsibilities to gain consolation and
strength from the Most High. It is surprising often to find how
devoutly they turn to the Higher Power in their trials. Field Marshal
Lord Wolseley carried a copy of Thomas à Kempis' "Imitation of Christ"
with him always and read in it every day. When they found Chinese
Gordon dead at Khartum there was a little copy of Newman's "Dream of
Gerontius" in which he had been reading and making some annotations
during the days before the end. For him, too, the "Imitation of
Christ" was favorite reading, as it was for Stanley the explorer and
many another thoroughly practical, intensely brave and strong man whom
the world has come to appreciate for his strength of character.

In our time there has been noted an extreme lack of delicacy and a
diminution of that reticence which {56} characterized human beings at
their best. There has been a pouring out of the story of their woes
and ills by men and women seeking sympathy which not only does them no
good but which tends to break down their own character. It was
Nietzsche who said, in one of these striking aphorisms of his,
"Sympathy only makes us feel bad and the person for whom we sympathize
feel worse than before." In an older time when there was more faith
and the practice of prayer was commoner, the habit of prayer replaced
this pouring out of the heart to others. People let God know about it
and in that way brought themselves into the mental attitude that
somehow, somewhere, all was well, for God's in His world and all is
right with it. This proved an antidote to that sympathy-seeking
self-pity which is not only so fatal to character development, but
which actually makes the trials and sufferings of life harder to bear
than they would otherwise be and will sometimes lift the little
discomforts that are almost inevitably associated with living up to a
plane of superconsciousness on which they seem to be torments. Prayer
is often its own reward, though any one who practices it in reality
knows that there are other and much higher effects than this
psychological influence which can of itself, however, neutralize many
of the lesser disturbances of life that may be so readily exaggerated.

To many people in our time prayer seems a useless exercise except in
so far as the state of mind which it engenders reacts upon the
individual to console and strengthen him in trials and to hearten him
for difficulties that lie ahead. Even if it had no other effect than
this, prayer would still be a very valuable factor for health in the
midst of the difficulties and above all the {57} dreads of humanity
which are so likely to disturb the proper functioning of organic life.
If this were all that it meant, however, prayer would not be a
religious but a psychotherapeutic exercise. As a matter of belief,
however, prayer is much more than this and, to the mind of the
believer at least, leads to help from on High that may prove of
immense consequence in the development of individual life. Many people
feel that it would be idle to think that prayer can alter the ordinary
course of natural events and that these are rigidly connected with the
causal elements which lead up to them and cannot be modified, once the
chain of causes has been set to work.

It is curiously interesting to realize that not a few of those who
urge this inevitability of causation are just those who refuse to
acknowledge the principle of causation as necessarily leading to the
demonstration that there must be a first cause. As suggested by Sir
Bertram Windle, president of University College, Cork, in his volume
"The Church in Science" which has recently been awarded one of the
Bridgewater prizes in England, it is not difficult to realize "that
the world is by no means so rigidly predetermined as many enthusiastic
votaries of science would have us believe"; he adds:

  "There is room for free play; chance has a real objective
  significance, viz., the intercrossing of independent causal chains,
  and is not a mere cloak for ignorance. Not alone is a large part of
  natural occurrences within our own control, but there is opportunity
  for God's special direction of events without any contravention of
  the laws of science. We cannot see far ahead; for aught we know, a
  small change of present plans may result in far-reaching future
  consequences. And many present {58} realities were once frail
  possibilities hanging on slender causal threads; did not England's
  present mineral wealth and insular position originate in some
  chance-formed heterogeneity in a nebula? All these life-histories of
  countries and individuals stand spread out to God's eternal gaze. At
  each stage He sees the possibilities foreclosed or initiated; He
  influences development by the primal distribution in the past and by
  direction and inspiration in the present."




The essence of religion is sacrifice. St. Paul summed it up in his own
inimitable fashion when he said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The
supreme exercise of religious feeling is the readiness to make
sacrifices because one feels that it is the will of the Deity that
they should be made. The "Century Dictionary's" definition of
sacrifice, "the giving up of some prized or desirable thing in behalf
of a higher object", represents the state of mind that one must have
if one is desirous of practicing religion sincerely. The tendency to
make sacrifices seems almost to be ingrained in humanity and to be a
sort of instinct. It is one of these precious manifestations of nature
so difficult to understand and yet representing some great basic
principle of humanity. The feeling of satisfaction that comes with it
represents that compensation for the exercise of a natural function
which so often accompanies natural processes and is sometimes supposed
to be a feature only of the physical yet is so invariably found also
in the moral order.

From the very earliest times men have made sacrifices in the spirit of
religion. Now that the story of the cave man is known not by inference
but by actual discovery {60} of his remains in the caves of western
France and northern Spain, we find that he was an artist who invented
oil colors, grinding the oxides of manganese and of iron in mortars
and mixing them with the rendered fat of animals and painting some of
the most vivid pictures of animals that have ever been made on the
walls of his cave in order to make his home beautiful. Instead of
being just a little better than the beasts, he was an artist, and an
artist is at all times the flower of our civilization, ahead of and
not behind the rest of the race. In the tombs of the cave men finely
made tools have been found buried with the bodies, demonstrating the
belief in a hereafter and the readiness of those who were left behind
to make sacrifices for their dead. For these tools had been produced
at the cost of no little labor, and in the values of the time were
precious. In order that their dead friend might be happy in another
world they were quite willing to make these sacrifices and to devote
other efforts to securing happiness for him. They devoted a good deal
of care to the disposal of the body and even buried red coloring
matter with the remains so that their dead friend might not look too
pale in the next world and perhaps be the subject of remark, because
of that. We rouge our corpses in our time again, but with the idea of
making them presentable for this world.

This state of mind which prompts man to make a sacrifice is, almost
needless to say, extremely valuable for health and for happiness,
because it makes people ready to offer up their feelings in case of
disappointment and even to be ready to accept trials that may come to
them--and life is sure to have them--as representing opportunities for
the making of sacrifices. If one has set one's heart on something and
has devoted great efforts to getting it {61} and then finds that owing
to circumstances it cannot be secured, nothing is so effective as the
deep religious feeling of sacrifice to aid in keeping the
disappointment from affecting health and strength.

We need it at the present time sadly, and its eclipse through
decadence of religion has been a great misfortune. Modern life has
been very much disturbed by the fact that insanity and suicides are
both on the increase to an almost alarming extent and that, sad to
say, the average age at which they occur is steadily becoming earlier.
Suicide happens at ever younger years just in proportion, it would
seem, to the spread of popular education and the lessening of the
influence of religion, while at the same time the necessity for
restraint for insanity and of internments in asylums is also coming at
a younger age. People used to go through with some of the very hard
things of life before they were ready to give up struggling or broke
down in mind, but now some of the minor trials of early life--a petty
setback in school examinations or disappointment in a youthful love
affair--may bring about a very serious breakdown in physical or
mental health and may even lead to suicide.

We need ever so much more training in the discipline of sacrifice even
from very earliest youth, but almost needless to say this can come
practically only from religion, and religious influences are waning
for a great many people. All young folks must be trained to give
things up voluntarily so that when disappointment comes they are ready
for it. They must be taught to stand some of the disagreeable things
in life so that they may have the will power to endure even the
hardest ones, if they should be called upon to do so. Such discipline,
instead of being cruel, is really kind, for constituted as life is and
with {62} hardships and trials inevitable to the great majority of
people, it is all-important that we should be prepared for them. It is
the role of religion particularly to do this. It can accomplish it
without producing unfortunate reactions, but on the contrary with
personal satisfaction to the individual who has to be trained in
endurance because of the feeling that the sacrifices have a worth
beyond that of the merely material.

Whole-hearted sacrifice will lift a character up to heights of heroism
that are supremely admirable and make life exemplary, though the
failure to take the opportunities for sacrifice may lead to crushing
of the spirit entirely. Almost inevitably this brings about
disturbance of health as well as deterioration of character. The loss
of children by death, particularly when there are but one or two
children in a family, as is so frequent in modern times, often brings
on a state of mental perturbation in which the health of mind and
body, especially of women, may suffer severely. Religion, with its
development of the spirit of sacrifice, whenever it is taken
seriously, is the best possible sheet anchor in such cases, and the
gradual diminution of religious feelings and abandonment of religious
practice during the present generation have greatly multiplied the
tendency to such severe breakdowns.

A distinguished scientist. Professor Whittaker, the Royal Astronomer
of Ireland, dwelt on the scientific aspect of sacrifice for high
purpose in a way that is illuminating and serves to make our
generation understand better the enduring nature of sacrifice in
creation and the place that it has in the up-building of what is best
in life.

  "Surrender to the will of God generally means the giving up of some
  of the delights of the world. Like the {63} coral island built up on
  the accumulations of its own past life, the perfected kingdom is to
  be reached only by the sacrifice of countless generations of its own
  up-builders. But--and this is the greatest of all evidence of the
  divine life within humanity--in all ages men have left the pleasures
  of their former life to obey the inward call. The long procession
  that leads to the distant goal is reunited afresh in every
  generation: and to-day millions have found the joy of a life
  centered round the words of the Master, 'Repent', 'Follow Me.'"

A distinguished mathematician who is at the same time a very
well-known physical scientist declared not long since that the formula
for happiness may be expressed as follows:

  h = g/w

In this, h stands for the amount of individual happiness and is equal
to what the individual has got, g, divided by w, what he wants. If a
man has a great deal but wants ever so much more, his fraction of
happiness may be comparatively small. If he has got even a little but
does not want much more, his fraction of happiness may approach an
integer. If he has got anything in the world and does not want
anything more, according to the terms of the formula, he is infinitely
happy, for one divided by zero equals infinity
(1/0=infinity). What is important for men for their happiness
then is not so much to try to increase the numerator by adding to or
even multiplying their possessions, but to decrease the denominator by
lessening their wants and by decreasing the number of things without
which they feel that they cannot be happy.


Almost needless to say the one element above all in life which enables
men to reduce their wants and to live in satisfaction with few things
is religion. A great many men in the history of the race have for
religious motives assumed the obligations of voluntary poverty and
have greatly increased satisfaction in life and have found happiness
thereby. The multiplication of material wants which after a time
become needs that actually cannot be dispensed with without a feeling
of serious deprivation leads to such preoccupation with mere bodily
concerns that no time is left to live the life of the spirit and
really to enjoy the things of the mind and the heart and the soul with
the supreme satisfaction which their experience gives to us. The old
pagan poet, Horace, suggested long ago that he hated the apparatus of
luxury because it took away so much of the simple enjoyment of life
and consumed so much time in idle concerns. Nothing is so helpful in
enabling men to simplify life as religious motives. They learn to make
the sacrifice of certain inclinations and feelings that would tempt
them to rival other men and to be satisfied with a little for the sake
of the lessened allurements to luxury that are thus secured for
themselves and their children. Health comes as a by-product of this
simplification of life as it is not likely to come under any other

To all men there comes, sooner or later in life, the realization that
the getting of things cannot bring happiness. Oscar Wilde said in one
of his well-known caustic epigrams, "There are two tragedies in life;
the one is not getting what you want and the other is getting it; and
of the two the latter is the worse." Quite apart from the pessimism
and the exaggeration of the apothegm which constitutes only part of
the humor, there is a great deal of {65} truth in the expression, as
all men learn eventually. What Faust said to Mephistopheles was that
"if ever a time shall come when I shall be willing to say to the
passing moment 'stay you with me, for I shall be satisfied with you
forever' then you may have my soul." All that the devil had to do was
to make him happy, but that is impossible, for "man never is, but to
be blessed." There is no lasting satisfaction in getting, for men
increase their desires with everything they get.

Men come to realize, if they gather wisdom with the years, that the
fruit of striving and the quest after anything in the world, be it
riches or knowledge or honor or power, is of itself but dust and ashes
in the mouth once the goal has been reached, for it is the quest and
not the attainment, the hunt and not the capture that counts in life,
and the only thing that can possibly give any genuine satisfaction to
man is the cultivation of the spirit of sacrifice. Sacrifices made for
a higher power give life a meaning that it would otherwise have lost.
For those who have reached the years beyond middle life, the
blessedness of giving rather than receiving, of making sacrifices
rather than seeking satisfaction, means the renewal of life's hopes
and aspirations.

It is making a virtue of necessity to cultivate the spirit of
sacrifice, but then it was a great philosopher who said that "the only
virtue worth while talking about is the virtue that is made out of
necessity." Most of the things in life that are really worth while we
have to do whether we want to or not, and it is the spirit in which
they are done that lifts them out of the rut of common-place, sordid,
everyday actions into the realm of spiritual significance, because
they are done for a great purpose. Each act of sacrifice may thus be
made an act of worship {66} of the Deity and have almost an infinite
value. This makes even the minor acts of life produce a satisfaction
not otherwise possible and gives a new significance to life when the
novelty of living has worn off and when the _taedium vitae_, the
tiredness with life that comes to every one after a while, if mere
human motives prevail, steals over us.

There is a passage in the Scriptures, the truth of which a good many
people seem to doubt in the modern time, though the experience of
centuries has confirmed it. "It is more blessed to give than to
receive." Those who have experienced the delightful satisfaction of
giving whole-heartedly, even when they did not have much to give,
realize the truth of this. By comparison, the poor are the great
givers among men, giving ever so much more in proportion to their
means than do the rich, almost without exception, and it is to them
particularly that these divine words have come home. They are ready to
make all sorts of personal sacrifices to help those around them,
almost as a rule, and they know the blessedness of giving. If the rich
gave to others in anything like the proportion to what the poor so
commonly do, there would be no suffering from poverty.

The sacrifices which they make bring with them a satisfaction that is
eminently conducive to health. There is nothing like the sleep that
comes with the consciousness of good accomplished for others, and the
poor enjoy that just in proportion to the sacrifice that their doing
of good has entailed. Giving up has often meant much for others, but
it usually means more for oneself. The consciousness of having
relieved the necessities of others is probably the best appetizer and
somnifacient that we have. We talk of "sleeping the sleep of the
just", and {67} the just man is above all the one who thinks of
others. Feelings of depression and melancholy, when not actually the
consequence of organic disease or hereditary impairment of mentality,
are probably better relieved by the consciousness of doing good to
others than in any other way. This is particularly true when the doing
of good entails some special sacrifice on the doer of it. Nervousness,
in the broad general sense of that word, is at bottom very often a
manifestation of selfishness, that is, oversolicitude about oneself
and one's affairs, and nothing so serves to neutralize it as personal
sacrifices made for others.

Sacrifice, moreover, is the fundamental element in most of the
practices of religion. It represents the underlying factor of charity
and fasting and mortification, for personal sacrifices have to be made
of time and money and often of inclination and immediate personal
satisfaction in order to accomplish these. As they are treated in
separate chapters, they need only be mentioned here as representing
component elements in that readiness to make sacrifices for the sake
of others and oneself which Providence seems to demand.

Nothing requires so much sacrifice from men and women, even to the
giving up of life itself, as war, and yet when whole-heartedly entered
into, it becomes a magnificent discipline of humanity, affording
satisfactions that are supreme and leaving memories that are the most
precious for the race. Above all, men learn in time of war that there
are things in life that are worth more than life itself, and there is
no knowledge in the world that is so precious for mankind as this.

How much war's sacrifices may mean for the development of character
Professor William James has {68} emphasized in his essay on the "Moral
Equivalent of War." He confesses the paradox, but he says:

  "Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now
  (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged
  from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present
  time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably
  hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those
  efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what
  we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than
  all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they
  would be willing in cold blood to start another civil war now to
  gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote
  for the proposition."

It must not be forgotten that strengthening of character, war's
invariable effect on the man of moral aims, always diminishes the
dreads of life. They mean ever so much not only for the development of
the psychoneuroses and the whole domain of neurotic symptoms so common
in our time, but also for the exaggeration of the symptoms of real
physical disease which makes patients so uncomfortable, or full of
complaints, and has led to so many useless operations in our

Professor James even ventured to suggest that "the dread hammer (of
war) is the welder of men into cohesive states, and nowhere but in
such states can human nature adequately develop its capacity. The only
alternative is degeneration." He adds that "the martial type of
character can be bred without war", but only under very special
circumstances and where men have been willing to give themselves up to
a great cause. "Priests and medical men are in a fashion educated to
it, {69} and we should all feel some degree of it imperative if we
were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the State. We
should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would
arise accordingly. We could be poor then without humiliation, as army
officers now are."

Mr. H. G. Wells, in one of his paradoxical moods, has dwelt on how far
the sacrifices needed for military life have lifted the life of the
soldier above that of the civilian, in so far as its social value is
concerned. "When the contemporary man steps from the street of
clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, underselling
and intermittent employment into the barrack-year, he steps on to a
higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and cooperation and
of infinitely more honorable emulations. Here at least men are not
flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate
work for them to do. They are fed and drilled and trained for better
services. Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion by
self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking."

The war spirit with its necessary sacrifices serves to lift men above
the dreads that wear away other lives and makes it very clear what the
spirit of whole-hearted sacrifice can accomplish in keeping life from
being disturbed by fear thoughts of many kinds. It might possibly be
thought that the supreme call made upon nature's power to overcome
such dreads, when combined with the extreme physical efforts that war
often calls for and the draft upon nature's resources that the healing
of wounds demands, would surely shorten the lives of military men, and
that soldiers and officers, but above all these latter, would have on
the average much less expectancy of life than the rest of mankind.
Apart from actual fatal {70} wounds, this is not true, however, but on
the contrary men who have suffered severely from wounds, who have been
placed under heavy burdens of responsibility and have gone through
trials that would seem calculated to exhaust nature's powers, have
lived far beyond the average length of life and even long beyond the
vast majority of men. Lord Roberts, wounded over and over again, once
shot almost to pieces, getting his Victoria Cross for bravery of the
highest type, lived, still active, well past eighty and died from
pneumonia behind the lines in the Great War quite as any man of the
generation after his might have done. Sir Evelyn Wood is another
typical instance of this living well beyond eighty in the enjoyment of
health and strength and power to be of use to his country.

The spirit of sacrifice for a great patriotic purpose is like the
spirit of sacrifice from religious motives which blesses while it
furnishes the highest satisfactions that can come to a man. If men and
women could be brought to exercise from religious motives in time of
peace as much of the spirit of sacrifice as they do for war and
patriotism, the world would be a very wonderful place in which to
live. As it is, there are a great many who do so and whose lives have
become veritable blessings for others and yet sources of supreme
satisfaction to themselves. Their thoroughgoing faith and trust are
examples to others that make life not only ever so much easier in the
midst of hardships, but that give a new depth to the belief in
immortality, because these others whose lives are so admirable have
such a supreme faith in it that they direct all their actions to its
reflection. As Professor Osler said in delivering the Ingersoll
lecture on immortality at Harvard, a great many of us believe {71}
because there are around us persons, often those whom we love dearly,
whose lives and faith mean so much to us that their confidence in
immortality is imparted to us.

Religion is above all the motive of sacrifice that makes life more
efficient and is productive of the healthy mind in the healthy body.
It has quite equaled war in this regard, and the lives of
missionaries, when lived under the most difficult circumstances, have
often lasted long beyond even the Psalmist's limit of three-score
years and ten. I have in mind as I write a dear old missionary who is
still with us who spent twenty years with the Nez Percés Indians in
the distant West, sharing all the hardships of the tribe and yet
accomplishing very little in the matter of winning them to
Christianity until at the end of that long time his leg was broken by
a fall. The manly, uncomplaining courage with which he bore the
accident won the hearts of the warriors, and they were ready to become
Christians and to follow whole-heartedly the principles of religion
which could make a white man so completely a man in every sense of the
word as they had found their missionary. His health in the midst of
all this had been excellent, and he is now in Alaska, past eighty,
standing the climate and the trials of that country.

It is surprising how weak women, in the spirit of religious sacrifice,
accomplish what seems almost the impossible and actually live
healthier lives after they have given up everything and there is
nothing more for them to dread. We have all heard of the story of
Father Damien who so bravely went to Molokai in order to care for the
lepers, but how many know that religious women have offered themselves
for similar purposes, and not only at Molokai but at Tracadie in
Canada and in {72} Louisiana have given themselves up for life to the
care of lepers? I know from records that some of these women, after
having made the supreme sacrifice, were actually better in health
living among the lepers than they had been when apparently living
under much more favorable circumstances in their city homes. Some of
them have lived to be very old, and none of them have contracted the
disease. The story of such a striking personal sacrifice as that of
Father Damien among the lepers at Molokai, crowned by years of
suffering and death, attracts sensational attention, but it must not
be forgotten that he is only one of many who have given up all in
similar spirit. There were many like him, though utterly unknown to
the world, who in China, in distant India, in Central Africa, or among
the Indians in our own country, have sacrificed everything that the
world deems most satisfying just to give themselves to the care of
their savage brothers. I shall never forget dropping off years ago one
day in the West at the then little station of Missoula in Montana to
meet an old teacher of mine who had been famous for his knowledge of
Greek and of the Aristotelian philosophy and who was then engaged in
taking care of Indians, where none of these special intellectual
acquirements were of any service, but where his hearty good cheer made
him the best of missionaries. He had made his sacrifice; he said there
were plenty of others who could do the teaching of Greek and
philosophy, and he felt the call to do something for others who needed
his personal services. He was in better health than he had been in
years and in better spirits, and there was a look about him which
indicated that some of the hundred-fold promised to those who give to
the Lord was already coming back to him.


Many a man and woman in this country and in England has been lifted
out of the depths, even out of the very "slough of despond" where
dreads abound and a healthy mind in a healthy body is almost
impossible of attainment, by reading about the work of Doctor Wilfred
Grenfell, who has so nobly given himself and his professional services
to the care of the poor fishermen on the Labrador coast. Their
sufferings are often so severe as to be almost unbearable, especially
during the winter time, and yet they cling to their little homes on
the rugged coast, ready to bear through successive winters the
vicissitudes of a climate and the bitter struggle for existence which
seem almost beyond the endurance of human nature and where they need
so much the sympathy and kindliness which have been extended to them
by Doctor Grenfell. Any one who has come in contact with him
personally learns that this spirit of sacrifice so finely exemplified
and exercised to high achievement has made him a charmingly
sympathetic man whom everybody who comes to know is sure to like, and
who exhibits the best traits of the race in some of their highest
forms of expression. Withal he is a very practical, common-sense
individual grafted on the lofty idealist. His sacrifices have done him
good, and the example of them has stimulated and helped an immense
number of other people besides the special objects of his devotion on
the Labrador coast.

What marvelous examples men can give in this way, examples which
fairly quicken life in other and weaker brethren and set them at their
tasks whole-heartedly to accomplish whatever they can when otherwise
they would have been discouraged and downcast and apt to find excuses
in poor health or weakness, is well illustrated {74} by Doctor
Grenfell's life and also by that of many others in our own day. I
count it as one of the privileges of life to have been a close friend
for some precious years of the man of whom one of those who came in
contact with him has told the story which I shall quote. His example
was all the more striking because it had for background that flagrant
exhibition of the selfishness of men which a rush to new gold fields
always presents. He was engaged in quite a different quest that for
him seemed much more important, and he went on with his work in the
midst of the excitement as calmly as if men all around him were not
exhausting all their natural powers to the limit for a fancied prize
which they were sure would make them happy.

  "All of us can remember the mad rush for gold to the Klondyke, out
  on the northern edge of the world. Nature has pushed her ice
  barriers far to the south of it and fringed them for leagues with
  impenetrable forest and towering mountain and treacherous river, as
  though to guard her treasure. Men, lured by the golden gleams,
  essayed to break through. In tens of thousands they plunged into the
  unknown wilderness, pushing in frenzied haste through forest and
  cañon and river.

  "By thousands they fell and died, and but a remnant crept out on the
  deadly Yukon plain, every step on which was a fight for life.

  "Some of the first of these hardy adventurers were making their way
  across the frozen Alaskan waste when they saw ahead something moving
  that stood out black against the blinding white of the snow.
  Stumbling through snowdrifts, waist-deep in ice hollows, jumping
  treacherous crevasses, they pushed on, and the dark spot gradually
  took shape. It was a loaded dog-sledge, and {75} in front, hauling
  laboriously, were a man and a dog. He was alone, and they stared in
  wonder at him, as if to ask what manner of man was this, so
  contentedly traveling in this land of dreadful silence,--a land that
  seemed to be the tomb of all living things that ventured into it. He
  gave them cheery greeting as they passed by, stopping not, for here
  the race was to the swift and strong, and wished them good fortune.
  Their guide knew him, and they learned with astonishment that it was
  not love of gold that had made him risk his life on that frozen
  tundra. That gray-haired man with the kindly face, buffeted by the
  icy wind that cut like a whiplash, and bent low under the sledge
  rope, was the best-known man in the Klondyke. His sledge was loaded
  with medicine and food for poor sick miners, 'his boys', as he
  called them, whom he kindly cared for in a hospital that with his
  own hands he had helped to build in the town in the valley of gold.
  They saw him next day, as he came down the street, still harnessed
  to the sledge; they saw the crowds that rushed from the canvas
  buildings on either side and pressed forward to shake his hand, and
  laughingly take the sledge from him, and swing along the street,
  filling it from side to side, to where at the far end stood his
  hospital; they saw him enter, and when they heard the shout of joy
  that burst forth from the inmates, at the sight of the only man that
  stood between them and death, tears sprang to their eyes, and they
  too pressed forward to exchange a word with and press the hand of a
  hero. Too soon there came a day when the axe and the sledge rope
  fell from the once strong hands, and he lay, dead, among the boys
  whom he loved. They buried him In the frozen earth between his
  hospital and his church."

The making of sacrifices for religious motives, that is, {76} from a
religious sense of duty, is often followed by some of the most
satisfying rewards of life. Physicians frequently have this brought
home to them when they encounter people who, because of unwillingness
to make what seemed to be sacrifices in their earlier years, have to
go through some rather serious conditions later on in life. The woman
who, having had opportunities to marry, has refused them because she
fears the cares of family life and dreads the dangers of maternity,
will very often suffer ever so much more during the years of
involution and obsolescence in the second half of life as the result
of the loneliness that will come to her and the lack of any heart
interest in life which will leave her without the resources and
satisfaction which come to the woman whose children are around her and
whose grandchildren bless her. The man who has remained a bachelor
will very often, unless, perhaps, some of his brothers and sisters
have married and taken the trouble and had the joy of raising
children, be even more pitiable in his solitary old age. This may not
seem to mean much for health and happiness, and there may appear more
sentimentality than reality in it, but the statistics of suicide and
insanity among the unmarried, which are ever so much higher than among
the married, demonstrate how much of hopeless discouragement and
mental discomfort comes to those who have given no hostages to fortune
and no pledges for the future, by the sacrifice of some of the passing
pleasures and selfish satisfactions of youth.

Nearly the same thing is true of the married folk who have only a
child or two in the family. The children are almost inevitably
spoiled. A careful study of the single child in the family has shown
very clearly how nervous and selfish the solitary child is likely to
be and how {77} much unhappiness the mother prepares for her child by
refusing to give it the normal companionship of brothers and sisters.
The real kindergarten of life should be the family of five   [Footnote
4] or six children raised together and learning to bear with each
other and yield to each other and take care of each other as the
highest kind of training in unselfishness. Even when there are two
children in the family, especially if these are of opposite sexes, the
boy and girl are likely to grow up with entirely wrong notions as
regards their importance in life. The whole household is centered
around them, and they learn how to impose on father and mother. Nearly
always the parents prepare unhappiness for themselves as well as their
children, though there is usually the excuse that they will be better
able to provide for fewer children, afford them a better education,
and bring them up so as to secure for them more opportunities in life.

  [Footnote 4:  Dr. Karl Pearson, of London, the well-known authority
  on eugenics, has investigated rather carefully the health of
  children in large and small families, and has demonstrated that
  children are healthiest when there are five to eight children in the
  family. On the average, first and second children are not as healthy
  as those who come later in the family, and those who are in the best
  condition physically and mentally for life come after the fourth.
  The early children in the family are more liable to epilepsy and
  certain serious nervous diseases, and are often of unstable nervous
  equilibrium, while the later children are more gifted and are likely
  to live longer.]

The sacrifices of social pleasures and of passing ease and comfort in
order to bear and raise four or more children in the family are, as a
rule of nature, amply rewarded in the health and strength of both the
children and the mother. In my book on "Health through Will Power", in
the chapter on Feminine Ills and the Will, I have pointed out that in
spite of the tradition which assumes that a woman's health is hurt if
she has more than {78} two or three children, the women of the older
time, when families were larger, were healthier on the average than
they are now, in spite of all the progress that medicine and surgery
have since made in relieving serious ills. Above all, it was typically
the mother of numerous children who lived long and in good health to
be a blessing to those around her, and not the old maids or the
childless wives, for longevity is not a special trait of these latter
classes of women. The modern dread of deterioration of vitality as the
result of frequent child-bearing is quite without foundation in the
realities of human experience. Some rather carefully made statistics
demonstrate that the old tradition in the matter is not merely an
impression but a veritable truth as to human nature's reaction to a
great natural call. While the mothers of large families born in the
slums, with all the handicaps of poverty as well as hard work against
them, die on the average much younger than the generality of women in
the population, careful study of the admirable vital statistics of New
South Wales shows that the mothers who lived longest were those who
under reasonably good conditions bore from five to seven children.
Here in America, a study of more favored families shows that the
healthiest children come from the large families, and it is in the
small families particularly that the delicate, neurotic and generally
weakly children are found. Alexander Graham Bell, in his investigation
of the Hyde family here in America, discovered that the greatest
longevity occurred in the families of ten or more children. So far
from mothers being exhausted by the number of children that were born,
and thus endowing their children with less vitality than if they had
fewer children, it was to the numerous offspring that the highest
vitality {79} and physical fitness were given. One special consequence
of these is longevity.

The spirit of sacrifice brings its own reward. The realization from a
religious standpoint that it is better to give than to receive is one
of the greatest blessings that a man can have. Nothing is so
disturbing to health and happiness--and real happiness always reacts
on health--as selfishness, the contradiction of the spirit of
sacrifice. All the great writers on the spiritual life have emphasized
the fact that nervousness is at bottom selfishness. Conceit is the
root of a great deal of unhappiness and consequent disturbance of the
health of mind and body.




Charity is usually looked upon as a cure for social, not personal
ills. Its activities, while recognized as supremely effective in
fostering the health of people who have to live on inadequate means,
are not ordinarily considered as reacting to benefit the health of the
individual who practices the virtue. Any such outlook is, however,
very partial. Religion has always taught that the benefiting of others
invariably served to bring down blessings on those who took up the
precious duty of helpfulness, blessings which are not reserved merely
for the hereafter, but are felt also in this world, which affect not
only the spirit but the mind of man. "Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy" are the words of the Sermon on the Mount, and
it must not be forgotten that that dear old-fashioned word, mercy,
which is so often limited to forgiveness in our day, meant in the old
time acts of benevolence--"works of mercy", as they were called--and
in Luke it is stated that the "neighbor unto him that fell among
thieves" was "he that showed mercy on him."

The personal satisfaction which comes from the performance of these
works of mercy represents one of the most active factors that we have
for good health and especially for the creation of that background of
contentment with life on which good health is commonly {81} developed.
The merciful garner some of their reward here in the shape of a less
troubled life, so far at least as their own worries might be sources
of trouble, and a fuller, heartier existence in the consciousness of
helpfulness for others. The words encouragement, discouragement, in
Saxon English heartening and disheartening, putting heart into or
taking heart out of people, have a literal physical as well as
metaphysical significance that all physicians have come to appreciate
rather thoroughly.

Charity is a cure not only for the ills of the social body, but it is
also an extremely valuable remedy for the personal ills of those who
devote themselves to doing their duty towards others. Vincent de Paul,
that great organizer of charity, or as we would call his work in our
time, social service--for during and after the great wars in France in
the early seventeenth century he organized relief for literally
thousands of people in the war zone and afterwards continued his great
social work, which was quite as much needed then as our post-war work
is now, in the large cities and towns of France--once used an
expression in this regard that deserves to be repeated here because it
emphasizes this reactionary effect of charity which means so much for
health. Vincent said that "Unless the charity we do does as much good
for the doer as it does for the one for whom it is done, there is
something wrong with the charity." Here is a phase of charity that has
been forgotten only too often in the modern time. It emphasizes the
fact that the most important remedy for that very serious affection
_taedium vitae_, that sense of the unsatisfactoriness of life which
comes to everybody at some time or other, is the doing of things for
other people with a whole-hearted feeling of helpfulness.


It has been suggested that the doing of good for others, with all the
good effects which flow from it for the active participants, may very
well be accomplished without any appeal to religion, and that sympathy
alone suffices as a foundation. Sir W. Thistleton-Dyer, in reviewing
Huxley's position in this matter in a critique of Clodd's "Life of
Huxley", suggests that the mystery would still remain as to how the
sympathy is to be infused. He adds: "My experience of human nature
inclines me to think that it requires a more powerful appeal to the
imagination than is afforded by a mere academic council of perfection
of this sort." As a matter of fact Altruism, as it has been called, is
a very different thing from charity in its effect upon the doer. The
deep feeling of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God with
which true charity is associated makes a profoundly impressive
suggestion, with a favorable emotional tendency which serves to give
almost as a rule and quite naturally a sense of well-being. The
practice of charity from religious motives becomes, then, a very
different thing from any mere feeling of sympathy with others founded,
as it is so likely to be, on the selfish feeling of how painful it
would be for us to be in like case, or tinged at least with the
consciousness of condescension toward those below us which vitiates
most of the good motives of doing for others on any human grounds.

For those who feel that the new Altruism may fully replace the old
charity, and that people can derive just as much good from the
stirring of their sympathies from merely humanitarian motives as they
can from religious love of their neighbor, President Schurman of
Cornell said some things that are very interesting:

  "It is a blessed characteristic of our own age that {83} religion
  has come to express itself so nobly in practical well-doing. But
  beneficence is not piety. To make the love of man the essence of
  religion is to misread the latter and to divest the former of its
  supreme spiritual dynamic. If the religious man is a benediction to
  earth, it is because his soul is bathed in the dews of heaven."

The relief of the serious physical sufferings of those around us,
together with the glimpse so often afforded while engaged in that work
of the patience with which real ills are borne by others, is the best
possible dispeller of the dreads which are the source of so many
psycho-neuroses and the neurotic symptoms which complicate other
diseases of modern times. These represent a much larger proportion of
the ills of mankind than we were inclined to think. The Great War
proved a revelation in this regard, for one third of all the
dismissions from the English army, apart from the wounded, were made
because of neurotic affections. Manifestly they must occupy an
important place also in civil life. Those who practice charity, that
is, those who not merely supply material aid to be distributed through
agents or almoners, but give their personal service for those in need,
have the chance to be impressed with the thought of how much worse
things might be with themselves than they actually are, and how
thankful they should be for their own conditions. The best practical
definition of contentment still continues to be the conviction that
things might be worse than they actually are. Indeed, it is this very
satisfaction that comes from doing good that tempts people, humanly
speaking, to do more and more of it, and the personal service habit,
once formed, is as hard to break as almost any other habit that a man
can contract.


The word charity has come to have in many minds a very unfortunate
innuendo. It is associated with the thought of doling out alms, of
pauperizing people and of making them dependent on others instead of
arousing their power to help themselves. There are a good many people
who seem to think that never until our time did the question of
organizing charity, or social service as it is called, come into men's
minds in such a way as to prevent these unfortunate abuses of charity
which do so much more harm than good. The history of social service
does not begin in our time, however, but goes back over all the
centuries in the history of Christianity. Religion has always
furnished the incentive to do good, but the Church and common sense
have helped people to regulate their charity in such a way as to make
it really useful to men. During the Middle Ages there were many legal
regulations against "sturdy vagrants" who imposed on people and took
the charity out of the mouths of those who deserved it and who abused
the opportunities for treatment in hospitals or for lodging in places
provided for the poor. Human nature has not changed much, and the
tramp and the wanderer have always been with us, as well as the man
who is willing to "give up", and let others take care of him.

Charity, as its Latin etymology suggests, means the dearness of others
to us. It is our personal interest in them that constitutes its
essence and not at all the mere giving of something or even the doing
of something in order to be relieved from the necessity of thinking
about them. Dear old Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Religio Medici", put
the whole question of charity very succinctly when he said, "this I
think charity, to love God for Himself and our neighbor for God."
Milton summed {85} up the complete quintessence of religion in the
single word charity quite as Doctor Browne did, though with less
aphoristic effectiveness. "Our whole practical dutie in religion is
contained in charitie, or the love of God and our neighbor." Charity
in this sense is a development of Christianity, and the personal
service idea is almost unknown in ancient times. Lecky, in his history
of European morals, says that "the active, habitual and detailed
charity of private persons, which is so conspicuous a feature in all
Christian societies, was scarcely known in antiquity, and there are
not more than two or three moralists who have noticed it."

It is the love or affection that goes with whatever is done that is
the real essence of charity. It is this quality especially which makes
the charity of benefit to the doer. This helps him and above all her
to eliminate that super-conscious preoccupation with self which has
become the bane of existence in modern times. It is at the root of
more serious physical and mental symptoms than any other single factor
that we have in pathology. Anything that will take people out of
themselves, that will interest them in others and keep them from
thinking about themselves, will do an immense amount of good in
helping to maintain their good health, but above all will keep people
from exaggerating feelings of all kinds, some of them scarcely more
than normal, a great many of them merely physiological, into symptoms
which seem to indicate serious disease and sometimes to portend
extremely serious consequences. Charity that really touches the heart
is a panacea for more ills than any remedy we have. It will make even
those who are sufferers from genuine disease often of severe or almost
fatal character ever so much more comfortable, and it has {86}
furnished some invalids with such occupation of mind and heart as has
enabled them to do a great deal of good in the world. A great many of
us know of one bedridden lady, utterly unable to sit up, who has
succeeded in organizing throughout the country branches of an
extremely valuable organization which helps the poor to provide proper
clothing for their infants and has saved many lives and made many
homes happier.

There are a great many people who are afraid lest they should do harm
by their charity and who apparently fail to realize that it is their
own selfishness which takes refuge in the excuse that doing things for
others may possibly pauperize the objects of their beneficence. As
John Ruskin reminded us in "Sesame and Lilies", it is extremely
important not to let ourselves be deceived by any of the very common
talk of "indiscriminate charity." He adds, in one of those passages of
his that only he could write and that are so full of the meat of
thought for those who care to think about such subjects:

  "The order to us is not to feed the deserving hungry, nor the
  industrious hungry, nor the amiable and well-intentioned hungry, but
  simply to feed the hungry. It is quite true, infallibly true, that
  if any man will not work, neither should he eat--think of that, and
  every time you sit down to your dinner, ladies and gentlemen, say
  solemnly, before you ask a blessing, 'How much work have I done
  to-day for my dinner?' But the proper way to enforce that order on
  those below you, as well as on yourselves, is not to leave vagabonds
  and honest people to starve together, but very distinctly to discern
  and seize your vagabond; and shut your vagabond up out of honest
  people's way, and very sternly then see that, until he has worked,
  he does not eat."


Works of charity under religious impulses have always constituted an
excellent resource for people inclined to be overoccupied with
themselves and who need the stimulus of contact with those in
suffering to make them realize that their own troubles are largely the
result of too much preoccupation with trifling discomforts of various
kinds or even with symptoms of various affections which must be borne
and which will cause much less suffering and general disturbance of
health if there is the distraction of sincere and deep interest in
others. Anything that will act as a brake on the working of the Law of
Avalanche which is discussed in the chapter on Pain and which serves
to increase all suffering through subjective influences will do human
beings a great deal of good. As a rule nothing is so effective in this
direction as preoccupation with the much severer ills of other people.

The seven corporal works of mercy, as they were called, that is, the
seven modes of succoring those in need which St. Paul suggested every
Christian should practice, are particularly valuable for the neurotic
individuals whom, like the poor and needy, we have always with us, but
who have multiplied so much more in this generation because a great
many people have not enough to occupy their time properly, but above
all have not enough exercise of their heart impulses and their
affections to satisfy this imperative need of humanity. Women
particularly must be afforded, as a rule, the opportunity to mother
somebody who requires their care. If they have no children of their
own, and with the loosening of the bonds of religion more and more of
them have not, then they will seldom be happy unless the chance is
provided for them to devote the emotional side of their {88} natures
to other human beings who need them and whose needs constitute the
best possible opportunity for the exercise of the spiritual side of
this precious function.

The seven corporal works of mercy are:
  (1) To feed the hungry;
  (2) To give drink to the thirsty;
  (3) To clothe the naked;
  (4) To harbor the harborless;
  (5) To visit and ransom the captive;
  (6) To visit the sick; and
  (7) To bury the dead.
These represented a list of very definite duties which children were
taught to repeat from memory when they were young; and they were told
very simply that if they did not take the opportunity to perform them
they were really not doing their Christian duty. To visit the sick,
for instance, meant not only to spend an hour or two with a sick
relative, but to seek out those who were sick and poor and had no one
to care for them and make some provision for them. Some of the old
hospital visiting customs in this regard are extremely interesting,
inasmuch as they reveal the resource that this must have been to
people who are usually thought of as being occupied solely with social
duties in the much narrower sense of the term. Martin Luther tells in
one of his letters that during his visit to Italy about four hundred
years ago, one of the things that proved a great source of edification
to him was the fact that the ladies of the nobility in the Italian
cities made it a custom to visit the hospitals regularly and to spend
hours at a time there and do things for the patients with their own
hands. Some of them wore veils while they were performing this
beautiful service in order that they might not be recognized, lest
what they did should come to be talked about, and they did not want to
practice their charity for the sake of publicity. The people of the
old time were often as intent on avoiding publicity as our generation,
as a rule, {89} seems to be intent on securing it. Almost needless to
say ostentatious philanthropy is not charity and has none of the
reactionary good effects for the doer to be found in real charity.

It must not be forgotten that whenever hospitals are visited regularly
thus by the better-to-do classes there is very little likelihood of
serious abuses creeping into them. The care of even the very poor
patients is kept at a high standard because these visitors see the
beginnings of abuses and either bring about their correction at once,
or else devote themselves to some modification of hospital routine
that will prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate conditions.
Religion thus proved a stimulus to the better care of the ailing poor
that was a distinct benefit to the health of the community. It was
when hospitals ceased to be the object of such attention on the part
of the better-to-do people that they ran down into the awful condition
which prevailed so generally in them even less than a century ago.

Burdett in his "History of Hospitals" has not hesitated to say that
hospitals placed in the midst of cities and visited regularly by the
well-to-do represent a great social instrument for the betterment of
all sorts of social conditions. The wealthy are kept from being
selfish, the poor from being envious, the classes of the community are
not so separated that they fail to understand each other, and both of
them are greatly benefited by the experiences which bring them

Burdett has gone even further and insisted that the support of
hospitals, by the State, because it removes opportunities for charity,
is an unfortunate development in modern times. Those who are well able
to help the poor and the ailing get the feeling that due provision is
{90} made for them out of the taxes, and that, therefore, no further
obligation rests upon them and the needs and requirements of the poor
are no concern of theirs. As a consequence, he says, "an increasing
number of people are being brought up on a wrong principle and are
thus led to forget the privilege and to ignore the duty of giving
toward the support of those who are unable to help themselves."

Besides pointing out how much is lost of social value and social
stimulus when private charitable institutions are replaced by State
institutions, Burdett emphasizes not only how much of social good is
accomplished by voluntary charity, but also how much of personal
relief is afforded to some of the trials of life that often prove the
source of unfortunate pathological conditions. He said: "Apart from
the evils we have briefly referred to, there is a loss to the whole
community in the lessened moral sense which State institutions create.
The voluntary charities afford an opening for the encouragement and
expression of the best of all human feelings,--sympathy between man
and man. They give to the rich an opening for the display of
consideration toward the poor which is fruitful in results. They
create a feeling of widespread sympathy with those who suffer and
impress on the population the duty of almsgiving to an extent which no
other charity can do. They constitute a neutral platform whereon all
classes and sects can meet with unanimity and good feeling. They
provide a field of labor wherein some of the most devoted and best
members of society can cultivate the higher feelings of humanity and
learn to bear their own sufferings and afflictions with resignation
and patience."

I have made it a practice for years, now, when women {91} who were
without children and without any special outlet for their affections
suffered from neurotic symptoms, to prescribe that they get in touch
with the ailing poor in some way. Especially for those trying patients
who complain of inability to sleep well, a feeling of depression when
they awake, a lack of appetite, but also a lack of incentive to do
anything and a tendency to stay much in the house and by themselves, a
condition which not infrequently develops in childless women shortly
before and after what is called "the change of life", no prescription
is so valuable as hospital visiting, or where that is impossible for
some reason, at least to make it a rule to visit sick friends
regularly. I have seen women suffering severely from neurotic symptoms
that made life miserable for them become not only quite reconciled to
existence, sleep better and eat better, but actually find some of
their first real satisfaction in life as the result of discovering
that they could visit the orthopedic ward of a hospital regularly,
tell stories to the crippled children and bring them little toys, help
to make Easter and the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day and
Christmas and New Year's happier for them. I have known women who
thought after some serious domestic affliction that they could never
be happy again, to find, if not happiness, at least satisfaction in
life after they had visited a cancer home regularly for some time and
had seen with what cheerfulness patients could face the inevitably
fatal affection which they knew was gradually sapping life and
carrying them day by day into the shadow of death. No therapeusis that
I know is so valuable for the stony grief without tears that some
women exhibit after a great loss as the ward for crippled children or
some regular visiting of incurable patients.


