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Wear and Tear or, Hints for the Overworked

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Many years ago I found occasion to set before the readers of Lippincott's Magazine certain thoughts concerning work in America, and its results. Somewhat to my surprise, the article attracted more notice than usually falls to the share of such papers, and since then, from numerous sources, I have had the pleasure to learn that my words of warning have been of good service to many thoughtless sinners against the laws of labor and of rest. I have found, also, that the views then set forth as to the peculiar difficulties of mental and physical work in this country are in strict accordance with the personal experience of foreign scholars who have cast their lots among us; while some of our best teachers have thanked me for stating, from a doctor's stand-point, the evils which their own experience had taught them to see in our present mode of tasking the brains of the younger girls.

I hope, therefore, that I am justified in the belief that in its new and larger form my little tract may again claim attention from such as need its lessons. Since it was meant only for these, I need not excuse myself to physicians for its simplicity; while I trust that certain of my brethren may find in it enough of original thought to justify its reappearance, as its statistics were taken from manuscript notes and have been printed in no scientific journal.

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 the 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 screw-driver, 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 sermon of which these words are the text has been preached many times in many ways to congregations for whom the Dollar Devil had always a more winning eloquence. Like many another man who has talked wearily to his fellows with an honest sense of what they truly need, I feel how vain it is to hope for many earnest listeners. Yet here and there may be men and women, ignorantly sinning against the laws by which they should live or should guide the lives of others, who will perhaps be willing to heed what one unbiased thinker has to say in regard to the dangers of the way they are treading with so little knowledge as to where it is leading.

The man who lives an out-door life--who sleeps with the stars visible above him--who wins his bodily subsistence at first hand from the earth and waters--is a 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 colonist of an older race cast on a land like ours....