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"It is a sort of game between us and the reporters. Our aim is to make them think we are bigger than we are, and theirs is to make us smaller than we are; and any chance we have of succeeding is to hold our tongues, while they will probably succeed if they make us jabber. Above all, oh, Brown, if you write to the papers giving your views of why we are at war-and if you don't you will be the only person who hasn't-don't be lured into slinging vulgar abuse at our opponents, lest America take you for another university professor."

There is, I learned, only one person in America about whom it is impossible, even in Sir James's opinion, to preserve a neutral attitude. This is the German Ambassador, whose splendid work for England day by


day and in every paper and to all reporters cannot, Sir James thinks, be too cordially recognized. Brown has been told to look upon the German Ambassador as England's greatest asset in America just now, and to hope heartily that he will be long spared to carry on his admirable work.

Lastly, it was pleasant to find that Brown has not a spark of sympathy with those who say that, because Germany has destroyed art treasures in Belgium and France, the Allies. should retaliate with similar rudeness if they reach Berlin. He holds that if for any reason best known to themselves (such as the wish for a sunnier location) the Hohenzollerns should by and by vacate their present residence, a nice villa should be provided for them, and that all the ancestral statues in the SiegesAllee should be conveyed to it intact, and perhaps put up in the back garden. There the Junkers could drop in of an evening, on the way home from their offices, and chat pleasantly of old times. Brown thinks they should be allowed to retain all their iron crosses, and even given some more, with which, after smart use of their pocket combs, they would cut no end of a dash among the nursemaids.

As for the pipe, I was informed that it had now done its work, and I could take it away as a keepsake. I took it, but wondered afterward at Brown's thinking he had the right to give it to me.

A disquieting feeling has since come over me that perhaps it was Sir James I had been interviewing all the time, and Brown who had escaped down the elevator.




FEW months ago, shortly after the beginning of the second half-year in one of our principal Eastern universities, I was approached by a veteran member of the professorial staff, who confided to me that he was much troubled about the condition of his health.

"As you know," said he, "I have just returned from a sabbatical tour of Europe, the first long vacation I have taken for years. When I left home, I was feeling first-rate, but for various reasons I did not really enjoy my

stay abroad, and since beginning work again I find that I am far from well. Though I formerly could study far into the night without experiencing ill effects, I now become exhausted from slight effort; I cannot concentrate my attention, and I have a strange dread of meeting my classes.

"What alarms me most of all is the fact that I am almost continually tormented by a peculiar numbness and tingling of my whole left side. It is worse in the arm and leg, but I feel it even in my face. I fear the


truth of the matter is that I have long been overworking and am now paying the penalty. Do you suppose this tingling and numbness can be the forerunner of an attack of paralysis?"

"Not at all," I hastened to assure him. "It is merely a sign that your nervous system is out of gear, and that you had better pay a visit to a first-class neurologist."

I named a specialist of my acquaintance, and, after a few more words to relieve his anxiety, bade him good-morning. Two weeks passed before I met him again, when I was both surprised and gratified by the marked change for the better in his appearance. The look of worry was gone from his eyes, he greeted me with his old-time enthusiasm, and I observed that he carried a well-filled bag of books.

"Ah," I said, pointing to the books, "the doctor evidently didn't order you to stop work entirely."

"Why, no," was his beaming reply. "On the contrary, he told me that the best thing I could possibly do was to get back into my old habit of pegging away. I certainly am eternally obliged to you for sending me to him. He gave me a thorough examination, a tonic, and some good advice, and already I feel nearly as well as ever. My nervousness, it seems, was only a reaction from the sudden cessation of work during my sojourn in Europe. I cannot understand, though, how such a simple cause could have upset me so greatly."

I could have enlightened him on this point, but did not deem the moment propitious, as my explanation might have provoked a storm of nerve-exhausting wrath. For, as a matter of fact, the whole trouble with my friend the professor had been due to the vacuity of his mind. A man of truly brilliant achievement in his chosen department of study, he had specialized so exclusively, had concentrated his thoughts so intently on one definite set of problems, that when the opportunity and occasion arose for temporarily abandoning his labors he had absolutely no other interest with which to occupy himself. As a result his energy became, so to speak, short-circuited; instead of being externally expended in pleasurable and profitable pursuits, it wasted itself in harmful internal activity that took the form of what psychologists call "morbid introspection."

