페이지 이미지



ment. Each case must be carefully examined and treated according to its own nature. If this is done, and if the sufferers will make a most determined resolution to recover, they will do so. Demosthenes was a stammerer when young.

He used to stand for hours on the sea-beach of Attica, and with his mouth full of pebbles, declaim loud enough to drown the roaring of the surf. He cured himself. We have heard of a young gentleman who imitated his example with praiseworthy persistence. He was not in the least benefited. He did not reflect that his stammering had quite a different cause from that of the great Athenian orator.

The letters which are pronounced with difficulty often betray the seat of trouble. If the k sounds like g hard, there is rigidity of muscle present; if the r sounds like an 1, the tongue is at fault; if the b, p, or v, is mispronounced, the lips or teeth may be the cause.

The stammerer has no child's play before him, but in the majority of cases he can confidently expect decided amendment or complete restoration, if he is diligent, patient, untiringly vigilant. The cure should not be commenced before the sixteenth or seventeenth year, as self-control is wanting ; nor is it favorable after the age of thirty has been passed, as then inveterate habit has grown into nature.

The entire loss of the voice, so that one cannot speak above a whisper, is a common affliction. It is gene

rally a nervous disease, and plays curious freaks. A young lady, for instance, a teacher in one of our public schools, lost her voice daily when school closed, but it always came back to her the next morning when the school opened. Another conversed without difficulty, in her natural voice, from the time she rose in the morning until noon. But as soon as the clock struck twelve, she could not make a sound above a whisper until the next morning.

We had under our care a young man, who for seven months had not spoken aloud. We asked him one day to tell the servant to bring some water. Without thinking what he was doing, he called loudly in his natural voice, and had no trouble in using it afterwards.

Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells this story of Cresus, King of Lydia. Fortune had blessed him with wide lands, untold riches, and an accomplished son, but had withheld from the latter the gift of speech above a whisper. Crosus called in the wise men and the physicians, and when they failed, finally appealed to the gods themselves. He sent rich gifts to the farfamed oracle of Delphi, and asked that his son might speak aloud. The seeress, gazing with prophetic eye into the future, returned this answer :

“Wide ruling Lydian, in thy wishes wild,
Ask not to hear the accents of thy child ;
Far better is his silence for thy peace,
And sad will be the day when that shall cease."

[blocks in formation]

Years passed, and fortune frowned on the great king. His enemies besieged and captured his capital. A common soldier meeting him in the street, and not knowing who it was, drew his sword to kill him. Sud. denly the dumb son, who was with him, called out in a loud voice,“ Oh man, do not kill Cresus," and saved his father's life. Ever afterwards his speech was restored.

Modern experience teaches us that these strange, almost miraculous cures can be brought about by a simple and ready means—electricity. Pass the electric current along the vocal chords within the throat, and the patient, who has not spoken above her breath for months or years, will often address you at once in her natural voice. At other times, loss of voice is associated with serious disorder of the throat and lungs, and is next to hopeless.

Lisping is a confusion of the sounds s and th. Taken early in life, it is readily amended. If a child is thoroughly drilled in the pronunciation of Greek, he will surely break the habit.

Certain odors and articles of food should be shunned by those who wish to preserve their voice in full health. The fumes of an extinguished candle, any rank smoke, gas, or vapor, are very injurious. Even the most fragrant Havana must be condemned from this point of view. Tobacco smoke should be shunned by a singer. Acid fruits, and such as contain pungent oils, are also

injurious. Walnuts, almonds, and pecan-nuts have an especially bad reputation here, whether justly or not we cannot say.


A “ bad breath,” as it is popularly called, is such a serious misfortune that we devote a separate section to its consideration. Many an one who would be an engaging companion is rendered intolerable by it, by it many a damsel estranges her lover, many a wife her husband.

We have termed it a misfortune. This is not quite correct. It is often a fault, one that could and should be remedied. Knowing how common it is, how nauseous it is to associates, how mortifying to the individual herself, we have given close attention to its various causes in order to suggest remedies wherever remedies are of any avail. Often the first whiff of a fetid breath will reveal its origin, and if blindfolded one can prescribe the proper means by which it can be alleviated.

The great majority of cases arise either from the lungs, the stomach, or the teeth. When from the lungs, the odor is of a sickening sweetish character; when from the stomach, it is marked by the presence of that gas known as sulphuretted hydrogen, which we are most familiar with from its presence in rotten eggs; when from the teeth, it is putrescent, reminding one of decaying animal tissue. It may also be produced from



diseases within the nostrils, or the throat, or from several of these causes combined.

Unfortunate, indeed, is the young lady who is thus made an object of disgust to her social companions. It is her duty to herself and to society to use every self-denial, every resource in her power to remedy this defect. The most polite of men cannot overoome their aversion so long as it continues.

It is related of Benserade, court poet of Louis XIV., that he was obliged on one occasion to stand close to a lady whose breath was unpleasant, while she was singing a piece of her own composition. When she had finished, a bystander asked the poet what he thought of the piece and the artist.

“Mademoiselle,” he replied, “has an excellent voice, her words are well-chosen, but her air is frightful.”

The pun was not lost on those who happened to be in front of the singer.

Worse consequences may ensue than to become the target of unfeeling jests. We know the instance of a physician who lost one after another of his cases of confinement, until the number was over forty. They all succumbed to puerperal fever. He took every conceivable precaution; bathed, shaved even his hair, left the city for a week, all in vain. The reason was he had that disease "ozæna," which we have previously described, and into whatever room he entered, he carried a breath that poisoned its atmosphere.

« 이전계속 »