To visit and ransom the captives, that is, to visit prisoners and help
them in any way possible, is a work of mercy that comparatively few
people in our day seem to think they are under any obligations to do
merely because they are Christians. They took this duty very seriously
in the older time, however, and the result was excellent for the
prisoners as well as for those who visited them. When condemned to
serve a sentence and then left to wear out prison existence for years
as best he can, seeing only his fellow prisoners and his keepers, a
prisoner is very likely to grow bitter. In not a few of the prisoners,
health of body and even of mind gives way under these hard conditions.
If the prisoners were visited at definite intervals by some one
willing to listen a little patiently to their story, for there is
always another side to every story--even though the other side may not
be very true--and who would occasionally bring them little things like
tobacco as a solace or reading matter to occupy idle hours, and who
would promise to interest himself in securing any favors that were
possible and to see that they were given advantage of every benefit
allowed them by the law, they would have less of the feeling that they
were outcasts of society. It is because the corporal works of mercy as
representing serious Christian duties somehow have come to be
neglected that we have had this rather disturbing social problem of
the bitter-minded prisoner so likely to get into prison again thrust
upon us. But it is also because of the lack of such a fine human
interest as is afforded by contact with prisoners who show some hope
of reform that many an overoccupied business man suffers from such
profound weariness of life that rest cures and special vacations have
to be prescribed for him.


I once had a bachelor friend whom I had known for many years come to
me as a patient, and though he had been a model of common sense, whom
I had been accustomed to think of as utterly without nerves, I was
surprised to find how many neurotic symptoms were gradually developing
in him. He had lost his sister who had made a home life and a heart
interest for him, and he had no near relatives; he had nothing but his
business to occupy him; he had no hobby and no interest in that
direction that seemed likely to develop, and I wondered what I should
advise him to occupy himself with to keep him from getting further on
his own nerves. He had an extremely important and correspondingly
difficult position involving the carrying of a heavy burden of
responsibility for a great many rather complex details of a huge
business. A chance remark of his own in pity for a young fellow whom
his corporation had found cheating and had felt itself compelled to
prosecute--for example's sake--led me to suggest the visiting of
prisoners. For years that man spent several hours on two or three
Sundays of every month visiting the prisoners of a large city. He
gathered around him a group of men who found a good deal of
satisfaction in that work. He himself began to sleep better and wiped
off the slate of life a series of dreads and obsessions that he was
beginning to foster. Men often talk of "the blue devils" getting hold
of them, but it is often just a case of the devil finding work not for
idle hands but for idle hearts. Especially at Christmas and Easter he
used to have as good a time, in the best sense of that expression,
with his "little brothers" of the prison as any father and mother ever
had with a house full of children. He once told me some of his
experiences in a way that revealed his tactfulness in the {94}
handling of these sensitive fellow mortals that was one of the most
interesting revelations of the Christian gentleman I think I have ever
had given me.

To harbor the harborless as a work of mercy, when stated in this form,
seemed to me as a child, when I learned it in the catechism, some
wonderful exhibition of charity for shipwrecked mariners. I could not
help but think that it must be harborless sailors who needed to be
harbored. Stories of even two or three generations ago here in America
show how seriously this Christian duty of the old-fashioned words was
taken. There are still many country places, in the mountains of
Kentucky and Tennessee particularly, where a family will take in a
stranger for the night if he happens to be in their neighborhood. They
will give him his supper and breakfast too--or they would a few years
ago--and likely would be insulted if he offered to pay for them. They
have performed a simple duty of hospitality which comes down to them
by tradition from the older time. A man who is still alive told me
that when he was young, and two or three of his brothers slept in the
bed with him, occasionally they would find, when they woke in the
morning, that father had taken in a stranger during the night, and
since there was no other place for him than the children's big bed on
the floor, the children had been crowded over and room had been made
for him with them. This happened not in the south, but in
Pennsylvania. I know that my old grandmother long ago, living in a
one-roomed house with an attic, used to take in the "greenhorns" from
Ireland in this manner and give the men shelter and food until they
could get a job; and give the girls who came a lodging and a chance to
learn something about plain American cooking and the care {95} of a
house until they would be ready to take a place in service.

Almost needless to say, this exercise of hospitality proved a very
interesting diversion for people whose lives were rather monotonous. I
feel sure that it must have meant much for the relief of that
dissatisfaction with life because it lacks variety which is so often
the first symptom of a neurosis. The stranger brought the news from a
distance; the "greenhorns" brought news from Ireland, and many things
were talked over while they ate their meals or sat around the fire in
the evening, and it proved real entertainment. This was not the motive
for which the charity was offered, for that was, as a rule, as
Christian as it could be, but it represented that reward which is so
often--it cannot but be divinely--attached to a good deed and which
brings so much satisfaction with it.

Our entertainment of guests, as a rule, is very different. Above all
it entails no personal effort. Even when people are invited to dinner
nowadays, hostesses seem to consider it necessary to ask somebody to
entertain them, for if they should be permitted to entertain
themselves or be asked to make an effort to make their own
conversation entertaining, they would probably be almost bored to
death. Is it any wonder that our fulfilment of so-called social duties
often proves nerve-racking and a season of it must be followed by a
rest cure while old-fashioned hospitality did good to the doer and the
recipient? Ours is the selfish striving of social aspirations; theirs
was an exercise of real charity, an external expression of the
dearness of fellow mortals.

Above all, the presence in a household of an occasional guest who is
not a relative is good for family life. It {96} relieves the monotony,
often relaxes domestic tension, gives a new zest to living and cements
personal friendships.

To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty and to clothe the
naked were, in the Christian ritual of corporal works of mercy, not
obligations to be accomplished by writing one's name on a piece of
bank paper and passing it over to a social service society of some
kind, nor by handing a few bills to some almoner who distributes
condescendingly your dole to the poor. Some one has very well said
that the only action calling for any reward in such activities is the
effort required to write one's signature or reach into the pocket for
the money. The rest of the transaction is only a matter of debit and
credit on a bank balance and makes practically no difference in most
cases to the individual who gives it. The most compelling motive for
charity in our time is that you might as well give up to fifteen per
cent of your income, for if you do not the government will take it
anyhow. So have the satisfaction of getting ahead of Uncle Sam.

Charity in the older time was thought to be actual, personal work for
others. It is this personal service which carries its reward with it,
often by provision of needed physical exercise, always by happy
occupation of mind, affording the opportunity for the satisfaction of
heart impulses with the many other personal reactions which enter into
true charity.

Religious teaching furnishes an abundance of examples of even kings
and queens and the higher nobility and of wealthy merchants and their
wives who devoted themselves to personal service in the performance of
these works of mercy. St. Louis of France, St. Ferdinand of Castille,
St. Catherine of Siena, though she was only a dyer's daughter in this
group of notabilities, {97} St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Margaret of
Scotland and the good Queen Maud her daughter, Dick Whittington (of
the cat), Lord Mayor of London and many others,--all these were held
up as symbols of what people ought to do in the matter of personal

There is often the feeling at the present time that when people give
to charity it is not infrequently because they have heard some recent
harrowing reports of the condition of the poor or have been brought in
contact with some particularly pitiable case, and that the memory of
these is likely to recur to them and intrude on their social
satisfactions unless they can do something to make them feel that they
have at least tried to fulfill their duty in the way of affording
relief. A merchant on the way home from business who meets a beggar on
the streets knows that as a rule, if he gives money, it will do harm
rather than good, but he knows too that when he is comfortably seated
after dinner before the fire, with his coffee and his cigar before
him, if the thought of the beggar that he refused comes to him, it
will make him uncomfortable. To give with the idea of avoiding such
discomforts is, of course, not charity, but refined selfishness, and
it is no wonder that it lacks the surpassing sense of satisfaction
which helps so much in making life more full of the feeling of
usefulness. This is not the charity that does as much good for the
doer as for the receiver of it.

In our time settlement work, neighborhood houses and the like have
represented this personal service which religion in the older time
listed under the various titles of the corporal works of mercy. Many
physicians have learned that young women particularly who had not very
much to do, indeed perhaps no definite duties and yet {98} had an
abundance of vital energy which had to be expended in some way, found
very interesting and satisfying occupation of mind in connection with
settlement work. Above all they secured an opportunity for the
exercise of the heart impulses, so natural to women, and which must
almost as necessarily be expended on something as the physical
energies which they develop every day must be employed in some sort of
labor if they are not to be short-circuited and make them miserable.
It is perfectly possible and even easy to pervert heart impulses which
might be the source of good for self and others, into sexuality of
various kinds, whether that be exhibited in philanderings with the
male dancers employed by the hotels to make _thés dansants_
interesting for feminine youth--and also idle middle age--or in love
affairs with the family chauffeur. They will find an issue some way
almost inevitably. It may be that writing notes to the latest matinee
idol or even letting one's feelings be properly harrowed up at
performances of sex-problem plays may prove sufficient for a time, but
something more will be demanded before long, and there must be
something real to satisfy natural cravings.

There is probably no better safeguard against the tendency of the
young heart to overflow on unworthy objects than to give it the
opportunity to exercise itself on unselfish aims which lead up to the
fine satisfactions to be derived from helpfulness for others.
Settlement work and cognate personal activities have so organized the
opportunity for this that young women do not have to travel in
perilous neighborhoods except under such circumstances as reasonably
assure their safety from insult or aggression of any kind. The charity
that prompts occupation with such activities often leads to {99} a
development of character, while at the same time affording such
exercise of body and mind as greatly promotes that eminently desirable
end,--the possession of a healthy mind in a healthy body. There is
much discussion at the present time over sex dangers for young people,
but it must not be forgotten that these are mainly due to the sexual
incitements which we are fostering in the dance hall and the theater
and the cabaret supper room, while the best possible corrective for
sexual erethism is to be found in contact with some of the misery of
the world. The remedy is at hand, but unfortunately it is not made use
of as a rule, and we wonder why evils increase as selfishness becomes
more rampant.

John Ruskin summed up the situation with regard to the young women of
our time in his address on The Mystery of Life and its Arts ("Sesame
and Lilies"), in words that deserve to be in the notebook of every one
who hopes to be able to help the young over some of the difficult
parts of their path through life in our time.

  "You may see continually girls who have never been taught to do a
  single useful thing thoroughly; who cannot sew, who cannot cook, who
  cannot cast an account, nor prepare a medicine, whose whole life has
  been passed either in play or in pride; you will find girls like
  these, when they are earnest-hearted, cast all their innate passion
  of religious spirit, which was meant by God to support them through
  the irksomeness of daily toil, into grievous and vain meditation
  over the meaning of the great Book, of which no syllable was ever
  yet to be understood but through a deed; all the instinctive wisdom
  and mercy of their womanhood made vain, and the glory of their pure
  consciences warped into fruitless agony concerning questions which
  the laws of common, serviceable life {100} would have either solved
  for them in an instant, or kept out of their way. Give such a girl
  any true work that will make her active in the dawn and weary at
  night, with the consciousness that her fellow creatures have indeed
  been the better for her day, and the powerless sorrow of her
  enthusiasm will transform itself into a majesty of radiant and
  beneficent peace."

The friendly visiting of the poor is an old-fashioned Christian
practice which had lapsed, unfortunately, until it was restored to
some extent at least by the great work of Frederick Ozanam of Paris.
The conferences of St. Vincent de Paul organized by him in Paris while
he was professor of the university there about one hundred years ago
had for their principal object the visitation of the poor, not so much
for the purpose of giving them alms as of helping them with advice,
making them feel that there are people interested in them, and giving
them a new sense of human dignity; though also providing them with
such necessaries as they might be in immediate want of and, above all,
securing them occupations whenever they were needed. I have known many
men who have developed a new and vigorous sense of life as a
consequence of learning that they could be so useful to others as the
Ozanam organization permitted them to be.

For a great many men some such escape from the sordid routine of daily
business life is needed. This is particularly true when they have
passed a little beyond middle age, which for me is not beyond fifty,
as so many people seem to think, but thirty-five, the period indicated
by Dante in the first line of his "Divine Comedy" as marking the
mid-point of existence. After forty, particularly, most men who take
life seriously and do not merely try {101} to make money and kill the
intervening time that hangs heavily on their hands in any way that
they can, as a rule lose their interest in reading novels and do not
care for the trivial plays of our time. They need diversion. They are
not likely to get it at the opera unless they are very musically
inclined. Card-playing may prove an excellent diversion and one that
personally I think ever so much better than the reading of trivial
novels, but there are a great many men to whom it has no appeal. If
they stay at home they are likely to fall asleep in their chairs over
the evening paper or a current magazine, and nothing in the world
makes one feel so uncomfortable or so spoils an evening as to go to
sleep in that way.

If they are particularly occupied with business affairs these may
intrude themselves on their evening hours, but they very soon learn
the lesson that it is dangerous to take business home with them. They
need some serious occupation of mind quite different from what
occupies them during the day. Professional men find something of this
in the meetings of professional societies, but they too need a heart
interest, a sympathy interest for their fellow man quite as well as
the women. Many of them find it with their children as these grow up
around them, and family life will help very much. But as the children
grow older and have their own interests in the evenings, father is
more and more likely to be left by himself, and then he needs
something that will occupy him in some broad, human way. A good hobby
of any kind would be a saving grace, but hobbies, to be effective,
should be cultivated from early in life. One cannot be created easily
at need after forty.

For such men friendly visiting of the poor, for it is only in the
evenings that the man of the house can be {102} seen, since he is
always at work during the day, will often prove a most valuable
resource. In a number of instances I have suggested to men who were
beginning to get on their own nerves that they interest themselves in
this way and have been rather well satisfied with the results when
they took the advice seriously. In a few cases I have seen really
wonderful results when it seemed almost inevitable that men were
drifting into dangerous neurotic conditions because they were living
lives too narrow in their interests and above all so self-centered
that they were dwelling on slight discomforts and exaggerating them
into symptoms of disease. Contact with the suffering that one sees
among the city poor is a wonderful remedy for neurotic tendencies to
make too much of one's own feelings, for the poor almost as a rule
face the real ills of life with a simplicity and a courage that
inevitably causes any one who is brought close to them to admire them
and to feel that his own trials are trifles compared to what these
people undergo with very little whimpering.

There is another phase of charity, probably unintentional in its
activity and almost unconscious, that is extremely interesting and has
a very definite place in a discussion of health and religion. Some men
who have made a success in life far beyond their neighbors have
preferred to continue dwelling in their old home rather than move into
the quarter of the city to which their changed circumstances would
have permitted them to go. Such families represent the very best
possible kind of settlements in the poorer quarters of the city and
help more than anything else to keep a neighborhood from running down
in such a way as to make life harder for the poor who dwell there. The
old walled cities are often {103} said to have been almost intolerably
unhealthy because of the inevitable crowding of the population which
they compelled, and undoubtedly they were a fruitful source of disease
and ills of many kinds for the population; and yet it is doubtful
whether any old-time city was ever so insanitary as the slums of our
modern crowded cities were a generation ago or are even in many places
at the present time.

There was one feature of the old cities whose obliteration one cannot
help but regret. The better-to-do families often lived on the front
part of a city lot while the less well-to-do, often indeed the men who
worked for the proprietor of the house in front, lived on the back of
it. This was true particularly in many foreign cities and continued
until a few generations ago.

This arrangement kept the conditions of living, so far as regards the
middle class of the poor, from being so markedly indifferent as they
are at the present time. Those who lived in the rear knew all the
happenings, the births and deaths among their employers, while the
family in the front took an interest in the events, the births and
deaths and illnesses in the families in the rear. This proved to be
valuable for social reasons, and it kept conditions of health among
the poor from degenerating in anything like the way that has happened
in modern times. The mutual personal interests did a great deal more
to make life more satisfactory and more full of good feeling than the
relationships of classes to each other do in our time, and this
reacted to make a state of mind much more conducive to health than
would otherwise have been the case.

Such associations would seem to be almost impossible in modern days,
and yet the late Mr. Thomas Mulry, {104} president of the Immigrants
Savings Bank, at a time when, I believe, it was the largest savings
bank in the world, continued to live down among the poorer folk to
whom so much of his life was devoted for years after families of his
standing in the financial world had long moved out. Our present
governor of New York has declared his intention of continuing his
residence among his friends in the old Seventh Ward, and undoubtedly
his presence there will mean much not only for the health of those
around him, but also for the health of his family because of the
simple life which is so likely to be perpetuated in these

For such social work as this, religious motives are probably the most
efficient impulses. Nothing is quite so direct a denial of the
brotherhood of man that religion teaches as the tendency for people to
move away from old neighbors into the better quarters of the cities
just as soon as they are any way able. Such reasoning may seem
idealistic and impractical, but then religion is the typically ideal
and impractical thing in life which teaches that self-advantage is not
so important as advantage for all those around one, and that man's
principal duty in life is to love his neighbor as himself.

How often has it happened that the building of the new house in a new
neighborhood proves the last straw which serves to make an end of the
good health and heartiness of life which the head of the family had
enjoyed up to this time. The new habits that are necessitated, the
interference with the active life which had been customary up to this
time and above all the more luxurious living, very often with less
exercise, which come under the new conditions bring about
deterioration of health. The move is made for the sake of the {105}
young people, but it takes the old folks out of the precious, simple
habits of a life-time which meant much for the preservation of health,
so that it is no wonder that many a physician has had a patient whose
breakdown in health followed not long after the move to a new and
handsome house that carried people away from their old associations
and their old neighbors and left them without those heart resources
which are so important for the preservation of a healthy mind in a
healthy body. It is men, not things, that count in life, though that
lesson is hard for many to learn.

For a while, toward the end of the nineteenth century, owing to a
misunderstanding of the significance of the struggle for existence,
there came to be the feeling that sympathy and helpfulness for others
was somehow contrary to modern scientific principles and that it
represented at best a sentimentality that could scarcely hope to be
effective and was indeed sure to fail in the long run because it was
in opposition, though to but a very slight degree, to nature's
inevitable elimination of the weak. Further investigations in biology,
however, have revealed the fact that while the struggle for existence
is an important factor in whatever evolution takes place, mutual aid
is another factor of scarcely less importance in general and of
supreme significance within the species. While one species preys on
another, the members of the same species usually possess certain
deep-seated instincts of helpfulness. Only at times when there is
famine or when a mother is seeking food for her young do members of
the same species seriously interfere with each other's activities, or
injure each other, while a great many of them have mutually helpful
instincts that are extremely precious for personal as well as generic


The smaller living things, as the insects, dwell together in
communities and perform their duties constantly with the community
benefit rather than personal satisfaction in view. It might be said
perhaps that these small creatures would have to be gifted in some
such way to secure their preservation in the struggle for existence
and their defense against their enemies. The larger animals, however,
have the same helpful instincts. Wild horses run in droves and when
attacked by a pack of wolves--the wolves hunting in packs because they
can thus secure their prey better--the horses gather in a circle with
their heads facing in and the young foals and the mares in the center,
and only a battery of heels is presented to the attackers. Even such
large animals as elephants travel in herds, with the huge bull
elephants on the outskirts of the herd ready to hurl back any of the
big cats, the lions or tigers who might spring to get one of those
toothsome morsels, a baby elephant, traveling with its mother near the
center of the herd. Smaller animals live in villages and groups of
various kinds, and those of the same species are often helpful to each
other in many ways.

Manifestly the great law of charity in a certain basic way at least
pervades all nature. Nature may be "red in tooth and claw", but
brother animals very often have by instinct a fellow feeling that is a
factor in the preservation of the race. The idea that the discovery of
the struggle for existence and the preservation of favorite races in
that way has in any fashion neutralized the law of charity is entirely
a mistake. Men in their selfishness have occasionally asserted this,
and above all those who felt uncomfortable because their own selfish
successes were, as they could plainly see, causing a great deal of
discomfort and sometimes the ruin of others. It was {107} once
suggested that when the nurseryman wants to grow specially beautiful
American Beauty roses he is careful to eliminate all except a few
buds, so that these may have an opportunity to grow to the greatest
possible perfection, and that this same policy pursued in human
affairs led to the production of such great institutions as the
Standard Oil Company. This was a particularly odorous comparison; it
was made some twenty years ago. Almost needless to say every one sees
the absurdity of it now, though at that time there were not a few who
thought that the biological principle of the struggle for existence
justified even the hurting of rivals in order to secure success. The
Great War completed the elimination of such ideas. It was undertaken
with the thought that any nation or people who could dominate the
world was bound to do so, because that was manifest destiny for the
benefit of the race. Just as it took our Civil War to end the defense
of slavery in the United States, so it has taken the Great War to end
such pretensions and bring out the fact that mutual aid, and above all
charity undertaken out of real love for others through a divine motive
must be the rule for men, while its symbol, mutual aid among the
members of the various species, constitutes an important element for
the preservation of the various races and the working out of the great
laws that underlie all nature.

We in our generation were the inheritors of a philosophy of life
which, for a time in what has now come to be called the "silly
seventies", people thought could do away entirely with the necessity
for a Creator and with the idea of a Providence because it seemed to
them as though the suffering in the world around them contravened
_their_ notion of an all-wise Power capable of {108} relieving suffering
and yet not doing so. The doctrine of the survival of the fittest
seemed to many a demonstration that victory was to the strongest or to
the swiftest, and that the rest must simply go to the wall or lag
behind in the race of life. The doctrine of the superman seemed to be
the very latest discovery of science, but now, after having fought a
great war to overthrow that doctrine, the world is much readier to go
back and take up the thread of the philosophy of the race before the
theory of the struggle for existence came to figure so largely in it.
We have come to realize that everywhere in nature there is a great law
of mutual aid within its species impressed upon all living things, and
this is even more applicable to the human species than to those of the
lower orders.




Practically all religions have enjoined fasting as a part of their
practice, either as a sacrifice made to higher powers or a recognition
of the fact that occasional voluntary abstinence from food gave man a
power of control over himself which represented a real religious gain
in his relations with the deity. We have heard not a little in modern
times of the evils to health consequent upon the abuse of fasting and
of the limitation of food generally. Appetite must rule the quantity
to be eaten, and this must not be interfered with by religious motives
or health will suffer. Undoubtedly imprudent fasting, like the abuse
of anything else, no matter how good in itself, has done no little
harm. So much has been said, however, of the hysterical and neurotic
conditions which resulted in women particularly, who out of an
exaggerated sense of piety ate less than was necessary to support
their bodies properly, that a rather violent prejudice has been
created in many minds with regard to fasting as if it were an
old-fashioned superstitious practice which our progress in knowledge
and in the proper understanding of man, and his relations to the
higher powers had enabled us to see the foolishness of and do away
with for good and all.

Careful observations made in the course of the advance of modern
scientific medicine have, however, made it {110} very clear that
periodical abstinences from food, or at least certain foods,
especially among people who are accustomed to eat rather heartily,
instead of being in any way a detriment to health, are practically
always a distinct hygienic advantage. Physicians are not likely to
take seriously such expressions as that most people dig their graves
with their teeth or that eating too much is the bane of the race, but
they appreciate very well that there are a great many people,
especially among the better-to-do classes, who eat more than is good
for them. It is just the people who have least exercise and need the
least food who are tempted by the variety and tastiness of modern food
to eat too much. Any practice that would limit this would undoubtedly
be good. Fasting and abstinence, because periodic, would be especially
valuable, for they are likely to do less harm than any continued
limitation of food. The one phase of modern sanitation and hygiene, as
made clear from the mortality records of the departments of health of
our cities, that has been seriously disturbing in recent years, has
been the increase in mortality among people above the age of fifty. We
have been very properly proud of the fact that we have reduced
municipal death rates and made the average length of life much longer
than it used to be. We have done this, however, by saving more young
children and by greatly lessening the infectious diseases among young
adults, but the deaths from apoplexy, Bright's disease and heart
disease, just when life is at its most valuable stage, have increased
and not diminished. The tendencies to these serious degenerative
diseases are due, it is well understood, ever so much more to
overeating than to undereating. This is particularly true as regards
the overeating of meat and other foods {111} rich in proteid materials
which have been the special subject of religious fasting regulation.

Religion then, by inculcating the practice of fasting and abstinence
from flesh meat at certain times, has conferred a great benefit on the
race. One fish day in the week, for instance, all the year round, has
in the minds of a great many physicians given nearly as much rest to
the digestive tract and certain of the more delicate metabolic
processes of the body as Sunday freedom from labor has given to the
mind and the body generally. The fact that a large part of our
population will eat no meat on Friday and must have fish leads to a
commercial provision of fresh fish on that day in the week, of which
practically all the community, including those who feel no religious
obligation in the matter, takes advantage.

Abstinence from meat, however, is quite a different thing from
fasting, and Friday is a day of abstinence and not of fast. The fast
days come at certain periods of the year, as in Advent and Lent, and
certain days which are specially designated. The keeping of Lent,
during which for forty days people are expected to eat one third less
than they have been accustomed to, is a very valuable institution. I
am not one of those who think, that everybody eats too much and who
like to be constantly insisting that people are destroying their lives
by overeating, but I know very well that considerably more than half
of humanity eat more than is good for them. I know, too, that about
one fourth of humanity does not eat enough for its own good, and that
unfortunately a good many of these are taking the warnings with regard
to eating to heart, though those who need them most are neglecting
them. Practically everybody who is overweight is eating too much and
exercising too little. A {112} good many people who are underweight
are eating too little. Considerably more than one half of adult
mankind, however, would be benefited by keeping rather strictly the
regulations for the Lenten season. The fact that the Sundays are not
in Lent and that good, hearty meals can be eaten on that day gives
assurance that people are not likely to be hurt by the fast. I think
that most of the physicians of the world would agree that the great
majority of men and women would be benefited by the rest and change
which their metabolic processes receive as a result of limitation of
eating, and the observance of ecclesiastical regulations as to the
modification of food.

The reduction in meat eating and the production to some extent of a
taste for the white rather than the dark foods generally, for butter
and eggs and creamed vegetables rather than the meat soups and meat
sauces and the dark, heavy meats, so rich in the irritative
extractives, is undoubtedly of distinct hygienic advantage. Of late
years particularly, probably much more meat than is good for people
has been eaten. The better-to-do classes have gradually come to the
fashion of removing the fat, cutting off all the connective tissue
portions of their meat and serving it or eating it in solid muscular
masses, which is neither conducive to good digestion and elimination
nor to the proper building up of the body. Too many irritant materials
are thus consumed, and it is no wonder that that properly dreaded
disease, arterio-sclerosis, the hardening of the arteries,
representing premature lessening of the elasticity of the tubes which
convey the blood on which vital processes depend to so great a degree,
has begun to be much more frequent than it used to be. There is
agreement among physicians that {113} a rich meat diet has much to do
with this and that excessive meat eating is a growing evil in our

Only religion could accomplish a change in this tendency, for there is
an allurement about meat which grows as more of it is taken. This can
be noticed in children very readily, and human habits in civilized
countries have unfortunately followed a direction in this matter that
requires some profound influence to modify them. Not that meat is of
itself a deleterious substance, nor one that should not be eaten, for
there is no reason in nature for vegetarianism; but excess in eating
it, like excess in anything else, may do serious harm. Nature, and
when we use the word we mean nature's God, set an index that is
infallible as to the variety of our diet when we were given cutting
and tearing as well as grinding teeth. The presence of both these
varieties of teeth, though the meat-eating animals have only the
incisors and canines, while the plant-eating animals have only the
molars or grinders, makes it clear beyond all doubt that human beings
were meant to eat meat, but in this, as in everything else, excess
must be avoided, and if it is not serious consequences follow.

A great many are inclined to think of abstinence as representing
abstinence from food alone, but it must not be forgotten that as
understood in connection with religion it represents abstinence from
all the harmful things. For instance, it represents abstinence from
sleep when that is being taken to excess, and as a rule any healthy
human being above the age of twenty and under sixty who sleeps more
than eight hours in the day needs to practice such abstinence. There
is literally such a thing as oversleeping and thus accumulating more
energy than one has use for. The surplus energy is then used up {114}
within the individual to the disturbance of functions of various
kinds. Many a woman who has no children and who lives in an apartment
hotel and has no duties that she has to get up for eats breakfast in
bed, and does not rise until after eleven o'clock, after having gone
to bed the night before sometime around midnight, and then wonders why
she feels so miserable. Nothing would do her more good than to be out
a little after eight in the morning briskly walking somewhere with the
idea of helping some one else. She needs to practice abstinence of a
very definite kind.

Then there are others who abstain too much from exercise. Whenever
they go out they ride either in a trolley car or in a machine; the
idea of walking a mile is disturbing to them and walking three or four
miles seems utterly out of the question. Some of them are gaining in
weight and are already overweight; they are wondering why they cannot
bring themselves down and perhaps they are practicing abstinence of
all kinds for that purpose. The famous English statesman. Lord
Palmerston, who lived in good health to be a very old man and was for
sixty years very prominent in English politics, was well known for the
amount of exercise that he took. His maxim with regard to it should be
very well known. He said, "Every other abstinence will not make up for
abstinence from exercise." There are a great many people who are
abstaining too much from exercise and need to abstain from rest. If
they would do so for religious motives, and there are a number of
people who keep themselves going when they are tired by these motives,
they would not only accomplish a very great deal for their health, but
they would at the same time make their religion mean ever so much more
in a practical way in life.


The religious custom of setting a day of fasting before a feast day
and of introducing three Ember Days before some of the larger feasts
and at certain seasons of the year when, owing to the abundance of
food provided for the day of rejoicing, people are likely to overeat,
has been extremely beneficial as a simple matter of health
conservation and prophylaxis against the effects of overeating. It has
always been the custom to provide better and ampler meals on the feast
days and if these are prepared for by a day of fasting, when one third
less at least than usual is eaten, the stomach and digestive tract
generally come to the full table much more ready for the feast. An old
medical friend once suggested that the only things in the world worth
while considering in matters of health are contrast and microbes. From
the fast to the feast one gets the contrast and the variety in life
distinctly makes for better resistance against microbic invasion. The
Church believes in the satisfaction of reasonable appetites and
encourages the feast days and their celebration by a larger provision
of good things, but conserves health and disciplines the moral
character at the same time by inserting the fast days before them. The
occurrence of feast days at regular intervals so that a special
gratification of the appetite is looked forward to has been declared
by most physicians who have considered the subject to be an excellent
thing for health. Monotony of diet begets sluggish digestion.

In some very serious diseases, as for instance occasionally in
Bright's disease and rather more frequently in diabetes, fasting
periods of short duration have been found particularly valuable as
therapeutic measures. In certain forms of digestive disease fasting is
also a valuable adjuvant, though it needs to be used under the {116}
direction of a physician, for people who prescribe their own fasting
often fail to realize that they may weaken their digestive organs
rather seriously by the process. The stomach has a very good habit of
passing on to the other organs the nutritious materials that come to
it and will sometimes drain itself of necessary nutrition in following
out this good habit in this matter. People who are overweight
particularly are often benefited by a fasting period, though here too
care must be exercised.

Ecclesiastical regulations which have introduced fasting at intervals,
but with proper interruptions on Sundays, even when there is a
prolonged period of fasting, have certainly been beneficial to
mankind. The loosening of the bonds of religion in modern times and
the very general persuasion that somehow we are not capable of
standing such abstinence from food as was insisted upon for the people
of long ago are almost surely mistakes. All the nations of the world
found during the war that their men could stand a great deal more than
either they themselves or any one else thought they could. The
soldiers taken out of the comforts of our cities lived in uncovered
ditches in the open fields winter and summer, spring and fall, rain or
shine, hail or snow, often with wet feet and clothes frozen upon them,
with coarse food and not too much of it, taken at irregular intervals
often in cold and unappetizing form, with interrupted sleep amid war's
alarms and yet they actually came out of it in better health than they
were before. We hear much of hurting human nature by deprivations, but
it seems very probable that the old-fashioned habits of religious
discipline with even fasting rigorously enforced, for all who are in
normal health, would do good rather than harm. Not only could men
stand them, though so {117} many fear they could not, but they would
be actually benefited by them. Nothing is so relaxing to the physical
fiber of mankind as overindulgence, especially if continued

Undoubtedly the old-fashioned ecclesiastical regulations would do good
to the moral as well as the physical side of man and also to his
mental power. An over-abundance of food sets up irritations of many
kinds which make people restive in mind and body and adds fuel to
passion. The expression in the Scripture is "My beloved waxed fat and
kicked." The people who kick over the traces of the ordinary rules of
conduct in life are much oftener well fed than underfed. I refer, of
course, to the sins against self and others rather than to the sins
against property. Fasting was always recognized as an extremely
valuable adjunct in helping in the control of the passions. The
practice of it made a man much more capable of controlling himself.
The passions are all serious for health when permitted to get beyond
bounds. Many a case of indigestion is dependent on that irritability
of temper which so often develops in good feeders and then proceeds to
form a vicious circle of influence, perpetuating itself. Irritability
of tissues is often in direct ratio to irritability of temper, and not
a few men owe both conditions to overindulgence in the pleasures of
the table and failure to acquire, to some extent at least, such habits
of self-control as the practice of fasting at intervals would help
them to secure.

The bodily passions, especially those related to sex, are particularly
likely to be influenced by overeating and to be brought under
subjection by fasting, while at the same time the practice of this
gives strength to the will in overcoming appetites which is a very
valuable auxiliary {118} for self-denial and self-control. All the
authorities in the spiritual life, that is to say, to use a modern way
of putting it, all the students of psychology in the olden time who
devoted themselves to finding out how man could best regulate his
instincts and train his will to self-control are agreed in declaring
fasting particularly valuable for the proper regulation of certain
very natural physical tendencies that may readily prove the source of
serious temptations involving danger to health as well as to morals.

If fasting had done nothing else in the olden time but help men to
control tendencies to sexual excess, religion, by its encouragement of
the practice, would be a great creditor to health. One of the reasons
why young folks, particularly nowadays, find it so hard and indeed
some of them seem to think almost impossible--to control their sexual
impulses, is that they have had no practice in building up habits of
control of bodily appetites and no exercise of their will power to
help them to suppress the natural tendencies, whenever these threaten
their own good or that of those around them.

Perhaps modern hygiene may in the course of time find it advisable to
reintroduce days of abstinence from certain foods and definite periods
of fasting into the year for the sake of their mere physical benefit,
just as holidays have been reintroduced in the last generation or so
to replace the lost holydays of the older time. There are undoubtedly
corresponding benefits for humanity in both movements. Some of these
have been indicated more in detail in the chapters on Purity,
Mortification and Suffering, so that the specific benefits of the
practice of self-denial with regard to food and drink which religion
has always encouraged may be seen in them. Religion {119} has always
counseled plain food for growing young folks, pointing out the dangers
particularly of overeating, feeding the sex impulses, or at least
making them extremely difficult to repress. This is particularly true
as regards the richer foods specially prepared with condiments that
tempt the appetite and lead to the accumulation of heat-forming
materials for which there is no natural outlet except hard physical
exercise. Sugar and the sweets generally are particularly undesirable
in this respect, hence the benefit of the pious practice which makes
many young folks abstain from candy during Lent.




If religion had done nothing else for mankind than insert holydays
into the year, which came to be holidays in the best sense of the
word, the health of mankind would have a great deal for which to thank
it. Humanity is deeply indebted for the breaks in the routine of labor
which came as the result of the institution of Church holydays of
various kinds and especially for the Sundays. That every seventh day
man should be free from labor was indeed a blessing. How few there are
who realize that the Sundays, taken together, fifty-two of them, make
seven weeks and a half of vacation in the year. Seven weeks of
continuous vacation are usually too much for most people to enjoy
properly; so long an interval palls on them. Coming once a week,
however, the Sundays are probably the most wonderful aid to health and
the conservation of strength and the keeping of people in good
condition that we have.

One of the things for which we find it hardest to forgive the French
Revolution is that when men tried to rule themselves by what they
thought was pure reason, they changed the observance of Sunday every
seventh day into a day of rest every tenth day. There seems to have
been no other reason for that except that the French were introducing
the decimal system, and ten seemed to be {121} the number that
appealed to them. Perhaps there was the feeling that seven was a sort
of mystical number often mentioned in the Scriptures and deeply
connected with religion. Their thoroughgoing reaction against the
mystical made them reject it. Seven is, however, a much better number
on which to regulate the day of rest than ten, and the seventh day has
been extremely valuable for mankind.

Practically every one who has thought about the subject has recognized
this, and yet it usually needs to be called particularly to their
attention to have people generally appreciate it properly. Mr.
Gladstone once emphasized the great benefits which he himself had
derived from it and which he felt ought to be accorded to every

  "Believing in the authority of the Lord's day as a religious
  institution, I must, as a matter of course, desire the recognition
  of that authority by others. But, over and above this, I have
  myself, in the course of a laborious life, signally experienced both
  its mental and its physical benefits. I can hardly overstate its
  value in this view; and for the interest of the working-men of this
  country, alike in these and other yet higher respects, there is
  nothing I more anxiously desire than that they should more and more
  highly appreciate the Christian Day of Rest."

Macaulay, the well-known English historian and essayist, emphasized
particularly the fact that the rest of Sunday, instead of proving a
detriment to mankind, was actually an advantage. During the war the
British had to learn that lesson over again. Men and women in munition
factories were at the beginning, owing to the high wages, but with the
full approval of the government {122} authorities, encouraged to labor
in the factories on Sunday as well as on other days in the week. It
was very soon found, however, that continuous labor, instead of
enabling the operatives to keep up a greater production than before,
was soon followed by a diminution in the power of production which
sadly reduced the output. The restoration of the Sunday rest was
promptly followed by an increased output, for nature seems to need
such a rest, or after a while there comes a lassitude and relaxation
of muscular power which actually prevents men and women from
accomplishing their tasks with anything like the energy that they have
under a regime of six working days followed by a day of rest. Only the
most menial of routine labor, requiring no thought for its
accomplishment, can be kept up without definite days of rest for
relief and recuperation of forces.

Macaulay declared: "We are not poorer but richer because we have,
through many ages, rested from our labour one day in seven. That day
is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies in the
furrow, while the exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the
factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of the
nation as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the
machine of machines--the machine compared with which all the
contrivances of the Watts and Arkwrights are worthless--is repairing
and winding-up, so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with
clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, with renewed corporeal

During the ages when organized religion had the power to regulate
human life much more than it has at the present time, there were many
more days of rest than the Sundays. It is surprising now to find how
many days {123} in the year there were on which the Church forbade
servile labor. All the Holydays of Obligation, so-called, were days of
rest. From the very earliest time in Christianity there were at least
two dozen of these in the year. The feast days of the Twelve Apostles,
for instance, were twelve holydays of obligation with no work, and
then there were of course nearly another dozen important celebrations
in honor of the Lord. Christmas, and New Year, the Annunciation on
March 25, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and usually two or three days in
Easter week, Whitmonday and, as time went on, certain feast days in
honor of the Mother of the Lord were added and then certain local
saints' days in particular regions, as for instance the patron saint
of the church of the place and often of the country. All together
there were some thirty of these Holydays of Obligation, that is one
extra day every two weeks and a little more than that was a holiday,
on which no work was done. As the vigils of all first-class feasts
were free from labor after the vesper hour, two in the afternoon, and
as no work was done on Saturday afternoons after the same hour, there
were actually well above one hundred days in the year free from labor.

One of the awful things that happened in the social order in modern
history was the obliteration of these holydays shortly after the
Reformation. We are engaged, now that we have waked up to the
necessity of working people having days of recreation, in putting the
holidays back into the year. We in this country have Lincoln's Day,
Washington's Birthday, Decoration Day, Independence Day, Labor Day,
and in most of the States Columbus Day, Election Day, and Thanksgiving
Day as well as Christmas and New Year. In England, in {124} order to
make up for some of the holidays that have been lost, or rather so
unwarrantably taken away from the working classes, they put in the
bank holidays four times in the year, having them occur on Monday
always, so that from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday morning people
are free from the obligation of laboring. We know now how wise, from a
human and merely natural as well as the divine and spiritual aspect
was the insertion of holydays in the year. We must have more holidays;
there should be at least one every month, and the old custom of having
at least one every two weeks would be much better.

There are not a few people, especially in our strenuous time, deeply
intent on human productiveness rather than on human life and
happiness, who seem inclined to think that so many holidays in the
year sadly hamper the power of humanity to get things done and,
therefore, represent a very serious waste of time. Those who think
that, however, are usually in quest of some personal advantage of some
very sordid kind and are not interested in the real achievements of
humanity. After all, human accomplishment, like personal advance,
depends not on how much we get done but how well it is done. It is not
from extremely tired, overwrought mortals, whose physical forces are
always in tension because of the almost continuous strain to which
they are subjected that we can ever expect to get any products that
are really worth while. Slave labor may be exploited thus, and it is
possible to build barracks and railroads and even pyramids in this
way, but to erect structures of any noble kind which comprise in
material form beautiful expressions of the artistic feelings of
mankind, there can be no rush of tired human beings, but time must be


The late Mr. Standish O'Grady of Dublin, to whom probably more than to
any one else is due the modern revival in Irish literature which has
been such an incentive for better poetry throughout the
English-speaking world, once discussed this question of the
achievement of mankind when men are released from the obligation of
continuous labor and are free to think and have the opportunity to
invite their souls and be inspired to higher things. It was at a
dinner here in America, and he was remarking the fact that every one
whom he met over here in this country was busy, _busy_, BUSY! They did
not apologize for the fact, as a rule, but on the contrary seemed to
be proud of it and to think that it must be the normal state of man to
be so occupied with what he was about that he was ever deeply intent
on it. He reminded his American audience that leisure was the
foster-mother of nearly everything that mankind had ever done that was
worth while, for the worth-while things must have thought in them, and
thought requires time and leisure for its fulfillment.

Mr. O'Grady recalled the fact that twice in the world's history when
men accomplished results so great that the world will never willingly
let die the monuments then created, the most important feature of life
was its leisure. Actually one third of the time of the men of Greece
in the Periclean period, that Golden Age of achievement, was spent in
the preparation for and the celebration of religious mysteries. Their
greatest architectural monuments were their temples; their finest
sculptures were the figures of the gods and goddesses, but what is not
usually realized is that their literature was the product of the
leisure afforded for competitions in their great religious festivals,
and their painting had a similar origin. The {126} Greeks, like the
medieval Christians, had a great many feast days during the year, and
on these they held games and contests of various kinds, not only
athletic but poetic, dramatic and literary of all kinds, for Herodotus
read his great history before the assembled multitude in the
celebration of a religious festival at Athens and was awarded a prize
equivalent very probably to ten thousand dollars in our time.

What was true of the Greeks was true also, as has been said, of the
Middle Ages. The generations which made the great Gothic cathedrals
which we have come to look upon as such triumphs of construction,
which built the magnificent abbeys and town halls and hospitals of the
later Middle Ages, enduring monuments of their genius in construction,
spent one third of their time in the celebration of and the
preparation for religious festivals. Twice in the history of the
world, once in the later Middle Ages and in the older days in Greece,
dramatic literature originated anew in religious mystery and morality
plays. The men who gave us Magna Charta and all the great charters of
liberties that lie at the basis of modern rights and privileges in
practically every country in Europe had the time to think out the
solutions of their problems in the leisure afforded by the fifty-two
Sundays and thirty Holydays of Obligation which they were accustomed
to celebrate. The undying literature of the thirteenth century, the
Cid in Spain, the Arthurian legends in England, the Nibelungen in
Germany and Dante all came at a time when men set apart days for
religious meditation and a contemplation of higher things than the
sordid concerns of everyday life.

So far from one day of leisure in three interfering with human
productivity in the best sense of that word, the {127} custom actually
added to it. Men who work continuously from day to day without
intermission can make a quantity of trivial things, but they cannot
make anything that would be enduringly interesting, for they have not
the time. I have often said that I thought that the greatest
expression in American literature is those famous words of Thoreau as
to the relation of time and money. The Sage of Walden found that by
working about one half a day in the week he could support himself, and
he used the rest of the time for the study of nature around him and
for inviting his soul in the woods and along the streams. He feared
that the business of making a living might keep him from really
living. It is easy to understand that his thrifty Yankee neighbors
failed utterly to comprehend any such attitude toward what they
conceived to be a workaday world. Especially at harvest time when they
needed help it seemed a shame to see Thoreau wandering apparently
lazily and aimlessly while they were working so hard and looking for
workers whom they were willing to pay what they thought was very good
wages. They stopped Thoreau and offered him better pay than they were
usually accustomed to offer, but Thoreau replied very simply, "I have
no time to make money." There seem to be a great many people in our
day who apparently are of the opinion that the only reason for which
time is given is to make money. The Sundays and holydays, as arranged
by the religious authorities, made excellent recreation days. After
their morning spent in church, listening to a sermon by some favorite
preacher, but having the eye and the ear and even the nose appealed to
by the rest of the celebration, the people were then free for
recreation. The old Church had no Puritanic scruples about people
playing on the {128} Sabbath; there were sports of various kinds on
the green in front of the church and their parish priest might be the
referee; neighboring parishes held contests in archery or at bowls or
in what the Irish call hurling and the English call shinney. At
certain seasons the guilds offered prizes for these contests; the
young were encouraged to go into training for them for weeks
beforehand, and the prizes were conferred rather gloriously before all
those whom the young folks most loved and respected.

These Church holidays were associated with various celebrations, such
as May Day, the Feast of the Innocents or Fools; the beating of the
bounds when in procession the parishioners on the Rogation Days walked
round the various properties of the parish and asked the blessing of
heaven on the crops; the carnival time when, before abuses crept in,
the Church encouraged the celebration that would mark the beginning of
Lent and make everybody ready to bid good-by to the pleasures of life
for a while. Then the various fairs and markets were usually so timed
that they immediately followed some important festival day in the year
and afforded people an opportunity for a little vacation and an outing
in connection with the feast, while at the same time they were able to
buy what they needed.

