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Disappointment in his aspirations after power and grandeur was the chief element in his unhappiness. His closing years were shrouded with gloom. In 1736 his mental faculties showed symptoms of decay. The last years of his life were spent in wretched imbecility. He lingered in this most pitiable state until the 19th of October, 1745, when his unsatisfied heart ceased to beat.
In a future number we may delineate his literary life and character.
ART. VI.—THE USE AND ABUSE OF EYESIGHT. THERE are few persons to whom the eyes are not about their most valuable possession. Of those who are committed to a literary or professional life this is eminently true. Could these organs be converted into diamonds, how poor would be the exchange? How valueless the monster gems would appear to their unfortunate possessor. What the muscular right arm is to the mechanic, or the nimble foot to the courier, such is the eye to the man of books. The scholar has spent, it may be, the best years of his life in acquiring knowledge. He has perhaps enjoyed high health, and the most unusual advantages; still upon these little, often abused optics depends his power of usefully employing his varied knowledge. The returned Californian who should carelessly expose his bags of gold dust, for the acquisition of which he has spent the best part of his life and endured much toil and privation, would act wisely, compared to the student who subjects his eyes to injury by abuse or neglect. The art of printing has increased the value of eyesight. The promise is, in a sense, fulfilled, that “the child shall be born a hundred years old.” A much higher amount of professional attainment is necessary now than in the days of our fathers. We have reached a book-making and a book-reading age. In no former period were the eyes so valuable. That they are so much used, may help to account for the unusual prevalence of diseases of the eye in our time.
Beer, the great German oculist, thus remarks: “As man is to be considered a little world [microcosm] in relation to the
earth upon which he lives, even so must the eye be considered a microcosm in regard to the individual man. ..
THE EYE A REPRESENTATIVE ORGAN. Almost every tissue of the body is here represented, muscle, ligament, gland, serous, mucous, and fatty tissues, bone, hair, follicles, nerves, bloodvessels, and fluid. As a mere piece of mechanism, the world nowhere furnishes such a beautiful and complete piece of machinery in so small a space. It is an epitome of the whole human system.
The intimate relationship of the eyes to the rest of the human structure, and the cause of the remarkable sympathy of these organs with structures dissimilar and remote, may be explained by the aid of the following diagram.*
* The figures indicate the pairs of nerves which supply the eye with power. 2, the second pair which supplies the power of VISION. 3, called “motorius oculi," because it supplies the power of MOTION. As will be perceived it indirectly supplies NUTRITION. 4 takes care of the oblique or pulley muscle, which 3 leaves out: this is the only example in the eye of this force; all the mechanical forces find example in the apparatus of vision. 5 furnishes the power of ADJUSTMENT, and some to FEELING, taking care of the lachrymal reservoirs, and affording something to NUTRITION. 6 takes care of the straight muscle that draws the eye out. 7 is devoted to the eyebrows, and renders most important service. 3, 4, 6, and 7 are all nerves of MOTION.
It will be seen, by reference to the diagram, that of the twelve pairs of nerves which find their origin in the brain, six are devoted to the eyes; while of the remaining five pair four send thither some branches. Thus God has taken care of this, nature's masterpiece. No other organ has such delicate and intricate functions to perform, and none other is so plentifully endowed with nerve power. It will be observed that to the faculty of adjustment, that wonderful power by which the eye perceives an object one four hundred and forty-ninth part of an inch, and in the least appreciable time adjusts itself to see another at the distance of thirty miles, there is a very large supply of nervous energy.
It will be perceived that the man who professes to be a mere oculist cannot be relied upon. In order to understand perfectly diseases of the eye, familiarity is required with all diseases, and their far-reaching and proximate causes. We all daily decide by the appearance of the eye, not only the condition of the body, but even the emotions of the mind. The physician learns to judge with almost unerring accuracy of the state of his patient as soon as he enters the sick room by the luster and appearance of the eye. The intricate structure of the eye, and its intimate, complicated, and wonderful relationship with every other organ, accounts for the variety of diseases to which it is subject. Thus is explained the necessity of familiarity with the whole science of medicine not only, but the habit, moreover, of frequently observing diseases of this organ in order to their just appreciation and successful treatment.
