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Back Hints for the Overworked
Photograph of Thomas Eakins at 50-55 Photograph of Two cowboys on horses in BT Ranch yard Photograph of BT Ranch building, full view
I have called these Hints Wear and Tear, because this title clearly and briefly points out my meaning. Wear is a natural and legitimate result of lawful use, and is what we all have to put up with as that result of years of activity of brain and body. Tear is another matter: it comes of hard or evil usage of body or engine, of putting things to wrong purposes, using a chisel for a screwdriver, a penknife for a gimlet. Long strain, or the sudden demand of strength from weakness, causes tear. Wear comes of use; tear of abuse. The man who lives an outdoor life who sleeps with the stars visible above him who wins his bodily subsistence at first-hand from the earth and waters is being who defies rain and sun, has a strange sense of elastic strength, may drink if he likes, and may smoke all day long, and feel none the worse for it. Some such return to the earth for the means of life is what gives vigor and developing power to the colonists of an older race cast on a land like ours. A few generations of men living in such fashion store up a capital of vitality which accounts largely for the prodigal activity displayed by their descendants, and made possible only by the sturdy contest with Nature which their ancestors have waged. That such a life is still led by multitudes of our country men is what alone serves to keep up our pristine force and energy. Are we not merely using the interest on these accumulations of power, but also wastefully spending the capital? From a few we have grown to millions, and already in a multitude of ways the people of the Atlantic coast present the peculiarities of an old nation. Have we lived too fast? The settlers here, as elsewhere, had ample room, and lived sturdily by their own hands, little troubled for the most part with those intense competitions which make it hard to live nowadays and embitter the daily bread of life. Neither had they the thousand intricate problems to solve which perplex those who struggle today in our teeming city hives... from The Wear and Tear of Modern Life
(or Hints for the Overworked)
By S. Weir Mitchell, M.D.
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