Above all, religion insisted that some part of these days of
recreation, the holydays of the years, should be spent not merely for
one's own selfish pleasure, but in bringing pleasure to others. It was
suggested, for instance, that there could be no better occupation for
a portion of Christmas and Easter or of some Sunday afternoons than
visiting the sick or prisoners or bringing consolation to those in
need. Kings and queens washed the feet of the poor on Holy Thursday,
and there were {129} similar practices at other times in the
ecclesiastical year. The people were encouraged to bury the dead
reverently and then to keep their graves green and to visit them
occasionally on the holydays as a sign that their memory had not
faded, though also as a reminder of the fact that sometime they hoped
to be with their dear friends in another world. This may seem a rather
solemn occupation for recreation, but taken in the open air, while the
children played around the graves and the old folks sat and tallied,
it was ever so much better than that unconquerable tendency to crowd
together in hot, dusty places which afflicts people on our holidays.
The old graveyards represented the parks in even the smallest towns,
and the inhabitants had a pride in keeping them in order and found a
pleasure in visiting them occasionally. In the unfortunately crowded
conditions in which they often lived, the only lungs for some of their
villages were to be found in the churchyard. There was scarcely a town
in this country two generations ago that had anything approaching a
public park, except its cemetery.

There is a constant tendency to encroach on the Sunday rest for
commercial and industrial reasons of one kind or another, and only
religious influences have saved the Sabbath for mankind. Even as it
is, the decadence of religion in many countries has led more and more
to neglect of the Sabbath-day rest, and in certain of the European
countries particularly, Sunday, instead of being a day of rest for the
small tradesman, is sometimes his busiest day. Here in this country
religious influences were the only factors that kept the saloons more
or less closed on Sunday and kept the rest day from being an orgy of
dissipation for many people. Selfishness continues to encroach on the
precious day of rest and various {130} forms of trade try to present
some necessity for their being open on the Sabbath. This has always
been the way, and the religious sanction in the matter has been the
most precious safeguard.

At the present time, there are a good many stores open for a while or
for the whole day on Sunday for which it is hard to find any
necessity. Some of the fresh food and milk stores have a certain
justification, but why tobacco stores should be open, seeing that
their product will keep perfectly and that any man can rather easily
lay in a store to carry him over a day at least, is indeed hard to
understand.    [Footnote 5]

  [Footnote 5:  There are probably several hundred thousand men in
  this country who have to work on Sunday because the tobacco stores
  are open. This is an abuse corresponding to that with regard to the
  saloon, which will almost surely bring about a reaction in the
  public mind against the traffic in tobacco generally.]

Another abuse of the public confidence is the opening of all drug
stores on Sunday. As a consequence hundreds of thousands of men are
deprived of this day of rest in the week. Drugs are extremely
important and should of course be available at all hours, but there is
no more reason for all the drug stores to be open every Sunday than
there is for all the drug stores to be open all night. Certain drug
stores should be open, but as St. Antonius suggested five hundred
years ago, there is no good reason why there should not be an
arrangement by which the drug stores should be open in rotation on
Sundays, so that drugs would be always available and only the
absolutely necessary articles needed for emergencies should be sold on
that day. There is no reason at all why the modern department store
annex of the large drug corporations which happens to have a small
corner of its store space set off for the filling of prescriptions
should {131} do business on Sunday than for an immense department
store to put in a prescription department and then sell goods all over
the house because they have to keep their drug department open on
Sundays. Only the religious element in life will save us from this
commercial invasion, with the harm which it does in depriving so many
people of their day of rest.

The future of the Sunday as a needed day of rest is dependent more on
religion than on any other factor. The insidious selfish quest for
money will find excuses for the violation of the day in one way or
another. The institution and maintenance down the ages of the Sabbath
day of rest is a wonderful example of what religion can accomplish for
man in the face of the corroding power of selfishness and is the best
demonstration of its living influence for the bodily as well as the
spiritual and mental health of mankind.




As has been suggested in the last chapter on Holydays and Holidays,
religious institutions have been the most effective organizers of
recreations sane and safe for the mind as well as for the body of man,
and recreation is one of the most important factors for the
preservation of human health. The man who does not take the time for
recreation and above all who does not know how to recreate is almost
inevitably drifting toward a premature aging of tissues, or often is
laying the foundation for an acute breakdown in health. Recreation is
an absolute need of humanity, adding to health, strength, efficiency,
length of life, and power of accomplishment. Instead of being a waste
of time, it is a time saver and above all a saver of suffering, mental
and physical, as the years roll on.

Dissipation is, however, the very opposite of recreation. What
corresponds to these two words in human conduct is confounded in the
minds of a great many people probably as often as the activities which
respond to those other much abused words, liberty and license.
Recreation, as the etymology indicates so clearly, means the building
up of energy, while dissipation signifies the scattering of it,
usually to no purpose. It is extremely easy for what is meant to be
recreation to become {133} dissipation, and religion has been the most
important factor in life in controlling the tendency to dissipation
which exists among men, not only from the moral but also from the
intellectual aspect of life. Religious motives have succeeded better
than any other factors in lessening this tendency and securing such
genuine recreation as would serve to rebuild men's minds and bodies
after they had been more or less worn out from work, and at the same
time tend to keep them from immorality and afford such relief from the
strain of serious occupation as would provide real reconstruction for

Unfortunately in our time, just in proportion as religion has lost its
hold on men, recreation has become largely a matter of dissipation of
mind when not also dissipation of body. More and more barbaric or
merely bodily modes of recreation are preoccupying the leisure time
that men have outside of their regular occupations in life. It must
not be forgotten that the way a man or a generation spends its leisure
is the best possible index of the character of the man or the
generation. It is the way that a man spends the time that he is free
to use any way that he wishes which reveals what he is. It was a great
philosopher who said, "Tell me what a man does with his leisure, and I
shall tell you what sort of a man he is." We all have to work a
certain portion of our time, and often what we work at is not a matter
of choice but necessity. What we do during our leisure, however, is
dependent on ourselves and represents our tastes.

The recreation of our time reveals that people are ever so much more
interested in their bodies than they are in their minds and hearts and
souls. Very often the recreation of the older time consisted of hours
spent with all the advantages of outdoor air, exercise, and fine {134}
satisfaction of mind, perhaps in visiting the poor or the prisons or
the hospitals, or in encouraging the sports of children, or in
arranging for outings of various kinds in which the pleasantest of
social intercourse between friends and neighbors was associated with
such recreation of body as gave a good healthy weariness after a day's
outing. More and more these old-fashioned modes of recreation are
passing, and sophistication has brought in occupation of mind with a
lot of unworthy things.

Instead of taking an active part in what is supposed to recreate them
people must now be amused. Whenever this happens and participants pay
for the amusement, the character of the amusement degenerates because
it must appeal to as great a number as possible. As a consequence, in
our day recreation, especially for young folks who ought of course to
be actively engaged in sport and not merely onlookers, consists in
attendance at "shows" and games. The "shows" have an appeal merely to
the senses, they have not an idea lost in them anywhere; the music is
a caricature of real music founded on the fact--which the most
primitive of savages have always discovered for themselves--that a
rhythm appeals to men and gives them a certain bodily satisfaction,
probably because of some ill-understood interaction with the heart
beat. The main feature of appeal is really the sex element that enters
into the show and produces feelings. The lyrics are, if that term for
them were to be taken seriously, a crying shame, for the words of the
songs usually mean absolutely nothing. The rule is to take certain
words that rhyme, like kiss and bliss, and love and glove, and for the
rest to talk about the moon and some sentimental twaddle. There is not
a glimpse of poetry about them in any sense of the word.


The attendance at games of various kinds in which people watch other
people exercise is a favorite occupation in our time, but it is only
the shadow of recreation. It is usually associated with feelings
aroused by the desire for one side to win, either because of betting
or some other sentiment often entirely artificial. Whenever anything
occurs to disappoint the desire, there is likely to be an exhibition
of some of the ugliest feelings of mankind. Men invade the field, take
up quarrels, and sometimes not only threaten but actually attempt
bodily injury of the players and particularly of the umpire. Probably
nothing could be more unworthy as recreation for human beings than
this passive interest in the exercise that other people take, and the
elevation of the contests of paid professionals into something to
occupy men's minds seriously and even arouse their feelings deeply.

More and more bodily interests are drowning out higher interests, and
prize fighting and wrestling command ever larger audiences, while the
sums of money that are paid for such exhibitions grow in size, showing
the importance of bodily interests to the general public. There is an
old story of Cimabue's Madonna causing the stoppage of business in
Florence in the old days, but the transport of no mere picture along
the street, no matter how beautiful it might be, would have any such
effect nowadays, though the arrival of a prize fighter who had just
won a heavyweight contest, if his coming were announced beforehand,
would almost surely interfere seriously with business for some time in
the neighborhood of the station.

Just as in the days of Rome when the amphitheater was the center of
attraction, recreation is becoming mere barbaric dissipation for a
great many people. {136} The cultured, intelligent Romans--at least
many of them were educated--went to see gladiators fight with wild
beasts or with each other unto the death, or to get a special thrill
by seeing the Christians thrown to the lions. The other shows they
attended were mainly the dancing of slave girls scantily dressed,
whose actions were meant to excite sex feelings. At Rome the women had
no virtue and the men no courage; they were interested in their bodies
and degeneracy had come. No wonder the real barbarians came to replace
their counterfeit presentments in the pseudo-refined Romans.

Even our mental occupations are very largely taken up with bodily
interests. Reading is supposed to be an intellectual diversion, but it
has become a matter of attention to sex and other bodily emotions. My
friend. Doctor Austin O'Malley, suggests that one of the most
important criteria of intelligence is contained in the rule "the book
that you like is like you," to which may be added, of course, that the
play that you like is like you and the magazine that you like is like
you. If our generation is to be judged by its occupation of its
leisure, the estimation will not be very high. Most of the leisure
time of men is spent in reading the newspapers. Indeed, it may be said
without exaggeration that the greater part of civilized mankind now
spends the major portion of its hours of relaxation over the
newspaper. News was defined by an old-fashioned editor succinctly as
sin. The definition has enough of truth in it to give us pause when we
consider that every one is occupied with the newspaper for an hour or
more each day. We want to know the last details of the ugly sex crimes
and the misfortunes of various kinds that have happened to people,
perhaps with a feeling that things might be worse for us {137} than
they are, but the suggestive effect is almost the worst that could
well be imagined, and the recreation of mind becomes a sad dissipation
of mental energy.

Religion brought the holydays, which were in our modern sense
holidays, into the year, but did ever so much more than this by
suggesting, organizing and encouraging such occupation of them as
afforded recreation for men and women in definite contradistinction
from dissipation. On all the Sundays and holydays men rose to attend
services and usually spent some hours in this occupation. Attendance
at religious services in our time has become very largely a matter of
duty, requiring considerable self-denial and control for its
accomplishment. The religious ceremonials of the older time were,
however, extremely interesting, and people looked forward to them.
They had to attend them as a matter of duty, but the great majority of
them found a pleasure in the duty because of the appeal that the
Church ceremonial made.

Various societies associated with religion in one way or another
organized the recreations for the afternoon of the holydays or for the
vigils or eves of the great festivals, on which there was no work done
after the vesper hour. The guilds, for instance, most of which
received saints' names, and many of which built chapels of their own
and were closely affiliated with the ecclesiastical authorities,
offered prizes for athletic exercises among the young folks, both boys
and girls, and arranged contests in archery, in the pitching of
quoits, in the old-fashioned form of hockey and the like, between the
inhabitants of neighboring villages, and then there were also
individual athletic contests of various kinds. Banquets were held four
times a year on the special feast days, to which a man was expected to
bring either his wife or his {138} sweetheart. They did not believe
that it was good for men to be alone in their feasting, and realized
that there was likely to be much less of excess and ever so much less
of a tendency to quarrel if the women were present. The banquets were
held in the afternoon, and there was dancing on the green afterward
for the young folks and games of various kinds, all of which were
meant to give the young particularly innocent enjoyment and bring them
together for proper matchmaking.

Religious authorities have always recognized the necessity for
recreation. Besides, they have always tried to keep recreation on that
higher plane where it may do good and not harm. Dancing, for instance,
has very often had a place in religious ceremonials. Rhythmic
movements of the body can add to the significance of even the deepest
thought. They may, of course, be reduced merely to the expression of
sensuality or constitute an invitation to it. David danced before the
Ark, and dancing has always had a place in the expression of religious
feelings. The old Greeks employed dancing to great effect, even in
their higher religious ceremonials. The great Greek dramatists wrote
choric odes which are among the most beautiful lyric poems ever
written. They were on such subjects as life and death and man and fate
and all the other great mysteries with which man is confronted. The
chorus, in singing them, danced, and the reason for the dance was that
it added to the significance of the beautiful words that had been
written. The Greek plays were staged as a part of the religious
ceremonial in celebration of the festivals of Dionysus; his name has
been translated by the supposed Latin equivalent Bacchus, but the
Greeks meant the god of inspiration and not the god of intoxication.


Religion then proved a source of a great deal of genuine recreation.
It emphasized the joys of existence rather than merely the pleasures
of life. It encouraged family participation in everything and found a
place for the children. There is a great distinction between joy and
pleasure that is often missed when religion is in decay. Joy is a
profound feeling usually associated with the performance of simple
duties and rather easily attainable by every one. Pleasures are often
expensive, frequently are followed by remorse, and more often than not
do harm rather than good to those who indulge in them, especially to
any excess. Joy, however, inspires human beings to the further
accomplishment of duty, gives a supreme sense of well-being, brings
light-hearted sleep and is very precious in the memory. Joys are
usually associated with domestic duties and religious observances and
the celebration in family groups of the great festivals. What religion
did in bringing joy into life is one of the most precious factors for
real recreation that we have.

The main feature of religion's work for recreation, however,
consisted of the development of dramatics. Twice in the world's
history, as I have noted in the chapter on Holydays and Holidays,
dramatic literature has developed out of religious ceremonials. These
ceremonials very naturally take on the dramatic form, and the
evolution of this in the course of time led to additions to religious
services which soon came to occupy so much attention as to deserve a
place and time for themselves, and then they were transferred to the
temple porch in the older time, or to the open space at the foot of
the steps, or in the Middle Ages to the churchyard or the green in
front of the church.

This encouragement of recreation with a deep appeal {140} to the
emotions and the higher feelings which at the same time brought
satisfaction for the intellect, proved of the greatest possible
service for health. Men need to have thoroughgoing diversion of mind
from their ordinary occupations. Such diversion of mind is, in my
opinion, even more important than exercise of body. The effort in our
time is concentrated on doing nothing with the mind, as a rest for it,
or doing something that is so trivial that it is supposed to provide
opportunity for mental recreation. Almost needless to say it is
impossible to do nothing with the mind. The mind will keep right on
thinking about something or other, and unless thought is diverted it
is very inclined to recur to the last worries and troubles which the
individual has experienced. The attempt to occupy the mind with
trivial matters does not divert it. To read the newspaper or some
popular magazine or a light novel will enable the person to kill time,
but up through the print will always come obtruding itself the worry
or anxiety that occupied it before. What is needed for true recreation
is that the mind shall be interested in something very different from
its ordinary occupation. This interest must be deep and abiding and
holding, or it will not prove so successful as would otherwise be the

Some form of intellectual hobby makes the very best recreation, but
not every one has either the time or the money and above all the
intelligence to cultivate a hobby that will be absorbing in its
appeal. Religion, then, with its universal appeal, its deep touching
of the feelings, its sense of supreme satisfaction when people
believed, its presentation of ceremonies that have even a sensory
attraction, formed in the past a fine avenue of escape from the sordid
considerations of life for a great many {141} people and can still be
an invaluable resource for those who take it seriously. In the midst
of trials and hardships the folk of the older time learned to turn to
religion as a consolation that occupied their minds and promised them
divine help in their difficulties. Religion as organized in the later
Middle Ages, with its great celebrations on the festival days in the
beautiful Gothic churches, on the background of great art, served this
purpose of diversion of mind extremely well. If that had been its only
purpose it would have been quite unworthy of the great intellectual
and artistic accomplishments which religion aroused. But as a
secondary consideration this must not be forgotten, and the absence of
an appeal of this kind makes for that tendency to dissipation of mind
which is so unfortunate because [it is] so unworthy of human nature and
at the same time proves so ineffective as providing any real recreation
of mind.

In the old days when the Puritans went to a sermon two hours long,
they listened with rapt attention to the preacher, and in so doing
their minds were occupied with an entirely other subject from that
which ordinarily attracted their attention. Such a diversion, even
though it may seem to be pretty hard work, represents a real mental
rest because the part of the brain that is usually occupied gets its
rest, the blood being diverted to other parts of the brain. This may
seem a paradox to some people until they are reminded that men who
have lived very long lives have usually been men who turned from one
form of mental work to another for diversion and rest. Gladstone, for
instance, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain when past eighty
years of age, was an intensely hard intellectual worker all his life,
but found recreation from his political cares in the study and {142}
discussion of the problems of Greek literature. Leo XIII, who lived to
be ninety-three, concerned to the very end with the administration of
the Church--an immense task--found his recreation in the writing of
Latin poetry, though that might seem to some people too hard work of
itself to be classed as rest. For a great many of these hard-working,
long-lived people, as was true of both Leo XIII and Gladstone, prayer
was a recourse in time of trial that made anxiety less and took the
edge off solicitude and occupied the mind with the profound thought of
the Providence that overrules and somehow cares for us.

I have often said before medical societies, and in articles for
medical journals, because the expression represents a definite medical
conclusion in my mind, that the reason why nervous and mental diseases
were growing commoner in our time was that men and women had no real
mental recreation. They go to trivial shows of various kinds,
vaudeville, musical comedy and the movies, and they laugh a little and
feel a great deal, but think almost not at all. They try to forget
their ordinary occupations and worries, and indeed plays and novels
are now advertised as "the kind that make you forget", but they do not
succeed very well in this effort and their minds are not really
diverted. For diversion the mind should become occupied rather deeply
with some other subject, so that the blood which has been going to a
particular part of the brain in order to call up the memory of things
associated with the special interests of the individual may be
diverted to another part. This will give the portion of the brain
previously occupied a rest as almost nothing else will. Doing nothing
with the mind is impossible, though some people apparently come very
{143} near it. Doing very trivial things will not divert the current
of attention so as to allow of real rest. Attention is probably a
matter of increased blood circulation to a particular set of brain
cells. These will go on working in spite of the wish to stop, unless
the blood is actually diverted elsewhere in the cerebral tissues or
the individual sleeps, with its accompanying brain anemia.

For believers religion has this deep appeal and strong interest which
represents very definite diversion of mind. Of itself, then, it may
afford genuine recreation, though so little associated with recreation
in the modern sense of the term. It is the most cogent reliever of
worries. It affords the best neutralization of such intense
preoccupation with merely sordid concerns as may prove dangerous for

Religion has always insisted that idle dissipation of mental and
physical energy was an extremely dangerous thing. The devil finds work
for idle hands is an expression that has come from very early
Christian times. While the Church has appreciated thoroughly the
necessity for occupation of mind and enjoyment and amusement and has
put the holydays into the year in large numbers and made true holidays
of them, it has also recognized clearly the dangers there might be in
recreations of various kinds. Fashion has often been strong enough to
override religious counsels in the matter, but at least they have
served to restrain to some extent, and they have always pointed out
the dangers so that young folks have not gone into them unseeing and
unthinking; thus a good many have been saved from grave risks and
absolute moral and physical injuries which might have proved serious
as the result of religious regulations and advice.


Dancing has always been one of the modes of recreation with regard to
which religion has felt the need to exercise surveillance and
inculcate the necessity for proper supervision. There has been no
unthinking opposition to it and no mere bigoted intolerance. The dance
has always been recognized as an excellent exercise of the body and a
very definite mode of expressing beautiful thoughts in graceful
postures and movements; the dance has actually been used in Church
ceremonies, and its symbolism made to lend significance to the body's
share in worship or in the expression of beautiful thoughts. When
graceful dancing was to a great extent discarded and the essence of
the dance came to be the intimate contact of two persons of opposite
sex in the lively movements of modern dancing measures which were
almost sure to arouse passion, no wonder that religion counseled
prudence in order to prevent harmful developments which are often the
source of so much danger for health of body as well as for holiness,
that is wholeness of spirit. The restraint exercised in this way over
the control of occasions that might lead to serious consequences makes
religion an important factor for health.

It is quite true that religion does not often succeed in her
well-meant efforts in controlling such tendencies to dissipation and
sometimes seems utterly to fail, but that is largely because in recent
years there has been an unfortunate decadence of religious influence,
and people do not live up even to the principles of religion which
they themselves hold. Among those who still maintain the religious
life, the restraint exercised as regards many of these unfortunate
dissipations means a very great deal for health of body and mind.
Certainly social evils would be much worse only for the presence of a
great {145} conservative institution exercising restraint and calling
on people to practice self-control and self-denial in these matters,
no matter how alluring they might be nor how much they may have met
with the approval of what is called society.

Probably the most important element for health in the modern time is
the conservation of the distinction between recreation and
dissipation. Almost inevitably recreation becomes dissipation; that
is, the relaxation of mind and body so necessary for health becomes a
dissolution of physical and mental forces to the serious detriment of
the individual, unless there are strong, impelling motives to prevent
the degeneration. Such motives may be drawn from human respect or from
the desire to maintain the body in healthful vigor, but these lower
motives very often fail of their purpose and at best apply only to a
comparatively few among mankind. For the great majority of men,
motives with a deeper appeal than mere self-respect or the respect of
others or even the preservation of the body from impending disease are
necessary. In youth particularly bodily degeneration seems a distant
possibility, almost surely to be escaped without much difficulty,
especially if one has any luck, and even if serious disease be
incurred it will surely be cured rather easily by the means that
science now has at her command. The general appeal that is necessary
to give men a fixed point of support in maintaining recreation on a
high level and not letting it slip down into dissipation is to be
found in religion.

The reason why recreation and dissipation have so often come to be
confounded in our time, or at least that recreation has sunk to a much
lower level than it used to occupy, is the diminution of religious
influence over a {146} great many people. The old religious family
life made it much easier to maintain such discipline in the lives of
growing young folks as kept them from the tendencies to dissipation
almost sure to develop unless there are strong safeguards in the
household. Where the young folk themselves are firm believers in the
great truths of religion, their control is much easier and is
exercised much more by themselves than by any external measures. It is
the having a fount of incentive to what is good and deterrents for
what is evil within oneself that is the best possible auxiliary for
the neutralization of tendencies to evil that are as natural as they
can be and that represent one inexplicable phase of that mystery of
evil by which we are surrounded in the world.

The only satisfactory explanation of that is to be found in faith, and
it is from this that strength can be derived to prevent the lower
nature of man which shares so many animal proclivities from governing
the individual to the detriment of both sides of his being.




Mortification is a word with an interesting etymology. It means
literally the dying or more properly the putting to death of one part
of an animal body while the rest is alive. From this it has come to
mean, to quote the Century Dictionary, "The act of subduing the
passions and appetites by penance, abstinence or painful severities
inflicted on the body." It has had this signification from the very
earliest times of Christianity, for the early Fathers spoke of dying
to self to have a higher and a nobler life. It is used exactly in this
sense in the old medieval Latin as well as by that first great prose
writer in modern English, Sir Thomas More, for he spoke of "the
mortification of the fleshly woorkes" in just this signification.
After all our recent Poet Laureate, when in "In Memoriam" he summed up
so much of the current thought of our time, expressed the same ideas
as the earlier religious authorities when he said that "we rise on
stepping stones of our dead selves to higher things."

It was a favorite idea of the Greeks of the classical period that the
way to get most out of life was to repress the body and give the mind
and soul a chance. Aristotle said, "The vanities of the world are a
hindrance to the soul," and he paraphrased by anticipation that
expression which came to mean so much during the war that our {148}
rising generation learned the precious lesson "that there are things
in life worth more than life itself" when he said, "'T is better for
the soul's sake to suffer death than to lose the soul for the love of
this life." Socrates had said before him, "A wise man ought to look as
carefully to his soul as to his body", and Plato, going straight to
the point, declared, "Whoso desireth the life of his soul ought to
mortify the body and give it trouble in this world." No one knew
better than Plato that the desire of having things did more than aught
else to make the higher life impossible. He did not hesitate to say,
and the expression constitutes one of the most striking commentaries
on our time that we could have, "the soul is lost that delighteth in
covetousness." Pythagoras long before the group of the classical
period had said, "Order thyself so that thy soul may always be in good
estate; whatsoever become of thy body."

It would be easy to find almost as many expressions commending
mortification among the old Greek philosophers as among the Fathers of
the Church. Plato said, "He obeyeth many that obeyeth his body." And
Aristotle said, "He that hath bound himself to follow his fleshly
delights is more bound than any caitiff", which after all, is only
another way of wording Plato's expression, "the worst bondage is to be
subject to vices." Seneca, five centuries afterwards in Rome,
declared, "Too much liberty turneth into bondage", doubtless
imitating, as he did so often, Euripides, who declared, "Better is it
to be free in heart and bond in name than to be free in name and bond
in heart."

In spite of this very respectable ancient lineage which would indicate
an agreement for many centuries among thoughtful people that
mortification has a definite place {149} in life, many in our time
seem inclined to think that the idea underlying the word is a mistake,
and that the virtue attributed to it does not actually work out in
practice. Hence mortification is at present considered by a good many
to be only one of the good old ways of life evolved in an earlier day
when men were less capable of judging of the significance of things
than they are now, but which humanity ought to set definitely back in
the lumber room of discarded notions, now that an era of really
rational development of humanity has come. The old-fashioned idea that
in this way the passions can be controlled is looked upon as a sort of
worn-out superstition, good enough for people who did not know as much
as we do and who did not understand as we have come to understand the
profounder psychology of humanity. We are apparently quite sure in our
time that sweet reasonableness must be the only rule for mankind and
that anything so crude as self-inflicted suffering is not needed by
generations which have not sounded the depth of human nature as we
have done.

Nothing is commoner than to read tirades of various kinds against the
practices of mortification that were in vogue in the older times. A
great many writers who think themselves well informed feel assured
that the people of the olden time performed the most difficult acts of
penance and inflicted intense self-suffering on themselves with no
other purpose in view than to curry favor with the Almighty quite as
if they felt that the Creator delighted in the suffering of His
creatures. They do not seem to realize at all that the real reason why
the older peoples thought such self-inflicted suffering might be
looked upon with favor from on High was that the efforts required to
perform these acts strengthened their wills {150} so as to enable them
to repress their passions and inordinate desires and to control the
tendencies to do wrong which are in every nature and which require
constant watching and subjection, or they prove extremely difficult to

Before the war, when the world generally was rather inclined to take a
good deal of its psychology from Germany, the scoffing tone with
regard to mortification was particularly rife in academic circles.
While other nations as a rule did not adopt the German idea of the
superman, they were usually much more tinctured with that teaching
than they suspected. Nietzsche's great teaching was that a man must
follow his instincts and develop his personality to the highest,
regardless of the consequences to others. One of his famous parables
is that of the soft coal and the diamond. The soft coal is heard
complaining to the diamond, "We are brothers, why then do you scratch
me?" and the diamond replies, "Since we are brothers how is it that I
can scratch you; why are you not as hard as I am, and then all would
be well between us?" and Nietzsche's conclusion was, "For I preach to
you a new doctrine; be ye hard." As Germany had more professors of
psychology than any other nation, it is easy to understand what
far-reaching influence her teaching had. A very few were conservative,
but most were radical, and the only consolation that we have now is to
realize that the nation which had the most professors of psychology
least understood the minds of men, as was demonstrated very clearly by
the egregious blunders which the German government made with regard to
the neutral nations during the course of the war.

The modern psychologists who have thought most deeply about human
nature do not share at all the {151} supercilious contempt for
mortification and even the habit of performing frequent acts of
self-repression, though they may cost effort and suffering, which so
many thoughtless people are ready to express. Professor William James,
who was surely not at all a medievally minded individual and who is
recognized as one of the leaders of thought in modern psychology, did
not hesitate to express his conclusions on this matter in a paragraph
that should be very well known:

  "As a fine practical maxim, relative to these habits of the will, we
  may, then, offer something like this: Keep the faculty of effort
  alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be
  systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points; do
  every day or two something for no other reason than that you would
  rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it
  may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.
  Asceticism of this sort is like the insurance which a man pays on
  his house and goods. The tax does him no good at the time and
  possibly may never bring him a return. But if the fire does come,
  his having paid it will be his salvation from ruin. So with the man
  who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention,
  energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will
  stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his
  softer fellow mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast."

Above all in youth there is need of enduring hard things in order to
form character and enable people to control themselves and deny
themselves. This is sometimes supposed to be a medieval idea, but
Goethe, with all his leaning toward the ways of the old Greeks and his
liking even for the Olympian religion, did not hesitate to say {152}
that the most important thing in the world for a man was self-denial.
_Entbehren sollst du, sollst entbehren_. "You must deny yourself, must
deny yourself." There is only one way to do this, and that is to
practice it by a succession of acts until it becomes habitual. The
great world teacher of this practice is and has always been religion.
Sacrifice has been preached as the very essence of Christianity.

To many people it may seem as though mortification, that is, the
practice of doing a series of things that are hard to do and even
painful to accomplish, in order to increase one's power over oneself
may be beneficial and even necessary for weak characters; but that
surely strong men and women can dispense with any such artificial
support of their personalities. Such an expression must probably be
considered an excuse that enables people to escape the difficulties
and self-denial of practices of mortification, but not at all as a
real reason. Some of the strongest men who have ever lived have
recognized the necessity for the insurance policies of little acts of
supererogation that require real will power to accomplish in order to
keep their strength of character at its top notch of efficiency.
Probably few men in history have ever had a stronger character than
Sir Thomas More. All his life he was noted for the absolute purity of
his motives and the thoroughgoing righteousness of his life. He is the
only man in the history of England who ever cleared the docket of the
Court of Chancery. He was the first lay Lord Chancellor that England
ever had. The opportunities for using his high office for his own
benefit are well illustrated by the expression of Lord Campbell, who
declared of More in his lives of the Lord Chancellors: "I am indeed
reluctant to take leave of Sir Thomas More, {153} not only from his
agreeable qualities and extraordinary merits, but from my abhorrence
of the mean, sordid, unprincipled chancellors who succeeded him and
made the latter half of the reign of Henry VIII the most disgraceful
period in our annals."

Nearly a hundred years after More's death when Lord Bacon was
impeached by the English Parliament, he made as the excuse for having
taken bribes that he was the best Lord Chancellor that England had had
for fifty years. Very probably he was; no one knew that better than
he. Yet Sir Thomas More had gone unscathed through the fire of
temptations such as these to which every Lord Chancellor for a hundred
years afterward yielded; but More went farther, and when it was a
question of conscience he died for what he felt was the right. It did
not matter to him that others had been able to compound with their
consciences; he even told the jury that condemned him that he hoped to
meet them in heaven, but right was right and even death was not too
high a price to pay for its fulfillment. One of More's practices at
times during his life had been the wearing of a hair shirt; even when
in prison--and God knows the Tower of London, with the shadow of the
scaffold hanging over it, would seem to be mortification enough--he
wore his hair shirt, and it was found among his possessions after his

I suppose to-day, after a generation of contemptuous scoffing at
mortification, it may be necessary to explain to many people what a
hair shirt is. It is a very coarse undergarment woven of hair to be
worn next the skin, and the discomfort of the skin surface is so great
that until one gets a little used to it one can scarcely think of
anything else except the constant irritation. It was {154} a very
common practice to wear it in the Middle Ages, and we have the story
of one mother who felt that perhaps nothing would do her boys more
good than to learn to stand something like this in order that they
might be able to withstand youth's temptations. She was Mabel Rich,
the mother of Edmund of Canterbury, who has come to be looked upon as
one of the great characters of English history. For years he suffered
in exile rather than give up to the king the rights of his people and
the Church; this great scholar, professor of Oxford that he was and
leader among men, who might have had all sorts of favors from the king
had he yielded, spent fifteen years in poverty and hardships rather
than yield a point of conscience. He tells that when he and his elder
brother went off to the university, where they were to be gone for
four or five years, their mother packed with their clothes a hair
shirt for each of them. She asked them to wear them occasionally for
her sake and to remember that they had to stand many things in life in
order to keep on the right path. This London tradesman's wife of the
early thirteenth century knew as well as any city mother in modern
times the dangers her boys were going to encounter and which they
would have to go through successfully or lose health of soul and body.
There is apt to be a feeling in many minds that these problems have
only come to be realized in our day, but that is due only to failure
to project our knowledge of human nature into the past. Mabel Rich,
like a good sensible mother, did not make an hysterical appeal that
might cause her boys to feel her fear that they could not keep right,
but she asked them, partly for her sake but mainly for religious
motives, to submit to voluntary sufferings sometimes so that they
might have the strength {155} to bear any temptation that came to
them. Edmund of Canterbury declared, toward the end of his life, that
he owed more to his mother and her example and training for whatever
his character had enabled him to accomplish in life than to any other
single factor.

In the chapter on Purity I have quoted distinguished authorities in
psychology who insist that the one way to strengthen the young man and
the young woman against the allurements of impurity and thus help them
to avoid the extremely serious dangers to health involved in yielding
to such temptations is to have them practice self-denial in little
things. Mortifications of one kind or another are to be undertaken,
and the young folks build up self-control by the doing of things which
are hard, though not obligatory, with the one idea of enabling them to
perform even harder things in self-control whenever it may be
necessary. There are some who seem to think that such practices may
weaken men's powers of accomplishment, as if personality might be
impaired by self-control, but there is no reason to think that.

Foerster, the well-known German writer on ethics, knowing well how
much contempt has been thrown on asceticism in recent years, did not
hesitate to say that the fear of weakness is all due to a
misunderstanding. The ascetic is not a stunted human being who has
mutilated himself, or prevented his development lest by any chance he
might wander so far away from the path to his heavenly home that he
might not get back. Asceticism has for its derivation the Greek verb
[Greek text] which means to exercise,--that is, not to decrease but to
increase power. The ascetic exercises his will power so that he will
be able to follow the straight path that he wants to tread, no matter
how many difficulties present themselves to him. {156} No matter how
steep the hills, he will not turn aside to the pleasanter paths that
lead so gently downward because he wants to "carry on." Professor
Foerster said: "Asceticism should be regarded, not as a negation of
nature nor as an attempt to extirpate natural forces, but as practice
in the art of self-discipline. Its object should be to show humanity
what the human will is capable of performing, to serve as an
encouraging example of the conquest of the spirit over the animal
self. The contempt which has been poured upon the idea of asceticism
in recent times has contributed more than anything else towards
effeminacy. Nothing could be more effective in bringing humanity back
to the best traditions of manhood than a respect for the spiritual
strength and conquest which is symbolised in ascetic lives."

With regard to that anxiety of mothers to help their boys and girls in
the very serious matter of sex temptation which has become so
prominent a social feature in recent years, Foerster has a passage
that is well worth putting before every mother:

  "There are plenty of modern mothers who are aware of the necessity
  for instruction in matters relating to sex, and who are perhaps
  anxiously awaiting the suitable moment: it is a great deal more
  important, however, that they should make their children acquainted
  with what Sailer called 'the strategy of the Holy War', that they
  should train them every now and then to deny themselves some
  favourite article of food, or to accomplish some heroic conquest of
  indolence, or to practise themselves in ignoring pain.

  "The outstanding feature of sexual education should not be an
  explanation of the sex functions, but an introduction to the
  inexhaustible power of the human spirit {157} and its capacity for
  dominating the animal nature and controlling its demands."

Joseph de Maistre once said: "Everything that hinders a man
strengthens him. Many a man of thirty years of age is capable of
successfully resisting the allurements of a beautiful woman because at
the age of five or six he was taught voluntarily to give up a toy or a

Mortification in little things seems to many people too trivial in its
effects to be of any real significance. If there is anything in the
world that has been brought home to us in medicine in the modern era
it is that little things count immensely. Microbes so small that we
not only cannot see them, but never hope to be able to increase the
powers of the microscope in such a way as to be able to get a sight of
them, may cause the most serious epidemics. One of these
ultramicroscopic microbes is probably the cause of infantile
paralysis, which we know to have been in existence over five thousand
years, because the mummy of a princeling of one of the early dynasties
in Egypt shows that its possessor suffered from it as a child. Another
of the ultramicroscopic microbes is perhaps the cause of influenza
which carried off in a few months more victims among young people than
the greatest war in human history did in over four years. No wonder
that little things count in the moral order then, since they may mean
so much in the physical order. Whenever anything affects living
beings, then it cannot be counted small.

Four hundred years ago Michelangelo declared that "trifles make
perfection, but perfection is no trifle." No one had a better right to
an opinion in the matter than he, for he was the greatest sculptor
since the time of {158} the Greeks, one of the greatest architects who
ever lived, perhaps the greatest decorative artist in all history, as
the Sistine Chapel demonstrates, and he wrote sonnets of the highest
quality. If in the mind of so supreme an artist soul little things
count so much in making a great work of art, surely they must count
for a very great deal in making a moral masterpiece, or anything that
approaches it.

Michelangelo himself recognized over and over again in life what
bearing the trials and troubles of existence might have on building up
character for him and bringing him other than an earthly reward. He
once said to one of the popes, "If these fatigues which I endure do
not benefit my soul I lose both time and labor." There is a famous
sonnet of his in which he begs pardon of his Crucified God if he had
ever attributed to himself any of the glory which he ought to have
given to his Maker. If ever a man lived who had the right to have some
conceit of himself it was Michelangelo. When we look around and see
the little whippets who have monumental conceit and then think of
Michelangelo's deprecation of himself, it is easy to understand how he
must have suppressed--or, as they said in the older time,
mortified--his pride in order to keep his humility and not let any
self-exultation run away with him.

Mortification in its true sense is indeed much more a question of the
mind and the heart than of the body. Cultivating detachment from the
things around us means more than anything else. This mortification of
the spirit of man so that material possessions are not allowed to
crowd out the genuine good things of life is particularly important.
Nowadays people are so afraid to be poor, or indeed to lack anything
that their neighbors have, that {159} the principal efforts of life
are expended in "keeping up with the Smiths", or with some other
utterly insignificant people who happen to be making a display. I
suppose that every physician in a large city has known people who
actually denied themselves some of the necessaries of life in order to
wear a little better clothes, and of course every physician everywhere
sees people who deform their feet and disturb their organic health in
other ways trying to keep up with the fashions. The fear of being
thought to have less than other people and of having to deny oneself
something that happens to be fashionable is particularly rife in our
time and plays sad havoc with mental equanimity and with such
satisfaction with life as is the best safeguard of continued health.

There was a time centuries ago, under the Roman Empire, when money had
come to be as much thought of as in our own time, when the wealthy
went down to Naples in the winter, up to Como in the summer, had a
house at Ostia as well as a palace in Rome. It is easy to understand
that the people then as now failed to comprehend how any one could
possibly choose to be poor, even though thus he succeeded in putting
off the cares of wealth and gave himself an opportunity to live his
life for the sake of higher things.

Religion raised up men who went into voluntary poverty and restored
the dignity of labor, when manual work had become almost a disgrace,
by deliberately electing to occupy themselves with it for a certain
number of hours a day. Their example proved very precious, and as it
was mainly the young men who did it, they influenced deeply a series
of generations. The sons of the nobility as well as of professional
classes were represented among {160} these reformers who believed
first in reforming themselves, but along with them were young men of
all classes, and the barriers between the classes were thus lowered.
The cultivation of religious poverty proved the greatest kind of
blessing in the social order and has always meant much for the
amelioration of social conditions which it brings with it.

I suppose that the greatest possible benefit for health that could be
conferred on mankind at the present time would come from the
eradication of the mad strife for the possession of money which has
taken possession of so many men's minds. Our recent Great War was
precipitated by the struggle for markets and favored nations among
whom to distribute surplus industrial products so that certain nations
might go on piling up money. This is so badly distributed that serious
social disorders are impending. Men spend their lives getting money
and then leave it to their children, to hurt them physically and
morally. They take away incentive, and they provide the greatest
possible facilities for temptations. Justice Hughes said some years
ago, when governor of New York, "The main occupation of men in our
time seems to be the raising of a corruption fund for their children."

We need some of that poverty of spirit which Christianity brought in
with it when it was so sadly needed and which was cultivated with so
much success during the later Middle Ages, when the great scholars and
saintly characters who most deeply influenced the times were mainly
members of the mendicant orders, that is, of associations of men who
refused to own any possessions in order that they might have the time
to devote themselves to higher things and who depended on the {161}
work of their hands and the beneficence of the public to enable them
to continue their work. Their motto was plain living and high
thinking, and it is surprising how much they accomplished. The spirit
which made St. Francis of Assisi choose the Lady Poverty for his bride
and delight to call himself _Il poverello di Dio_, "the little poor
man of God", would seem to be entirely too impracticable and utterly
idealistic to have any interest for our time, and yet literally more
than a score of important lives of St. Francis have been written
during our generation. We are beginning to wake up to the realization
of the fact that "things are in the saddle and ride mankind", and that
things seem ever so much more important than thoughts, though it
requires no special intelligence to understand what an utter
contradiction of real values any such state of mind represents.

What is now needed above all is such detachment from the things around
us that we shall be poor in spirit. This is the element above all that
religion supplies. In the Sermon on the Mount, that greatest sermon
ever preached, the Master said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Certainly there is no straighter
road to heavenly peace than that, for a man may have great possessions
and yet be poor in spirit because he is detached from them and has
mortified his feelings with regard to them so that they do not puff
him up and make him vain (what striking old Saxon words those are), so
that he is able to use them not for himself alone but for the benefit
of the community.

The expression "poor in spirit" is not popular in our time and has
often been spoken of contemptuously. There are some who think that
actual poverty, as well as poverty of spirit, has a paralyzing effect
on human {162} incentive, but it is well to realize that there are a
good many serious thinkers in our generation who do not agree with
this impression but on the contrary feel that detachment from temporal
goods may well prove a source of the highest and best stimulation to
the accomplishment of what is really worth while in life. Some of them
express themselves rather strongly on the subject, and perhaps no one
has stated his mind more emphatically with regard to it than Professor
William James, who did not hesitate to declare just when money had
come to be apparently the most important thing in modern life: "Among
us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need
once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be
poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify
and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and
pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking
in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient
idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material
attachments; the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference; the paying
our way by what we are or do and not by what we have; the right to
fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly--the more athletic
trim, in short, the moral fighting shape. When we of the so-called
better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at
material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our
house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child
without a bank account, it is time for thinking men to protest against
so unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion.... I recommend this
matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain that the prevalent
fear of poverty among the {163} educated classes is the worst moral
disease from which our civilization suffers."

All the great religions have preached mortification. Some of them have
made it apparently of value in itself as working merit, but this was
practically always an abuse of the original idea that a man learned to
control himself by practicing hard things. Our generation resents even
the term "hard things" and does not like to hear "hard sayings",
though even that gentlest of human beings, the Divine Master, felt
that He had to use them. There can be no doubt at all, however, about
the benefit to be derived from enduring hard things. Every trainer who
hopes to have a winning team in any department of athletics knows that
he has to put them through hard things in order to enable them to
acquire power and make their energies available when they are needed.
Somehow people do not seem to realize that exactly the same thing is
necessary with regard to training of the will as for training of the
muscles, and that indeed training of the muscles is of itself
effective largely because of the training of the will connected with
it which makes the nervous system capable of reacting according to the
desires of the individual.

While we are so intent on making things easy for the young, let us not
forget that the best authorities on the subject of man's development
of his powers so as to make them available for life's purposes are
practically all agreed that the most important element in the
formation of character--and on character depends destiny--is the
having to go through hard things when one is young. In the chapter on
Suffering I have quoted Thucydides in this matter and its approval by
Gladstone and John Morley in our own time. We hear much of a favorable
{164} environment for young folks but most of what is so called
represents the worst possible set of influences for the development of

Professor Conklin of Princeton, in his volume on "Heredity and
Environment," which consists of lectures delivered on the Harris
Foundation of the Northwestern University and afterwards at Princeton,
and which therefore must be taken to represent the scientific thought
of our time, does not hesitate to say:

  "How often is it said that the worthless sons of worthy parents are
  mysteries; with the best of heredity and environment they amount to
  nothing, whereas the sons of poor and ignorant farmers, blacksmiths,
  tanners and backwoodsmen, with few opportunities and with many
  hardships and disadvantages, become world figures. Probably the
  inheritance in these last-named cases was no better than in the
  former, but the environment was better. 'Good environment' usually
  means easy, pleasant, refined surroundings, 'all the opportunities
  that money can buy', but little responsibility and none of that
  self-discipline which reveals the hidden powers and which alone
  should be counted good environment. Many schools and colleges are
  making the same mistake as the fond parents; luxury, soft living,
  irresponsibility are not only allowed, but are encouraged and
  endowed--and by such means it is hoped to bring out that in men
  which can only be born in travail."

Above all, mortification, that is, the suppressing of the natural
inclinations, must be practiced for health's sake as regards the
bearing of ills that have to be suffered anyhow, and in the
forbearance from passion when that would certainly prove physically
disturbing. "Bear and forbear" has been sometimes set down as the most
{165} important formula for life, and it is certainly as valuable for
the physical as for the moral side of humanity. The repression of the
natural tendencies is an extremely valuable practice for the
prevention of the many excesses which have so much to do with the
undermining of health. The man who controls himself and compels his
instincts to submit to correction and modification, even when that is
unnecessary, so far as any serious consideration is concerned, will
surely find himself in a position to resist natural proclivities to
evil which may easily be serious from the standpoint of health,
whenever they assert themselves.

Austerity is supposed to be old-fashioned and out of date, but all
those who want to get anything really worth while done in the world
know that they must deny themselves and their inclinations and work
out their ideas in lonely vigil and by hard work. Nothing that is easy
counts. When men do things that will be remembered they have devoted
themselves whole-heartedly to them to the exclusion of more attractive

Matthew Arnold, in his splendid sonnet on Austerity as the poet must
practice it, has brought this out very forcibly. He tells the story of
Jacopone da Todi, the author of the Stabat Mater, who, on his wedding
day, saw his bride of the morning killed by the fall of a stand at a
spectacle and found beneath her bridal robes a penitential garment. He
was so deeply impressed that he became a Franciscan and subsequently
the author of the famous hymn. Certainly pathos was never more
wondrously expressed than by this man whose own austerities, initiated
by the example of his beloved bride, made him ready to strip himself
of every trivial interest in the cult of the eternal verities.