To indicate the causes of the decay of eyesight, and suggest remedial measures, reference must be had to all influences calculated to disturb that delicate equipoise, upon the preservation of which perfect health depends. To no class of men is the subject of the preservation of the eyesight more important than to clergymen, or to those who are preparing for the duties and engagements of the Gospel ministry. The faithful minister must be a student to the last day of active service if he would best serve God, maintain his position in the Church, and fully satisfy his own conscience—not to say his own laudable ambition. We believe that an untold amount of service is forever lost to the Church for the want of the suggestions which it is the design of this paper to make. It is impossible in the limits designated, to do more than intimate the direction in which the truth may be found, and arrest attention to the importance of the subject. Many points are more fully treated in our work, to which reference is made on page 108.
REMOTE CAUSES OF FAILURE OF EYESIGHT. Of the remote causes of the failure of eyesight, no one is so operative as that of inherent constitutional weakness. Though some one of the many exciting causes is usually regarded as producing the result, behind them all is the great cause which indicates that a mistake has been made in the choice of employment. If a carriage is constructed of imperfect materials it will first break at the point where the most wear should happen to fall. If you would continue it in use as long as possible, you would so employ it that every part should be subjected to equal service. It would be expected to break on rough roads that peculiarly tested its constitutional power. The intimate nervous relations of the eye peculiarly expose it to suffer from over use when physical debility exists. If the perfectly healthy employ the eyes much while ill, or while recovering from severe illness, serious disease is sometimes induced. If a feeble man devotes himself to a literary life, his eyes will very likely indicate by their failure the want of constitutional vigor, and he will be driven to extreme caution, or the abandonment of his studious pursuits. The same result might follow if devoted to mechanical engagements, and surely would if the employment chanced to be mostly indoors. As there is every degree of feebleness inherited or acquired, this view of the subject should induce scholarly persons not over robust to great caution and much watchfulness in relation to the eyes. They will do for them a great deal of work if dealt gently with and not abused.
The manner in which constitutional feebleness may be ac. quired we may consider in another article, on the subject of “ Thought and Labor.” If the brain is disproportionately worked, and the laws of health disregarded, the failure of eyesight is to be expected as a natural sequence.
EXCITING CAUSES OF DECAY OF VISION. It is our design to devote this paper mainly to the EXCITING CAUSES of the failure of eyesight, many of which will in their turn be considered.
d to engagements, and result might follow on
I. The results of inflammation afford the most frequent exciting cause of defective vision. In relation to no subject is the aphorism of Shakspeare more true: “If a thing were done, it were well 'twere done quickly.” Unless inflammation is speedily cured, a chronic condition very often supervenes, which manifests itself in continual derangement of the eyes unless very carefully employed. The lack of treatment, or oftener the employment of improper remedies, conduces to this result. Too many trifle with quack remedies or popular nostrums, not regarding the dangers which they incur, or the time lost. This subject is considered in the eleventh chapter of our popular work.*
II. Accidents seldom produce serious disease among the studious classes. Workmen are more exposed, and do permanently suffer from a variety of accidents. The admirable defenses of the eye preserves it from many dangers, and its power of resisting injuries secures it against ultimate harm. It is injury to the nervous apparatus upon which the usefulness of the organ depends that the scholar has most to dread. This leads us next to consider as a source of evil the subject of
OVERWORK. III. The effects of overwork of the eyes are manifest in all classes of society. Those trades and employments which require close observation of near objects furnish frequent examples. This subject is treated at length in the eighth chapter of “Sight and Hearing,” the work before alluded to. We propose in this paper to allude merely to the result of overwork as it affects the literary and studious, those who work the eyes and the brain at the same time; among this class it is the most common cause of decay of eyesight. Frequently some imprudence in youth during the student period, while the body is in a state of immature development, results in permanent disability of the eyes. A few nights of successive study, or days of constant application, during a period of physical debility; a day with the microscope, viewing an eclipse, a few hours reading in the cars, or any continued exercise of the organs of vision without sufficient rest, will frequently give a shock to the nervous ap
* Sight and Hearing: How Preserved, and How Lost. By J. HENRY CLARK, A. M., M. D. New York: C. Scribner, No. 124 Grand-street.