  "That son of Italy who tried to blow,
  Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,
  In his light youth amid a festal throng
  Sate with his bride to see a public show.
  Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow
  Youth like a star; and what to youth belong--
  Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong.
  A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo,
  'Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay!
  Shuddering, they drew her garments off--and found
  A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.
  Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
  Radiant, adorn'd, outside; a hidden ground
  Of thought and of austerity within."

So far from mortification being in any sense of the word an
old-fashioned, worn-out practice, good enough for the foolish people
of the dark ages who had nothing better to think of, it is, in so far
as it brings about training of the will and exercise in self-denial
and self-control, the most important element in education at all
times. We have unfortunately been neglecting it, but that neglect is
the real trouble with our modern education. Nearly every one who talks
about education has some mental panacea for it; but the trouble lies
deeper than that. It is the education of the will that has
unfortunately been neglected and that requires, to cite once more the
Century definition, the subduing of appetites, even though painful
severities should have to be inflicted on the body.

Huxley, in his address on "A Liberal Education; and Where to Find It",
delivered before the South London Workingmen's College, has a passage
in which he brings this out very well. Almost needless to say Huxley
was the farthest possible from being medievally minded, and {167} yet
he placed the essence of a liberal education in will power over self
rather than in intellectual development, or above all the accumulation
of information. He said:

  "That man, I think, has had a liberal education who has been so
  trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, and
  does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is
  capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with all
  its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order; ready, like
  a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work and spin the
  gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind; whose mind is
  stored with a knowledge of the great and fundamental truths of
  nature and of the laws of her operations; one who, no stunted
  ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to
  come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience;
  who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to
  hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself.

  "Such an one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal education;
  for he is, as completely as a man can be, in harmony with nature."




The most important rule of conduct for health is the avoidance of
excesses of any and every kind. Men have recognized this fact for as
long as the memory of the race runs. The instruction of Ptah Hotep,
the letter of advice from a father to his son, written by the vizier
of King Itosi in the fifth dynasty in Egypt, something over five
thousand years ago, which is often called the oldest book in the
world, emphasizes particularly the necessity for the avoidance of
excess in all things. Self-control and self-denial are held up as the
highest attributes of man. One of the seven wise men of Greece adopted
as his contribution to the wisdom of mankind "avoid excess." A
favorite maxim of the Romans was _ne quid nimis_, "let there be
nothing too much"; and another favorite expression of theirs was _in
medio tutissimus ibis_, "you will go most safely if you follow the
mean" (and not either extreme).

The most powerful factor for securing the avoidance of excess among
men has always been religion. The four cardinal virtues are prudence,
justice, fortitude and temperance, and the last is considered by no
means the least. Almost needless to say, by temperance was meant not
only abstinence from excessive drinking and eating, but that
moderation and self-control in all things which the ancients
recognized as the most important factor in human life, and which
religion, trying to perfect {169} nature by grace, set forth as one of
the cardinal or "hinge" qualities on which the whole of a good life
swings. When reason and not impulse, when virtue and not passion, when
strength of character and not weakness rule a man's life, the motives
which impel him or, as we would rather say in our modern knowledge of
psychology, stimulate him to action and enable him to accomplish what
he desires in so important a matter are drawn much oftener from
religion than from any other source.

Religion has done more than anything else to make people rational in
their lives and not merely the sport of their impulses and instincts.
Men are animals, but possessed of reason, though reason can be
obscured to a great extent or even almost completely eclipsed by the
impulses that arise from the lower nature of man. Religion has above
all helped to make men think of others who are so often hurt by their
unreason rather than themselves, and has helped to keep them from

Abernethy, the distinguished surgeon who impressed himself so deeply
on the history of medicine in London at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, was accustomed to say that the two great killing
powers in the world are stuff and fret,--in a word, eating too much
and worrying about things, most of which will never happen. Satisfying
the desires of mankind and fostering their dreads will do more to wear
out life before its time than anything else. Religion represents the
ever present signpost pointing away from travel in either of these
directions. Men do not heed her warnings very often until they have
gone so far on the road of life that some of their powers have been
lost because of their neglect, but at least they can recognize then
that the signposts are {170} always in place, and that they saw them,
and that it was their own fault if they did not follow them.

Homer, three thousand years ago, told the poetic story of the men who
had been turned into swine by Circe and who, though swine, knew that
they were men, but could not get back to the use of their reason. The
similitude lies so close that it is perfectly clear that the idea
behind the old myth of the goddess who invited men to share swinish
pleasures and secured such control over them that they could not get
back their reason again was the goddess of lubricity. Ulysses himself
had to abstain from the indulgence that had captivated his men, and
then he had to come to their assistance with the herb _moly_ which,
revealed to him by one of the gods, enabled him to turn Circe's
victims back to men again. The old Fathers of the Church used to
emphasize the fact that this herb _moly_ represented grace, for
without divine assistance it is almost impossible for men who have
given themselves over to the pleasures of the body to win back
self-control again. Men may recognize their unfortunate state yet be
unable to set themselves right. No wonder the Church Fathers
proclaimed the story as told by Homer to be one of the prefigurements
of Christian symbol which showed that the old poet was, in a certain
way at least, a messenger from celestial powers carrying on the
tradition of Providence in the world.

It is a commonplace among physicians that the so-called pleasures of
life indulged in to excess are much more prone to be followed by ill
health than is the hard work of existence, no matter how apparently
trying the work may be. We hear much of hard work shortening life and
of bringing on states of exhaustion in which health is at a low ebb,
but physicians find it very difficult to collect {171} cases that
illustrate any such effects of hard work. Some of our hardest workers,
men who have devoted themselves to half a dozen different difficult
tasks with an ardor that made other men wonder how they could possibly
stand it, have lived to even advanced old age. I have personally known
about a dozen physicians who lived to eighty-five or beyond, and all
of them without exception had been very hard workers when they were
young. Distinguished generals often live to a good old age; though not
infrequently they have been shot to pieces when they were young,
wounded a number of times during life, yet, like Lord Roberts, Sir
Evelyn Wood and Von Moltke, they have lived well beyond eighty years
of age, active and capable until the very end.

The ill effect of hard work is a fetish created by people who are
themselves afraid of hard work. Hard play has killed many more men
than hard work. Concentrated efforts to compress into life all the
possible pleasure that one can secure will break a man down sooner
than anything else in the world. Such a breakdown is usually thorough
and seldom is followed by complete and enduring recovery. Hard
physical work, on the contrary, performed under any reasonably
favorable circumstances, is a factor conducive to health and strength
and long life, and this is particularly true if it is accomplished in
the open. The devotee of pleasure is notably shortlived. Work,
according to the Scriptural expression, was imposed as a curse on man,
but it has been very well said, "if when the Lord curses they turn to
blessings this way, what must it not be when He blesses?" No wonder
that we say, "Blessed is the man who has found his work." The more
experience a man has had, the more he recognizes this truth. Work is
one of the most precious {172} resources for men in the world, while
pleasure, unless carefully guarded from excess, can be the worst of
curses. Though so costly, so much sought after and so often even
looked forward to as the reward for work, pleasure is but seldom
satisfying and is often followed by remorse which proves disturbing to
both mind and body. The deterioration of constitution brought about by
the physical consequences of pleasures indulged in to excess must be
counted among the most serious factors for ill health to which
humanity is subject.

Doctor Carroll, in his "Mastery of Nervousness", says very well, "the
danger of overwork is far less common than that of underwork.... Close
observation brings the conviction that the great majority claiming
overwork as the reason for their nervous deficiency are the victims
not of earnest productive work itself but of defective methods of work
discounted by haste, stress and strain, by impatience, worry and
fear." In a word nervous breakdown, when it comes to a busy man or
woman, is due ever so much more to the irritable state of mind into
which they get in the midst of their press of work than to the work
itself. The feeling of haste is ever so much more dangerous than the
actual hurry. The mistakes that are made under these circumstances are
great wasters of time and of energy and disturbers of morale, until a
feeling of impotence grows on one and then becomes inveterate. As a
matter of fact a great many people who break down do so not during the
stress of work but afterwards, when they have the leisure to look back
on it and think about it and wonder why they did not break down, and
while their friends keep sympathizing with them and they have the
chance to let their self-pity cause the crumpling of their character.


Premature old age, that is, the precocious hardening of the arteries,
for "a man is as old as his arteries", came particularly, the older
physicians used to say, to the devotees of the three pagan deities,
Venus, Bacchus and Vulcan. That is, senility came before it was due in
the order of nature to those who indulged in venery or in wine and its
almost inevitable accompaniment, overeating, and then to the man who
did such hard physical work as the blacksmith does, for Vulcan, it may
be recalled, was the blacksmith among the gods. In this enumeration
two out of three of the factors unfavorable for health come from the
pleasures of life; but I think there is no doubt in the minds of
physicians that if a comparison in the number of patients whose
ailments were the consequences of the worship of the deities named
were to be made, there would be found ten times as many men who became
prematurely old or suffered from the development of organic affections
because of wine and venereal disease as from hard physical labor.

Aneurysm is the one form of arterial degeneration to which the hard
worker is particularly liable, and the more we have learned of that
the more we have come to realize very clearly that while the hard work
was the immediate occasion, the real underlying cause of the
degeneration of arteries that led to the development of the aneurysm
was to be found in some overindulgence. The French physicians
sometimes said satirically that overwork of the heart much more than
of the head or the hands laid the foundation on which aneurysm
developed, for it occurs oftenest on a luetic basis.

Practically all the degenerative diseases affecting heart, arteries,
kidneys and brain are due to excesses. The excesses of life are
counted by religion among the deadly {174} sins. Pride, anger,
covetousness, lust, gluttony, envy and sloth,--all these represent
indulgence in evil passions that very readily affect the body.
Religion has constantly used all its influence to overcome them and
has succeeded better than any other single factor in life. It is
perfectly possible to have a veneer of religion and be a miser or a
glutton or a very devil of pride, but real religion of the heart,
while it does not eradicate the tendency that exists in human nature
toward these unfortunate qualities, helps the possessor of them
materially to control them and to keep his passions in subjection.

In this control of excesses religion has been an extremely important
factor for health. It is true that many other factors, human respect,
worldly consideration, preservation of one's own dignity and similar
non-religious factors have had a like influence. Occasionally indeed
it would seem as though mere respectability had more to do with
preventing men and women from making exhibitions of themselves by the
public commission of sin than even religion itself. This would appear
to be surely true if different strata of society were compared with
each other. If, for instance, the working classes who practice their
religion and the better-to-do classes who perhaps neglect it were to
be compared in these regards, the contrast would favor the latter as a
rule, but any such comparison would be eminently odious. There is no
doubt that mere human motives can be effective, but the value of
religion should be gauged from its effect on people who are living in
the same circumstance. The vast majority of the very poor have found
religion a sheet anchor of veritable salvation under circumstances
where sin would have been not only not a disadvantage but actually
have proved of material benefit to them. While, on the other hand,
many {175} a well-to-do person lacking religion has fallen into sin in
spite of the fact that every human motive spoke emphatically against
their commission of it.

Religion has been particularly helpful in the neutralization of
temptations to excess in the matter of alcoholic liquor. Father
Matthew's great crusade in Ireland, England and this country enlisted
millions of people under the banner of temperance and helped
marvelously in enabling the world to understand that the serious evils
connected with the liquor traffic were by no means inevitable, but
could be repressed to a great extent by simple personal appeals which
called to the manhood of men and made them understand their own power
to throw off the shackles of what to them seemed an unconquerable
habit by a serious act of the will. The immense amount of suffering
that was thus saved to the women and children of men who had been
accustomed to drink a considerable portion or sometimes practically
all of their wages and leave their families to get on as best they
might is almost incalculable.

A still more important result of Father Matthew's work was the
demonstration that men who are the victims of even such a habit and
craving as that which is produced by indulgence in liquor may break it
completely by a single powerful act of the will, when to that is added
the strong suggestion that they will surely be helped by divine favor
to accomplish what they have purposed. Literally hundreds of thousands
of men under Father Matthew's inspiration, and touched by the example
of others around them, broke off once and for all from liquor habits
to which they had been enslaved sometimes for years.

Professor William James in his essay on the "Energies of Men" first
published in the _American Magazine_ under {176} the title of "Powers
of Men" (October, 1907)--it was originally the presidential address
delivered before the American Philosophical Association and therefore
written not for popular reading, but as a serious contribution to
science--has on this, as on many other subjects, a paragraph that is
valuable in this regard. It is not only interesting but is eminently
suggestive with regard to the effect that can be produced on a man by
deep emotion, and when that emotion is based on profound religious
feeling it can be not only immediate but extremely enduring in its
effect. This is what proved to be the case for the vast majority of
those who took the pledge from Father Matthew.

Professor James said: "The normal opener of deeper and deeper levels
of energy is the will. The difficulty is to use it, to make the effort
which the word volition implies. But if we do make it (or if a god,
though he were only the god Chance, makes it through us), it will act
dynamogenically on us for a month. It is notorious that a single
successful effort of moral volition, such as saying 'no' to some
habitual temptation, or performing some courageous act will launch a
man on a higher level of energy for days and weeks, will give him a
new range of power. 'In the act of uncorking the whiskey bottle which
I had brought home to get drunk upon,' said a man to me, 'I suddenly
found myself running out into the garden, where I smashed it on the
ground. I felt so happy and uplifted after this act, that for two
months I wasn't tempted to touch a drop.'"

Nothing is so capable of giving a fillip to a sluggish will, arousing
it to efforts that even its possessor never dreamt it capable of, as
religion. The change of life known as conversion has not infrequently
revolutionized an existence that seemed hopelessly and helplessly
committed {177} to the baser aims of living. Instances are in every
one's experience, and the veriest self-missioned exhorter has many of
them to his credit.

Religion has listed temperance among the four cardinal virtues, and
though it is usually named the last--prudence, justice, fortitude and
temperance--it is considered by no means the least in importance, and
the cardinal virtues, as the etymology of their descriptive epithet
signifies, are literally the "hinge virtues" on which the religious
life depends. Religion has not, however, ever favored that complete
prohibition of the use of the milder alcoholic beverages which have
such a definite place in life. Life is, as a rule, too hard a thing
for most people without the opportunity for escape from the tension of
existence represented by mild alcoholic stimulation. At the very
beginning of Christianity Paul advised his disciple Timothy to take a
little wine for the stomach's sake, and in this religion is only
helping nature, provided there is no abuse, for natural digestion is
accompanied by the production of a certain amount of dilute alcohol.
Absolute prohibition of very natural indulgences that are not in
themselves wrong is so likely to be followed by a reaction in the
opposite direction that abuses are almost sure to occur. Temperance
and not prohibition represents the true religious aspect of this

Unfortunately very serious abuses had followed the interesting
developments of modern human ingenuity in the making of strong
liquors. Natural processes only make liquors of various kinds that do
no harm unless taken in great excess and that have a very special
place in the human economy. From the abuses no argument holds against
the use, but it was the very reaction produced in religious minds
against the serious associations of {178} the drink traffic that led
to the enactment of laws against it. In themselves they represent a
great benefit for humanity, for it is perfectly sure that we shall
never want the saloon back again, nor the free consumption of strong
alcoholic liquors which are not stimulants but narcotics and have done
not so much physical harm as moral harm. They have caused the workman
to neglect his family and bring them very often to the point of
starvation; they have filled our jails, have made the need for charity
greater than it would otherwise be; have fomented passion and only too
often encouraged vice, and we must never have them back. Even the
exaggerated religious reaction has done great positive good, and when
it settles down to moderation in prohibitive laws we will set a
magnificent example for the rest of the world, the first hints of
which are already manifest.

What is true for the alcoholic craving can be just as true for
addictions of all kinds and particularly for drug addictions. In our
day a great crusade is needed for the relief of this evil, for in
spite of efforts at repression, drug addictions are growing in
frequency rather than decreasing. We have tried to use material
repressive measures and have failed. It is time for us to realize that
there remain moral and religious motives, appeal to which can produce
almost incredibly strong effects. These can prove effective against
many of the most unfortunate habits of mankind which are likely to
turn out extremely deleterious to health if persisted in. Religion can
thus be a source of power--virtue is the word the Romans used for this
and its full form is not translated by our English word virtue any
more--to help in the neutralization of human tendencies more prone
than any others to shorten life or be the origin of serious disease.


It would be too bad to reduce religion to the rôle of merely a
scavenger of bad habits, a sweeper up of the unconsidered trifles
which if allowed to act tend to the deterioration of physical
existence, but what happens when religion does bring about improvement
in the victims of these unfortunate habits is that a great new
incentive is given to life, and men, realizing what they have been
rescued from, may now turn the new energies they have found to great
purposes. Some of these at least have learned to devote themselves
unstintedly to work for others which proves a source of the greatest
possible good. How many a rescued drunkard has, after reform, given
himself whole-heartedly to helping others out of various unfortunate
conditions in which both body and soul were being pulled down to the
very lowest that was in them. Some of these "rescued" ones for twenty
or more years devoted themselves, in the midst of what might have
seemed almost inevitably compelling temptations to their former
habits, to the care for others until their names became household
words in the great cities of their time because of the good they were
accomplishing. Jerry Macaulay was an example of this that New York
will not soon forget, but we have had many humbler fellow workers of

The human will, stimulated by religious motives, can change the whole
course of man's life when his character would seem to have made it
inevitable that this could not be changed for the better. How true the
maxim of conduct in life is: "plant an act and reap a habit; plant a
habit and reap a character; plant a character and reap a destiny."
What seemed the almost unescapable destiny of many men has been
changed by the influence of religion over habits, so that a natural
disposition which by habit {180} had become a personality fraught with
evil for self and others has been changed into an individual that
proves an asset instead of a liability to the community.

Not only in the matter of substances harmful in themselves, but in
those which though good and even necessary when taken in moderation,
yet are greatly harmful when consumed in excess, the regulations of
religion have been particularly helpful to mankind. Fasting has been
encouraged and indeed set down as an absolute obligation for all those
who are in health. Mortification, that is, self-denial with regard to
things that people like very much, was counseled and the counsels so
often repeated that people were almost sure to practice some of them
and many were taken quite seriously to heart. Moderation in eating was
advised at all times, and any serious excess set down as gluttony, one
of the seven deadly sins. How much the religious counsels against
excess may be needed nowadays even with regard to things quite
harmless or even valuable for mankind will perhaps be best appreciated
from the present status of sugar consumption in the world. One hundred
and twenty-five years ago a few thousand tons of sugar supplied all
the needs of mankind. Now nearly twenty-five million of tons are
scarcely sufficient to maintain prices for the commodity at a level
low enough so that people may continue to buy it in the quantities
they desire.

Sugar is an artificial product made from starchy substances, not
unlike alcohol in certain ways and capable of doing at least as much
physical harm as alcohol. There are at the present time half a million
people in this country who either have now or will have before they
die, diabetes. This is a serious disease; when it occurs under thirty
it is practically always fatal. Under forty it may shorten life {181}
seriously. It always greatly weakens the individual and makes him
subject to certain other serious diseases. We need self-control in the
use of sugar; the habit of taking it grows on one.

The use of sugar and milk in tea and coffee is an occidental abuse
that the orientals who originally began the drinking of these
substances find it extremely difficult to understand. Tea with milk
and sugar in it a Chinaman would be likely to think of as sweetened
milk soup. The reason for adding milk and sugar was to cover up the
defective qualities in poor tea or coffee, or mistakes in their making
by which certain bitter astringent principles not meant to be in
solution had their taste covered up by the sweet milkiness. The habit
of using tea without sugar often formed by the practice of a little
mortification would probably result in more good than merely the
absence of the sugar.

Every one of the seven deadly sins represents excesses in bodily or
mental propensities against which religion set up the attitude of
utter disapproval and pointed out their inevitable tendency to part a
man from what was best in him. Teaching children from their early
years that pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth
were serious offenses made for an early realization of the necessity
for guarding against them. All of them represent extremely unfavorable
factors for health. Pride goes before a fall, and the disappointments
which it almost inevitably brings with it represent more occasions for
depression and melancholic tendencies than almost anything else. The
inordinate desire for money has brought down on many a man serious
nervous prostration. With regard to lust and its awful consequences to
health nothing need be said here, and not much needs to be said {182}
even in the chapter on Purity. We have had its baneful effects dinned
into our ears particularly in recent years. Anger is not so serious,
and yet many an older man especially has shortened his life quite
materially by giving away to ungovernable bursts of temper. Nervous
people who do not control their tempers often suffer from serious lack
of nerve control as a consequence of their lapses of temper. Gluttony
has already been touched on and needs no illustration as to its
extremely bad effect on health. Envy often makes most of the functions
of the body perform their work incompletely because nothing so
disturbs even such apparently purely physical functions as digestion
and nutritional metabolism generally as the wearing of a grouch. The
grouchy man almost never digests well and quite inevitably his state
of mind interferes with other functions. Little need be said about
sloth and its effect upon health but the fact that from the very
earliest times religion has pointed out that the mere doing of nothing
could of itself become a serious, even capital offense, for a healthy
person represented an excellent stimulus to that activity of mind and
body which is so important for health. It is only lately that we have
come to realize how dangerous a remedy rest may be, to be prescribed
with great care, for it is a habit-producing remedy nearly as risky as
opium and never to be prescribed on any general principles. There has
been ten times as much harm done to health by rest as by vigorous
exercise or even hard work. The hard workers are nearly all long
lived, but the sons and daughters of rest pass away from the scene,
not of their labors, but of their languors, rather early, as a rule.

Religion then has been an extremely valuable factor for the control of
excesses, or at least for their limitation, {183} and thus has been of
great significance for health. Religious counsels and prohibitions
have not entirely prevented excesses even in those who were adherents
of religion, for man is so constituted that it is not quite possible
to have all men follow the wiser course. Even the best of men have to
confess, like St. Paul, that sometimes, though they know the better
path, they follow the worse. If to do good were as easy as it is to
know what it is good to do, life would be a much simpler matter. Not
knowledge, but will power is needed, and religious practice builds
this up and strengthens the will so that it is able to resist many
temptations that would otherwise prove difficult to surmount. The
contest between good and evil has gone on in spite of religion, and
will go on, but there is no doubt at all that evil would have
accomplished much more of harm only for the help that religion has
been to mankind, and this has been particularly manifest in the
limitation of the excesses which so often prove detrimental to health.

The old saw of English tradition which in some form or other is many
centuries old is well worth recalling in this regard.

  "Virtue, temperance and repose
  Slam the door on the doctor's nose."

We hear much of the vicious circles that are formed by which things go
from worse to worse, one unfavorable factor helping on another, but we
forget apparently that there are virtuous circles according to which
"all things work together for good." This means good not only for the
soul and the mind, but also for the body and for health. Religion
makes for health and health promotes religion, and the virtuous circle
is completed.




Nothing has worked so much detriment to the health of mankind for many
centuries as the habits that may be generalized under the term
impurity. Until recent years it has been the custom to suppress the
knowledge of the immense physical evil that was being worked to
humanity by the venereal diseases. A generation ago it was only
imperfectly known, but now we recognize that no set of diseases are
more important for the race and its health than those which usually
occur as the direct result of violations of the moral code. Their
ravages have increased just in proportion to the gradual diminution of
the influence of religion during the past few generations. They have
probably worked greater havoc on the better classes than on the poorer
classes. There are nations like the Irish, over whom religion has a
strong hold, in which the injury worked by these diseases has been
almost negligible. There have been classes of men like the clergymen,
deeply under the influence of religion, who have escaped almost
entirely the awful, destructive effects of these affections. We have
only just waked up to the realization of how much this element of
conduct, so profoundly influenced by religion, has meant for suffering
and death among men.

In spite of the fact that there was a conspiracy of silence with
regard to the venereal diseases, something of their {185} fearful
effectiveness in adding to mortality lists came to be known, at least
by those who were interested in the subject, a generation ago. Though
every possible excuse was taken not to list death as due to these
diseases during the twenty-five years before nineteen hundred, when,
just after the smug mid-Victorian period, the conspiracy of silence
was at its highest and was particularly hide-bound in England, no less
than sixty thousand deaths from venereal disease were registered by
the English registrar general. Nearly twenty-five thousand of these
were females. Over two thousand deaths a year is a pretty heavy toll,
but such statistics give only the very faintest hint of the awful
ravages of these diseases. It is not alone death that occurs as a
consequence of them but long years of suffering and crippling of
various kinds, the blinding of children and the birth of dead or
idiotic children, or of other poor little ones who grow up to be
epileptic or to become insane in early adult life, or to exhibit other
sad marks of the diseases of their parents.

Civil statistics of these diseases mean very little, especially in
English-speaking countries, because of our prudery with regard to
them. Army medical statistics, however, have had to be rigorously kept
because of the amount of military inefficiency due to these
affections. The statistics of the last generation in England show that
it was not an unusual thing for nearly one in four of the soldiers in
a regiment to be admitted to the hospital each year because of
venereal disease. Actually nearly one in five of the effective
strength of regiments was constantly in a hospital because of these
diseases. It is improbable that soldiers are notably more immoral than
civilians of the same class, except that perhaps there has been in the
army a tradition of greater contempt for these affections. So {186}
far as large cities are concerned, many good medical authorities are
convinced that the average young men of the population suffer to about
the same extent as soldiers. Actually something more than three out of
five in the English army suffered at some time from these diseases,
and as they are extremely difficult to cure and often continue to have
serious effects for years, as well as being contagious for others, we
get some idea of what an immense amount of harm has been worked by

It might possibly be thought that conditions in America were better
than in Europe in this regard, but our experience during the war did
not justify any such optimism. Nearly six per cent of the men
mobilized for the army in the United States actually showed signs of
these diseases when they were admitted for examination on arrival in
camp. This percentage does not include those who had been cured prior
to their examination. From some of the cities of this country the
proportion of young men actually suffering at the time of their
enlistment from these diseases was more than one in ten, and from
certain of the southern cities it actually approached very close to
one in five. According to the statement of the Surgeon General of the
War Department, diseases due to impurity constituted the greatest
cause of disability in the army. When the physicians were given the
opportunity to make a more careful examination of the second million
of the draft than had been possible for the first, the percentage of
diseased men ran up notably, in spite of the fact that warnings in the
matter led a great many of those who were drafted to seek proper
treatment before presenting themselves at the camps.

We have waked up at last to something like the full significance of
these diseases in the destruction of the race. {187} The American
Social Hygiene Association in its Publication No. 250, "Conquering an
Old Enemy", dared to tell the story of these affections very
straightforwardly. There are many physicians connected with this
association and its opinions are thoroughly conservative and not at
all hysterical. We get a striking idea of the destructiveness of these
diseases from an early paragraph of the publication:

  "In these United States and in this year of peace 1920, more lives
  than the whole empire of Great Britain lost during any year of the
  Great War will be flicked out by two diseases which are curable and
  preventable diseases. Nor will the year 1920 stand alone. In the
  four and a half years of intensive warfare between 1914 and 1918,
  the fifteen civilized nations which fought at Armageddon gave to
  these twin scourges a heavier toll than they did to bullets, shells,
  gas, air-bombs, all the ghastly, wholesale killers of modern

The more important of these diseases is estimated by authorities to
kill annually in the United States more than 300,000 people. It is far
more deadly than tuberculosis and carries off every year nearly, if
not quite, as many lives as influenza at the height of its
epidemicity. France lost during the four years and four months of
Armageddon 1,350,000 lives in battle. We lost almost as many during
the same time from this affection which a few years ago we were
ostrich-like hiding from ourselves by refusing to look at it. The
other of these affections is probably responsible for more serious
suffering in women and female complaints that require operation as
well as blindness in children than any other single factor that we
have in modern life. There is no element that has so seriously
interfered with the simple joys of existence, the {188} raising of
children and family life in peace and happiness, as this affection.

When it is realized how many complications and sequelae may develop
from these diseases, but above all how much harm may be done to
innocent wives and children, some notion of the suffering that has
thus been inflicted on mankind will be obtained. The one significant
factor in the control of this source of ill health has been religion.
Just in proportion as religion has lost its hold over the rising
generation, there has been a marked increase in this particular mode
of ill health. The only effective brake on human passion has been
religious feeling, but above all religious training. If religion had
done nothing else than limit to a noteworthy extent the irregular
living consequent upon yielding to passion, that would be sufficient
of itself to make not only personal but community health greatly
indebted to religion. Other motives have at times been appealed to and
sometimes with apparently good results for the time being, but never
with any enduring effectiveness against the flood tide of feeling
which comes over those who have had no practice in self-repression and
who have not learned to appeal to the higher motives to help them in
this matter.

For a great many young men, "sowing their wild oats" has been sowing a
crop of seeds whose products have meant the ruination of their own
lives, but unfortunately also only too often of the lives of their
future wives and their unborn children. We know now that the great
majority of all the blind children in our blind asylums owe their
blindness to one of these venereal affections. Three out of five at
least of the imbeciles and epileptics in our institutions derive their
mental trouble from the other {189} of these diseases. We hear a good
deal about young folks "seeing life", but for many the process which
has been thus lightly glossed over should be described literally as
"seeing death."

Since the unfortunate breakdown of religion to a considerable extent
in the last few generations and its tendency to change into a mere
social influence at most, there has been a great increase in the
prevalence of these diseases. Some of this is undoubtedly due to our
modern city life and its temptations, but the individual attitude
toward life means more. St. Theresa said, "When the individual is well
grounded in faith, the temptation means little." An attempt has been
made to control the power of temptations and repress the passions of
men by other means. Above all, knowledge of the awful sex disease
dangers which they were running has been turned to as a hopeful remedy
in this matter. It was thought that young folks could be terrified by
the knowledge of the hideous possible consequences of their acts into
avoiding the lapses which occasion them.

In spite of the fact that practically all of our prominent
psychologists have opposed any such method as this, a great many
people who have very little right to an opinion have insisted that
this policy must be followed in our schools. There is probably nothing
that could do more harm than this. The diffusion of the knowledge of
the immense amount of serious, even fatal, disease consequent upon sex
irregularities suddenly thrust upon the world has made a great many
people a little hysterical and has tempted them to turn to remedies
which are not only not likely to be helpful but are almost sure to be
vicious in their consequences. It is like finding {190} that a child
has swallowed some poison and in the excitement administering another
with the vague hope that one may neutralize the other.

Professor Foerster of the department of psychology and ethics at the
University of Munich does not hesitate to say that such teaching is
sure to do harm and not good. He has suggested that "in making use of
the intellect to restrain sex instincts there is every danger of the
intellect itself, through excessive familiarization with details of
such knowledge, being captured and employed in the service of the
enemy." He praises the older teachers, "The great educators of the
past who have all been instinctively aware of this truth and have
hence strongly insisted on the importance of cultivating a sense of
shame; for they have realized that the chief task of sexual education
is not to attract the attention of the young to sex matters, but as
far as possible to distract them from it."

Professor Münsterberg of Harvard University took very strong ground
against the teaching of sex hygiene in public schools and stated his
opinion quite as emphatically as Professor Foerster that such
teaching, even though it be given with the best of intentions, is sure
to do much more harm than good. He said: "The cleanest boy and girl
cannot give theoretical attention to the thoughts concerning sexuality
without the whole mechanism for reinforcement automatically entering
into action. We may instruct with the best intention to suppress, and
yet our instruction itself must become a source of stimulation which
unnecessarily creates a desire for improper conduct. The policy of
silence showed an instinctive understanding of this fundamental
situation. Even if that traditional policy had had no {191} positive
purpose, its negative function, its leaving at rest the explosive
sexual system of the youth, must be acknowledged as one of those
wonderful instinctive procedures by which society protects itself....

"A nation which tries to lift its sexual morality by dragging the
sexual problems to the street for the inspection of the crowd without
shyness and without shame, and which wilfully makes them objects of
gossip and stage entertainment is doing worse than Munchausen when he
tried to lift himself by his scalp."

It would be perfectly easy to give many other quotations from
prominent psychologists who agree with Foerster and Münsterberg in
this matter. What is forgotten is how large a rôle suggestion plays in
all matters relating to conduct, but particularly sex conduct. The
exhibition of such ordinary crimes as "second-story work", climbing
porches in order to steal while the family are at meals, the picking
of pockets and the like, on the reels of moving pictures has been
found to be followed over and over again by the occurrence of such
crimes among the boys and even the girls in the neighborhood where the
exhibition was given. Girls see a woman's reticule cleverly rifled in
a street car or on a crowded corner and, tempted by the cleverness of
it, they are led to imitate the action. In many cities the police
refuse to allow such reels to be exhibited unless the punishment for
the crime completes the picture. Even with this, however, it has been
found that such exhibitions prove criminally suggestive, for the young
folks remember the cleverness and think of the fun that one can have
with the money, while the punishment is, if not forgotten, at least so
pushed into the background of memory as to have comparatively little
deterrent effect.


If this is true with regard to indifferent actions of this kind, the
temptations to which are more or less artificial or but of
comparatively slight allurement, it is easy to understand how serious
and profound can be the suggestive power of sex knowledge for which
there is likely to be so prurient a curiosity and with regard to which
there are in the best-regulated healthy individuals, bodily stirrings
almost as soon as the mind begins to be occupied with them. For that
is the danger,--that even in the best of men the physical sex impulse
may be awakened. In those who for professional reasons are quite
familiar with sex matters, as for instance the physician, the dwelling
on sex subjects even in matters of disease may arouse physical
elements in the system, and these may react to deepen the attention
until other considerations may be quite pushed into the background of
consciousness. If this is true for older people, how much more so for
the young, who have not yet been disillusioned on sex subjects and
whose inhibitions are likely to be so much weaker. A great many of the
people who are so intent on sex education apparently do not realize
that their very tendency to occupy themselves with this subject so
much is due to unconscious physical stirrings within themselves,
consequent upon the preoccupation of mind with these subjects to the
exclusion of healthier considerations.

The imparting of knowledge often serves only to awaken sleeping
passions unsuspected before in the organism. Everyday experience shows
how little knowledge helps. The people whose sex divagations get most
frequently into our courts are those between thirty-five and fifty
years of age. There is no question at all that they know enough to
keep them right if knowledge made {193} for righteousness. I have said
elsewhere, and I know it to be true, that medical students, in spite
of their knowledge of the consequences of venery, are not better, but
on the average a little worse in these matters than other students in
the universities. Their knowledge, like all knowledge, acts as a
suggestion to evil much more than as a protection against vice. When
temptation comes they are likely to think of the possibility of
avoiding the worst evils and of the powers of medicine, and anyhow
youth always feels in the expressive French phrase. _On meurt! les
autres!_ People die! Oh, yes, other people.

The one factor in life that will give the most precious aid in the
protection of humanity against sexual temptations is religion. All the
higher religions have emphasized the virtue of purity, that is, of
freedom from sex vice, as of the greatest importance. For Christianity
this has been a corner stone of the spiritual life without which
righteousness, to use the good old-fashioned word which indicated that
a man went "right" in life, was impossible. We are a little afraid of
these old-fashioned religious words in our time, and we use such
expressions as "go straight", somewhat as during the war the soldiers
used the expression "go west" in order not to have to mention the
solemn word death, but the old-fashioned words express exactly the
meaning that we want, and they often carry valuable suggestion with
them. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ held out His highest rewards
in heaven for those who practiced purity. He insisted, however, not on
purity of body alone, but on purity of mind and heart when He said,
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God."

The head master of Harrow, the great public school {194} in England,
proclaimed a very great truth that we all know, but need to be
reminded of, when he said to his young men at Harrow that "The Bible
does not so much speak as thunder against impurity, and it is no
injustice to a secularistic morality to say that purity received from
the lips of Jesus Christ a dignity, nay, a paramount authority which
it cannot receive from human lips. Nor is personal chastity the same
thing if it be taken to be a sanitary, or conventional, or moral
practice, as if it be a duty resulting from the sanctity of the body
as the temple of the indwelling Spirit of God."

Doctor Norman Porritt, in his book on "Religion and Health", does not
hesitate to say that religion is the only factor that can be helpful
in this extremely important matter of the prophylaxis of sex disease.
He goes so far as to say that "Give to the tempted the reinforcement
of religion, and you place him in a position well-nigh impregnable."
It has been well said that if the man who first wrote "honesty is the
best policy" meant that people should be honest because that was sure
to rebound to their own benefit in the end, he was a rascal at heart.
In something the same way Doctor Porritt suggests that to teach that
purity is the best policy is to take an extremely low motive for the
purpose of combating one of the most alluring temptations that man
has. He says very emphatically and yet surely with a great deal of
common sense: "And what is to be the remedy for the scourge which is
incapacitating and crippling a fifth part of the nation's manhood,
checking the natural expansion of population and sweeping unknown
thousands to untimely graves? There are many remedies. We may look to
the creation of a public sentiment which shall regard immorality as a
disgraceful thing, to be {195} ashamed of rather than proud of; we may
learn to point the finger of scorn at the tempter as readily as we
spurn his victim; we may prove, both by precept and our own example,
that chastity is compatible with health, and that impurity--even when
no gross disease follows--tends to deterioration and disorder; that
the reasoning which gives a sanatory sanction to immorality and vice
is a subtle sophistry. We may cultivate the manly exercises and stamp
out impurity by wholesome books, elevating amusements, and noble
ambitions; we may endeavour to check the spread of these diseases by
legislative restrictions; we may inculcate teetotalism and banish
enervating habits and too stimulating foods. Each of these measures
may do something. Some of them may do much. But all of them have one
fatal defect. They are all tarred with the brush of expediency.
Expediency, and not wrong-doing, is the danger signal they show. And
when the hot blood surges through young veins in the struggle with an
imminent temptation, what becomes of expediency?"

Many people are ready to declare that the conspiracy of silence which
has characterized the old-fashioned attitude of mind with regard to
sex matters generally is due to the Church more than to any other
agency. I think that from what we have said the Church's insistence on
reticence with regard to sex subjects as the policy most likely to do
good in the long run is now recognized by psychologists as being
founded on motives that are the basis of natural defense by human
nature in an extremely thorny matter. Ignorance is not innocence, but
a saving lack of knowledge may spare a great many evil suggestions
that would otherwise work harm. You cannot neutralize sex temptations
by the {196} provision of knowledge, you cannot even minimize them,
and you may tactlessly add not a little to their danger.

There is a prudery which is not proper reticence that is cultivated by
some people who happen incidentally to be religiously inclined. They
would not call a spade a spade for the world. They would not hint at
the fact that conjugation is always the origin of life for worlds.
They would not use certain plain words that must be used in order to
express very definite ideas without the feeling that they had smirched
themselves by saying such things. If they had gone through Europe in
the old days and seen the public comfort arrangements, they would have
collapsed then and there. All this is sheer prudery and when applied
to sex matters represents really a neurosis of excessive precaution
and inhibition with regard to some of the most natural things in the

Any one who understands even a little of the religious attitude toward
marriage will appreciate readily that such a state of mind is as far
as possible from being that of the Church. Marriage is termed holy and
blessed, and the ministers of the sacrament are the married persons
themselves. Only those who fail to comprehend religious teaching in
these matters have suggested that religious reticence with its
conservation of that supreme reverence which even the great pagan
teacher Quintilian recognized as due to youth represented an
unfortunate cultivation of harmful ignorance. On the contrary, it is a
part of that great tradition of age-long reticence which represents
the highest wisdom of humanity. Hence the reversion to that mode of
dealing with the question which has characterized the teaching of
conservative psychologists in the last few years.


The greatest safeguard of purity with all that it means for the
preservation of health and strength is the practice of self-denial
with regard to the luxuries of life. No element in life has emphasized
that and encouraged its practice so much or so constantly, and so
persistently tried to train her children in it from youth as religion.
It is almost impossible, for young people particularly, to keep right
in this matter if they constantly indulge in luxuries. The very word
luxury has come to be defined as "lust and lasciviousness and
indulgence in lust", because there is such an almost inevitable
connection between the exuberance of animal spirits which develops in
connection with indulgence in luxuries of various kinds that the two
words have almost necessarily come to have an intimate association.
The word is applied to the friskiness or wantonness of animals, and it
is very easy to understand its application. Men as well as animals who
take more food than their occupations in life enable them to dispose
of properly become similarly wanton or out of control. In Scriptural
words they "wax fat and kick."

Religion has encouraged innocent enjoyment of every worthy sort as a
distraction of mind and an outlet for youthful energy, but has
discouraged in every way possible that complete gratification of the
senses or of bodily desires which is so likely to be fatal to such
strength of will as will enable people to control themselves. Clarke
says, "Luxury does not consist in the innocent enjoyment of any of the
good things which God has created to be received with thankfulness,
but in the wasteful abuse of them to vicious purposes in ways
inconsistent with sobriety, justice or charity."

Professor Foerster, whose books on the subject of the {198} training
of youth and especially on sex matters in youth attracted so much
attention shortly before the war, faced frankly this problem of the
necessity for the practice of mortification, or as he did not hesitate
to call it, genuine asceticism, the exercise of the virtues of
self-control and self-denial as the most important factor for the
protection of youth. He said: "All solutions of the sex problem which
tend to emancipate sex feeling from the control of moral and spiritual
law (instead of making it the chief aim to place the spirit in a
position of mastery over the sex nature) are essentially hostile, not
only to our whole social evolution and to the development of
individual character, but to actual physical health in the sphere of
sex. To secure the mastery of man's higher self over the whole world
of animal desire is a task, however, which demands a more systematic
development of will-power and the cultivation of a deeper faith in the
spiritual destiny of humanity than are to be found in the superficial
intellectualistic civilization of to-day. To achieve such a result it
will be necessary not only to have recourse to new methods and new
ideals, but to make sure that we do not allow what is valuable and in
any way worthy of imitation, in the old, to be forgotten. The ascetic
principle in particular is to-day in danger of being undervalued."

The cult of the body which has become so much the occupation of the
present generation, which refuses to make the necessary effort of mind
to secure intellectual pleasures, has always been the special
deprecation of the Church. A great many of the words in the language
show the effect of that religious attitude very clearly. Sensuousness,
while its original meaning is only anything connected with the senses,
has come to mean the quality {199} of being particularly alive to the
pleasure that is received through the senses and therefore by
implication, at least, not particularly intellectual. The _Edinburgh
Quarterly_ reviewer long ago, in the famous article which Byron
suggested as having snuffed out the "fiery particle" of Keats' soul,
hurt him most by suggesting his lack of intellectuality and declaring
that he was "too soft and sensuous by nature to be exhilarated by the
conflict of modern opinions", hence "he found an opiate for his
despondency in the old tales of Greek mythology." Sensuality even more
than sensuousness has come to mean under the sway of the senses and
the bodily desires rather than of the mind. Pope spoke of men
"sensualized by pleasure" like those who were "changed into brutes by

There is probably no epithet that a man of intelligence resents more
than to be called a sensualist. Goldsmith summed it up when he spoke
of "the vulgar satisfaction of soliciting happiness from sensual
enjoyment alone." Religion has particularly emphasized the danger and
the actual degradation of human nature which this brought about.
Bishop Atterbury declared that "No small part of virtue consists in
abstaining from that in which sensual men place their felicity."
Longer ago Shakespeare summed up the degeneration of the sensualist
when he said

           "Those pampered animals
  That rage in savage sensuality."

This is quite literal degeneracy, for as man is both animal and
rational, overindulgence in the pleasures of the senses drags him down
toward his animal nature, that is, toward the _genus_ below the _genus
homo_ to which man belongs. No wonder men resent the epithet


As the result of the influence of religion other words such as carnal,
worldly, have come to be stamped with a meaning which makes people
understand much better than would otherwise be the case the real
significance of indulgence in bodily or mere earthly pleasure. The
words are no longer fashionable, but that is because the deeds which
they represent have become quite fashionable, and those who affect
them do not want to have the innuendo of decadence and wrongful
indulgence which necessarily goes with them applied to their acts.
Religion has thus created a state of the public mind that has been
extremely helpful against sensual pleasures and their power to ruin
health, so long of course as religion held its place of influence over

Above all religion has insisted, and it is almost the only agency
which continues to do so, that there can be no purity with its power
for good for the health of both mind and body if the excitants of
sensuality are indulged in. There must not only be no doing of evil,
but there must be, as far as possible, no thinking about it, and
especially there must be no dwelling on sensual pleasure, for bodily
cravings will almost surely be aroused that make temptation almost
insuperable. To think of delicate viands when one is hungry causes a
flow of saliva, making the mouth water, but we know now that it causes
a flow of what are called the appetite juices in the stomach which
adds materially to the feeling of hunger and would make it very hard
to resist taking food if it were placed before one, even though there
might be some rather serious dangers connected with its taking. The
thirsty soldier finds it extremely difficult to obey military laws
with regard to not drinking any water that has not been examined and
declared wholesome by the medical regime {201} of the army, and if he
should dwell much on his thirst it would make it ever so much harder
to restrain if water from outside military sources should be offered
to him.

Other pleasures of sense are even more likely to become the subject of
almost insuperable temptations if the objects of them are dwelt on.
Religion therefore has insisted, and is still insisting, on the
necessity of avoiding attendance at such theaters as quite inevitably
set up sensual excitation.

Fashion, which is another word for the world--and religion has always
pointed out that the three great enemies of the development of the
spirit of man are the world, the flesh, and the devil--has always set
itself in opposition to religion in the approval of sensual
gratification. That conflict is unending. A great many people declare
that they would rather be out of the world than out of fashion, and it
is surprising what insensate things fashion leads people to. The
present fashion for the slow dance with the partners closely wrapped
in one another's arms, for that is of course the essence of all the
modern dances, no matter what their varying names may be, is only
another development of the unending opposition between fashion and
religion. Here once more, as with regard to the theater, religion
presents the only serious protest. Dame Fashion insists that she sees
no harm in it, but that is of course only a fashion of speech. It is
quite impossible for a physician to watch the dancing without becoming
convinced that human passions must be aroused by such close contact of
human bodies of opposite sexes.

In this, however, as in so many other phases of life, only religion
can interfere or protest with any hope of success. Her protest remains
often unheard; fashion {202} may be almost all powerful even against
the higher calls of duty as well as against common sense. Certainly
religious influence has had more to do with keeping a great many women
from following the dictates of fashion in emphasizing their sex and
therefore exciting the men with whom they come in contact than any
other single factor. It has not been entirely successful, it never
will be; the conflict will go on and worldliness will constantly come
to the surface in some form or other, often to the detriment of
health; and religion when properly vital will continue to be the most
important factor in keeping evil from gaining such ascendancy as would
be seriously detrimental to the healthy mind in a healthy body.

Religion is the only agency in the modern time that tries to regulate
the reading of young folks and indeed of others in this dangerous
matter of sex excitation. A great many books seem to be written at the
present time for no other purpose than to excite sex feeling,--and
thereby to make money. They depend for their sale entirely on the fact
that for a great many people there is a distinct physical pleasure in
reading about sex subjects. This is particularly true of women. A
great many of them, and especially those who have not very much else
to do and who therefore have no proper outlet for animal spirits and
for the energies that tend to accumulate in them because they feed
well and sleep long, are prone to indulge in this sort of luxury. Most
of them would resent the suggestion that it was wrong for them to
indulge their feelings in this way, but religion has always taken a
decided stand and insisted that the fomenting of desire and the toying
with alluring thoughts and the inviting of temptation are of
themselves actually sinful. As John Boyle O'Reilly said,


  "Temptation waits for all, and ills will come;
  But some go out and ask the devil home."

Physicians have always insisted that the sexual erethism which is
excited by the reading of books on sex subjects, the attending of sex
problem plays and of shows of various kinds is the worst possible
background for healthy living. Such frequent titillation of delicate
nervous mechanisms plays sad havoc with general nervous control.
Unfortunately just those who are indoors a great deal, who take very
little exercise, and who live on dainties are most likely to indulge
in these habits of life with regard to reading and the theater and
dancing and the like which are most harmful for them. They are
irritable in the nervous sense and excitable, and this erethism
increases their nervous instability which responds by craving further
excitement. A vicious circle is formed which very often leads to
nervous breakdown. Just now we are hearing much about sexual
repression as the cause of nervous disorders, but sexual repression is
as almost nothing in its tendency to produce neurotic or
psycho-neurotic affections compared to the partial tantalizing, sexual
indulgence which comes from sensual reading or lascivious shows. The
plays that are seen, the jokes that are heard, the sex problems that
are dwelt on, the stories that are read must get more and more spicy
and contain more and more sex "pep" to afford any satisfaction, and
the consequence is a disturbance of delicate parts of the nervous
system which react more or less seriously to lessen the control over
the whole nervous mechanism of the body.

When Doctor S. Weir Mitchell pointed out two generations ago that not
only headache, but rather serious nervous disturbance involving often
the gastro-intestinal {204} tract and sometimes other large organs
like the brain itself, as well as even mental operations, might come
from so small a cause as disturbance of accommodation in the eye, most
physicians refused to believe that such far-reaching symptoms could
come from what was apparently so trivial a factor. The accommodation
mechanism of the eye is extremely delicate, however, and requires such
nice adjustment that any interference with it causes a waste of
nervous energy that is likely to make itself felt at almost any part
of the nervous system. In our day disturbances of the eye are
confessed by all to be extremely important. In something of the same
way disturbances of the sexual system of the body are reflected
throughout the whole nervous system.

Religion has counseled, commanded and thundered against any practices,
however simple they might seem in themselves, that would serve as
excitants for the sex feelings. Without her influence even more harm
would have been done than has been. It is the waning of religious
power over public morality and public opinion that has led to the orgy
of indulgence in sexual excitation, which has had such bad effects and
which unfortunately so often leads to sexual acts which are fraught
with the hideous dangers of venereal disease, because passion excited
will find its satisfaction. Society heedlessly arouses passion but
apparently cares not what happens afterwards.




There is a very prevalent impression that religion is a common, even
rather frequent cause of insanity. This is founded on popular
experience. It has often been noted that not a few of the people who
go insane have delusions on religious subjects. It is also a very
common observation that those who are on the road to insanity and have
finally to be placed in an asylum have for some time been making
themselves conspicuous by their excessive practice of religious
observances of one kind or another. It is not surprising then that the
familiar fallacy _post hoc ergo propter hoc_, "after this therefore
the result of this", should have come to be applied in these cases,
and that religion should be set down as a prominent factor of mental
disease and perhaps one of the commonest causes of the condition.

Those who have given most study to the subject, however, know very
well that this conclusion is quite as unjustified by the facts of the
case as the corresponding one with regard to religion being a frequent
source of nervous diseases. We will discuss that in the chapter on
Nervous Diseases, and almost necessarily the closely related subject
of mental disturbances is touched on somewhat there. Of course it is
well understood that a great many of those who are on the road to such
mental alienation {206} as will eventually require their internment in
an asylum will give many external manifestations of religious
feelings, some of them exaggerated beyond reason, as perhaps the very
earliest striking symptom of their mental alienation. Religion, as we
said in the Introduction, is one of the most universal interests of
men. When people go insane, some interest will receive exaggerated
attention. The delusions of their insanity are dependent on what the
deepest interest of the individual was. If he was interested in money,
he will believe himself the richest or perhaps the poorest of men. If
he is interested in science, his delusions will be associated with
that subject. Delusions concerning some phase of science are probably
even more common in our day than those based on religion. Electricity
is the source of more delusions than anything else, though hypnotism
and telepathy and other sensationally exploited modes of so-called
psychology are a close second in this respect. If the patient has
recently suffered a severe loss by the death of a friend, sorrow will
be the central idea of his mental disturbance; if there has been a
disappointment in love, that will be the focus of his mental troubles;
if there has been a money loss, that disappointment will be the core
of the depression. Almost any human interest may thus become the root
of excitement or discouragement leading to mania or melancholia.

The Great War gave us some very interesting material as to mental as
well as nervous disease. In nothing was that more interesting than as
to the causes from which insanity develops. It might very well have
been expected that a great many people would break down under the
awful conditions in which they were placed during the war. For
instance Poland was fought over some six times, {207} and portions of
Austria overrun three times, and Servia was, between war and the
ravages of famine and disease, a veritable shambles of its people for
three or four years. It is easy to understand the awful states of
anxiety and solicitude and almost continuous terror to which the
inhabitants of Belgium, occupied by the Germans, were subjected,
particularly in the smaller places where they were utterly at the
mercy of the German officials whose one idea, fostered by their
military teaching, was that the end of the war would be brought about
or at least greatly hastened by a policy of frightfulness.

Literally many millions of people were subjected to conditions which
would seem to be impossible for human nature to stand for any length
of time, and yet they had to bear them continuously for four years or

The records of the development of insanity among these people have
been rather carefully gathered, and they reveal the astounding fact
that the insanity rate was very little higher among all these intense
sufferers from the war than it would have been under the ordinary
conditions of civil life. Manifestly a certain number of persons had
the insanities which would have developed in them in later years
anticipated by the trials and the hardships of wartime conditions, but
only those suffered from insanity as a rule who might have been
expected to do so because their family or personal history revealed
tendencies in that direction which would almost surely have made
themselves manifest sooner or later even under the inevitable
vicissitudes of peace time.

What modern medicine has revealed to us is that apart from certain
infectious diseases which produce degeneration of the physical basis
of mind and the absorption of certain poisons--alcohol is a typical
example--which {208} cause a corresponding degeneration to the
infections, the supreme factor in insanity is the inheritance of a
predisposition to the affection. Two things have become perfectly
clear in the course of modern medical investigation, that insanity and
longevity run in families, and that there is almost no other basis on
which the two conditions may develop. Infections or intoxications in
the broad sense of the word may produce conditions to foster or impair
respectively either of them, but even they are of minor significance
compared to the original inheritance in either case.

Clouston, the well-known English authority on mental diseases, whose
opinion is founded on many years of personal observation, in his book
on "Unsoundness of Mind"   [Footnote 6] has put the relationship
between religion and mental disease very clearly. He said: "It is true
that religion, touching as it does, in the most intense way the
emotional nature and the spiritual instincts of mankind, sometimes
appears to cause and is often mixed up with insanity. But in nearly
all such cases the brain of the individual was originally unstable,
specially emotional, oversensitive, hyperconscientious and often
somewhat weak in the intellectual and inhibitory faculties and, if
looked for, other causes will usually be found." He had said just
before, "To talk of 'religious insanity' as if it were a definite and
definable form is in my judgment a mistake."

  [Footnote 6:   Methuen, London, 1911. ]

So far from prayer--the principal exercise of religion, that is the
raising up of the mind to God, either in petition or in
resignation--unsettling people's minds, it has exactly the opposite
effect. Professor William James, whom most people are not inclined to
think of as likely to be an overstrenuous advocate of religion, in his
{209} well-known essay on "The Energies of Men" has a paragraph in
which he quotes from a physician who had had long experience in the
care of a great many insane and who did not hesitate to say that
prayer was a benefit and not in any sense of the word a detriment to
his patients.

"Doctor Thomas Hyslop, of the great West Riding Asylum in England,
said last year to the British Medical Association that the best
sleep-producing agent which his practice had revealed to him was
prayer. I say this, he added (I am sorry here that I must quote from
memory) purely as a medical man. The exercise of prayer, in those who
habitually exert it, must be regarded by us doctors as the most
adequate and normal of all the pacifiers of the mind and calmers of
the nerves."

It is recognized as a general rule in asylum practice that when
patients begin really to pray, a turn for the better has come in their
condition, and they are on the high road to recovery. This does not
mean, of course, noisy, wordy praying, but quiet raising of the mind
to God and acts of resignation to their condition so long as they may
be affected.

There is a very general impression among those who have had most to do
with the insane as well as among psychologists in general that
religion, instead of favoring the development of insanity, rather
inhibits it. Professor Münsterberg, in his "Psychotherapy" dwells
particularly on this. Almost needless to say Professor Münsterberg did
not wear the special favor of religion in the lists and was in no
sense her champion. He is proclaiming simply what he knows and feels
to be true.

A very curious reflection on the relations of religion and insanity is
to be found in the fact that the marked increase in the insane among
the population of all the {210} great modern civilized countries and
most striking among our own has come since the decay of religion and
the decrease of religious belief. The statistics of that increase in
the number of the insane are very startling to those who are not
familiar with the subject. During a single generation the number of
the insane in our institutions has increased to five times what it was
before in proportion to the population. There is no doubt that this is
due to some extent to the fact that people are much less ready to care
for their insane relatives outside of institutions than they were a
generation and especially two or three generations ago. We are much
less ready to make the personal sacrifices needed to keep our friends
at home, which is probably also due to the lowering of our religious
sense of obligation in the matter. Fortunately our insane asylums are
much better conducted than they were, and this has made people more
willing to confide their relatives to them. Giving all due allowance
for this, however, there has been an enormous increase in the number
of the insane. Such commonwealths as California and Massachusetts, in
which there are very large proportions of educated people, present the
highest increase in the number of the insane. There are certain
critical spirits who would say that it is our education without God
and without religion that has fostered this state of affairs, and that
it is particularly people of a certain limited intelligence who, when
overeducated, lose their faith, who are most prone to lose their

The most important single factor in insanity, not dependent on
constitution or heredity but on conduct, is that degeneration of the
brain which brings on paresis or general paralysis of the insane.
Taken by and large throughout the world generally, nearly one in five
of all {211} those who die in insane asylums die from this affection.
It is the result of an infection usually consequent upon sexual
immorality. The disease is inevitably fatal and once it begins it is
steadily progressive from the delusions of grandeur so common at the
beginning through various delusional states up to absolute dementia
and death, which usually takes place in a little more than three years
from the beginning of the disease; five years is a long time for a
patient to survive. Nothing has done so much to limit the occurrence
of this disease as religious influences, and it has increased to
become the modern scourge that it is just in proportion as religion
has lost its hold upon the mind of the rising generation. The disease
is particularly infrequent among clergymen, and while _lues_ from
which the disease develops may be contracted innocently, it is very
evident that a regular moral life such as is led under the sway of
religious principles is the best possible safeguard against the spread
of the disease.

After paresis the most serious form of acquired insanity in modern
life is that known as alcoholic insanity, due to excess in the taking
of spirituous liquors. It is not necessarily inevitable that a man who
frequently indulges to excess in alcoholic liquors will become insane
any more than that he will suffer from alcoholic neuritis, but a large
number of individuals prove susceptible to the toxic effects of
alcohol in these ways. There is an inherent liability in their brain
and nervous system to degenerate under the influence of alcohol acting
as a poison. This is an extremely common form of insanity, but almost
needless to say it occurs much less frequently in those who have any
religious principles than in those who are without them, because
religion protects from the excesses that predispose to these
conditions. Clergymen {212} very rarely suffer from them and though
occasionally clerical patients have developed alcoholic insanity or
alcoholic neuritis, these cases on careful investigation oftener
proved to be due to certain patent medicines which contained alcohol
in large percentage than to any direct consumption of spirituous

Religion by its calming influence keeps a good many people who have
hereditary tendencies to insanity from developing outspoken symptoms
of the disease. Religious conviction has a definite efficacy in making
people humble instead of conceited, and this is an excellent factor
for preventing the tendency to insanity. Nearly always the preliminary
sign of insanity is an exaggeration of the _ego_ and a hint at least
of delusions of grandeur. People who overrate their importance are
often on the road to the asylum. Religion, by inculcating humility, at
least lessens this tendency and puts off developments that are
inevitable so that many more years of reasonable sanity are enjoyed
than would otherwise be the case.

Probably the worst thing in the world for those who have any inherited
tendency to disequilibration of mind is to have an occupation in life
which involves strains and stresses of emotion. The gambler, the
speculator, the man who risks his all on some attempt to make a great
deal of money, are much more prone to develop insanity than those who
have occupations in life at which they work from day to day for a
moderate wage, and who get their joy in life out of the fulfillment of
domestic duties. Almost needless to say religion has always
discouraged gambling and such speculation as resembles it very
closely, and the whole tendency of religious influence is to make
people so satisfied with their lot in life that they will not take the
risks which involve the {213} vehement mental emotions so likely to
disturb those with inherited predispositions toward irrationality.
Undoubtedly religion has in this way saved a great many men from
serious developments in mental alienation which might have come had
they felt themselves free to take up the riskier avocations in life
from which they were deterred by the feeling of religious disapproval.

After the tendency to exaggeration of the ego and delusions of
grandeur, the most common symptom of incipient insanity is delusion of
persecution. As regards this, once more, the religious feeling of
trust in Providence and the conviction that God will somehow take care
of them keeps many people from allowing their delusions of persecution
to manifest themselves so soon or so violently as would otherwise be
the case. Only comparatively rarely do religious minded people in the
midst of their delusions of persecution commit crimes, being deterred
therefrom by the underlying consciousness of the wrongness of their
acts in taking judgment on their persecutors into their own hands,
even though they may have yielded to a belief in their delusions. It
is true that a certain number of religious-minded people do commit
crime under the influence of delusions, but these are rarer than the
cases which occur in people who have never had any sense of religious

In a word religion has meant a very great deal for the limitation of
insanity and the tendency to it, for putting off its development and
giving patients years of sanity they might not otherwise have enjoyed,
and it has had a very definite effect in limiting the crimes
consequent upon insanity. It has a very marked tendency to create the
atmosphere of placid trust and confidence which means so much for the
preservation of sanity. Far from being {214} a provocative of
irrational tendencies it soothes patients' minds, prevents them from
running into such excesses of emotion as are dangerous for mental
balance, and it predisposes those who allow themselves to be deeply
influenced by it to live such quiet satisfied lives without inordinate
ambition and disordered desires as make for health of mind and body
during prolonged life.

It has often been said that religion unfortunately proved harmful to
insanity and the insane in the old medieval days, because
ecclesiastics, sometimes for the sake of the fees that they might
secure for exorcisms, taught very generally the doctrine that the
insane were possessed of the devil, and that the one thing to do for
them, besides exorcising the evil spirit, was to chain them up and
keep them in manacles in dungeons until there was assurance that they
had been released from the devil that had gained possession of them.

In spite of the fact that this is a rather common teaching in medical
books and is frequently asserted even by physicians and sometimes
indeed by specialists in nervous and mental diseases who are supposed
to know the subject on which they discourse, there is very little
foundation for this prevalent impression. Undoubtedly there was the
belief in the possibility of possession by the devil and some such
modern scientific minds as Alfred Russel Wallace and Professor Barrett
of Trinity College, Dublin, have reverted to that belief because of
their studies in spiritism and some of the curious results that follow
from overdevotion to the cult of spirits. There was, however, a very
definite recognition of the fact during the later Middle Ages that the
insane were just ailing persons who had to be taken care of, properly
treated, kept from hurting themselves or others, just as delirious
individuals {215} would have to be guarded, but who must be looked
upon as sick in mind, just as a number of people were sick in body and
with more than a hint that the bodily condition had more to do with
the insanity than anything else. I have discussed the subject at some
length in my volume on "Medieval Medicine" recently published in
London.   [Footnote 7] Paul of Aegina wrote in the seventh century of
melancholy as a primary affection of the brain to be treated with
frequent baths and a wholesome and humid diet, together with suitable
exhilaration of mind and without any other remedy unless when from its
long continuance the offending humor is difficult to evacuate, in
which case we must have recourse to more complicated and powerful
plans of treatment. Paul was a very popular author much read in the
Middle Ages.

  [Footnote 7: Black. 1920.]

The Church's view of the subject of insanity is very well expressed in
Bartholomew's Encyclopedia. This was a work written particularly for
the information of the clergymen of the time, in order to explain to
them all references in Scripture and to give them such details of
knowledge as were necessary for preaching and for the teaching of
their flocks. Bartholomew was very widely read and went through many
editions before printing, was put into print very early, and some of
the editions are among the greatest of bibliophilic treasures.
Bartholomew, usually called the Englishman--his Latin name of
_Bartholomaeus Anglicus_ is well known--boiled down all the knowledge
of insanity into a single paragraph. He has nothing at all to say of
possession by the devil, and his discussion of the whole subject of
madness is as modern as can be.

The causes of insanity which this clergyman writer {216} of the middle
of the thirteenth century enumerates are those which psychiatrists of
the present day are insisting on. The symptoms of infection,
considering the brevity of the passage, are very well and clearly
described, and the treatment suggested is the very latest in modern
practice and consists of improvement of nutrition and the diversion of
the insane. With all our supposed advance in knowledge no physician,
even of the twentieth century, could have expressed the whole subject
of insanity any better than Bartholomew did. This paragraph is a
complete refutation of the objections that the Church by its
insistence on diabolical possession as the principal cause of insanity
did a great deal of harm. Bartholomew said:

  "Madness cometh sometime of passions of the soul, as of business and
  of great thoughts, of sorrow and of too great study, and of dread:
  sometimes of the biting of a wood (mad) hound, or some other
  venomous beast; sometimes of melancholy meats, and sometimes of
  drink of strong wine. And as the causes be diverse, the tokens and
  signs be diverse. For some cry and leap and hurt and wound
  themselves and other men, and darken and hide themselves in privy
  and secret places. The medicine of them is, that they be bound, that
  they hurt not themselves and other men. And namely, such shall be
  refreshed, and comforted, and withdrawn from cause and matter of
  dread and busy thoughts. And they must be gladded with instruments
  of music, and some deal be occupied."




Just as with regard to insanity, there is a very common impression
that religion increases the amount of nervous disease in the world and
is responsible for a great deal of what has been called hysteria. Not
a few who think they have a right to an opinion in this matter, and
some of them are physicians--though usually they are rather young--are
quite ready to assert that religion is a fruitful source of nervous
symptoms and very often of rather serious nervous conditions. We saw
in the chapter on Insanity how false is the prevalent impression as to
religion producing tendencies to insanity, though of course a great
many insane people have religious delusions. It is very much the same
with nervous diseases. Many nervous people pay a certain amount of
attention to religion, and not a few of them cling to straws of hope
that they may be able to overcome their neurotic tendencies by
superficial attention to prayer or to some practices of religion which
they seem to look upon about in the same light as patent medicines
recommended for the cure of nervous diseases. People who are deeply
religious, however, very seldom suffer from nervous affections, and
they have in their religion the most beneficent of helpful resources,
if by nature, that is, by heredity or unfortunate development, they
have neurotic tendencies.


So far from religion increasing nervous disease, then, it has exactly
the opposite effect. We have a number of testimonies to this purport
from prominent neurologists, many of whom were themselves not
believers in religion but who recognized its influence for good over
others. Such expressions are to be found in the writings of men of
every nationality. Not infrequently, in spite of their own religious
affiliations, they acknowledge what a profound influence certain forms
of religion have over certain people. These testimonies have been
multiplying in our medical literature in recent years, because
apparently physicians have come to appreciate by contrast the
influence for good of religion over some of their patients, since they
see so many sufferers from nervous diseases who have not this source
of consolation to which to recur.

In America we have a number of such testimonies. In his "Self Help for
Nervous Women", Doctor John K. Mitchell of Philadelphia, who may be
taken to represent in this matter the Philadelphia School of
Neurologists, to which his father lent such distinction, said:

  "It is certainly true that considering as examples two such
  separated forms of religious belief as the Orthodox Jews and the
  strict Roman Catholics, one does not see as many patients from them
  as might be expected from their numbers, especially when it is
  remembered that Jews as a whole are very nervous people and that the
  Roman Catholic includes in this country among its members numbers of
  the most emotional race in the world.

  "Of only one sect can I recall no example. It is not in my memory
  that a professing Quaker ever came into my hands to be treated for
  nervousness. If the opinion I have already stated so often is
  correct, namely that {219} want of control of the emotions and the
  overexpression of the feelings are prime causes of nervousness, then
  the fact that discipline of the emotions is a lesson early and
  constantly taught by the Friends would help to account for the
  infrequency of this disorder among them and adds emphasis to the
  belief in such a causation."

In writing a "Textbook of Psychotherapy"   [Footnote 8] eight years
ago one of the appendices was devoted to the relations between
religion and psychotherapy. One of the paragraphs, written for
physicians, and I may say that it has been read by many thousands of
them, puts my own opinion on the dual subject of the nexus between
religion, insanity and nervous disease, as succinctly as I can hope to
put it. There is no doubt that an abiding sense of religion does much
for people in the midst of their ailments and, above all, keeps them
from developing those symptoms due to nervous worry and solicitude
which so often are more annoying to the patient than the actual
sufferings he or she may have to bear. While religion is often said to
predispose to certain mental troubles, it is now well appreciated by
psychiatrists that it is not religion that has the tendency to disturb
the mind, but a disequilibrated mind has the tendency to exaggerate
out of all reason its interest in anything that it takes up seriously.
Whether the object of the attention be business, or pleasure, or
sexuality, or religion, the unbalanced mind pays too much attention to
it, becomes too exclusively occupied with it, and this overindulgence
helps to form a vicious circle of unfavorable influence.

  [Footnote 8: Appleton.]

While many people in their insanity, then, show exaggerated interest
in religion, this is only like other {220} exaggerated interests of
the disequilibrated, and religion itself is not the cause but only a
coincidence in the matter.

Some who are interested particularly in this subject, on reading this
will at once revert to the fact that scruples are extremely common
among the religiously inclined and that these are, after all, as a
rule, only nervous symptoms which are surely fostered by religion. To
say this, however, is to misapprehend the real meaning of scruples.
The word is a very old one and means a little sharp stone, as if in
trying to make progress the scrupulous found themselves hindered by
having to walk over little sharp stones which so disturbed them that
they were hampered in getting on. Above all, scruples put them into a
state of mind where they hesitate as to whether they can go on at all
or not.

The subject of scruples was very thoroughly worked out and carefully
described by the older spiritual writers centuries ago. They wrote
elaborate treatises on it, while it was not until our own time that
physicians by their careful study of corresponding conditions entirely
apart from religion came to appreciate that these conditions of the
spiritual life were only expressions of a rather common set of
tendencies altogether independent of religion. They are prone to
develop in people with certain physical and mental characteristics who
are possessed of dispositions and nervous systems particularly likely
to be the subject of these hesitancies and doubts and difficulties for
which there is very little basis in actuality.

The whole chapter of phobias and the other chapter on obsessions and
the third on what the French call _la folie du doute_, the doubting
mania in our modern textbooks of neurology, are really so many
chapters in the {221} literature of scruples of the old time, now
transferred to the textbooks on functional nervous diseases. Some
nervous people who are religiously inclined get into a very disturbed
state of mind from the fear that they may commit sin almost unknown to
themselves or that they may be in sin unawaredly and cut off from
their Creator, and they become extremely miserable as a consequence.
This is, after all, a very familiar picture to the neurologist
accustomed to see patients suffering from functional nervous diseases.
I have patients who suffer quite as much from the dread of dirt as
these scrupulous people do from the dread of sin. Women often suffer
from this dread of dirt--misophobia is the scientific name derived
from the Greek--to an exaggerated degree. A woman patient of mine
makes it extremely uncomfortable for the conductors on the street cars
because, for fear of contaminating her hands, she dreads to touch the
handle bars by which she could mount or descend easily. This adds
greatly to the risks she takes every time she boards a car. She is
constantly washing her hands to get the dirt off, so that in cold
weather she sets up severe skin irritations and makes herself very
uncomfortable. I have a male patient who would not touch the handle of
my door for the world, and whom successive maids have come to know
very well because he stands outside the outer door and has to have
that as well as the inner door opened for him. He has said to me over
and over again, "Doctor, don't ask me to shake hands with you, because
you shake hands with so many people." I have seen him standing outside
of a large department store with the temperature around zero, waiting
for some one to open the door so that he might slip in without
touching it. Nor are such states {222} of mind confined to the
uneducated; on the contrary, they are commonest among those who have a
good education and are quite sensible in other things.

Obsessions were originally described as super-religious states of mind
in which some idea assumed a terrorizing character. The victims of
them dread that they might commit some awful crime and as a
consequence were profoundly miserable. Instead of being confined to
religion, such mental states are quite common in conditions altogether
apart from religious feelings. Women read of a mother killing her
child in some awful way or perhaps accidentally poisoning it or
burning it badly with some escharotic external application. They
become obsessed with the idea that they may do something of this kind
and fear that they may not be able to resist the suggestion. Medical
literature is full of such cases. A typical case is described by Tangi
in his textbook on insanity:

  "A young married woman suffered from nervous exhaustion after her
  first childbirth. She watched day by day her husband cutting up meat
  for his parrots with a pair of scissors, and the action filled her
  with disgust which later increased to positive horror. Thus a
  repulsive obsession was produced and this in turn engendered the
  morbid suggestion to cut the tongue of her dearly loved child in the
  same way. The fear that she would not be able to resist this
  suggestion made the suggestion more vivid and the idea more
  imperative, causing an agonizing struggle each time."

Then there are accounts, some of them most poignant, from Catholic
patients of my own, who were sure that sometime while in the midst of
their devotions or even at the very reception of the sacraments they
would {223} blaspheme. They are people who fear that every pious act
of theirs may just expose them to the risk of committing some awful

Almost needless to say such states have nothing at all to do with
religion, and when similar conditions occur among the religious
minded, they must be attributed to the general neurotic condition and
not to the incidental religious tendencies. The doubting mania occurs
among the religious minded when they keep on fearing that they have
not done something that they should do. Some of these individuals get
into a profoundly miserable and disturbed state of mind, but that must
not be blamed on religion.

This sad state of mind in people who have no religion at all is
extremely familiar to the neurologist, and it has no necessary
connection with religious practice or religious belief. I have a
patient who has been coming to me for many years now from a city in
the Middle West; he is a broker, and every time there is a panic in
the money market I am almost sure to see him. Whenever he gets very
much disturbed over business matters, as is likely to happen in panic
times, he develops a very striking _folie du doute_, or doubting
mania. He will take a letter to a post box and go back three or four
times, first to see if by chance he did not drop it on the way,
secondly to be sure that it did not get caught in the slot; then, if
the letter is important, he will go back to see if perchance there may
not be some bolts or other obstructions at the top of the box that may
catch it and delay its collection. I have even known him to wait for
some time at the post box to see if the postman might not possibly
drop it when he came to collect the mail. But then he does other
things just as foolish. Occasionally he will {224} get home from his
office and suddenly have the feeling that he forgot to lock his safe.
He will go back and then get part way up town when he is overcome by
the fear that he may not have locked the door after him as he came
out. At times when his _folie du doute_ is at its worst, he has been
known to go back three or four times to close windows or for some
other trivial reason. When he is in reasonably good condition there is
very little of this state of mind manifest, but he can make himself
supremely miserable when the obsession is on him.

It is often said that the declaration by the Church of the idea of
possession by the devil rather encouraged the development of certain
mental and nervous states and thus fostered neurotic manifestations of
many kinds. This whole question of the possibility of direct diabolic
influence over mankind, that is, of some evil spirit deeply
influencing certain human beings, is yet a matter that is not nearly
so settled as a great many physicians who have not been following
scientific work in allied lines seem to think. So distinguished a
scientist as Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of
the theory of natural selection, had the feeling that spirits
interfered much more in human affairs than a great many people were
willing to admit, and that the evil spirits probably could, under
certain circumstances, deeply affect individuals. Professor Barrett of
Trinity College, Dublin, is even more outspoken in what he has to say
in this regard, and now there is a very general feeling among those
who have investigated spiritistic phenomena most carefully that if
spirits do actually communicate directly with men, it is commonly not
the spirits who claim to do the communicating who are actually
present. Almost needless to say any such conclusion as this would,
{225} if maintained, throw even scientists back to the old idea of
diabolism, which the Church, on the strength of many centuries of
experience, still teaches.

One thing is perfectly sure: that if overzeal on the part of certain
ecclesiastics rather encouraged neurotic manifestations because of the
alluringly suggestive quality of the thought of diabolic possession,
they did no more than physicians did in more modern times by their
suggestive methods in the study of hysteria. A great French
neurologist of to-day has pointed out that major hysteria as studied
by French neurologists of a generation ago has practically
disappeared, or occurs very rarely in our day because it is no longer
unconsciously suggested to patients by physicians that these major
symptoms are being looked for. Overzeal in medicine raised up a whole
series of symptoms that had no existence except in the heated
imagination of their patients under the influence of strong

Another extremely interesting phase of this subject is that in the old
days many of the sensible ecclesiastics and some of the civil
authorities came to recognize that people supposed to be possessed of
evil spirits could be cured of their condition not infrequently by
roundly whipping them. Sir Thomas More particularly called attention
to how much good could be effected in this way. In writing an article
on "Psychoneurosis and the War" (International Clinics, Volume II,
Series 29) I called attention to this in a paragraph that may be
helpful in the understanding of the discussion of diabolic influence.

It has been the custom for many years now, indeed for more than a
generation, to think that the old-fashioned methods of treating many
of the psychoneuroses by {226} punishment and the infliction of pain
were founded on an entirely wrong principle. Sir Thomas More, for
instance, tells the story of a number of folk in his time who suffered
from rather serious complaints; some of them were dumb and some deaf,
and some thought they could not see, and others could not walk. He
says that some people considered them possessed of the devil, and that
it was the presence of this very undesirable spirit that hampered
their activities in various ways and made it impossible for them to
use their powers properly. The description of the cases makes it very
clear that he is referring to hysterical conditions of various kinds
and the sequel as to the successful treatment which he says was
frequently employed on them more than confirms the inference of
hysteria and demonstrates the very definite hysterical character of
the affection. Many a physician down through the ages has been
inclined to think that these people were possessed of a bad spirit of
some kind, even though he might not be quite ready to think that a
personal devil had taken hold of them and was seriously hampering
their functions. We recognize that the real trouble is with their own
spirit, to which may be applied whatever epithets come to mind, and no
one will think them exaggerations; this spirit has lost its control of
their activities, rendering them incapable of exercising their
functions properly.

There is a very widespread tradition, which has found its way into
medical literature especially, that the fervent practice of religion
in women has a very definite tendency to make them neurotic.
Particularly when religious devotion is associated with mortification
and fasting, it is supposed to be serious in its effects. It is the
custom to make references to such pious women as St. Catherine {227}
of Siena and St. Theresa of Spain as typically exemplifying this
neuroticizing tendency.

Any one who really knows the lives of either of these women will not
be likely to think that they were neurotic in any proper sense of that
word at all. Both of them were not weak but had immensely strong
characters, veritable towers of strength in supremely difficult times,
supporting not only their own heavy burdens but helping others around
them to bear theirs. Of Catherine of Siena, Swinburne, the English
poet, surely not a sanctimonious person, whose sentimentality might
lead to admiration for the hysterical bizarre, but who had studied her
career because so many incidents in her life have been the subject of
great paintings by a number of the greatest painters of Italy, said:

  "Then in her sacred saving hands
  She took the sorrows of the lands,
  With maiden palms she lifted up
  The sick time's blood-embittered cup,
  And in her virgin garment furled
  The faint limbs of a wounded world.
  Clothed with calm love and clear desire.
  She went forth in her soul's attire,
  A missive fire."

The great hospital at Siena was rebuilt in honor of Catherine shortly
after her death because of the fact that she had spent many years of
her comparatively brief life there; she died at thirty-two in personal
service of all kinds to the patients suffering from every manner of
disease, even leprosy, who were in the institution. (The lepers were
housed apart from the others.) She placated so many feuds among the
noble families of Siena, feuds that were the cause of as many murders
as the worst {228} of our own in Kentucky, that she was asked to be
the envoy of peace when cities were at war, and it was she who
eventually by her influence brought the Popes back from Avignon to
Rome and thus put an end to the great disorders in the Italian

St. Theresa, the great Spanish mystic of the sixteenth century, the
other "horrible example," held up even by some neurologists, of
hysterical tendencies due to religion and mortification, proves, when
studied in real life, to have been at least as great and strong a
character as Catherine of Siena. She well deserves the name of saint
as a leader in unselfishness, but besides she had a fine sense of
humor. That is what neurotic people lack above all--a sense of humor.
All sorts of distinguished men in the Spain of her time--and in the
sixteenth century Spain was by far the greatest country in Europe, her
sovereigns ruling most of Europe and the greater part of America, and
the nation gave birth to great art, literature, architecture and
philosophy--turned to consult St. Theresa in their difficulties. She
wrote a series of books that have been republished in every cultured
language in Europe at least once a century ever since, and our own
generation has been sedulous in the study of Theresa's writings. No
less than a dozen lives of her have been written in English in the
twentieth century. This Spanish lady who died three hundred and fifty
years ago is still a very living force in the world.

Owing to the special conditions under which much of my work is
accomplished, I am brought in contact with a great many religious
women every year. For some twenty years I have spent some days each
summer with groups of religious communities where large numbers were
assembled for special intellectual and spiritual work. The {229}
mother superior has often consulted me with regard to some of her
daughters who had special nervous manifestations, but it is a
never-ending source of surprise to find how few of them suffer from
the nervous symptoms so common in our time. Considering the fact that
they spend their lives very largely indoors, that they live on very
simple food--and sometimes I have been inclined to think with scarcely
enough nor sufficient variety to make them capable of the amount and
demanding nature of work they have to do--fewer of them suffer from
nervous symptoms or affections than women of the same class who are
living at home and on whom the demands are not nearly so strenuous.
Their religious duties, instead of being in any way a drain on their
nerve force, though I have often heard it said that teachers ought not
to be required to give quite so much time to their religious duties,
represent a reservoir of energy from which they draw strength and
above all placidity of mind and consequent power to accomplish more
than would otherwise be the case.

My duties often bring me into contact with numbers of sisters during
their hours of recreation, so-called, and I do not think that I have
ever seen a happier, heartier group of people than they make during
these periods of relaxation. I have always considered it a privilege
to share recreation after dinner or supper with a dozen sisters when I
am lecturing in one of the smaller towns, and we have often laughed so
heartily together that I have sometimes wondered what the neighbors
would think of us. People with a sense of humor like this are not
likely to have hysterical tendencies. Nervousness is at bottom
selfishness, and there is always a great deal of conceit in it.
Religious women are likely to be humble, and that means much in
keeping them from various magnifications {230} of their ego which so
often result in nervous and mental symptoms.

I have often ventured to say that I was quite sure that a religious
house, especially where there were many young people, in which
laughter came easily and was heard frequently during the times
appropriate for it, was sure to be a place of real spirituality and
happiness. I have often dared to remind them that the one place where
one hears no real laughter, though sometimes sounds are made
resembling it, is an insane asylum. People who are ready to laugh are
usually eminently sane. Above all, they do not take themselves too
seriously. It is taking one's self and one's feelings too seriously
that is the root of a great deal of nervous and mental disturbance in
this little world of ours. Certainly the discipline of heart and mind
and body and the feeling of satisfaction from duty well done that
comes in connection with that complete sacrifice of themselves in a
great religious cause which members of religious orders make, so far
from predisposing them to nervous disease has just exactly the
opposite effect.

Nervous diseases, instead of being fostered or fomented by religion,
are on the contrary repressed rather effectually and equilibrium given
even to those in whom some hereditary elements might have proved
disturbing. This does not mean that all the religious minded are free
from nervous symptoms, and it must not be forgotten that not every one
who says "Lord, Lord," gets into the kingdom of heaven, either on
earth or hereafter, but religion must be counted as an asset and not a
liability in this matter. It will not overcome strong hereditary
tendencies, and it will not help efficaciously those who do not submit
to the discipline that true religious feeling entails, and of {231}
course religion is not a panacea for the ills of mankind, though it
must be counted a therapeutic adjuvant and not a nervous irritant.

Professor Foerster, whom one is tempted to quote because of the
thoroughgoing thoughtfulness of his treatment of many of these
subjects and his wise conservatism founded on that deep consideration,
has discussed the question of repression of self in matters of purity
as a possible source of nervous troubles of various kinds.
Freudianism, as it is called, which has attracted so much attention in
recent years, would seem to suggest the conclusion that a great many
of the nervous symptoms of humanity are due to the repression of sex
impulses. Foerster has pointed out that just the opposite is true, and
that there never was a time when there was so little real
self-repression and also never a time when there was so much
functional nervous disease. He said:

  "From this point of view there can be no doubt that the modern
  theory of 'living one's nature out' is largely responsible for the
  nervous degeneration of to-day, and that the widespread hysteria in
  modern life does not spring from those remnants of discipline and
  idealism which are still operative amongst us. One is compelled to
  ask indeed with astonishment, with what right Freud finds the
  dangers of repression so alarming in an age which is conspicuous for
  self-indulgence. In reality there has never been an age which was
  less influenced by the spirit of abnegation and repression than is
  our own. The present age is one of disintegration, in which natural
  instincts have largely broken away from their controlling higher
  ideals; if, therefore, it suffers to a peculiar degree from
  nervousness, one can hardly look for the cause in the fact that it
  constitutes a high-water mark of control and {232} discipline. The
  precisely opposite conclusion would be nearer the mark."

Professor Foerster admits, however, that it is perfectly possible that
people who have no good motive for self-repression and who suppress
instincts only out of the merest human respect and cowardice as to
results, may very well suffer some of the consequences that Freud has
pointed out. He says:

  "There is one point, however, in which one can entirely agree with
  Freud, or at any rate allow oneself, through him, to be led to the
  recognition of an important psychological and pedagogical truth.
  There are to-day certain circles who cling to the old ethical
  tradition only through considerations of an outward description, as
  the result of a species of timidity which keeps them from breaking
  with respectable customs; and yet these people are, at the bottom of
  their hearts, believers in a view of life of a totally different
  description--one which attaches no value or meaning to self-mastery
  and self-denial."

Almost needless to say this obscuration of religious motives with the
result of leaving the individual too much at the mercy of the merely
physical without adequate principles for self-control is not the fault
of religion but of its very opposite--irreligion. Foerster's words are
all-important for the understanding of an important phase of the
discussion of the cause and cure of nervous and psychic symptoms of
various kinds which has attracted much more attention outside of
medical circles than it deserves.

The danger of the absence of religious motives in the world, because
of the persuasion that new discoveries are doing away with the
necessity for faith, has also been emphasized by Professor Foerster,
who said:


  "Along with the disappearance of belief in a spiritual world arises
  the danger that even earnest and noble men and women will be
  influenced in their consideration of the deeper things of life by
  the newest and most tangible facts alone, and will be inaccessible
  to all arguments going beyond the scope of mere practical sense and
  expediency. It would appear as if the preponderance of an intellect
  directed towards external things destroyed not only belief in the
  invisible world in a religious sense, but also undermined the power
  of grasping the full value and reality of certain _imponderabilia_
  in earthly life, and of understanding the deep-growing spiritual
  injuries which may proceed from apparently harmless and even
  outwardly beneficial things."




The most fruitful source of neurotic affections and especially of what
have come to be termed in recent years the psychoneuroses, those
disturbances of nerve function due to an unfortunate state of mind,
are the dreads or, as they have been called, the fear thoughts of
mankind. Men as well as women develop, in the sense of fostering,
often almost unconsciously to themselves, a dread of the ulterior
significance of some symptom, or feeling, or disturbance of function,
which serves to make them extremely uncomfortable. The physical
sensation which they experience and which is the basis and the source
of the dread may be only a quite normal physiological feeling common
to all humanity, heightened by overattention to it, but the fearsome
state of mind will cause it to assume the significance of a definite
symptom of some serious disease or, what may be worse, an indefinite
symptom of some impending affection which, in the opinion of the
sufferer, may be as yet too inchoate for the physician to recognize
its real significance.

It is not a question of an imaginary ill, as a rule, and there is but
seldom a real hallucination or creation by the fantasy out of nothing,
of the ailment from which these people suffer, but there is an
exaggeration of some slight or at least comparatively insignificant
feeling to {235} an extent that makes it assume a serious aspect. This
inhibits normal function, lessens appetite and exercise, at times even
disturbs sleep, and so brings about some at least of the ailments that
are dreaded.

Not infrequently these dreads are very vague. People wake in the
morning with a sense of depression and the feeling that something is
hanging over them. As a result they feel out of sorts, their appetite
for breakfast is blunted and they begin the day very badly just
because of this incubus of vague disturbance of mind. Almost anything
that happens during the day will emphasize their depression; as a
consequence lunch may be skimped, they do not get out as they should,
and a vicious circle of influences is begun. Perhaps they eat rather
heartily for dinner and then fall asleep in their chair afterwards
over the evening paper, and then find that when they go to bed they do
not sleep promptly as they expected to. They worry over it, feeling
there must be something the matter with them, since they cannot sleep
lying down though they could sleep so well in the chair, and if there
should be a repetition of these feelings the next day, it is easy to
understand how a psychoneurosis would be started which might easily,
if eating and outing and exercise were to continue to be neglected,
develop into a serious condition. Many a case of nervous breakdown has
a beginning as simple as this, and people of nervous temperament must
be constantly on guard against it.

Such patients--and they are much more common than might be thought and
they have been with us for thousands of years, for Plato describes
some of them and the oldest prescription in the world is a fumigation
that was directed to curing just such a neurotic condition--need to
have faith in themselves and faith in their Maker and to stop {236}
hesitating and doubting and thinking and dreading. I have known men,
but particularly women, who had been suffering in this way, become
converted so that they took up the practice of religion which they had
neglected before and proceeded to get immensely better. Of course,
there are any number of hypochondriacs among people who profess
religion, but they are the exceptions which prove the rule that fewer
people who have a real sense of religion and who take it seriously as
a guide of life suffer from dreads and the symptoms which result from
them than are to be found among the people who have given up the
belief and practice of their religion. This is particularly true of
those who belong to the old orthodox forms of religion which require
self-denial and self-control as part of the practice of religious
duties. As we have shown in the chapter on Nervous Diseases the
Quakers, the strict Methodists, the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox
Jews, get their reward for their submission to their religion even in
this world by lessened solicitude about themselves. Indeed there is
nothing that is more likely to dispel dreads than an abiding sense of
religion. If a man or a woman is convinced that there is a Providence
that oversees human life as well as the universe, in Whom "we live and
move and have our being" and of Whose infinite knowledge and power we
can have no doubt, the unreasonableness of dreads comes home to him.
The man who prays every morning, "Thy will be done on earth as it is
in heaven", must have the feeling that His will _will_ be
accomplished, and that is all that any of us can ask for. Somehow that
is for the best, though we may not be able to see just how. "If not a
sparrow falls to the ground but your Heavenly Father knoweth", and if,
as the Master said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings and
{237} not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs
of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more
value than many sparrows", surely the believer will keep himself at
least from being overworried by dreads. His disposition may be such
that he cannot dispose of them entirely, but at least the best source
of consolation and strength is to be found in that strong faith for
which there are so many strengthening expressions against the fears
and dreads of life to be found in the sacred writings.

How many striking sentences there are in the Scriptures to help
against these solicitudes: "And which of you with taking thought can
add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing
which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?" How one is tempted
to quote others of the expressions in that same wonderful chapter of
Luke (XII). "The life is more than the meat and the body is more than
raiment. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which
neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them; how much more
are ye better than the fowls. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God;
and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock;
for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you a kingdom." All over
the Scriptures are passages that are meant to be fear-dispelling and
that have been for many men and women in many generations. For fear is
often the state of man unless he has something to cling to. "Fear not,
I am with thee."... "Fear ye not, nor be afraid, have I not told
thee."... "Fear not, I am the first and the last, for I the Lord thy
God will hold thy right hand, saying to thee fear not, I will help

Scientists have recognized that religion and science {238} were
coördinate factors for the neutralization of the dreads that disturb
humanity. Professor H. D. Seeley, who was for many years professor of
geography, geology and mineralogy at Kings College, London, and who
was a distinguished Fellow of most of the important English scientific
societies, the Royal, Linnean, Geological, Zoological and
Geographical, stated in his little work, "Factors in Life", his views
as regards the place of religion in dissipating the fear thoughts of
life, and places it side by side with science itself in this respect.
He said:

  "To the religious neither life nor death has terrors, and in freeing
  existence from its greater anxieties the influence of Religion works
  on the same foundation of moral efforts as Science. The sciences are
  the sisters of Religion in that they unfold something of the laws by
  which the universe is governed, and by which man's life is directed.
  They are thus far the stepping-stones of faith. And those who have
  learned that health is the reward which man may gain by moral
  discipline, that mental vigour may be augmented by the wise (or
  moral) use of food, and that education is the systematic exercise of
  moral responsibility in any or all the affairs of life, may find
  that in the practice and pursuit of the truths of Science they are
  conscious of a religious education which is a light to the feet.
  Such matters are factors in life, which may educate us in a reverent
  appreciation of religious truth and divine government of the world."

Many physicians of large experience have recognized the value of an
abiding religious faith as a remedy for many of these dreads and
doubts which so pester mankind and make so many people suffer even
from physical symptoms that seem surely to have only material causes
as their basis because they so hamper the will to live. {239} Sir Dyce
Duckworth, the distinguished English physician, once wrote to a

  "What is always needed is a reverent study and a full acknowledgment
  of God as a Father and as the great 'All in All.' In my experience
  the only solution of all our difficulties is to maintain a humble,
  child-like faith and a confident trust in the perfect love of God,
  who 'knows whereof we are made, and remembers that we are but dust.'

  "With that and perfect love, there need be no fear, and all will
  come right in His own time. That is the faith to live by and to die
  with, and the happiest people (and the happiest of the dying) are
  those who hold firm by that faith.

  "This is my experience after much thought, much knowledge of human
  nature, and not a little study of all the difficulties you relate to

But it must not be thought that these dreads cause only the trivial
instances of nervous breakdown in which people never very capable give
way before the strenuous call of commercial life in the large cities
of our time. Nor must it be thought that education is dispelling them.
Some idea of the important role that dreads may play in the production
of human ills that seem to be very serious and that often prove quite
incapacitating for mental and physical work, even in men of fine
abilities and proven powers, may be gathered from what happened during
the recent Great War. The Allied nations had to maintain some fifty
thousand beds behind the lines for the accommodation of patients
suffering from functional nervous affections really founded on dreads.
At the beginning these cases were misunderstood, and they were
unfortunately called "shell shock" because they seemed so serious that
it was thought that they were {240} due to some concussion of the
nervous system, that is, some shaking up of its elements that made it
impossible for it to function normally, even though there were no
external signs of injury. After a time, however, it came to be
appreciated that the great majority of these patients were suffering
from major hysteria due to loss of control over the nervous system as
a consequence of the almost inevitable dreads which developed in the
awful conditions of warfare in the trenches, with its terrifying
sights and sounds, and with the intense strain put upon the nervous
system because of the demands made upon physical energy almost to the
point of exhaustion.

After loss of sleep and irregular eating, wet feet for days at a time,
exposure to the inclemencies of the weather and then having to
withstand an enemy attack, often at dawn after a fearsome barrage had
been laid down on them for hours, it is no wonder that in many cases
men's nervous control did give way. They were not cowards, they were
not malingerers; on the contrary they were often brave men who had
volunteered for the service, giving up important positions at home to
take up the defense of their country; and yet after a time their
dreads dominated them and they suffered from all sorts of symptoms.
Some of them could not see, a number could not hear; some could not
use their legs, and some could not employ their arms properly; some
walked with a limp, some had tremor that made their usefulness as
soldiers absolutely at an end. Nearly all of them had a series of
complaints which they wanted to detail in all their minuteness to
every physician who came near. Their stories of what had happened were
mainly untrue or utter exaggerations of the actual events, and yet
these men were not liars and they were not the doddering idiots that
they sometimes {241} seemed to be; they were just fellow mortals who
meant to do their best, and who had been affected in this way because
they were asked to stand what was beyond their strength of soul to

The educated suffered more than the uneducated. There were four times
as many "shell shock" cases among the officers of the British army in
proportion to their number as there were among the privates. Neither
ambition nor nobility nor any artificial distinction of any kind
seemed to make any difference, for all classes and conditions of men
came down with it. Its frequence can be very well judged from the fact
that one third of all the dismissions from the British army, not
counting the wounded, was for "shell shock", which of course should be
called by its proper name of major hysteria. One seventh of all the
dismissions, if the wounded were included, was for this reason. It had
been the custom to think before the war that only a comparatively few
men, mostly those of a certain feministic appearance and delicacy of
constitution, were likely to suffer from hysteria. It was found,
however, that college graduates who stood at the head of their
classes, athletes who held records, broad-shouldered, healthy men who
had been considered to be the very acme of common sense, men who were
supposed to be without a nerve in their make-up, all these proved to
have "nerves"; and when the war "got on their nerves", they suffered
from the complaints which we have mentioned and many others, including
pains and discomforts of all kinds, and inabilities and incapacities,
motor and sensory as well as of the memory, of the mind or the will.

This recent significant experience will give some idea of how potent
dreads may be in the production of {242} symptoms which seem surely to
be due to physical rather than merely mental conditions. Most people
would probably be inclined to think that in so far as dreads produced
diseases by the exaggeration of minor symptoms, at most scarcely more
than mental conditions of discomfort would result from them. What are
called the psychoneuroses, that is, the neurotic affections dependent
on the state of mind, may simulate almost any of the organic
conditions and may seem to be serious diseases. Through the creation
of unfortunate habits, they may give rise to a great many rather
severe physical symptoms. The war neuroses emphasized this for us.
Inability to use limbs, either legs or arms, is quite common in
connection with them; disturbances of sensation, such as defective
hearing and eyesight, or even what seems to be complete blindness and
deafness, may develop. Tremors are quite common, and pains and aches
in connection with the disabilities of the limbs are extremely

A very usual experience is to find that a patient has as a preliminary
suffered some injury. This may not be very severe, but it is enough to
cause the sufferer to spare the limb that is affected; and
unfortunately physicians sometimes put a limb with a minor affection
in plaster of Paris or in a splint for a time. The patient's own
solicitude with regard to the hurt may cause almost as effective
splinting of it as a plaster cast or wooden slat and a bandage.
Whenever this happens, the unused muscles lose some of their
nutrition. This is due partly to the fact that the circulation is
interfered with because the active contraction of muscles, especially
of the legs, is depended on by nature to help the venous or return
circulation by bringing about compression of the veins. The valves in
the veins are so arranged that when the {243} veins are compressed and
the blood thus pressed out of them, it cannot move away from the heart
but is impelled onward toward the heart. Besides, the sending down of
nervous impulses for the active use of muscles increases the size of
the arteries to the part by direct action on their walls, and whenever
there is failure to send impulses down, the arteries do not carry as
much blood as usual, and the nutrition of the part suffers as a

If this inactive state of the muscles continues for a few days, they
will become somewhat flaccid, and after a week or more will actually
begin to decrease in size. As a consequence of this, they cannot be
used to as good advantage as before, and use of them sets up an achy
condition as soon as the limb is set free for use, whether it has been
splinted by the physician or by the patient's mind. If the patient is
still solicitous, he notices this condition of pain and concludes that
it means that the muscles are not yet in the condition of health where
they should be used, and he puts on the splints, metaphorical or
literal, once more. The muscles grow more flaccid and eventually
atrophic as a consequence, until sometimes there will be a difference
of more than an inch in the girth of two limbs at the same point, and
this atrophy may proceed much farther. It seems almost impossible to
believe that men and women could thus make a limb useless, but this is
actually what happens rather frequently. The effects of the original
injury will pass off in a few days, but the effects of the disuse of
the limb may remain for months or even years because of the
disturbance of circulation and of nerve impulse. It is probable that
the nerves themselves have a trophic or nutritional--that is,
vitalizing--influence upon muscles. Some physiologists actually talk
of there being {244} trophic fibers in the nerves, though it would
seem more reasonable to think that the nerve trophic effect comes from
the modification of the circulation to the part.

Whenever muscles have to be increased in size or won back from an
atrophic condition, the individual to whom they belong must go through
a period of soreness and tenderness in those muscles which often is
very hard to bear. The young fellow who, after a rather relaxed
summer, begins training for the football team in the fall, knows how
sore and tender his muscles have become. After the first day or two of
training, each time he wakes up at night he turns over in bed with the
feeling that every bit of him is full of tenderness. Any number of
people under similar circumstances are inclined to think that they
must have caught cold. They usually reason thus: "I got into a
perspiration and sat down for a while and then took cold, and that is
the reason for all this painful condition that has developed."

That word "cold" is as unfortunate as "shell shock." There is no such
thing as taking cold. We catch infections, but much more frequently in
fall and spring than in winter. The young man who is in training
usually pays no attention to such unfavorable suggestions or dreads,
since he knows that he must take his medicine of further hard exercise
until he has hardened and developed his muscles and then, instead of
their causing discomfort, nothing in the world gives him so much
satisfaction as their active exercise.

Older people, however, and especially those who have what may be
called a "dready" disposition, do not call their muscle discomfort
soreness and tenderness; they speak of pains and aches. The very words
carry a suggestion of evil with them, and above all they carry with
{245} them an inhibitory suggestion which keeps muscles from being
used normally. If, then, certain older people get an injury, even
though it may not be very serious, so long as it causes them to give
up the use of a limb for a while, or sets them to using the muscles of
it a little differently from before, a psychoneurosis on the basis of
a dread, but with the physical basis of somewhat atrophied muscles to
keep it up, may develop and persist for weeks and months and even
years. As a consequence of this state--much more of the mind than the
body--men may walk lame or be very awkward in the use of one arm, or
they may have a little stoop, or they may dread very much the using of
some group of muscles. Such conditions occasionally occur in the neck
or in various parts of the back, and especially in the lumbar region,
with strikingly visible effects.

It might seem impossible that such conditions should develop and
persist for any length of time in sensible and above all intelligent
people, and yet I suppose that every physician's case book contains a
number of examples. After he has been in practice for ten years or
more this will surely be true, if he has had much to do with nervous
patients. One of the most distinguished scientists that we had in this
country, possessed of one of the finest intellects of our generation,
thoroughly sensible and noted for his executive ability, suffered from
a slight attack of sciatica, to which he had been predisposed by some
unusual work in connection with a heavy fall of snow when he had to go
out and do the shoveling himself, since labor was not available. He
never quite got over it. For some time he carried two crutches because
he had so little confidence in putting down the foot on that side,
after having spared it for a {246} while. Then for several years he
carried a single crutch. In the meantime he was examined by half a
dozen of the best physicians in the country, who could find nothing
the matter with him except that disuse had rendered the muscles of
that leg slightly atrophic, and he would have to push through a period
of soreness and tenderness while exercising them. He carried a cane
ever afterwards, walked a little lame and favored that leg.

Persistent sciaticas of this kind and lumbagoes are much more common
than they are thought. It was a case of this kind, undoubtedly, that
brought about Bernheim's interest in hypnotism at Nancy and initiated
that wave of attention to hypnotism at the end of the nineteenth
century which did so much harm. A patient who had suffered from
sciatica for some years and walked a little lame as a consequence came
under Bernheim's care, and he tried without success every therapeutic
resource at his command to make him better. Finally his patient gave
up calling on him, completely discouraged. He had gone to a great many
physicians before Bernheim, and all of them had failed to do him any
effectual good. They could relieve his discomfort for a while, but
when he stopped taking drugs, that returned and his limb could be used
no better than before.

Some months after Bernheim missed the patient from his clinic he met
him on the street one day, walking perfectly straight without his cane
and evidently entirely well. He was so much interested that he stopped
to ask what had cured him. The patient told him he had gone around to
Liebault, who, almost alone in Europe, was still practicing hypnotism,
for the practice had been greatly discredited by certain exposures in
England shortly after the middle of the century. Bernheim, who had
ignored {247} Liebault's work before, now took an interest in it and
found of course that hypnotism--or indeed, though Bernheim did not
know that, anything else that would give these patients the confidence
to push through a period of tenderness and soreness in regaining the
use of their muscles--would cure them. The incident began that period
of reawakened interest in hypnotism which now constitutes such a
ludicrous series of events in the medicine of the end of the
nineteenth century.

Such cases are by no means so uncommon as they might be thought. I
have known the teacher of a high school to slip while coming out of
school, fall on his knee, bruise it rather badly, and then have this
bruised condition heal very well, only to develop in the course of a
few weeks a distinct inability to use the muscles of that leg
properly, until he had to walk with a marked limp. The circumference
of the limb above the knee reduced distinctly in size, it suffered
more from cold than did the other one; it perspired more freely; it
was distinctly more sensitive to the touch, and it would seem as
though there must be some serious underlying nervous condition. He
passed through the hands of several specialists, including one who
wanted to remove a cartilage in the knee joint which he said had been
dislocated, and another who insisted that he was suffering from a
neuritis of a branch of the sciatic nerve, and who wanted to inject
water within the sheath of it or at least lay it bare and stretch it.
Fortunately we persuaded him to join an athletic club and take more
exercise than usual and above all exercise that limb. He had had
massage and passive movements for it, but these are of very little
service in these cases, because the nervous impulses must come down
from above. It would almost seem as though the {248} will sent down
some of its own creative energy through the nerves which lead to the
part. He is now entirely well, though he suffered for several years,
and absolutely nothing was done for him except to make him eat better
and make him push through a period of soreness and tenderness--he used
to call them pains and aches before we explained the condition to
him--until he had properly recovered the use of his limb.

On the other hand, I have known a good clergyman with a rather similar
condition to this, who had bumped his shin bone not far below the knee
and after recovery from that had developed a marked psychoneurosis in
the muscles above the knee, refuse to be cured by any such simple
procedure as merely exercising himself back to health. He could not
bring himself to think that it was only his own lack of will power
that had caused the condition to develop. Above all he needed
something external to cure him. He finally went to a bone-setter, one
of these old fellows who claim to be the seventh son of a seventh son,
or something of that kind, possessed of marvelous hereditary power and
instinctive intuition in the matter of setting bones right, and who
cure nearly everything under the sun and a few other things besides by
their supposed bone-setting processes. My clerical friend was sure
that he had been cured by the bone-setter, but any physician would
have told him that what had happened was that his faith in his healer
had released his inhibition of his muscles and given him the
confidence to go on and use them as they should be used,--that is, of
course, as far as he possibly could at first. Then they were gradually
restored to their former condition of health and strength. That is
what happened, and he has had no recurrence. He is quite {249} sure,
however, that the trouble was a subluxation of his hip joint, which
the bone-setter set right, thus allowing nervous impulses and the
blood to flow properly through the part once more. His own will was
the only obstacle and it was that alone that had to be overcome and
used as a therapeutic agent.

These patients are the stock in trade of all sorts of irregular
practitioners. Whenever they think anything is the matter with them
they must be "cured"; they never get better of themselves. They need
something or somebody to which to pin their faith. It is the hardest
thing in the world to find out what is the matter with a man who has
nothing the matter with him except a state of mind and its
consequences in his physical condition. He must have his state of mind
changed first of all, and usually he requires some rather strong
suggestion for that purpose. What is likely to affect him most
favorably is some novel or unusual method of treatment, or some new
discovery in science recently applied to medicine, or some new method
of healing, or some supposedly new invention or discovery in
therapeutics. These patients are a veritable nuisance in medicine. It
is the cures of them, made by all sorts of new-fangled remedies, which
make it so difficult for physicians to judge whether a new remedy has
a positive favorable physical effect or only a mental influence.

Very probably the best appreciation of the place of dreads in life and
how much of good is accomplished by their neutralization can be
obtained from the number of sufferers of all kinds who are cured by
all sorts of new remedies which prove after a time to have no physical
effect at all. We have discussed this subject of the {250} remedies
that have come and gone in medicine in the volume "Psychotherapy." It
has been very well said that the most important chapter in the history
of medicine is that of the cures that have failed. It illustrates very
thoroughly how much influence the mind has over the body, and
particularly how much dreads have meant for the production of symptoms
which have been relieved whenever the patient had his dreads lifted,
no matter what might be the agent to accomplish this purpose. Instead
of decreasing, dreads have increased just in proportion as popular
education has spread and more people have been able to read and
receive unfavorable suggestions of all kinds. This has been
particularly true with the diminution of the influence of religion
over people's minds.

All sorts of religious substitutes which would give people enough
confidence in themselves to enable them to throw off their dreads have
gained vogue and have come to be very popular institutions in recent
years. Dowie, who claimed he was Elijah returned to earth, and
Schlatter, who said that he was divinely inspired to cure people, were
as successful in the twentieth century as Greatrakes "the stroker,"
who said that the Holy Ghost appeared to him in a dream and told him
to heal people, in the seventeenth. Metaphysical healing of all kinds
has been successful, and spiritualistic healing and new thought and
magnetic healing, with as little magnetism about it as Mesmer's famous
battery which had no electricity,--all these have cured people. All
sorts of healers are successful just because they lift the dreads and
make people forget the inhibitions that they have been exercising over
their functions. Indeed this state of fear thought is one of the most
prolific sources of {251} symptoms, or rather let us say of
complaints, that medicine has to do with at all times, hence the
importance of the chapter of the cures that have failed. Almost any
religious feeling will be helpful in the matter, but an abiding sense
of rational religion will save many people from being imposed on by
all sorts of upstart theories and religious systems which base their
claim to recognition on these cures of human beings.

These patients furnish a great many of the cures made at shrines. That
is why at every shrine there are so many crutches and canes and braces
and belts and splints and supports of various kinds to be seen. They
have been left there by grateful patients who were able to drop them
as the result of the change of mind that came over them during their
devotions. Many cures besides these occur at shrines, and I have taken
a good deal of pains to assure myself that most of the affections that
are healed at them are quite different from these psychoneuroses. Over
sixty per cent of the cures made at Lourdes, for instance, are of
tuberculosis processes. Many of these are of external visible lesions.
Some of them, after years of progress in spite of all sorts of
treatment, heal over in the course of twenty-four hours. I have seen
this happen to a lupus, at Lourdes, during my stay there, and I do not
know how to explain that incident by any natural process. To me it
seemed surely supernatural. I know that there are some physicians who
suggest that we do not know all the possibilities of the therapeutic
effect of the mind on the body, and somehow there may be included in
the psychotherapeutic armamentarium the power to heal tissues rapidly,
even when they have been the subject of a chronic granulomatous
process for years, but I cannot but think that is {252} merely an
effort to retain what seems to me plainly miraculous within the domain
of the natural.

I know too that Doctor Boissarie's experience, so carefully noted and
written out in his clinic at Lourdes, shows that there are cases of
real joint trouble which have been cured with similar rapidity, but
these are very rare. Most of the halt and crippled who are cured at
shrines have simply been the victims of an attitude of mind which has
affected their muscles and their use of certain joints unfavorably, so
that they had to carry crutches or canes or wear braces. The deep
influence of religion will cure them very often, but it is not a
miracle in any supernatural sense of the word, though it is a
wonderful event, and that is all that miracle means by etymology.
Indeed, professors of neurology have occasionally foretold that
certain of these patients would perhaps be cured at shrines, and their
prophecies in specific instances have been fulfilled. The cures are
examples of what faith can do in lifting a dread, but that faith may
be exercised with regard to much less worthy objects than are
presented at shrines and yet work successfully. When George Cohan, in
the "Miracle Man", had the cure that attracted attention to the "new
prophet" occur with regard to a lame boy, he was eminently wise in the
selection of just the type of case that could very readily be cured
that way, and yet the fact that the boy had been lame for years and
now walked perfectly made the healer seem a veritable wonder worker.

Dreads have always been with mankind, and their effects upon human
bodies have been the stock in trade of the medicine man in primitive
tribes and among savages and of his successors in suggestive medicine
among educated and even cultivated people down to our own {253} time.
They can be conjured away by almost any impression that is deep enough
to produce a favorable suggestion. Religion of all kinds has been
appealed to successfully to neutralize them. The one rational cure for
them is a deep sense of confidence in the Almighty and in an
overruling Providence which serves to dissipate the phobic state of
mind with its inevitable inhibitions on bodily functions. It may be
necessary for its successful working that the correction of many minor
physical ills should be secured, but the all-important basis of
successful treatment for the psychoneurosis and the many ailments of
mankind which are complicated by psychic states is a thoroughgoing
belief that God is in His heaven and all is well with the world, even
though there may be difficulties to be overcome, hardships to be
borne, and many things that are far from easy to understand.




The problem of the meaning of suffering and evil in the world is the
greatest natural mystery that man has to face. It has raised the
question as to whether life is worth living or not in some minds. It
causes a great many people to be disturbed about the meaning of life
and has led some sensitive people to conclude that there cannot be an
overseeing, all-wise Providence since otherwise He would surely
prevent all the needless suffering there is in the world. Biologists,
owing to their occupation with the thought of the struggle for
existence in current theories of evolution, have been particularly
inclined to say that they could not think that there was a Providence
because there was so much of carnage in nature, so much ruthless
destruction of life amid suffering for which it would be hard to find
any satisfactory reason. There has been no little exaggeration in this
view, for a calm review of conditions as they obtain in nature shows
not so much of active contest as a healthy competition for the means
of existence, in the midst of which death comes to the weakling
without anything like the suffering so much emphasized.

It must not be forgotten that the supersensitiveness of the sedentary
student must be taken into account in the appreciation of the
significance of such a declaration, {255} for the recluse scientist
often shrinks from trials that the active outdoors man finds only a
stimulus to action, which serve to develop powers and give
satisfaction rather than any real suffering. The incentive to have
life and to have it more abundantly which this affords to heartier
natures makes the poet's expression, _forsan et haec olim meminisse
juvabit_, "perhaps we shall be glad to recall these hardships in the
time to come", easy to appreciate. Life without suffering would lack
that contrast which saves it from the dull monotony that might tempt
to waste of energy in dissipation.

Perhaps the best illustration of the actual benefit to man which
accrues from suffering is to be found in the fact that one of the
surprising results of the presence of the mystery of suffering in the
world is that meditation over it has given rise to the five greatest
dramatic poems that were ever written. Men contemplating it have been
led to the expression of the deepest thoughts that have ever stirred
minds. These great poems have come at longer and shorter intervals
during four thousand years, from Job, the essential ideas for which
probably date from about 1800 B.C., though its literary form is much
later, through AEschylus' "Prometheus", Shakespeare's "Hamlet",
Calderon's "The Wonder-working Magician", down to Goethe's "Faust." Of
these five dramatizations of the mystery of human suffering, recurring
poetic impersonations of Hamlet's

  "The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
  That ever I was born to set it right!"

the greatest, as conceded by all the critics, is not--as might be
expected from the very prevalent impression that man makes wonderful
progress down the ages--the {256} last one, Goethe's "Faust", but is
the first one, Job. No one has ever expressed so well the only
reasonable attitude of mind that man must take in the presence of evil
and suffering as this "man of the land of Hus whose name was Job and
who was simple and upright and fearing God and avoiding evil", yet who
had to bear some of the severest trials that man has ever been called
upon to undergo.

Mr. H. G. Wells has recently, in one of his thought-stimulating
novels, shown us that verisimilitude of the most modern type could be
woven into a story which followed the outlines of the book of Job very
closely, so that far from being dead, even the novelty-seeking fiction
readers of our generation have brought home to them the fact that Job
is still a very living piece of literature. Job's answer to the
mystery of evil is that man must confess his inability to understand
it, but he can trust the God who "thunders wonderfully with His voice"
and "doth great and unsearchable things", "who commandeth the snow to
go down on the earth and the winter rain", "who knoweth what ways the
light spreads and heat divideth on the earth", "who joins together the
shining stars, the pleiads, and can stop the turning about of
Arcturus" and "who created behemoth and leviathan and can bind the
rhinoceros and has fashioned the ostrich." All that Job can say is, "I
know that Thou canst do everything and that no thought can be
withholden from Thee", therefore for any impatience that he may have
displayed over his suffering he reprehends himself and promises to do
penance in dust and ashes,--"and after this Job lived one hundred and
forty years and saw his sons and his sons' sons, even four
generations. So Job died, being old and full of days."


In any consideration of suffering, above all in connection with the
related subjects of health and religion, we must not forget that
suffering has always been a badge of the race, the common lot of men,
so that this very community of it greatly reduces human reaction
toward it, since the sufferer cannot help but note that every one else
must submit to it as well as himself. At times among those who fail to
think deeply enough this may be doubted. The poor may even envy the
rich because they suppose that they must by their riches escape
suffering, but most physicians soon learn to appreciate very well that
the mental discomforts of the wealthy, their disappointed social
ambitions, their thwarted aspirations after greater wealth, their envy
of their more successful neighbors, but above all their frequent
disappointment in their children, though it is almost invariably their
very wealth that has spoiled the children and brought their greatest
griefs on them, are really the source of much more genuine suffering
than the poor have to bear. The worries of life increase with
possessions, not decrease, as is fondly hoped, and as the author of
the "Romance of the Rose" said some seven centuries ago:

  "And he who what he holds esteems
  Enough, is rich beyond the dreams
  Of many a dreary usurer.
  And lives his life-days happier far;
  For nought it signifies what gains
  The wretched usurer makes, the pains
  Of poverty afflict him yet
  Who having, struggleth still to get."

Suffering must ever remain a mystery, especially when we take into
account the fact that all of us are profoundly possessed by the desire
for happiness. We can never {258} probe to the bottom of the mystery
and know all its meaning, but at least we can readily understand that
in the vast majority of cases, instead of being an evil, it is a good.
Nothing so deepens and develops character as suffering. Take the case
of our young men who went to the war--so many of them scarcely more
than boys, feeling but little of the responsibilities of life--and see
how they have come back to us matured by the hardships and sufferings
through which they had to go. Thucydides said nearly twenty-five
hundred years ago, "There is very little difference among men, only a
few of them rise above the great mass because they have gone through
hard things when they were young."

It would seem as though we had changed all that, for we are deeply
intent on making things just as easy as possible for the young, but a
generation ago Gladstone repeated Thucydides' expression with
heartiest approval, and twenty years ago John Morley, writing the life
of Gladstone, agreed with both of them. I wonder if there are two men
in our time who have known men better than Gladstone and Morley.

In that sense suffering is no mystery, and it is easy to see how it is
quite literally true that "Whom the Lord loves He chastises." It is
the chastisement of suffering that brings out the powers of men. Any
one who has not had to suffer in life is nearly always a self-centered
egoist without sympathy, but above all without that fellow feeling
that comes only from having gone through similar experience. He who
has not suffered has not really lived below the surface of his being
at all, and he does not know himself. To "know thyself" is the most
important thing in the world and the only way to know others. The men
who have done great thinking for us {259} have nearly always been men
who had to suffer much. It was a blind Milton who wrote "Paradise
Lost." When Camoëns wrote what German and French critics think--and
when Germans and French agree about anything there is probably a deep
underlying truth in it--the greatest epic in modern time, he was
starving in a garret, and his old Indian servant was begging for him
on the streets to secure enough to keep body and soul together until
the great work was finished. Cervantes wrote what Lord Macaulay called
"incomparably the greatest novel ever written" in a debtor's prison,
out of which it seemed he might never be able to secure his release.
Dante wrote what many think the greatest poem ever written during a
long exile in which he learned "how bitter it is to eat the bread of
other's tables." _Poeta laudatur et alget,_ "the poet is praised and
starves", is as true in our time as when Horace said it three
thousand years ago.

Goldwin Smith has brought out very clearly the fact that suffering and
evil are really a necessity in the world if this is to be a place of
trial, as every one believes, for of course such a belief represents
the only satisfactory explanation of life as we have it. Man must have
something to strive for and against if there are to be stepping stones
of our dead selves to higher things, and so it is not surprising that
Doctor Goldwin Smith should have said:

  "At the same time, so far as we can discern, character can be formed
  only by an effort which implies something against which to strive;
  so that without evil or what appears to us evil, character could not
  be formed. The existence of evil in fact, so far as we can see, is
  the necessary condition of active life."

Suffering has been with us from the beginning and it will always be
with us; instead of an evil it is one of God's {260} great gifts to
man, and yet it sometimes makes little souls bitter and swamps the
efforts of those who cannot rise above its trials. Religion is the one
element that is supremely helpful in this. Above all in the terminal
sufferings of mankind, when there is no longer any question of pain
that has to be borne in developing character for this life, the only
consolation is that to be derived from religion and a firm belief in a
hereafter and an acknowledgment of the fact that somehow God knows
best and all is for the best. Without this the awful suffering from
cancer which is increasing rather than diminishing, and which seems to
be so rooted in human nature that we shall probably never solve its
mystery or at least be able to secure human nature against it, as well
as ever so many other chronic sources of pain that will never cease
entirely until the end of life comes, become hideous specters for
humanity, and suffering has very little meaning.

No matter what our attitude of mind may be with regard to suffering,
there is no question but that we have to stand it under present
conditions in this little world of ours. During the next twelve months
scarcely less than one hundred thousand persons will die of cancer in
this country and a million and a half victims of the disease will
breathe their last throughout the world. When we add up all the
accidents in industry and transportation, all the wounds in war and
civil life, and then add the affections which in one way or another
cause mechanical stoppages of processes in the body, for these are the
exquisitely painful conditions, it is easy to understand that we need
consolation for suffering. An old medical axiom is that "the doctor
can seldom cure but he can often relieve and can always console."
There are a good many physicians, however, who feel their ability to
console sadly {261} hampered by the fact that so many men and women in
our time do not believe in a hereafter for which their sufferings in
this world can be a preparation, and that therefore the terminal
suffering of existence, of which there is and manifestly always will
be such an amount, can mean nothing for them except just so much pain
that has to be borne without any good reason that they can see, except
that somehow or other things were so arranged in this world that there
is ever so much more of pain and suffering than of joy in it.

Two thousand years ago Cicero said in his own oratorical way that it
was better for all of us to believe in immortality, for if there was
no immortality we should never live after death to know it--which
comes very near being an Irish bull by anticipation--while if there
was, and we had not believed in it, there would come a very rude
awakening to the truth of things. Something of the same problem has
been put in much more flippant and yet very expressive way in modern
slang. "If there is no other world than this, then some one handed us
an awful lemon when we were sent into existence." That is, I suppose,
one answer to the mystery of suffering so sure to come to all men in
some way or other, and it is one that counsels us to seek the only
real consolation for suffering,--that which is to be found in the
religious feeling that somehow or other, somewhere, there is some one
who knows and understands, and suffering has its meaning. "God's in
His heaven and all's well with the world" in spite of the fact that
"nature red in tooth and claw" works such sad havoc with her

What the belief in immortality and the feeling that this life is
merely its portico can accomplish in giving a man equanimity in the
face of disappointments and patient {262} fortitude under even
atrocious pain is very well illustrated by what Professor William
James has to say of Thomas Davidson in his essay on him.   [Footnote
9] Davidson died of cancer at a comparatively early age, considering
the length of life that many scholars enjoy, and for many years he
had prepared a large amount of material for that history of the
interaction of Greek, Christian Hebrew and Arabic thought on one
another before the revival of learning which was to be his Magnum
Opus. Davidson was destined never to finish the work. Professor James,
who had been an intimate friend and was so close to him in the
organization of the Glenmore School of the Culture Sciences on
Hurricane Mountain at the head of Keene Valley in the Adirondacks, had
felt the possibility of this accident of destiny and had inquired of
Davidson with regard to his great prospective work.

  [Footnote 9: "Memories and Studies", New York, 1911. ]

  "Knowing how short his life might be, I once asked him whether he
  felt no concern lest the work already done by him should be
  frustrate, from the lack of its necessary complement, in case he
  were suddenly cut off. His answer surprised me by its indifference.
  He would work as long as he lived, he said, but not allow himself to
  worry, and would look serenely at whatever might be the outcome.
  This seemed to me uncommonly high-minded. I think that Davidson's
  conviction of immortality had much to do with such a superiority to
  accidents. On the surface and toward small things, he was irritable
  enough, but the undertone of his character was remarkable for
  equanimity. He showed it in his final illness, of which the misery
  was really atrocious. There were no general complaints or
  lamentations about the personal situation or the arrest to his
  career. It was the human lot, and {263} he must even bear it; so he
  kept his mind upon objective matter."

Only a profound conviction of personal immortality will enable a man
who feels that he is cut off in the midst of his work to bear with
patience the final ailment which by its very progress is precluding
the possibility of accomplishing the task that he had set himself. Yet
this interruption of their chosen labor inevitably comes to a great
many men; for death, no matter how late it may seem to onlookers to
occur, happens untimely to most of humanity, even though they may
count up years far beyond the threescore and ten of the Psalmist.

The greatest resource in the midst of the suffering caused by the war
for soldiers and civilians has been religion. It was sadly needed, but
it was magnificently employed. Any one who saw how much their religion
meant to the soldiers who really had faith will appreciate very well
how valuable it was for them. Many a man who had given up his faith,
and this was particularly true of the French, found a new power to
dare and to do, and also to bear and to "carry on" in the religion
that it had seemed they could so readily dispense with before.

Colton, writing a series of aphorisms in "Lacon", a century ago,
declared that there are three arguments for atheism more effective
than any others,--health and wealth and friends. When we have our
health and an abundance of money at command, besides many and powerful
friends who seem willing to do everything that they can for us, we
feel but little need of God and then many men refuse to believe in
him. Necessity is a very precious thing, the mother not only of
invention, but of reverence and many other good qualities. But when
suffering comes, especially if wealth, and in that case of course,
{264} friends, have disappeared, God is a very firm support to lean
on. Many a man has found his faith again under such circumstances and
has realized how flimsy were the veils which he had allowed to come
between him and his recognition of his obligations to his Creator.

The presence of suffering and evil in the world has provided us with
one of the most striking arguments for the existence of God and of a
hereafter that we have. As Goldwin Smith said:

  "This at all events is certain: if death is to end all alike for the
  righteous and for the unrighteous, for those who have been blessings
  and for those who have been curses to their kind, the Power which
  rules the universe cannot be just in any sense of the word which we
  can understand."

Doctor Carroll, in "The Mastery of Nervousness"   [Footnote 10] has
summed up the value of suffering as a revealer of power and a bracer
of strength in words that are worth remembering. "None knows his real
strength till he has faced failure and tasted the bitterness of
defeat. Physical and mental suffering and soul pain come to all that
endurance may be developed, for without this the strength which
conquers can never be. The master man laughs in the face of personal
hurts; offenses fail to offend, insults fail to embitter; he turns
with shame from the so-called depths of suffering; for him honor and
majesty of soul are found upon the heights of suffering." In a word
the really brave man does not let himself sink under the burden of
suffering but maintains his place and stands up firmly under it. Under
these circumstances suffering, instead of being an evil, is a good.
After the showing of mercy, man is likest to God when he stands
suffering bravely and brings good out of evil even as Providence does.

  [Footnote 10: Macmillan, New York, 1918.]




Pain is one of the very hard things of life which most people find it
extremely difficult to bear with equanimity. I suppose that the
majority of human beings, especially when they are young, do not feel
nearly so much dread of death as they do of the possibility of years
of discomfort preceding it or even a short period of very acute pain
when nature is preparing for dissolution. Older folks learn to bear
physical pain better and come to appreciate how much harder to stand
is mental anguish. Modern life, with its cultivation of comforts and
conveniences and the elimination of discomforts of all kinds, has
greatly fostered the dread of pain. We hear much of the progress of
humanity founded on the increase of comfort, but that way lies
degeneracy and failure to take life seriously. Human character
develops under the stress of pain and even the body acquires
self-control through it and is trained under the discipline of pain
not to react so disturbingly as is the case when there has been no
experience with it or but very little.

We find it almost impossible to understand, now that we have
cultivated the comforts of life so sedulously, how men and women stood
the discomforts to which they were subjected in the ordinary run of
life practically every day two generations ago. A great many of them
slept {266} in little stuffy attics with scarcely any chance for the
free movement of air on the hot days of summer, often immediately
underneath a roof which had been exposed to the direct rays of the sun
all day long. In the winter not infrequently they broke the ice in
their pitchers to secure water for washing. Their heating arrangements
were so imperfect that in the colder months at least there was very
little possibility of comfort. A grate fire makes a very charming
ornamental addition to a room which is heated by steam or some other
modern heating arrangement, but when it is the only means of heating
it is not very efficacious except in milder weather. On very cold days
an open fire will heat one side of the individual, but not the whole
person, and at best the feet are likely to be cold because the open
fire must be fed with an abundance of air and the draft runs along the
floor in order to get to it. The story is told of an English public
school in the old days where the head master met one of the smaller
boys crying because of the cold; on being told what was the matter,
the head master simply remarked that "this was no young ladies'
seminary, and young gentlemen are expected to stand things without
tears." Twenty years later in India, during the Mutiny, just before
that boy who had cried from the cold led a forlorn hope of a charge
with the idea of saving the lives of women and children, he remarked
to his commanding officer who was himself also from that same public
school, "This is what old... "--naming the head master--"would have
said is no young ladies' seminary." And then he went out without more
ado to accept death in a great cause.

It is extremely difficult for us to understand how the people of the
older time, young and old, endured all these {267} trials and
hardships, though it is not difficult to comprehend that if one were
exercised daily in standing things of this kind it would be much
easier to bear pain and even serious discomfort than it is at the
present time, when many people can bear only the touch of silk on the
skin and the sybarite's complaint of his utter inability to sleep
because there was a crushed rose leaf underneath him has become almost
a literal reality. More and more we are eliminating discomforts from
life and making things as comfortable and easy as possible. From the
carefully tempered water of the morning bath to the warm foot bath
just before sleep, in a bedroom where the temperature makes it
possible to undress for bed without a shiver, all is arranged for the
avoidance of the slightest discomfort.

Pain has become a veritable nightmare to most people as a consequence
of the lack of the necessity to stand things in life, and it is
therefore all the more interesting to see what an effect religion can
have in enabling people to stand pain. In my volume "Health through
Will Power" I have told the story of the second last General of the
Jesuits and the very serious and intensely painful operation which he
insisted on standing without an anaesthetic. The story is worth
repeating here as showing what a habit of prayer and practice of
self-control can do for a man in the face of some of the severest pain
a human being is asked to stand. Generals of the Jesuits have usually
found their way into literature for very different reasons from this.

He had developed a sarcoma of his upper arm and was advised to submit
to an amputation at the shoulder joint. As he was well on in the
sixties the operation presented an extremely serious problem. The
surgeons suggested {268} that he should be ready for the anaesthetic
at a given hour the next morning and then they would proceed to
operate. He replied that he would be ready for the operation at the
time appointed, but that he would not take an anaesthetic. They argued
with him that it would be quite impossible for him to stand
unanaesthetized the elaborate cutting and dissection necessary to
complete an operation of this kind in a most important part of the
body, where large nerves and arteries would have to be cut through and
where the slightest disturbance on the part of the patient might
easily lead to serious or even fatal results. Above all, he could not
hope to stand the exaggerated pain that would surely be produced in
the tissues rendered more sensitive than normal by the increased
circulation to the part, due to the growth of the tumor.

He insisted, however, that he would not take an anaesthetic, for
surely here seemed a chance to welcome suffering voluntarily as his
Lord and Master had done. I believe that the head surgeon said at
first that he would not operate. He felt sure that the operation would
have to be interrupted after it had been begun, because the patient
would not be able to stand the pain, and there would then be the
danger from bleeding as well as from infection which might occur as
the result of the delay. The General of the Jesuits, however, was so
calm and firm that at last it was determined to permit him at least to
try to stand it.

The event was most interesting. The patient not only underwent the
operation without a murmur, but absolutely without wincing. The
surgeon who performed the operation said afterwards, "It was like
cutting wax and not human flesh, so far as any reaction was concerned,
though of course it bled very freely."


Professor William James has noted this same power with regard to that
most painful of all diseases in which pain seems so much harder to
stand because it is hopeless, and there is no possibility that the
endurance of it can lead eventually to any improvement. The patient
must just stand being racked to pieces until the end comes. No wonder
then that the professor of psychology should note with commendation
the effect of religion in bringing about a sense of well-being in
spite of the constantly progressive physical condition which was so
painfully eating life away. He said:

  "The most genuinely saintly person I have ever known is a friend of
  mine now suffering from cancer of the breast--I hope that she may
  pardon my citing her here as an example of what ideas can do. Her
  ideas have kept her a practically well woman for months after she
  should have given up and gone to bed. They have annulled all pain
  and weakness and given her a cheerful active life, unusually
  beneficent to others to whom she has afforded help. Her doctors,
  acquiescing in results they could not understand, have had the good
  sense to let her go her own way."

Many physicians, I am sure, have had the opportunity to witness
instances very like that which is thus recorded with whole-hearted
sympathy by Professor James. I count it as one of the precious
privileges of life to have known rather well a distinguished professor
of anatomy at Professor James' own university. He suffered from
incurable cancer and two years before the end knew that nothing could
be done for him and that it was just a question of time and pain and
the most poignant discomfort until the end would come. He continued
his lessons at the university; he finished up a book that he {270} had
long wished to write and had begun several times; he maintained his
simple, social relations with friends in such a gracious spirit that
none of them suspected his condition and continued until the very end
bravely to go on with his work quite as if there were nothing the

I shall never forget how shocked I was when I once presumed to invite
an addition to his labors by asking him to make a public address, and
he told me, as a brother physician, just how much he had to be in the
trained nurse's hands every day so as to keep himself from being
offensive to others. I had met him at lunch in the bosom of his family
and spent several pleasant hours with him afterward without ever a
thought of the possibility of the hideous malignant neoplasm which was
constantly at work making a wreck of his tissues and which no one knew
better than he would never be appeased with less than his death.

He himself would have said that whatever there was of courage in his
conduct was due to the strength that came to him from prayer. It was
his consolation and the sources of the energy which enabled him to
stand not only the pain he had to suffer but to suppress any
manifestations with regard to it and keep on with his work.

There is an impression in many minds that as time goes on and medicine
and surgery advance and science scores further triumphs, pain and ill
health generally will decrease, and there will not be nearly so much
necessity for standing pain as there is even at the present time.
Besides, it is thought that the discovery of new modes of stilling
pain will still further eliminate the necessity for patience. As a
matter of fact, all our advance in hygiene and sanitation and
scientific medicine has served {271} rather to increase than lessen
the amount of pain. People now live longer than they used to. They
live on to die of the degenerative diseases which are slow running and
often involve a great deal of pain over a prolonged period. One
reason, probably the most important one, for the great increase of the
number of deaths from cancer in recent years is the fact that ever so
many more people now live on to the cancer age than before. Every year
beyond forty which a human being lives increases the liability of
death from cancer in that individual. There are some enthusiasts in
the field of medicine who are inclined to think that we may discover
the cause of cancer and eliminate the disease, but after a generation
of special effort in that direction with absolutely no hopeful
outlook, this is at least a dubious prospect. Indeed, there are many
good authorities on the subject, who are inclined to feel that cancer
more often represents an embryologic or developmental defect than
almost anything else and that in so far as it does we can scarcely
hope ever to eliminate it.

While the death rate from other acute diseases has been decreasing in
recent years and especially from the infectious diseases, the
mortality from affections of the kidneys, heart and brain has been
increasing. Almost needless to say, these affections are practically
always chronic, involve definite discomfort when not positively acute
suffering, and not infrequently produce bodily states in which people
must bear patiently a great deal of discomfort, sometimes for years.
When people live beyond middle life they become more and more liable
to be affected by these diseases, so that instead of needing less
consolation for pain, our generation and the immediately succeeding
generations at least are going to {272} need more. It is particularly
the people who are stricken with chronic disease who need the
consolation afforded by religion, above all when they know that their
affection is essentially incurable and that the only absolute relief
they can have will come from death.

It is with this as with regard to hospitals and charity. The greater
the advance in medicine and the longer people are kept in life, the
more need there will be for hospital care and consequently for the
exercise of charity in the best sense of that word and also for
patience in pain and suffering. In these matters, as with regard to
knowledge, science, instead of lessening the need of religion and its
influence, is multiplying it. There is not the slightest reason for
thinking that a man will ever make here on earth a heaven in which he
may be perfectly happy, and even those enthusiastic advocates of
modern progress who are inclined to think of the possibility of this
set the date of it so far forward in the future, especially since the
disillusionizing process of the Great War, that even the fulfillment
of their prophecy is not likely to do very much good for our
generation or for many subsequent generations. We are going to need
the consolations afforded by religion even more than our forefathers
did in the past, now that physicians are able to prolong life and yet
cannot entirely do away with suffering.

Above all it must not be forgotten that the cult of comfort and
convenience and what may well be called the habit of luxury in the
modern time has greatly increased sensitiveness to pain. There are two
elements that enter into suffering, as we have said in the chapter on
that subject. The one is the irritation of a sensitive nerve and the
other is the reaction to it in the mind of the sufferer. If, for any
reason, the nerve has been rendered {273} insensitive, or the mind put
in a condition where it cannot receive the irritation, the subject
will not feel the pain. If anything has happened to increase the
irritability of a nerve, as happens, for instance, when continued
irritation has brought more blood to the part than usual and the
affected area is hyperemic and swollen, the pain will be greater
because the nerve is more sensitive. If anything happens to make the
mind more receptive of pain, and especially if the pain message that
comes up along a nerve is diffused over a large part of the brain
because there is a concentration of attention on it, then too the pain
will be ever so much worse. We are, in various ways, adding to this
subjective element of pain and therefore increasing it. We are going
to need then all the possible consolation that can be afforded by
religious motives.

In an article written for the _International Clinics_,  [Footnote 11]
on "Neurotic Discomfort and the Law of Avalanche", I called attention
to how much even comparatively mild pains can be increased by
concentration of attention.

  [Footnote 11: Series 23, Vol. IV.]

The law of avalanche is a term employed by Ramón y Cajal to indicate
the mode by which very simple sensations at the periphery of the body
may be multiplied into an avalanche of sensations within the brain. In
a lecture of his for _International Clinics_   [Footnote 12] Professor
Ramon y Cajal said: "Impressions are made upon single cells at the
periphery. As the result of the disturbance of the single cell, an
ever-increasing number of cells are affected as the nervous impulse
travels toward the nerve-center. Finally the nervous impulses reach
the brain and are spread over a considerable group of pyramidal cells
in the cortex."

  [Footnote 12: Series 11, Vol. II.]

In his paragraphs on attention he says that if conscious {274}
attention is paid to the sensation a great many other cells throughout
the brain become affected by it. It may be that every cell which
subtends consciousness will at a given moment of intense attention be
tingling from a single sensation. If it is unpleasant, the
unpleasantness is multiplied to a very serious degree. The "law of
avalanche" has a very large place in disturbing the lives of those
people who have much time on their hands to think about themselves and
who are always solicitous lest some serious condition should be

Our self-conscious generation, as religious impressions have been
diminished in recent years, is making its pains ever so much more
difficult to bear than they were before. Paying attention to slight
discomfort will quite literally turn it into a veritable torment.
Prayer of itself, by distracting the attention, will act in an actual
physical manner to reduce the pain, and the habit of prayer could
accomplish very much in that direction. The feeling that somehow the
pain that is being borne is not merely a useless torment but has a
dual beneficial effect in strengthening character and storing up merit
for the hereafter, as the religious minded believe, will do a very
great deal to make the pain more bearable. As we are not going to have
less pain for humanity, and suffering and death are to be always with
us, not even the most roseate dreams of medical scientists
contemplating their elimination, it is easy to understand how valuable
religious motives will continue to be. Meantime physicians have
abundance of experience of how much religion can do to make life, even
under the most trying circumstances, not only useful for self and
others, but even satisfying for those who would otherwise find it an
almost intolerable burden.


Probably the most fruitful source of consolation to be found in life
is contained in the profound conviction that the Lord and Master said
to those who would come after Him that if they would be His disciples
they must take up their cross and follow Him. One of the very great
books of world literature is "The Imitation of Christ", the keynote of
which is contained in its title.

This little book, which has chapters bearing such titles as "That a
Man Must not be over Eager about his Affairs" and "That a Man has
Nothing Good of Himself" and which suggests "That True Comfort must be
Sought in God Alone" and "That All care Should be Cast upon God" and
"That Worldly Honor must be Held in Contempt" and "That All Things,
however Grievous, are to be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life" and
"That a Man ought to Consider Himself more Worthy of Chastisement than
of Consolation", has been the favorite reading of more of the men and
women whose opinions are worth while in the world's history than
probably any other, with the exception of the Bible itself. It has
been placed next to Homer and Dante and Shakespeare among the books
which scholars would preserve if, by a cataclysm, all the other books
in the world were to be destroyed. When, some years ago, there was a
spirited discussion in the English newspapers and magazines as to the
ten books which should be selected if one were to be on a desert
island for the rest of life with only these ten books for company, the
"Imitation of Christ" almost invariably found its way into the list
and usually among the first five.

If the little book which emphasizes the pain and suffering of life has
come to be looked upon as one of the greatest books of the world, by
the very fact of its {276} profound treatment of this subject in lofty
poetry, then it is easy to understand the place that pain bears in
life. It is at the very heart of it. Nothing so reveals its meaning
and makes it so bearable as religion. Just as it is true with regard
to suffering, as stated in the chapter on that subject, that the five
poets who at long-separated intervals in the world's history dared to
take the mystery of suffering in the world for the subject of their
poems, made by that very fact the greatest dramatic poetry that has
ever been made, so this humble member of the Brethren of the Common
Life, Thomas à Kempis, working just as the Renaissance was beginning,
and writing the spiritual conferences for "those humble-minded patient
teachers and thinkers" as Hamilton Mabie said, "whose devotion and
fire of soul for a century and a half made the choice treasures of
Italian palaces and convents and universities a common possession
along the low-lying shores of the Netherlands", composed what his
contemporaries called "ecclesiastical music", and what all subsequent
generations have agreed in thinking the most wonderful expression of
the significance of life in terms of Christianity that has ever been




No book on religion and health would be complete without a discussion
of the effect of religious influence on these two very important
factors in modern mortality statistics, especially in our own
country,--suicide and homicide. One of the most disturbing features of
public health work is the occurrence of such a large number of deaths
every year in our great city life from murder and self-murder. It is
discouraging to have the death rate from nearly every form of disease
coming down while these are going up. Any factor which promises,
however modestly, to remove even to a slight degree this stigma from
our modern civilization is worthy of consideration. The moral factors
in life are most important in this regard and over these religion has
the most direct and potent influence.

One of the most disturbing features of our modern life is the fact
that in spite of the notable progressive increase of comfort in life
far beyond what people enjoyed in the past, there has been a steadily
mounting growth in the number of suicides every year in civilized
countries. Comforts and conveniences have become widely diffused, so
that the luxuries of the rich in the older time have become the
everyday commonplaces of the poor or the simple necessities of the
middle class, and life would {278} seem to be ever so much more easy
than it used to be. Yet more and more people find it so hard that they
are willing to go out of life by their own hands to meet untimely the
dark mystery of the future. It has become quite manifest that comfort
of body and peace of mind are by no means in such direct ratio to one
another as is usually thought, but rather the contrary. Our suicides
take place more frequently among the better-to-do classes than among
the poor who might possibly be expected to find life so hard that they
could not stand it any longer. Even chronic suffering does not cause
so many suicides as the various disappointments of life, most of which
are only transitory in their effect.

Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the suicide situation lies in
the fact that the average age of those who commit suicide every year
is constantly becoming younger. Suicide used to be the resort
particularly of the discouraged beyond middle life, but now it is
becoming ever more and more the mode of escape from an immediate
future of unhappiness which ever younger and younger folk foresee for
themselves. Disappointments in love have always been occasions for
suicide, but other causes have multiplied in recent years to an
alarming degree, and now high-school children with the suggestion of
sensational newspaper accounts of suicide in their minds turn to
self-murder over failures in examination or setbacks in school work or
over a scolding at home. Even below the age of fifteen suicides are
reported rather frequently, because children have been punished or
have been refused something that they had set their hearts on. The
generation is engaged in producing many oversensitive young folk who
cannot stand being disturbed in their hopes and aspirations.


Suicides have increased just in proportion to the decrease of
attention to religion and the absence of religious teaching and above
all of religious training, that is, of such practice of self-denial
and of mortification for religious motives as leads to formation of
character. When children and young folks are always given their own
way and are not taught that denying themselves is of itself a virtue
because it leads to strength of will power and enables one to stand
the inevitable hardships of later life, no wonder that their first
serious disappointments come to them as such disturbing misfortunes
that they can scarcely picture to themselves a time when they shall be
happy again. Above all a great many of them have no real belief in
immortality and therefore face the future life with no feeling as to
its mystery and no proper sense of their obligation toward a Creator
who gave them life to use to the best advantage possible and who wants
them to play the game of life fair, taking the ill with the good and
"carrying on." The lack of religious feeling has left them with
nothing to cling to in the midst of their trials, and though they may
have friends, all human beings are eminently alone, and we must go
through what is hard in life by ourselves. We never feel our
loneliness more than when some severe trial comes. We almost resent
the pity of others, and Emerson's phrase that we are "infinitely
repellent particles" becomes a very grave reality.

It is the easy custom of our time to blame nearly all the social ills
on what is called our present-day strenuous existence. There are a
great many people who seem to think that men never worked so hard as
they do now, though as a matter of fact in what concerns the
accomplishment of things worth while our generation is {280} sadly
backward. He unfortunately grows preoccupied with trivial narrow
concerns and keeps on working at them so continuously that we have
become very fussy folk because we have no variety of occupation to
relieve the strain of daily life. It must not be forgotten in this
regard that some of the men who have lived the longest have been
extremely hard workers, accomplishing so much in a number of lines of
thought and endeavor that it has seemed almost impossible to
understand how they did it, yet they have been healthy and hearty in
mind and body until fourscore years, and sometimes, like Ranke, the
great German historian, and Pope Leo XIII and Chevreul, the
distinguished French chemist, even beyond ninety years of age and
more. The strenuous existence is a good excuse, however, and a great
many people are sure that it is the overtiredness and the disturbance
of health and the depression which comes in connection with this that
causes suicide or at least contributes greatly to the increase of it
in our time.

Only a little analysis of suicide statistics, however, is necessary to
make it very clear that it is not physical factors which contribute
most to the increase of suicide, but that it is the state of mind of
the individual. If the physical counted for much then it would be
confidently expected that suicides would be commonest in the winter
and least frequent in the summer, particularly in the pleasanter
months of the summer time. The statistics show, however, that the
month which has the most suicides is June. June is probably the
pleasantest month of the year in most ways in our climate. July is
likely to be very hot. May often has cold and rainy days at the
beginning, but June has often a succession of almost perfect days.
James Russell {281} Lowell sang, and it has been reechoed many times,
"What is so rare as a day in June", yet this is the month which more
people take to put themselves out of existence than any other. Brides
have chosen it as the favorite month for marriage because all nature
looks so lovely and in sympathy with their own joy and because there
are fewer rainy days in it than any other. Happy hearts are beginning
a new existence with the brightest possible prospects just when so
many others are voluntarily getting out of what seems a hopeless life.

December, which has so many gloomy days and which naturally is likely
to be so much more depressing than the succeeding months of the
winter, for the clear, cold days of January and February are bracing,
might on physical grounds be expected to be the month with most
suicides in it. Christmas with its celebrations and the announcement
of peace and joy to men of good will might be expected to lower the
number of suicides for the latter third of the month, but even the joy
of that occasion could scarcely be hoped to neutralize completely the
depressing effect of the weather. Just exactly the contradiction of
these anticipations is what happens. Suicides are least frequent in
December of any month in the year, and the last ten days of the month
have the most of them because it is not so much the individual's own
sense of hopelessness in life, complicated by physical suffering and
material trials of various kinds, that tempts to suicide, as the
contrast of the joy of those around him with his own feelings which
emphasize his depressed state of mind until he feels that he can stand
it no longer. June's gayety with its happy brides adds to the number
of suicides and the Christmas festivities have a like unfortunate
tendency. Gloomy weather has exactly the {282} opposite effect from
what would surely have been expected on the general principle that the
physical plays the most important rôle in the production of suicides.

This is brought out still more clearly by the careful review of the
effect of the weather on suicide which was made some years ago by
Professor Edmund T. Dexter   [Footnote 13] of the University of

  [Footnote 13: _Popular Science Monthly_, April, 1901.]

He followed out the records of nearly two thousand cases of suicides
reported to the police in the City of New York and placed beside them
the records of the weather bureau of the same city for the days on
which these suicides occurred. According to this, which represents not
any preconceived notions but the realities of the relationship of the
weather to self-murder, the tendency to suicide is highest in spring
and summer, and the deed is accomplished in the great majority of
cases on the sunniest days of these seasons. It is not at all a case
of heat disturbance of mind or tendency to heat stroke, for as has
been seen June is the month of most suicides and while it often has
some hot days it does not compare in this regard with July and August
or even September as a rule.

His conclusions are carefully drawn, and there is no doubt that they
must be accepted as representing the actual facts. All the world feels
depressed on rainy days and in dark, cloudy weather, but suicides
react well, as a rule, against this physical depression, yet allow
their mental depression to get the better of them on the finest days
of the year. Professor Dexter said:

  "The clear, dry days show the greatest number of suicides, and the
  wet, partly cloudy days the least; and {283} with differences too
  great to be attributed to accident or chance. In fact there are
  nearly one in three (31%) more suicides on dry than on wet days and
  more than one in five (21%) more on clear days than on days that are
  partly cloudy."

In reviewing the subject of suicide in my book on "Psychotherapy"
[Footnote 14] I suggested that this subject of depressed weather
conditions as the contributing cause of suicide might be carried still
further and the lack of the dispiriting influence of dark, damp
weather, as a suicide factor, could be seen very strikingly from the
suicide statistics of various climates.

  [Footnote 14: D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1912.]

The suicide rate is not highest in the torrid or in the frigid zones,
but in the temperate zones. In the north temperate zone it is much
more marked than in the south temperate zone. Civilization and
culture, diffused to a much greater extent in the north temperate zone
than in the south, seem to be the main reason for this difference. We
make people capable of feeling pain more poignantly, but do not add to
their power to stand trials or train character by self-control to make
the best of life under reasonably severe conditions.

Severe physical suffering of any kind, provided it is shared by a
whole people, reduces the suicide rate. Famine, for instance, though
it might be expected that people facing starvation would surely take
the easier way, rather reduces the tendency to suicide. Earthquakes
followed by loss of life and intense suffering have the same effect.
It might possibly be thought that this would be true only among less
well educated people, the orientals or perhaps certain of the South
Americans where lack of education made them less poignantly sensitive
to physical {284} suffering than among the more refined people in our
western civilization, but the earthquake at San Francisco demonstrated
very clearly the effect upon average Californians who, I suppose, must
be considered to have been rather a little above than below the
general run of Americans in what we are accustomed to call
civilization and education. Before the catastrophe, suicides were
occurring in that city on an average of twelve a week. After the
earthquake, when, if physical sufferings had anything to do with
suicide, it might be expected that the self-murder rate would go up,
there was so great a reduction that only three suicides were reported
in two months. Some of this reduction was due to inadequate records,
but there can be no doubt that literally a hundred lives were saved
from suicide by the awful catastrophe that leveled the city. Men and
women were homeless, destitute and exposed to every kind of hardship,
yet because all those around them were suffering in the same way,
every one seemed to be reasonably satisfied. Evidently a comparison
with the conditions in which others are has much to do with deciding
the would-be suicide not to make away with himself, for by dwelling
too much on his own state he is prone to think that he is ever so much
worse off than others.

If life were always vividly interesting, as it was in San Francisco
after the earthquake, and if all men worked and suffered as the San
Franciscans did for a few weeks, suicide would not end more than ten
thousand American lives every year, as it does now. The one hope for
the man who is contemplating suicide is to get him interested in
others, to arouse him to the realization of the fact that there are
others suffering even more than himself, but above all to get him to
feel that he can relieve the {285} suffering of others. Selfishness is
the root of suicide, usually pathological in its utter preoccupation
with self as the most important thing in the universe, but often only
the result of a fostering of self-interest and a failure to train the
mind to think of other people, which is of the very essence of

It is not when things are made easy for mankind, but on the contrary
when they are passing through times of difficulty and severe stress
that the suicide rate goes down. War always brings a striking
reduction in the number of suicides. Our Spanish-American War reduced
the death rate from suicide in this country over forty per cent
throughout the country and over fifty per cent in Washington itself,
where there was most excitement with regard to the war. This was true
also during the Civil War. Our minimum annual death rate from suicide
from 1805 (when statistics on this subject began to be kept) to the
present time was one suicide to about twenty-four thousand people,
which occurred in 1864, when our Civil War was in its severest phase.
There had been constant increase in our suicide rate every year until
the Civil War began, then there was a drop at once and this continued
until the end of the war. In New York City the average rate of suicide
for the five years of the Civil War was nearly forty-five per cent
lower than the average for the five following years. In Massachusetts,
where the statistics were gathered very carefully, the number of
suicides for the five-year period before 1860 was nearly twenty per
cent greater than for the five-year period immediately following,
which represents the preliminary excitement over the war and the
actual year of the war. This experience in America is only in
accordance with what happens everywhere. Mr. George Kennan in his
article on {286} "The Problems of Suicide" [Footnote 15] has a
paragraph which brings this out very well. He says:

  [Footnote 15: _McClure's Magazine_, June, 1908.]

  "In Europe the restraining influence of war upon the suicidal
  impulse is equally marked. The war between Austria and Italy in 1866
  decreased the suicide rate for each country about fourteen per cent.
  The Franco-German War of 1870-1871 lowered the suicide rate of
  Saxony eight per cent, that of Prussia 11.4 per cent, and that of
  France 18.7 per cent. The reduction was greatest in France, because
  the German invasion of that country made the war excitement there
  much more general and intense than it was in Saxony or Prussia."

Above all the sense of patriotic duty, the recognition of the fact
that there are things in life worth more than life itself, lifts men
out of the depression into which they have permitted themselves to be
plunged as a consequence of their utter absorption in themselves and
their own narrow interests.

Old-fashioned religion has a distinct effect in the reduction of the
suicide rate, and all over the world the orthodox Jews who cling to
their old-time belief and above all to their orthodox practices and
mode of life have undoubtedly the lowest suicide rate of any people in
the world. This is true, though almost needless to say a great many
Jews, not only in the foreign countries but here in our own great
cities, have to live under circumstances that are the most trying that
it is possible to imagine. A great many of them live in slums, doing
intensely hard work in sweat shops--though, thank God, these are fewer
now than they used to be--and yet the Jews cling to life in the midst
of trials that would seem almost impossible for human nature to bear.
The Jewish {287} suicide rate is the lowest everywhere in spite of
racial differences, for after all there are German Jews and Portuguese
Jews and Russian Jews who have lived among the respective peoples
after whom they are called for centuries and who might therefore be
expected to take on the characteristics which their environments have
brought. There is a very great difference in the suicide rate between
the orthodox and unorthodox Jews, that is, those who have given up the
beliefs and religious practices of their forefathers. It is in favor
of the orthodox Jews, though of course the record is complicated by
the prosperity of those who have given up their religion. Wealth and
speculation greatly favor the occurrence of suicide.

It is well known that Roman Catholics the world over have much less
tendency to suicide than their Protestant neighbors living in the same
communities. It is true that where the national suicide rate is high,
many Catholics also commit suicide, but there is a distinct
disproportion between them and their neighbors. The suicide rate of
Protestants in the northern part of Ireland, as pointed out by Mr.
George Kennan, is twice that of Roman Catholics in the southern part.
He discusses certain factors that would seem to modify the breadth of
the conclusion that might be drawn from this, but in the end he
confesses that their faith probably has most to do with it and that,
above all, the practice of sacramental confession must be considered
as tending to lessen the suicide rate materially. It is the readiness
to give their confidence to some one on the part of these patients,
for that is what they really are, that seems to the physician the best
hope of helping them to combat their impulse, and Mr. Kennan's opinion
is worth recalling for therapeutic purposes:

  "In view of the fact that the suicide rate of the {288} Protestant
  canton in Switzerland is nearly four times that of Catholic cantons,
  it seems probable that Catholicism, as a form of religious belief,
  does restrain the suicidal impulse. The efficient cause may be the
  Catholic practice of confessing to priests, which probably gives
  much encouragement and consolation to unhappy but devout believers
  and thus induces many of them to struggle on in spite of misfortune
  and depression."

It is not surprising that in countries where attendance at church and
adhesion to religious organizations has dropped very seriously, the
suicide rate should be higher than in countries where the great mass
of the people are still faithful churchgoers, take their religious
duties very seriously and therefore are subjected to the deepest
influence of religion over the heart and mind at regularly recurring
intervals. They find consolation in their suffering, advice in their
trials, strength for their difficulties and a fount of hope almost for
their despair. Above all they are deterred by the thought of another
world than this and the possibility of punishment in it, if they have
not had the courage and the manly strength of soul to face their
difficulties in this.

It has come to be the custom rather to minimize the effect of
deterrent motives on human beings and to say that men cannot be scared
into doing good or avoiding evil, and it is quite true that a policy
of frightfulness pursued out of mere malice to effect a human purpose
will have exactly the opposite effect over the great majority of
mankind, but when men realize that they are bringing punishment on
themselves by their own acts, and that those acts are unjustifiable on
any rational grounds, they have a very different feeling as a rule
with regard to punishments that may be impending over them for their
conduct. It {289} is quite one thing to be unjustly punished and
resent it and quite another to feel that the punishment we are
incurring has justice in it, though we may not be quite able to
understand all the significance of it or plumb its mystery entirely.

Shakespeare has Hamlet discuss that whole question in his soliloquy so
well that it deserves to be quoted here:

  "... And by a sleep, to say we end
  The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
  That flesh is heir to,--'t is a consummation
  Devoutly to be wished. To die,--to sleep:--
  To sleep, perchance to dream:--ay, there's the rub;
  For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
  When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
  Must give us pause. _There's_ the respect,
  That makes calamity of so long life:
  For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
  The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
  The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
  The insolence of office, and the spurns
  That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
  When he himself might his quietus make
  With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
  To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
  _But that the dread of something after death,--
  The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
  No traveller returns,--puzzles the will
  And makes us rather bear those ills we have
  Than fly to others that we know not of?_
  Thus conscience does make cowards of us all."

We have come to resent somewhat the suggestion of deterrent motives as
helpful for the doing of good, and the dread of punishment as unworthy
of men, but the religious beliefs of a hereafter of suffering for the
coward who dares not face the trials of life are still and have always
been {290} valuable in keeping people up to their duty. The war
restored some of the sadly needed old-fashioned attitude toward
punishment as a help to discipline, and we are now more in sympathy
with old-fashioned religious ideas in the matter.

There has been an even greater increase of homicide than of suicide
and for very similar reasons. Our homicide rate here in America is a
disgrace to a civilized country. Ambassador Andrew D. White, whose
long experience in European countries made his opinion of great value,
declared that for homicide we were the worst country in the world,
with more killings of human beings to our credit than even
vendetta-ridden Corsica. This is not due to any persistence of "wild
west" conditions but obtains in the east as well as in the west.
Indeed our large cities are by far the worst in this regard. New York
and Chicago have many times as many murders annually as London has,
though there is no very great difference in the composition of the
population of these cities, for all of them house large numbers of
foreigners of all kinds and they have about the same sort of slums and
very nearly the same social conditions. Poverty is worse in London and
if anything that ought to add to the homicide rate. Reverence for
human life has very largely broken down, and the taking of it is not
considered to be anything like the serious crime that it was even a
few years ago.

This increase in homicide in civilized countries, like the increase in
suicide, has come after the serious breakdown of religion. That the
rise in the homicide rate is not a question of the familiar fallacy
_post hoc ergo propter hoc_, "after this therefore because of this",
is the opinion of a number of men who have a right to have opinions
{291} on this subject, and who insist that it is the obliteration of
religious feeling with its emphatic insistence on the awfulness of the
crime of murder that has largely served to make homicide the very
common event that it is.

One powerful factor in this matter is undoubtedly the failure to
punish murder properly, and as far as may be adequately, that has
developed in recent years in this country. Very few murderers are
executed. Less than five per cent altogether of those who have
committed deliberate murder are ever executed, and in some States it
is actually only two per cent. When but two out of every hundred men
who take life deliberately lose theirs, it is easy to understand that
men, in times of intense anger, will not have the restraint which
would otherwise be exerted over them by the fear of prompt loss of
life under disgraceful circumstances for themselves. Many a man will
take his chances of having a long prison term for murder shortened by
executive clemency or a pardon board who would hesitate very much over
the thought of having to die himself by prompt legal measure. I have
heard a distinguished jurist say that they execute nine out of ten of
their murderers in England, while we execute a little more than two
out of every hundred on the average of ours, so that there is little
reason for wonder why we have ten times as many murders.

The real reason for this decrease in the number of executions and the
growth of the opposition on principle to capital punishment in this
country is the increasing obscuration of the belief in immortality.
People have become afraid to do the irretrievable act of sending a man
out of life because, thinking only in terms of this life, they feel he
should have a chance for reform here and above all because they
hesitate to think that men ever {292} have the right to deprive
another of existence, for if there is no other world than this, the
end of physical life means annihilation. If life is but the portal to
eternity, however, at longest a brief period of trial before entering
upon another and much more important stage of existence, then the
execution of a criminal done with all the dignity of the law, exacting
a compensation as adequate as possible for a wrong that has been done,
instead of being a dreadful thing has a very definite nobility about
it. Of course, if there is no other world, the question of execution
becomes a very different consideration,--the obliteration of a fellow
human being. This feeling is often not consciously reflected upon, yet
it is effective in suggesting conclusions and ruling the mental

The old religious orders had a tradition that certain men, because of
the circumstances in which they died and above all the fact that they
had sufficient warning as to the end of life and the chance to prepare
themselves for eternity, were predestined to heaven, though they might
have to go through a great deal of suffering, quite as Dante foresaw,
before getting there. Among these the most prominent classes were men
and women afflicted with an incurable disease which it was recognized
would surely bring on a fatal conclusion with but a few months' or
years' delay, and then those who were condemned to death had their
weeks and months of preparation in prison for that event. This intense
belief in a hereafter made the outlook on both murder and execution a
very different thing from what it is without it.

Sentimentality reigns now where the sentiment of justice formerly
ruled. A man who has committed an ugly sex crime capped with murder or
who has often, after making her life miserable for months or years,
{293} murdered a poor wife in cold-blooded deliberateness, will be the
subject of sentimental compassion during his trial from a crowd of
silly women who will send flowers to his cell to lighten his solitude
and who, if they can obtain permission, will visit him in the death
house. They forget all that his victim suffered and the necessity for
producing a definite effect upon the minds of others who might have
the temptation to follow in his path, and whose minds are of a caliber
that they can only be deterred by holding up adequate punishment
before them.

The gradual diminution of the place of religion in life has given rise
to an unfortunate phase of popular psychology with regard to the
effect of punishment in general on human beings. The wisest writings
that we have, the Holy Scriptures, which even those who might deny
their direct divine inspiration would confess readily to contain the
most marvelous knowledge of man and his ways to be found in
literature, have insisted particularly on the deterrent effect of
punishment held up before men and the reforming value of it when
properly inflicted.

Probably nowhere in modern social life is a revival of religion more
needed to save men from unfortunate tendencies in their natures than
in what concerns the estimation of the value of human life and the
prevention of a further increase in our awful statistics of suicide
and homicide. Religion is almost more needed for this than for the
so-called social diseases.




In spite of the Psalmist's warning that threescore years and ten are
the years of man and that life beyond that is likely to be filled with
all sorts of discomforts, practically all men are anxious to live long
lives. They are satisfied to take the diseases of advanced years
provided only there are surceases from pain at intervals and they are
able to occupy themselves for some part of the time with their usual
interests. It is true that a certain sadly increasing number in our
time shorten existence by their own hand, and at an ever younger age
on the average and that some at least of those who do so are not
insane in any justifiable legal sense of the word, but they are felt
by all to be unfortunate exceptions who prove that the rule of love of
life and desire to cling to it through sad and evil case is
practically universal among men. Life may be, in the words of the
cynic, a chronic disease, whose termination is always death, but most
men prefer that the disease should last as long as possible.

The most important factor for long life is of course heredity. The man
who wants to live long should have been careful to be born of
long-lived parents and grandparents. Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes once
said that the physician would often like to be in the position to
treat in the persons of his patient's grandparents a {295} number of
the diseases that he sees in his consulting room. Whatever truth there
may be in that, there is no doubt at all that there is very little
hope of a man living long if his parents and grandparents have been
short-lived, unless of course their taking off has been due to
accident. After family heredity, however, undoubtedly the most
important factor for longevity is an abiding sense of religion. A
great many religious people live beyond the average age, and a great
many clergymen live to be very old men and yet retain their faculties
and physical powers very well. They are not longer lived than other
professional men on the average, because many of those who become
clergymen are delicate by nature and only rarely so robust as other
college men.

In recent years the insurance companies have come to recognize very
clearly what is called the moral hazard in life. A man who lives a
quiet, simple life without excesses in eating or drinking, getting his
full quota of sleep and his meals regularly without temptations to
high living of various kinds is much more likely to outlive his
mathematical average of expectancy in life than the man who does not
follow that sort of existence.

Almost needless to say it is seriously religious men--all clergymen do
not necessarily come under this head--who live these very regular
lives and do not allow themselves the occasional divagations in life
which may not in themselves prove serious but which often lead to
conditions and developments that impair health and shorten existence.
There are undoubtedly a good many men who have sowed their wild oats
very freely when they were young and who have continued all their
lives to be rather free livers, and who yet have lived on to good
round old age. What we speak of here, however, is the average {296}
length of life which in men who live without excesses and without
over-solicitude about the future or the present is sure to be longer
than in others.

The old proverb says that "worry and not work kills men." Undoubtedly
worry rather than work ages men before their time and breaks down
their vital resistance and makes them much more susceptible to the
many diseases that may shorten existence as the years go on than they
would have been liable to had they lived regular lives. Religion is
the great salve for worries. When genuine it lessens the irritations
of life, makes them more bearable, renders the disposition more
equable and more capable of standing the stresses and strains of
sudden trials or serious misfortunes than it would otherwise be.
Religion does not change nature essentially, but it lifts it up and
modifies it to a noteworthy degree. Even Christ did not come to change
human nature; He assumed it and showed men how to live. Religion does
not make a passionate disposition mild, but it confers upon the
passionate man the power to control his passions to no small extent
and often so thoroughly that even those who know him best have no idea
of the storms which start to brew within him but are suppressed.

Almost needless to say the moderation in all things which religion
counsels and which its training fosters is extremely conducive to long
life, if there is any underlying basis for that in the nature of the
individual. Religion is like oil for machinery. It lessens the
friction, prevents the development of heat which would only be
destructive and serve no useful purpose, soothes the temper against
reactions and smooths out life's ways. Some one once suggested that it
represented the rubber tires of the modern automobile, but that is not
a good figure, for the inflation {297} on which a man is smoothly
carried may blow out at any moment and leave him to run on the rim.
That is much better represented by sentimentality and the motives
drawn from it rather than from religion.

The direct influence of religion on health can very probably be
estimated best by the comparative death rate of occupations.
Clergymen, according to English statistics which are gathered rather
carefully, have the lowest death rate, even below that of gardeners
and nurserymen whose constant outdoors life gives them such an
advantage and whose simple laborious occupation without excitement is
so favorable for long life. After these come the farmers and then the
agricultural laborers, and then a long distance afterwards the
schoolmasters and grocers and mechanics generally. The highest death
rates in occupations occur not among the laboring classes occupied at
the particularly unhealthy trades--plumbers and painters who are
subjected to lead; file makers and knife grinders whose lungs are
seriously hurt by dust; and earthenware manufacturers who are
subjected to the influence of both dust and lead--but among the
inn-keepers, spirit, wine and beer dealers and above all the inn and
hotel servants among whom the moral hazards of life are greatly
increased and over whom religion fails to have the influence that
would be beneficial.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the effect of religion in
lessening the wear and tear of life, thus proving conducive to its
prolongation, is to take the statistics of the lives of those who
devote themselves so thoroughly to their religious duties that they
are called by the name _religious_. They give themselves not alone to
the daily but almost to the hourly practice of religion, and its
influence has a thoroughgoing opportunity to exert {298} itself over
their lives. Most of them live very simply and abstemiously, and
indeed many people would be inclined to say that they did not take
quite sufficient food to nourish them properly and that they allowed
their sleep to be interrupted by religious duties in such ways as not
to afford themselves quite rest enough. They are all very early
risers, at five o'clock in the winter at the latest and in summer at
four, while not a few of them get up at some hour during the night to
sing some portion of the office, the full round of which has to be
completed every day. Their beds are usually rather hard; there is no
carpet on the floor in their cells, their lives to most people would
seem rather narrow and without adequate diversion, and yet they are
noted for living beyond the average age, except in cases where work in
hospitals or the like subjects them to the danger of infection.

The tradition with regard to this prolongation of life among the
religious has existed since a very early time in Christianity and
indeed was noted before the Christian era among the men and women who,
as among the Buddhists, lived in monastic seclusion lives of great
abstinence and occupation with the contemplation of the hereafter. In
the very early days of Christianity a number of the men who withdrew
to live the lives of solitaries in the desert regions of Egypt and of
Syria exceeded the Psalmist's limit of life, though the account of
their neglect of food would seem to make that almost impossible. A
number of them lived to be beyond seventy and not a few beyond eighty
and some of them over ninety. St. Anthony, who is often spoken of as
the first hermit, lived to be beyond one hundred.

It is a matter of never-ending surprise to find how many {299} people
who dwell in monasteries, where their occupation is mainly some simple
work of the hands varied by long hours of reading and prayer during
every day in the year, live to be very old. It might be surmised that
their opportunities for introspection and thought about themselves
would be so frequent and extensive that they would get on their own
minds and probably be the victims of various nervous symptoms that
would shorten existence through worries over trifles. So far is this
from being the case, however, that some of the most striking examples
of group longevity among people who are unrelated are to be found in
what are known as contemplative monasteries, that is, institutions
where there is only enough active life every day necessary to maintain
health and supplies for the simple physical needs of a monastery, and
the rest of the time is spent in reading, prayer, meditation and the
saying of the Divine Office.

The modern religious orders, which imitate some at least of the
austerities of the old solitaries and those who in the early days of
Christianity lived in communities, have a record of longevity quite
equal to that of their forbears. What an absolutely regular life under
deep religious influences, where practically every hour of the day has
its allotted task, where no meat is eaten and two Lents a year are
kept--that is one third less is eaten for about one fourth of the
year--will do to prolong human life, can be seen very well from the
vital statistics of the well-known Trappist Monastery at Gethsemane in
Kentucky, which are before me as I write. The average age at death of
the members of this community for the last twenty-five years is nearly
seventy-three. A number of them lived to be beyond eighty, and as the
Abbot has written to tell me, the most satisfactory thing for the
{300} community lies in the fact that the old members, even at
fourscore years and more, can practically always join in the common
life of the community and do not need to be specially waited on or
taken care of. Their death is likely to be quiet and rather easy, the
flickering out of the spark of life rather than its extinction.

One of the Benedictines has furnished me statistics for that order
here in America, for there might be the feeling that in other
countries life would be different and that longevity would occur for
different reasons than those which occasion it in this country. A
great many among the Benedictines live to celebrate their golden
jubilee, and life among them has been calculated to be at least ten
years more than that of their brothers and sisters who remained in the

Of course it might be said that only the people of very placid
disposition who take things very quietly and are not inclined to worry
would enter such institutions as these, and there is some truth in the
statement. It is not nearly so true, however, as most people would
imagine, for a great many of those who enter convents and monasteries
were rather lively and gay when they were younger; indeed it has often
been said that it was the liveliest, happiest and most charming girls
at the convent schools who were destined to enter the convents

As regards the monasteries for men, the same rule of longevity holds,
and yet a great many of these men were not only lively and gay, but
some of them had rather stormy careers before they settled down to the
contemplative life after something of remorse over the foolishness
which had led them astray in their younger years.

The men and women who enter religious orders are of course the more
serious characters who take life rather {301} placidly, and this adds
to their expectancy of life, for it is worry rather than work or
suffering that shortens existence, but it must not be forgotten that
not a little of their placidity is not natural to their dispositions,
but is rather acquired as the result of their deep religious feelings
and their recognition of the fact that God's Will will be accomplished
anyhow and there is no use worrying about things.

Undoubtedly one of the principal reasons why the death rate among
women at all ages is so much more favorable than might be expected, in
spite of their apparent tendency to worry more, their nervousness
about many things, and the dangers of maternity as well as their
weaker physical constitution, is to be found in the fact that
religious influences are much more profound over them and have a more
calming effect than over men. A very old expression calls women the
devout female sex, and the influence of their devotion to religion is
reflected in their mortality statistics. Doctor Woods Hutchinson, in
his "Civilization and Health",  [Footnote 16] has a chapter on "The
Hardy Nerves of Women" in which he brings out the fact that women
resist the corroding effect of the strenuous life of modern
civilization better than men and are not subject to the factors which
have made modern health statistics so disturbing. For while we have
been lengthening the average term of life and reducing the death rate
in general, we have been shocked to find that the mortality above
forty-five has been increasing rather than decreasing, so that men are
being taken off just at the prime of life and at the height of their
usefulness more than ever before, in spite of all our hygiene and the
development of sanitary science.

  [Footnote 16: Boston, 1914.]


The difference in mortality between men and women after the age of
forty-five, that is, just at the time when religious feelings are
likely to represent so much of a resource for the devout female sex,
is so striking as to deserve to be noted particularly, and the
contrast continues more and more to be emphasized as the years go on.

The average age at death has risen during the past generation from
about thirty-three to slightly above fifty, but this improvement has
been chiefly effected by saving the babies and children from death
from unclean milk and the acute infectious diseases, and young adults
from the great plagues of past generations, typhoid and tuberculosis.
Doctor Hutchinson goes on to say:

  "Naturally this preserves a much larger number of individuals to
  live to, say, the age of forty-five. And, as we must all die
  sometime, we begin to drop off somewhat more rapidly after this
  point has been reached--that is to say, the stupid and helpless
  creature, man, does. Woman, however, is far too shrewd for that.
  While man's mortality, after falling off markedly up to forty-five
  years, begins after that period to increase distinctly, woman's
  death rate, on the other hand, continues to decrease until
  fifty-five years of age, beating man ten years; then yields to the
  force of circumstances only to the extent of about one tenth of the
  increase man shows between fifty-five and sixty-five; and after
  seventy proceeds to decrease again."

Incidentally, it may be remarked that the total increase of mortality
after forty-five in man is only about six per cent; besides which, the
race need not worry much about what happens to the individual after
fifty-five or sixty, provided he has done his share of the world's
work. But {303} women pass men three laps to the mile, for their
increase of death rate after the age of fifty-five is barely one per
cent, or one sixth of man's.

The lessened death rates among women at all ages are notable,
particularly among those who have taken life seriously and
religiously. Typical examples of similar longevity which they
themselves would surely have declared to have been influenced more by
their religious attitude of mind than by any other single factor are
noteworthy in the lives of the two English cardinals of the nineteenth
century, Newman and Manning. Both of them were men who accomplished a
very great deal of work in their younger years and who then went
through the serious mental strain of giving up friends and ways that
had been very near and dear to them and making a great revolution in
their lives. Both of them lived to be well past eighty, and indeed
Newman lived to be past ninety in the full possession of vigorous
power of mind until the very end of life. He himself had not looked
for long life, but on the contrary had felt that he was one of those
fated to die rather young; indeed, in the sixties, he had begun to
think that he would give up work, and his friends had settled down to
the idea that he would not be long with them, when an attack on his
sincerity aroused him to a magnificent response that is one of the
precious treasures of nineteenth-century literature and then for
nearly thirty years longer he was a great intellectual force.

This same thing is very well illustrated in the lives of the Popes of
the nineteenth century, that is, during the period when modern hygiene
and sanitation have developed to such an extent as to make the
conservative influence of religion on health felt to the best possible
effect. The {304} Popes all down the centuries have lived far beyond
the average of humanity, in spite of the burdens of responsibility
placed on them, and even the shortening of life by martyrdom of so
many of them at the beginning. Our nineteenth and twentieth-century
Popes have proved wonderful examples of what placidity of mind can do
under the most difficult circumstances in keeping worries from wearing
out life energies, in spite of the fact that the life stream in some
of the cases did not appear to be very strong at its source and long
life seemed almost out of the question.

These long lives might very well be matched from the lists of old
pastors from all the denominations and the sects who have outlived the
years of the Psalmist without incurring the physical evils which he
prophesied. Old clergymen are particularly likely to retain the full
possession of their senses and to live on to a quiet, peaceful old
age. I once heard one of them say--I believe that it was a
quotation--that he used to think that all the pleasure of life was
contained in the first eighty years, but now at the age of eighty-five
he knew that there was a great deal of life's satisfaction to be found
in the second eighty years.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and most of us would
think that they are the sort of exceptions that prove the rule. There
is an old saw in many languages which says that the good die young,
but physicians are likely to think that this old-fashioned expression
is founded on nothing more than the fact that a good many of the
weaklings born without very much vitality develop into harmless
nonentities who have no strong impulses to either good or ill, and who
have but very little resistive vitality and die of the infectious
diseases in early youth {305} or are carried off by tuberculosis a
little later. It must not be forgotten, however, that it is as much of
an accident to run into a bacillus as into a trolley car, and indeed
often more serious, and though all that too is in the hands of the
Lord, in the order of Providence secondary causes work out their
destined effects. Quite contrary to the tradition that the good die
young is the world experience that a great many of the good, that is,
men of sterling character and worth who have proved thoroughly capable
of doing what is best in life for the benefit of others rather than
for themselves, live on to be a source of inspiration to those around
them for many, many years of a long and physically active life, even
though sometimes they may run into the rule that whom the Lord loves
he chastens, and they may have had many trials.

The Scriptural promises made over and over again were that the years
of those who should keep His word should be long in the land. That
promise has been fulfilled so often as to make it a commonplace. Three
hundred years ago Shakespeare summed up at least the physical effects
of keeping the law when he had old Adam say in "As You Like It":

  "Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty;
  For in my youth I never did apply
  Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
  Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
  The means of weakness and debility;
  Therefore my age is as a lusty winter.
  Frosty, but kindly. Let me go with you:
  I'll do the service of a younger man
  In all your business and necessities."




From the very earliest times religious legislation has proved an
extremely important factor for health. The book of Leviticus, one of
the very oldest religious documents that we have, contains a sanitary
code which is a marvel of completeness in its prescriptions for the
maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. It anticipates
most of the modern discoveries in this matter and the faithful keeping
of its regulations has made the Jew the powerful personal factor that
he has been so often in history, notwithstanding the fact that he
belonged to a despised subject race. The orthodox Jew has kept his
health in spite of the unfavorable conditions in which he was placed
much better on the average than the Gentiles around him, and it is for
that reason that his nation has been preserved. It would have seemed
almost impossible for a people treated so badly as they were, crowded
into unhealthy ghettos, often in the lowest and most insanitary parts
of the towns, with no municipal care exercised for their
health--except when it was feared that epidemics might spread from
them to the Gentiles---to have maintained themselves for all these
centuries; but they have not only survived but have been the most
vigorous of people, at all times full of initiative and readiness to
work far beyond the average of humanity.


The sanitary code of the Jewish people which is contained in the Old
Testament is one of the greatest triumphs of sanitary legislation that
the world has ever known. Doctor Alexander Rattray, in his volumes on
"Divine Hygiene, Sanitary Science and Sanitarians of the Sacred
Scriptures and Mosaic Code",  [Footnote 17] has brought this out very
clearly. The Scriptural motto of his work, "That Thy way might be
known upon earth; Thy saving health among all nations", is an
excellent text for what he has to say. With regard to the sanitary
code of the Hebrews, as compared with other ancient documents in
sanitation. Doctor Rattray says:

  [Footnote 17: London, 1903.]

  "Indeed, contrasted with the teachings of modern times, the
  comprehensiveness and sufficiency of the rules and cardinal points
  comprised in the Hebrew Sanitary Code, primitive in time but not in
  practice; ancient, but not antiquated and obsolete; comprising a
  treasure of infallible truth, which is the admiration of all
  experts; and altogether so remarkable as to be comparable to, if
  indeed they do not surpass both in literary style and professional
  excellence, extracts from the best modern works on hygiene. So that
  savants, notwithstanding their increased anatomical and
  physiological knowledge, the accumulation of ages and the result of
  modern enlightenment and civilization, bringing with them vastly
  improved facilities for medical study, professional experience in
  hospitals and communities, may still quote his model work with
  approval; sit with advantage at the feet of the Jewish sage; and
  learn in language as concise and forcible as that of the best modern
  thinkers, not only the great base facts, but even many of the less
  important minutiae of the art and science which they {308} study; if
  they would not continue to despise this authority because he is a
  Hebrew; ignore his work because it is Asiatic; slight the book in
  which it is found because it is not a rare, costly and abstruse
  volume; spurn instruction on a scientific subject because it comes
  from a Biblical source; and neglect the ready-made and divinely
  inspired code because it is ancient and a non-professional

The question of the place that this health legislation of the Bible
has in medical history is worth noting, for it makes very clear that
it was no mere human development but something divine. Doctor Rattray

  "Moses was no doubt learned in the medicine and surgery of that era,
  and could at least have taught his old Egyptian teachers, both
  theoretically and practically, especially in sanitary matters, a
  science of which they knew little, as the germ thought of preventive
  medicine had not then been begotten. But it was not to be his role
  to indoctrinate the Jews and Mankind in the least important sanatory
  or healing branch of medicine, but rather to initiate its higher and
  most philosophical department, the sanitary or disease preventing.
  And to shew both by precept and practice that this is the most
  philosophic and wisest policy to pursue regarding physical health,
  as it also is in moral, social and spiritual matters. Part of his
  beneficent and Divinely inspired mission was to inculcate in those
  early days the lesson popularly taught in modern times by the trite
  yet true proverb, 'prevention is better than cure': and to
  illustrate it on the Israelites; to shew that its scope is not only
  of private but of national, nay racial, import; and applicable not
  only to his day, but all-time: although grievously neglected in past
  ages even by medical men. From its {309} Biblical study does not
  medical science thereby appear in a new light, and come in the garb
  of one of the most incontrovertible aids to human faith in the
  veracity of Holy Writ; the truth of Scripture as the inspired word
  of the Almighty; God's medical message to Man, sent in His own
  method, at His own time, and by servants of His own choosing?

  "The Sinaitic or so-called 'Mosaic' code and its hygienic sub-code,
  more ancient by five or six hundred years than Esculapius and the
  earliest human medical records, was not written and interpolated by
  any modern or medieval medical sage, but is as Moses says, an
  emanation of his era. And yet, as he himself affirms, it was not his
  conception, but strictly and entirely Divine in elaboration,
  codification, and delivery to humanity. Its true Author and Deviser
  was Jehovah, and Moses merely its earthly recipient, editor and
  human expounder and applier. For this most important educational
  information we are indebted to God's Holy Bible, and to that alone.
  What was the supernal object of the Code? It was humanitarian and

The English physician discusses the origin of this code
of laws and traces it to divine interposition:

  "Viewed apart from its source, the Hebrew Health Code is an
  anachronism. And it must be evident that Moses was not a
  semi-barbarous Jew, but either a secularly scientific or an inspired
  man. And if we cannot accept the former hypothesis, and think it
  unlikely that imparted information and unaided intellect could have
  originated this consummate production; then we must avow the latter
  conviction, that he was truly 'a man of God.' But was the sanitary
  code that goes by his name, or styled the 'Sinaitic', his conception
  or not? This {310} question Moses himself answers indirectly and
  often; and takes no credit for but disclaims it. Assuredly Moses was
  not only a man of science and the foremost sanitarian of his own or
  any other age; but also a man gifted by his Maker with the faculty
  to discover and appreciate not only the great fundamental facts and
  elements, but also many of the more important minutiae of private,
  public, and national sanitation. Still he takes no credit for the
  sanitary utterances of the Pentateuch or even says or hints at their
  being partly, chiefly or wholly self-generated; and his own unaided
  creation; or that we are purely indebted for them to the genius of
  their practical expounder. Over and over again he insists and
  reiterates that they are solely heaven-sent and of Divine origin.
  Nay, more, what he says appears to suggest that his sanitary code
  was a premeditated and authoritative emanation, which in its
  elaboration probably occupied more years than any work that has
  since been handed down to posterity. In early times medical
  treatises were more slowly elaborated than now; and swayed only by
  the double patriotism of zeal for his Master and loyalty to his
  people, Moses had no need to give hasty and incomplete work to the
  world. In the desert he would have ample time to write his book of
  the law and the early story of Man and the Earth leisurely. From the
  Holy Bible alone we glean the great base facts about the Mosaic Law
  and its Hygienic portion. Here we learn, and by Moses' own
  handwriting, that he was not their author, but Jehovah Himself; that
  Moses only gave or wrote the law as averred by the Saviour (John,
  vii. 19); therefore, that it is Divine and inspired. Moses was
  merely its earthly recipient and transcriber and applicant. This
  great fact practically {311} attested by over two millions of
  Hebrews, who heard the Voice of God delivering the Decalogue at
  Sinai, materially enhances the value of the bequest, as its supernal
  nature and origin attests its truth and infallibility. This great
  honour reserved for Moses, and the culminating fact in his earth
  history, stamps his character and place in history. Taught by the
  Divinity as no other man has yet been, Moses thus became Earth's
  greatest sanitarian and the Deity's ambassador and mouthpiece to Man
  in sanitary as in many other matters. What Moses wrote was revealed.
  He penned as he was inspired and wrote what Jehovah dictated in the
  Holy of Holies. Moses himself attests this, and thus wholly
  disclaims the authorship. Chapter after chapter begins thus, 'And
  the Lord said' (Leviticus, xvii). And thus the Hebrew leader and
  sage, as has been recorded by his successor Joshua, himself 'full of
  the spirit of wisdom' (Deuteronomy, xxxiv. 9), fully deserves this
  record, 'there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses
  whom the Lord knew face to face' (Deuteronomy, xxxiv. 10-11)."

The distinction between the meats allowed to the Hebrews and those not
allowed remains down to the present day an extremely valuable canon of
preventive medicine. The carnivorous animals were not to be eaten and
were declared unclean. They are, as modern science has abundantly
shown, much more likely to be the subject of parasites of various
kinds than are the herbivorous animals. Any animal that died of itself
or had been torn by beasts was not to be eaten, and this was an
extremely wise provision, for those that had died were very likely to
be the subject of serious disease, while those torn by wild animals,
if they did not perish at once were likely to have pyemia or
septicemia set in in their wounds, {312} while if they had been killed
at once and their bodies had been exposed for any length of time in
the open air, they were likely to become the subject of serious
putrefactive changes from the growth of bacteria in them. Any of these
processes were likely to make the meat toxic, and the one safeguard
was prohibition of their consumption. The Hebrews were not allowed to
take the blood of animals, hence the necessity for having cattle
butchered in their own way so that it might be _kosher_, and it is
interesting to realize that this prohibition probably meant much for
the prevention of disease. Meat that is well drained of blood keeps
longer than that which contains the tissue fluids, and it has come to
be felt that the protection of the Hebrews to a considerable extent
against tuberculosis, so that their death rate from this disease is
much lower than that of other races living under similar
circumstances, is perhaps due to their abstinence from blood according
to their law. They were forbidden to eat many of the fats, and this
was hygienic in general, for the fat is a sluggish tissue and may
contain parasites; but above all this was important for preventing the
Hebrews from eating such an amount of fat as would make them obese and
sluggish. The orthodox Jews of the present time who fail to keep this
prohibition as to fat are weighted down with a load of surplus fatty
tissue that takes away from their activity and shortens their lives.
Obesity has certain relations directly with diabetes which also makes
this fat prohibition of significance, and as the Jew is probably more
subject to diabetes than most of those living in similar circumstances
there is here another index of the value of this Mosaic law which
prevented pathological tendencies of several kinds that now make
themselves manifest.


The greatest weight was placed upon keeping food materials covered
from the air, and the use of liquids kept in vessels that were
uncovered is forbidden, as is likewise the eating of fruit with open
moist cracks. It has often been said in modern times that the paring
of fruits, when unbroken, constitutes the best possible safeguard
against spoiling, and many have the feeling that this fact was
discovered or its significance properly recognized only since we have
been studying fermentation and putrefaction. It was known long ago,
however. It was recognized also that food materials should not be
handled except with the greatest precautions and that those who
prepared them should practice careful cleansing. These regulations
undoubtedly had much to do with the prevention of the spread of the
infectious diseases. We have learned in recent years that cooks have
had much to do with the spread of the intestinal infections, and we
now recognize the need of the meticulous precautions on which Moses
insisted. The place of the hands in conveying disease was emphasized
very much, as for instance by Jewish writers who insisted on the rule
that coins should never be placed in the mouth because they had been
handled by so many people.

We have now come to appreciate this thoroughly, after having suspected
for some time that the hands have more to do with the conveyance of
contagion in many diseases than almost any other factor. A series of
experiments made upon young sailors in the United States service after
the Armistice was signed and when the "flu" was at its height
demonstrated almost beyond doubt that influenza cannot be conveyed by
breathing or coughing into the faces of others, nor in any way through
the air. Most army surgeons came to the {314} conclusion, therefore,
that the mode of conveyance of the disease was by the hands, which in
handling food and in touching the mouth and nose transmitted
infectious material which had been gathered in various ways. It is
interesting then to realize that the Jewish law insisted on careful
cleansing of the hands before eating and on not touching the mouth or
nose before the hands were washed in the morning, and that the
Talmudic writings emphasized these regulations as regards the
cleansing of the hands. They required that the finger nails, when
pared, should be burnt. Some of the Talmudists suggested that if water
could not be obtained gloves should be worn while eating, which would
recall the use of surgical gloves in modern times, for the surgeons
learned long since that the hands were by far the most dangerous media
for the transmission of infection.

Some years ago Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, one of the most
distinguished of the English physicians of the latter half of the
nineteenth century, pointed out that the records showed a very marked
difference in the health and death rate of the Jews living in various
cities of Great Britain as compared to their Gentile neighbors, and
always in favor of the Jews. Other statistics gathered later in the
nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth emphasize the
fact that there is manifestly something which enables the Jew to
resist disease and maintain health under circumstances where the
people around him suffer much more severely than he does. For
instance, in Manchester the average annual death rate for three years
in the two Jewish districts was over eight in one and over nine in the
other below the death rate per thousand of the whole city. The two
Jewish districts are among the worst slums of Manchester, yet {315}
not only do they exhibit a much lower death rate, but the morbidity
statistics show that there is less sickness among the Jews from all
the serious infectious diseases than among the Gentiles. They had a
higher morbidity rate than all the other parts of the city for
erysipelas, pyemia, and puerperal fever, showing that they were
subjected to the influence of dirt and septic contagion, but in
everything else they were much lower in the sickness rate than their
neighbors. They had only about one half as many premature births,
their children suffered from only half as many convulsions and
scarcely more than half as much from diarrhea and dysentery.

The children in the Jewish districts proved to be particularly capable
of resisting disease and their death rate is distinctly lower. The
diarrheic diseases of childhood are practically all due to improper
feeding, and the saving of children's lives in the unsanitary Jewish
districts where poverty stalks abroad so openly is due to the more
healthy feeding of the infants, but above all to the mother's very
careful care of them. The Jewish mother is, by age-long tradition, an
absolutely unselfish caretaker of her children. When they are ailing
her devotion is constant, and nothing is too much for her to do. No
wonder that she saves more of her children than the Gentile mothers
around her. It is because of the presence of the Jewish mothers in New
York and Boston that our Boards of Health have come upon the startling
discovery that the foreign-born mother in this country raises one in
seven more of her children than does the native-born mother. The
reason, of course, for this is maternal devotion and readiness to
sacrifice herself in any and every way for the sake of her children.
At least twice as many of these foreign mothers--and among {316} these
of course every orthodox Jewish mother who can possibly do it--nurse
their children, and that is by far the most important factor in
securing the survival of children beyond the first year.

The Jews have been particularly careful for the lives of their infant
children both before and after birth. It is considered a disgrace for
a Jewish mother to have a premature birth, for it is felt that some
blame attaches to the mother. As for the prevalent practice of
abortion, there is almost none of it among the poor Jewish
populations, and none at all until their orthodox Jewry begins to
break down under the influence of contact with their Gentile
neighbors. Human life is a very sacred thing to the orthodox Jew, and
no matter how small or insignificant that life may be it has all the
qualities of humanity for him and appeals to his protection. The
solicitude of the Jewish mother for her children has been the subject
of poet and painter all down the ages and is to be found as well
developed and as strikingly manifest in the slums of the large cities
of the west where it is so extremely difficult of exercise as it was
in the Jewish towns of the olden time.

In Leeds, toward the end of the nineteenth century, there were some
fifteen thousand Jews, the great majority of them belonging to the
very poorest class. Most of them lived in the central ward of the
city. As pointed out by Doctor Porritt in "Religion and Health", "that
ward, one of the most squalid in Leeds, had a death rate lower than
that of the whole city, the statistical records for which show all the
advantages derived from the healthier or better class districts."

In London itself, in Whitechapel and Mile End, which were principally
occupied by Jews, the death rates were only 18.5 and 19.3 per thousand
of population, while in {317} the neighboring districts of Limehouse
and St. George, where there were many fewer Jews--Limehouse being
practically without them--the death rates were respectively 23 and
24.6 per thousand. There was distinctly less morbidity from the
infectious diseases in the Jewish districts, there being actually more
than one fourth more in Limehouse than in Mile End on the average, and
the infantile death rates were much lower among the Jews in spite of
the fact that most of them were immigrants who had led very hard and
anxious lives before settling in London and since coming had to work
under unwonted, exceedingly unsanitary conditions, in a climate to
which they were not as yet accustomed.

In other countries besides England the mortality and morbidity
statistics favor the Jew even more strikingly than in England. In
Frankfurt (on Main), as pointed out by Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson,
where the influence of the Jewish ghetto still made itself felt about
the middle of the nineteenth century and Jews were herded together
under restricted regulations that would seem inevitably prone to hurt
their health, they had as a matter of fact ever so much better health
than the Gentiles around them. The average duration of life among the
Jews was forty-eight years and nine months. Among all other classes it
was thirty-six years and eleven months. More than half of the Jews
reached fifty years of age, while scarcely more than one third of the
other classes lived up to that. During the first five years of life
Jewish children died at the rate of about thirteen per cent while
Gentile children died at the rate of a little more than twenty-four
per cent. One fourth of the Jewish population attained the age of
seventy; one fourth of the rest of the inhabitants lived to be less
than sixty.


In Furth the tenacity of life among the Jews could be noted at all
ages. Of the Jewish children from one to five years ten per cent died,
but among the rest of the population the infant mortality of the same
age was fourteen per cent. At every stage of life Jewish mortality was
lower until past the age of sixty, when, owing to the greater number
of Jews who reached advanced age, the ratio was inverted. The number
of Jews who lived to be above eighty and even ninety is strikingly
larger than among the Gentiles. In Prussia, Legoit found that the
average life of the Jew is greater than that of the Gentile by at
least five years. The mortality among the population of the whole
kingdom was a little over two and one half per hundred, while among
the Jews it was only one and one half per hundred. The population in
Prussia is increasing annually at the rate of one and one third per
hundred among non-Jews, but at the rate of nearly one and three
fourths among the Jews. The ordinary population requires fifty-one
years to double itself, but the Jews require only forty-one and a half
years for the same progression.

Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, by a comparison of the ages of two
thousand five hundred Jews buried in London in three years with the
mortality of the whole population of London at different ages, found
that under five years of age forty-four Jews died to forty-five
non-Jews; from thirty-five to forty-five years of age, five Jews died
to every eight non-Jews; and it was not until the age of eighty-five
was reached that the ratio was reversed and two Jews were buried to
every one non-Jew, there being considerably more than twice as many
non-Jews alive at that age to supply the bodies for the burial.



HEALTH AND RELIGION    [Footnote 18]

  [Footnote 18: The suggestion for this chapter came from Reverend
  William J. Lockington's little book on "Bodily Health and Spiritual
  Vigour", Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay and
  Calcutta, 1914.]

Religion, as we have seen in the course of this book, does very much
for health, but according to the great principle of nature, reaction
is equal to action in compensation and health undoubtedly also
accomplishes very much for religion. Indeed there are a great many
troubles commonly presumed to be of the spirit and a great many
supposed disturbances of the spiritual life that are really only
manifestations of ill health of one kind or another, or at least of
some hampering of bodily function reflected in the mind. This has
always been recognized by all the great authorities in the spiritual
life, and none have insisted more than the writers even of the highest
mystical theology on the necessity for taking proper care of the body
if the spirit is to be free for religious life.

Desolation, that is that feeling of utter dissatisfaction with
religious exercises and difficulty in continuing them of which so much
is said in spiritual literature, is very often nothing more than
dyspepsia. What is familiarly called the "blues" or the "blue devils",
that is the state of depression in which nothing seems hopeful and the
future seems very blank indeed, is a common experience among mankind
generally and is very often dependent on {320} some disturbance of the
digestive tract. There is a well-known expression in English according
to which the answer to the question "Is life worth living?" is "That
depends on the liver", meaning not only the person that does the
living, but also that large organ in the right upper abdominal
quadrant, the largest, heaviest organ in the body, disturbances of
which it is no wonder cause serious interference with a number of the
functions of both mind and body. Many a long-faced person indeed who
thinks himself pious is only bilious, and many a sad-eyed visionary
who is quite ready to proclaim himself religious is only what the
ancients called atrabilious and needs some liver regulator as badly as
ever Horace thought he needed hellebore in the spring.

There are a good many traits of disposition or habits of life often
supposed to be dependent on the state of the spirit that are really
only symptoms of bodily indisposition. Many a fit of temper is
consequent upon the condition of the digestive organs rather than the
state of the soul. Suspicion and jealousy are not infrequently not so
much vices as unfortunate feelings exaggerated out of all reason by
some disturbance of health. There are certain times in women's lives
particularly when almost any feeling that comes to them is magnified
and takes on a significance quite beyond the reality. Physicians
constantly have to remind their women patients to wait a few days and
not let their inhibited feelings run away with them as they are so
prone to do at certain periods.

Not a little of the irritability of life and especially the
exaggerated response to minor irritations is due to insufficient
oxygenation of tissues because the individual concerned is not getting
out into the air sufficiently. At the end of a number of hours of
mental work indoors, {321} especially in a stuffy atmosphere, most
people are inclined to be irritable. If instead of going out into the
fresh air and staying out for some time when they get the chance, they
think that they feel too tired for the effort which that involves, and
prefer to rest in a comfortable chair or perhaps lying down, their
irritability will often not be lessened but sometimes will even be
heightened. On the other hand, if they get out into the brisk, bracing
cold air of the winter time particularly, they come back with their
irritability thoroughly dissipated as a rule and ready to go on with
other work almost without a sense of weariness. Probably nothing makes
a man say his night prayers more unsatisfactorily and with less
devotion than to sit down in a nice comfortable chair after a rather
heavy evening meal and smoke and read the paper or perhaps a magazine
until he goes to sleep. He wakes up feeling all out of sorts, while if
he played a game of cards with friends he would feel fine at the end
of the evening and be ready to thank the Lord for another day and for
the prospect of a good night's rest for the work ahead.

Above all, people who are living healthy, outdoor lives are much more
prone to take a happy view of life, to see the bright side of things
and to radiate good will and sunshine than those who are overmuch in
the house. The cheerful givers whom the Lord loves come especially
from among these. A great many of the people who want to pour out
their ills perennially, because they like to indulge their self-pity
by rolling the delectable morsels of their sufferings under their
tongues, and who go around seeking consolation and sympathy whenever
they are in even slight trouble are indoor people. They occur
especially among those who spend a good deal of {322} time sitting
down and not exercising their bodies enough. The good old rule _ora et
labora_ is an extremely valuable precept, not only for the next world
but also for this. Pray and labor, but be sure that labor gets a fair
share of the time and be sure that the body has enough exercise to
keep it going and to keep its functions in good condition, otherwise
the prayer will be disturbed and life will be far from happy.
Happiness comes to those who are healthily tired every day. Long ago
Dooley said in one of those wise sayings of his which made even the
_London Times_ declare that the wisest man that was writing English in
our day wrote under the name of Dooley in Chicago, that the one thing
above all that made life worth living was to be tired enough at the
end of every day so that one would sleep well every night. Without
that life is indeed a burden.

The practice of hard work, some of it physical, is a very good rule
for the physical as well as the spiritual life. A hard-working man has
little time to be grouchy and to throw wet blankets over the good that
others are trying to do. He is likely to be a lifter and not a leaner,
a doer and not a talker. Nothing keeps people from finding fault so
well as having so much to do that they can scarcely find the time in
which to do it all. Especially is this important for those who have to
spend a good deal of time in each other's company, and who must learn
to bear with each other's faults and go on with their own work to the
best of their ability. It must not be forgotten that a great many of
the faults of others are to be attributed rather to the state of their
health than to their disposition, and once this is rightly understood
charity will readily help us to gloss them over or forgive them. Any
one who makes his own faults the subject of excuse {323} on the score
of health, when his health is something that by a little care he could
improve, is of course imposing on himself if he does it at all
deliberately, and he is trying to impose on good nature if he thinks
that other people do not appreciate that his ill health is really an
excuse and not a reason for his faults.

In the chapter on Abstinence it is suggested that one of the best
things that men and particularly women could practice to advantage
from the standpoint of religious abstinence would be abstinence from
excessive rest. Rest is one of the most dangerous remedies that we
have, nearly as dangerous as opium and with a definite tendency for a
habit to be acquired by the system for it whenever it is indulged in
to excess, exactly as is true of the opiates. If mortification of the
spirit were to be practiced by abstinence from overrest and by a
definite amount of exercise every day it would be an excellent thing
for the religious as well as the physical life. This is one of the
most frequent advices of those interested in the spiritual life as
well as the bodily health for many generations. What people need is to
keep busy. This is good for both their minds and their bodies. It
requires a great deal of mortification of the inclinations to keep at
work and above all to take exercise voluntarily when one might sit
around and enjoy the delightfully lazy feeling of doing nothing, but
that way lies serious disturbance of health. The men who have been
very hard workers, especially from a sense of duty and not for mere
selfish reasons, taking a great deal of exercise and going to bed so
thoroughly tired every night that they went to sleep as soon as their
head touched the pillow, have been long-lived as a rule, unless they
met with some accident or infection.


Above all, it is important for any one who wishes to retain his
self-respect and keep from that sluggishness which is so fatal to the
power to pray and to meditate not to permit his abdominal and flank
muscles to become overstretched and to allow fat to accumulate within
the abdomen until it is actually a burden. There is almost no excuse
for any one permitting his waist line to become larger in girth than
his chest, unless of course he happens to have some deformity that
makes exercise very difficult or practically impossible. To keep these
muscles in good condition prevents slouchiness and makes the
individual ever so much more ready for activity of any kind. The only
way that these muscles can be kept in tone to hold in the abdomen
properly and keep the circulation within it in such vigor as will
support the digestive tract so as to permit and encourage its proper
activities is by exercising them. This requires the performance of
certain exercises every day. Stooping, bending, stretching, all these
must be practiced if the muscles are not to be allowed to degenerate.
There is no harder task than to keep up the custom of performing these
exercises regularly a couple of times a day, for though only from five
to ten minutes is needed night and morning to maintain the muscles in
condition or even to restore them when they have once begun to sag,
all sorts of excuses come in to prevent the regular practice of the
exercises, and it is the regularity above all that counts.

A man who keeps these muscles in good shape will be much readier for
every sort of activity than if he allowed them to yield, and one of
the secrets of the army officers' power as the years go on so that,
quite contrary to the usual rule in life it is men well beyond sixty
who make some of the greatest successes as leaders, is because their
{325} regular training and discipline keep them from letting their
muscles lose tone and their powers deteriorate. The setting-up
exercises of the army or navy indulged in for fifteen minutes a
day--and this could be divided into two periods--would keep men in
condition and prove at the same time a very salutary mortification and
above all an exercise in self-control and persistent application to a
good purpose that would constitute a magnificent factor for that
training of the will that is so important for religion.

Nerve irritation is oftener a function of insufficient exercise and
air with overfeeding than of any other factor. This same thing is true
for suspicion and jealousy and envy and other of the supposed inner
emotions of the soul. They will disappear very often before the fresh
air, while they will be fostered by life indoors and by the coddling
of ills by rest and high living generally. The passions, by which a
great many people mean mainly the sexual feelings, though of course
they also include the tendency to overeat and especially to stimulate
one's self to eating in various ways, are all fostered by being much
indoors and not getting enough fresh, outdoor air and particularly
cold air.

There are a great many people who seem to forget that air is
absolutely the most important requisite for life, and that when it is
cold it takes heat away from the animal body and sets all the cell
functions working at their best. Human beings are practically heat
engines, and we keep on manufacturing heat all the time. As our
temperature never rises except when we suffer from fever, some outlet
must be found for this heat, and unless there is exposure to the air
and especially air in motion that will carry heat away from us, the
heat is consumed in {326} various large organs and almost invariably
succeeds in making us quite miserable. It is under these circumstances
of sluggish indoor living particularly that irritability of all kinds
is heightened and that the tendency to lack of self-control is most
manifest. It is a form of intoxication actually that comes over people
and would remind us not a little of the intoxication that follows from
smaller amounts of alcohol with the resultant lack of inhibition.

When people are much out in the air it is surprising what they can
stand in the shape of injury without great suffering. Our young
soldiers learned during the war that their outdoor life in camps and
at the front made the slighter wounds appear almost as nothing to them
and even the severer wounds caused them nothing like the pain which
they had anticipated or which they actually would have caused if the
soldiers continued to be in the same state of mind and body as regards
the reaction to pain which had been true during their civilian days.
It requires much less courage to be heroic when one has been living
the outdoor life and has been hardening muscles by exercise and plain
food and not too much sleep than when one is living the indoor,
relaxed over-rested life. That does not lessen the merit of what they
did, but helps to account for its development in just ordinary mortals
and above all helps to explain why now they modestly prefer not to
talk about it, for to them it seems to have been just all in the day's

Not infrequently oversensitiveness of disposition which resents even
the slightest imputation and which is often prone to translate what
was a mere conventional remark into a fancied insult is due to lack of
sufficient outdoor air to keep the individual in good health. On the
other {327} hand men and women who spend a good deal of time outside
are capable of standing even severe insults without wincing under them
and sometimes this rebounds greatly to the benefit of the cause for
which they are working. Father Lockington has dwelt on this in one of
his chapters rather interestingly.

  "Good health helps us to be patient and silent under insult and
  wrong, when this makes for duty better done. The souls for whom we
  labour are often unreasonable, often ungrateful, often crooked, but
  the trained worker never hesitates. Strong and self-contained he
  moves serenely on; no display of temper mars his work, no hasty word
  is uttered, however great the provocation. Like the missionary
  calmly wiping his face, when spat upon in the Japanese street, or
  that Little Sister of the Poor, who, struck across the face when
  begging food for her old people, calmly answered, 'That is for
  myself, and I deserve it; please now give me something for Christ's
  poor,' such a worker sees only souls here below, and Christ above,
  waiting for them. A healthy body will keep the mind broad and even;
  it has no place for brooding suspicion to lurk; it will help the
  soul to take a wide view of life and prevent that narrowness of
  thought, so fatal to work, to which our life of continual
  introspection tends."

A great many of the vicious impulses in connection with suspicion and
jealousy and envy may be traced to a lack of diversion in life. There
are some people who take no pains to organize existence in such a way
that they have definite diversion at certain times. Every human being
ought at some time on every Sunday to decide that on certain days of
the following week, and above all on certain evenings, he will do
things in which he is {328} particularly interested and which he can
look forward to with pleasant anticipation. Those who can should
arrange either to go to the theater, or to a lecture in which they are
interested, or to visit friends whom they care to see, or to go to a
library and look up something that they have been wanting to find out
about; or, if it is pleasant weather, to go for a short excursion or a
boat ride or something of that kind and they should make two or three
appointments with themselves for definite occasions of recreation for
the ensuing week. As a rule all that is necessary for this is to make
up one's mind to do it, though there is a tendency on the part of a
great many people just to let each evening be like every other evening
and because of lack of sufficient interest they lose that variety
which is the spice of life. As a result existence becomes dreadfully
monotonous, and those who live such narrow lives become the subjects
of all sorts of unfortunate suggestions with regard to those around

Over and over again I have found that when women patients particularly
were the subjects of various of these nervous irritabilities so that
they were permitting themselves actually to be led into being deluded
into various suspicions, there was a prompt disappearance or
significant minimization of these thoughts when diversions were
properly introduced into their lives. The founders of religious orders
were very wise in this matter. In all the religious orders the members
are required by rule to spend a certain time in recreation, that is in
conversation and lighter occupation, usually several times every day.
This must be spent in company with the others and the members of the
house are not allowed to absent themselves without good reason. Young
religious sometimes feel like resenting the rule requiring {329} them
to be present day after day at recreation as if it represented a waste
of time, but they learn later on in life how wise it is. The various
feast days of the Church are celebrated in such a way that there is a
definite diversion from the usual routine of life and then there are
special indulgences at table and in the matter of spending time in the
open and receiving visitors and other things of that kind which mean a
very great deal in breaking the monotony of the religious life.

Very often scruples are, as we have pointed out in the chapter on
Nervous Diseases, only a manifestation of a nervous disposition
sometimes on a hereditary, but sometimes on an acquired basis. The
acquired basis is very often a lack of nutrition due to insufficient
food, for people who are underweight are much more subject to dreads
and obsessions of all kinds than are those who are up to weight.
Living on the will, as it is called, when one is underweight and does
not eat very much, certainly not sufficient to supply the energy for
what has to be accomplished, is a fruitful source of irritability of
any and every kind. It keeps people on edge, that is in a condition of
unstable equilibrium, and almost anything that touches them has a
tendency to put them into a state of disequilibrium. Bringing people
up to normal health and especially up to normal weight is often the
best possible means to lessen their tendencies to scruples and to
various other manifestations supposed to be spiritual yet which
represent only conditions and symptoms that are frequently seen in
those who have no religion and no conscientious obligations with
regard to anything.

It is surprising how often a sluggish state of the bowels proves to be
seriously disturbing to the spiritual life. {330} People find it hard
to pray without distraction or to meditate without getting sleepy, and
they are liable to think of themselves as perhaps being the object of
very special attention on the part of certain evil spirits who make it
their business to distract and obtund those who are trying to put
themselves in communication with the Most High, when all that is
really the matter is that they are absorbing certain materials which
ought to be excreted promptly but which are being delayed in their
intestinal tract longer than is good for the individual.

I am not one of those who believe that intestinal auto-toxemia is a
very serious condition which produces dire results, but I know very
well that absorption in any quantity of residual materials from the
intestinal tract that were meant to be excreted will produce langour
and sluggishness. The present fad among certain physicians for
attributing a great many serious symptoms to intestinal
auto-intoxication has no basis in physiological chemistry and
represents only one of those exaggerations of a minor truth for which
medicine is so famous. The idea of self-poisoning, which is all that
auto-intoxication means, is a very old one in medicine and the use of
drastic purgatives such as calomel in large doses and the antimonial
purges and then of blood letting represent the responses to this idea
which doctors made in an older time. We know that they did harm and
those who would exaggerate the meaning of auto-intoxication in our
time are likely to do just as much harm, but there is no doubt at all
that obstipation will make the majority of human beings uncomfortable
and take away their initiative and keep them from being up to their
best in mental and spiritual matters. To use some of the greatly
advertised remedies or modes of treatment which are suggested for
{331} it, however, would probably do more harm than good. There are a
number of simple sensible methods of treatment by which the affection
may be overcome. Above all the formation of good habits, of taking an
abundance of water, of eating coarse food, the peelings of baked
potatoes and the parings of baked apples and an occasional orange with
its peel, and using marmalade rather freely as well as eating whole
wheat bread will gradually overcome the condition. The important thing
is not to mistake the merely physical affection for a spiritual

It requires persistence to form good habits and it is ever so much
easier just to take something that will supposedly do the same good
work "while you sleep" and are not bothered by the exertion of the
will power necessary to form the habits that are required. Many a
disturbance of health is due to sloth and laziness rather than to
ignorance of what ought to be done or to any inherent tendency to ill
in the body. Any number of people blame Providence for ills which they
have brought on themselves by neglect of their own health and the
habits necessary to maintain it.

Nothing so conduces to good health as the regularity of life without
haste and without worry which the rational practice of religion brings
in its train. The attitude of mind that a trusting faith in the
Almighty fosters is particularly likely to prevent the neurotic
symptoms and exaggerations of feelings which are responsible for so
much of the modern suffering of mankind. It makes the real pains and
aches ever so much more bearable and eliminates those which to a great
extent are imaginary. The success of all sorts of curious therapeutic
systems which prove after a time to be utterly without beneficial
{332} effect on the human body shows how much faith in anything may
mean for health and restoration to health, even in the midst of what
is supposed to be rather serious illness, and as men are bound to have
faith in something and a living faith in a Providence that somehow,
even though we may not be able to understand it, cares for men,
drawing good even out of evil, can accomplish an immense amount in
making men less amenable to suffering even in this world. It would be
too bad to reduce religion merely to this status, but this should be
one of its benefits. As the Scriptures said, "For it is not a vain
thing for you because it is your life, and through this thing you
shall prolong your days in the land."






Abernethy, 169
Abortion, 316
Abstinence from exercise, 114
Accommodation of the eye, 204
Advent, 111
AEschylus, 255
Agnosticism, 30
Aid, mutual, 106
Alcohol, 207
Altruism, 82
Ampère, 15, 18, 38
Aneurysm, 173
Anthony, St., 298
Antonius, St., 130
Apoplexy, 110
Aristotle, 147
Arkwright, 122
Armageddon, 187
Arnold, Matthew, 3, 4, 165
Arteriosclerosis, 112
Asceticism, 151, 155, 198
"Assent, Grammar of", 3
Atrabilious, 320
Atterbury, Bishop, 199
Augustine, St., 2, 11
Austerity, 165
Auto-intoxication, 330
Auto-toxemia, 330
Avalanche, Law of, 87, 273


Bacchus, 138, 173
Bacon, Francis, 11, 28, 163
Barrett, 214, 224
Bartholomew, 215
Belief in immortality, 291
Bell, Alexander Graham, 78
Benedict, St., 35, 36
Benedictines, longevity, 300
Bernard, Claude, 25
Bernheim, 246
Biliousness, 320
Blind children, 188
"Blue devils", 47, 93, 319
"Blues", 319
Boissarie, Doctor, 252
Bone setter, 248
Botticelli, 19
Boulger, Professor George, 27
Brethren of the Common Life, 276
Breuil, Abbé, 39
Brewster, 15
Bright's disease, 110, 115
Browne, Sir Thomas, 84
Buchner, 28
Burdett, 89, 90
Burke, Thomas, 6
Byron, Lord, 199


Calderon, 255
Camoëns, 259
Campbell, Lord, 152
Cancer, 260
Card playing, 101
Carnival, 128
Carroll, 172, 264
Castelnau, General de, 41
Catherine, St., of Siena, 96, 227
Cave man, 39, 69


Cervantes, 269
Charity, law of, 106
Chest, girth, 324
Chevreul, 280
Chicago, 49
Christ, Imitation of, 276
Christianity, pillars of, 7
Chrystal, Professor George, 20
Cicero, 2, 261
Cid, 126
Cimabue, 136
Circe, 170
"Civilization and Health", 301
Clarke, 197
Coddling, 325
Code, Hebrew Health, 309
Cohan, George M., 252
Cold, 244
Colton, 263
Columbus hospitals, 49
Comfort, increase of, 265
Conklin, Professor, 164
Contagion, 313
Corrigan, 25
Coulomb, 16
Culture Sciences, Glenmore School of the, 262


Damien, Father, 71
Dancing, 138
Dante, 100, 126, 269, 276, 292
Davidson, Thomas, 262
Davy, Sir Humphry, 12, 16
Dearness of fellow mortals, 95
Decadence, 200
Degenerate, 199
Degeneration, 145
Delusions, 206;
  of grandeur, 211;
  of persecution, 213
Denver, 49
Descartes, 19
Dexter, Professor Edmund T., 282
Diabetes, 115, 312
Dionysus, 138
Discomfort, neurotic, 273
Disease, conveyance of, 314
  mental, 142;
  statistics, 187;
  venereal, 184
Dissipation, barbaric, 136
Diversion of mind, 140
Dowie, 250
Dramatics, 139
Dreads, 57;
  in life, 249;
  of punishment, 289
Drug addictions, 178


Edmund of Canterbury, 154
Electricity, delusions, 206
Elijah, 250
Elizabeth, St., of Hungary, 97
Elsmere, Robert, 6
Ember days, 115
"Energies of Men", 175
Environment, 164
Epileptics, 188
Erethism, sexual, 99, 203
Esculapius, 309
Euripides, 148
Exercise, 114
Exercises, setting up, 325
Existence, strenuous, 279;
  struggle for, 105
Exorcism, 214
Expectancy of life, 295


Faraday, 15
Fashion, 143, 201
Fasting and sex impulses, 118
Faust, 65, 255
Fayolle, General, 43
Fear thoughts, 234, 250
Ferdinand, St., 96
First Cause, Divine, 29
Fittest, survival of the, 108
Foch, Marshal, 53
Foerster, 155, 190, 197, 231
_Folie du doute_, 220
Forbes, 16
Francis, St., of Assisi, 161
Frankfort on Main, 317


Freud, 231
Freudianism, 232
Frightfulness, 207
Furth, 318


Galvani, 15, 38
Ghetto, 315, 317
Gladstone, 121, 141, 163, 258
Goethe, 151
Goldsmith, 199
Goodell, President, 36
Gouraud, General, 42
Graham, 15
Graves, Robert, 25
Greatrakes, 250
Grenfell, Doctor Wilfred, 73
Grouch, 182
Guilds, 137


Habit, 179
Haelo, 3
Haelu, 3
Haig, 54
Haleness, 3
Hamilton, 15
Hamlet, 255, 289
Hands in contagion, 313
Happiness, formula of, 63
Harrison, Frederic, 29, 32
Hazard, moral, 295
Healing, metaphysical, 250
Heart disease, 110;
  impulses, 98
Hebrew Sanitary Code, 307
Henry VIII, 153
Heredity, 164;
  and longevity, 295
Herodotus, 126
Herschel, 15
Hobby, 101, 140
  bank, 124;
  in the year, 122
  _et seq._
Holiness, 3
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 24, 294
Homer, 170, 275
Homicide, increase in, 290
Horace, 52, 64
Hospitality, 94
Hospitals, 49
Hughes, Justice, 160
Human engines, 325
Humility, 212
Hungry, feed the, 86
Hutchinson, Woods, 301, 302
Huxley, 49, 82, 166
"Hygiene, Divine", 307
Hygiene and Sanitation, 270
Hypnotism, 246
Hyslop, Doctor Thomas, 209
Hysteria, 225;
  major, 241


Ignatius Loyola, 36
Imbeciles, 188
Imitation of Christ, 275
Immortality, 279;
  belief in, 291
_Imponderabilia_, 233
Impurity, 184
Infinite, 44
Influenza, 157, 313
Ingersoll lecture, 70
Insane, increase in, 209
  alcoholic, 211;
  delusions, 206;
  limitations of, 213;
  religious, 208
Instinct, religious, 8
Instincts of helpfulness, 105
  of life, 320;
  of temper, 117;
  of tissues, 117


Jacopone da Todi, 165
James, Professor William, 34, 67, 151, 162, 176, 262, 269
Jesuits, General of the, 267
  Ghetto, 317;
  longevity, 318;
  resistance to disease, 315
Job, 255
Joshua, 311
Joy, 139


Keats, 199
Kelvin, Lord, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20


Kempis, Thomas à, 1, 276
Kennan, George, 285
Kentucky, mountains of, 94
Kepler, 13
_Kosher_, 312


Lactantius, 2
Laënnec, 25, 38
Laplace, 19
Laughter and sanity, 230
"Layman, The Creed of a", 29
Lecky, 85
Legoit, 318
Leisure, 133
Lent, 111
Leo XIII, 280
Leverrier, 37
Leviticus, 306
Liberty, 132
License, 132
Liebault, 246
Liebig, 12
  factors in, 238;
  prolongation of, 298;
  The Mystery of, 99
Linnaeus, 12
Lister, Lord, 25
Living on the will, 329
Lockington, Rev. William J., 319, 327
London, 316
Longevity, 295;
  and monasticism, 299;
  Jewish, 318;
  of Benedictines, 300;
  of professions, 297;
  of Trappists, 299;
  religious, 297;
  trades, 297
Louis, St., 96
Lourdes, 251
Lowell, James Russell, 5, 281
Loyola, Ignatius, 36
Lubricity, goddess of, 170
Lumbago, 246
Luther, 88
Luxury, 197


Mabie, Hamilton, 276
Macaulay, 121
Macaulay, Jerry, 179
Magician, The Wonder Working, 255
Magna Charta, 126
Maistre, Joseph de, 157
Malingerers, 240
Manchester slums, 314
Mania doubting, 223
Manning, Cardinal, 303
Margaret, St., of Scotland, 97
Marne, first battle of the, 54
Marriage, 196
Martineau, Jacques, 2
Matthew, Father, 175
Maud, Queen, 97
Maxwell, Clerk, 12, 15
Meat eating, 112
Meditation, 43
Mephistopheles, 65
Mercier, Cardinal, 52
  corporal works of, 88;
  works of, 87
Mesmer, 250
Michelangelo, 38, 157
Microbes, ultramicroscopic, 157
Milton, 84, 259
  diseases of the, 142;
  diversion of the, 140;
  "Unsoundness", 208
"Miracle Man", 252
Misophobia, 221
Mitchell, Dr. John K., 218
Mitchell, S. Weir, 203
Moderation, 296
Molokai, 71
Moly, 170
More, Sir Thomas, 147, 152, 225
Morgagni, 38
Morley, John, 163, 258
Mortification, 325
Mosaic Code, 307
Moses, 310
  foreign born, 315;
  native born, 315
Müller, Johannes, 25
Mulry, Thomas, 103
Münsterberg, Professor Hugo, 209
Mutiny, Indian, 266



Napoleon, 28
Nature, human, 296
Neptune, 37
Nerve irritation, 325
Nerves, 241
Nervous, breakdown, 235;
  diseases of Jews, 218
Nervousness, 229
"Nervousness, Mastery of", 172, 264
Netherlands, 276
Neurotic tendencies, 217
Newman, Cardinal, 3, 4, 28, 303
Newspapers, 136
Newton, Sir Isaac, 13, 28
New York, 49
Nibelungen, 126
Nietzsche, 56, 150


Obermaier, Father, 39
Obesity, 312
Obsessions, 222
Oersted, 15, 16, 18
O'Grady, Standish, 125
Ohm, 15, 20
Olympian religion, 161
_Ora et labora_, 35, 322
O'Reilly, John Boyle, 43, 202
Osler, Professor, 70
Overeating, 110
Overindulgence, 117
Oversensitiveness, 326
Overwork, 172
Owen, Sir Richard, 23
Oxygenation of tissues, 320
Ozanam, 18, 19, 38, 100


Paget, Sir James, 24
  general, of the insane, 210;
  infantile, 157
Park, public, 129
Pascal, 19
Pasteur. 12, 26, 37
Patience, 270
Pan, General, 41
Paul of Aegina, 215
Pearson, Doctor Karl, 77
Pellico, Silvio, 23
Periclean period, 125
Pétain, Marshal, 42, 54
Pity, 279
Plato, 148, 236
Poggendorf, 39
Poor in spirit, 161
Poor, Little Sisters of the, 327
Pope, 199
Porritt, Dr., 316
Poverty, voluntary, 159
Practitioners, irregular, 249
Predispositions toward irrationality, 213
Prison existence, 92
Prometheus, 255
Prudery, 185
Prussia, 318
Psychology of humanity, 149
Psychoneuroses, 68, 225, 242, 248
Psychotherapy, 219
Ptah Hotep, 168
Pythagoras, 148


Quintilian, 196


Ramon y Cajal, 273
Ranke, 280
Rattray, Doctor Alexander, 307
Ray, John, 28
Rayleigh, Lord, 16
Reading, 136, 202
Reasonableness, 149
Recreation, 328
_Relegere_, 2
_Religare_, 2
_Religio_, 2
_Religio Medici_, 84
  and health, 316;
  and science, 9;
  and suicide, 286;
  foundations of, 7;
  requiem of, 6


Repression, sexual, 203
  dangerous, 323;
  sons of, 182
Reticence, 195;
  religious, 196
Rich, Mabel, 154
Richardson, Sir Benjamin Ward, 314, 317
Roberts, Lord, 70, 171
Romance of the Rose, 257
Romanes, Professor George, 27
Rowan, 15
Ruskin, 86, 99


Sabbath, 128
Saint Anthony, 298
Saint Antoninus, 130
Saint Augustine, 2, 11
Saint Benedict, 35, 36
Saint Bon, 42
Saint Catherine of Siena, 96, 227
Saint Edmund of Canterbury, 154
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, 97
Saint Francis of Assisi, 161
Saint Ignatius Loyola, 36
Saint Louis, 96
Saint Margaret of Scotland, 97
Saint Theresa, 40, 53, 189, 227, 228
Saint Vincent de Paul, 18, 81, 100
Sanity and laughter, 230
Schlatter, 250
Schurman, President, 6, 31, 82
Sciatica, 245
Science and religion, 9
"Scientists, Religious Beliefs of'", 15
Scruples, 220
Secchi, 39
Seeing life, 189
Seeley, Professor A. D., 238
Self-consciousness, 274
Self-mastery, 232
Self-pity, 56
Self-poisoning, 330
Seneca, 148
Senility, 173
Sensuality, 199
Service, social, 84
Settlement work, 18, 97
  education, 192;
  hygiene, 190;
  irregularities, 189;
  problem, 198
Sexuality, 98
Sexual repression, 203
Shakespeare, 199, 255, 275, 289
Shame, 190
Shows, 134
Silence, 43;
  conspiracy of, 185;
  policy of, 190
"Silly seventies", 107
Sins, seven deadly, 181
Sistine Chapel, 158
Slave labor, 124
Sleep, 113
Smith, Doctor Goldwin, 259, 264
Socrates, 148
Standard Oil Company, 107
Stokes, 15
  drug, 130;
  tobacco, 130
  and Providence, 254;
  mystery of, 255
Sugar, consumption of, 180
Suggestion, 191
  and religion, 286;
  and sunlight, 282;
  and war, 285;
  in December, 281;
  frequency, 278;
  in Ireland, 287;
  in June, 280;
  in Switzerland, 288;
  "The Problem of", 286
Superman, 108, 150
_Superstes_, 5
Swinburne, 227
Sybarite, 267
Sympathy, 56


Tabrum, 16
_Taedium, vitae_, 66
Tait, Professor P. G., 14
Talbot, 15
Talmudic writings, 314
Tangi, 222
Taylor, Professor John W., 26
Temptation, 189
Temptations, sexual, 193
Theresa, St., 40, 53, 189, 227, 228


Thistleton-Dyer, Sir W., 82
Thoreau, 127
Thucydides, 163, 258
Tracadie, 71
Trappist longevity, 299
Tuberculosis, 312


Ulysses, 170
Undereating, 110
Underwork, 172


Vacation, yearly, 120
Vaughan, Cardinal, 40
Venus, 173
Verdun, 42
Vesalius, 37
Vincent de Paul, St., 18, 81, 100
Vinci, Leonardo da, 39
Virtue, 178
Virtues, cardinal, 177
Volta, 15, 21, 38
Von Moltke, 171
Vulcan, 173


Waist line, 324
Wallace, Alfred Russel, 214, 224
War and suicide, 285
"War, Moral Equivalent of", 68
War neuroses, 242
Ward, Mrs. Humphry, 6
Watts, 122
Weight, normal, 329
Wells, H. G., 69, 266
White, Andrew D., 290
Whittaker, Professor, 62
Whittington, Dick, 97
Wilde, Oscar, 64
Wilks, Sir Samuel, 24
Will, training of the, 325
Windle, Sir Bertram, 67
Wood, Sir Evelyn, 70, 171
Woodhead, Professor Sims, 25
Work for idle hands, 143
Workers, hard, 323
World, flesh and devil, 201
World invisible, 233
Worry not work, 296


Zone, temperate, and suicide, 283


By the Author of "RELIGION and HEALTH"



_Medical Director of Fordham University School of Sociology_

12mo.   Cloth.   288 pages.


"The American Public sorely needs the gospel of health
that Dr. Walsh preaches to it in his new book."
       --_The Pilot, Boston_.

"I do not wonder that your splendid book 'Health Through
Will Power' has met with such great success. I know that
I could hardly leave the book out of my hands, it was so
interesting and instructive."
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help to bring us back to a more natural manner of living."
      --_The Rosary Magazine_.


LITTLE, BROWN & CO., Publishers
34 Beacon Street, Boston

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