For perhaps the first time in his life, and wholly because his mind had no other com

pelling object of attention, the vacationizing professor began to take note of his mental states and of the bodily sensations to which, like most people, he ordinarily paid no heed whatever. Now, it is a scientifically established truth, not only that every part of the body is perpetually transmitting sensations to the brain, but also that if the attention be turned to any particular part the sensations transmitted from it tend to become exaggerated. For example, to quote one eminent medical authority, "If we think of the point of our big toe on the right foot, we find, though we were totally unaware of it a moment before, that a certain pressure is being exerted in it. If we continue to think of it, queer feelings develop in it. We may get a sense of numbness that proceeds up along the tendons that lead to it. We can follow them up to the insertion of the muscles in the shin. If we dwell on the subject, we have curious prickly sensations and numb feelings,. all of which were there and were neglected a minute before, but now are acutely felt." Similarly, so-called nervous indigestion, chronic insomnia, or a general "neurasthenic condition may be developed by this process of over-attention to the sensations of the physi cal organism-a process, be it noted, which would never come into activity were not the mind vacant.

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This, I can say without hesitation, is the correct explanation of the state of affairs that so alarmed my professorial friend, just as it is the explanation of thousands of other instances of "nervous breakdown." Perhaps its most striking exemplification is found in the often-repeated case of the business man who, retiring after a long, arduous, and successful career, experiences within a few months a seemingly inexplicable failure in health. The tendency is to see in this the inevitable consequence of the "overwork in which he has been indulging all his lite. In reality, it was the alleged overwork that enabled him to continue hale and hearty until the day of his retirement, for his business interests so filled his mind that he had neither time nor desire for excessive preoccupation with thoughts of self. When, however, he changed his mode of life, and with the change dropped all thought of the one thing that really interested him, he almost necessarily became abnormally self-centered, from sheer lack of anything other than his personal feelings about which to think.

To be sure, he might still have saved him

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self by following the example of Dr. Johnson's retired soap-boiler, who, after months of fuming and fretting in idleness, begged from the man to whom he had sold his business the privilege of spending a certain time each day watching the manufacture of soap. This request of course testified to a lamentable narrowness of interest, but it also testified to a lively appreciation of the importance of being vitally interested in something if one would remain well. And unquestionably there is no lesson which the world more needs to learn than this basic fact of mental occupation as a safeguard to health. Vacuity of mind, I need hardly point out, is by no means confined to the narrow specialist off for a vacation or the business man who has ceased his money-making activities. Every class in society, from Fifth Avenue to the East Side, from Wall Street to the most isolated rural community, abounds in people who, if they were to subject themselves to an honest selfexamination, would be obliged to confess that they have muddled along all their lives without really using their minds-that is to say, without taking a keen, sustained, thoughtstimulating interest in anything.

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What, quite frequently, they have done, from an instinctive desire to get away from themselves," but ignorant of the proper course to pursue, is to grasp feverishly at all sorts of thought-killing diversions—the frothy novel, the musical comedy, the tango, the whisky bottle. But, for the very reason that these are not of a character to inspire an abiding interest, their luckless devotees still find themselves perpetually besieged by thoughts of self. Hence, in appalling numbers, they soon or late make their way to the physician's office to be treated for " nerves," or else drift into ruinous excesses which hurry them to an untimely grave. Many a man, there can be. no doubt, becomes a drunkard wholly from lack of mental resources. Time hanging heavy on his hands, he takes a drink because he "must do something," and thus, all unwittingly, he allows the drink habit to grow on him. My own belief, indeed, is that most of the vice, as well as most of the nervousness, of which we hear so much to-day, would soon become non-existent if people only appreciated the menace of the vacant mind and bestirred themselves to find some fitting and attractive subject upon which to exercise their reasoning powers.

I am reminded at this point of the seemingly miraculous cure of a victim of alcoholism


effected by a friend of mine, a medical psychologist of international reputation. His patient was a young man of thirty-two, with a deplorable history of drunkenness on both sides of his family, and himself an alcoholic since the age of twenty. Weak-willed, ambitionless, and almost constantly under the influence of liquor, his case seemed so hopeless that my friend at first was reluctant to treat him, deeming the fee he would have to charge a useless drain on the young man's relatives. At their insistence he finally took him in hand, and for upward of a year gave him psychotherapeutic treatment designed to blot out the craving for strong drink. At the same time he made a careful study of the young fellow's temperament and characteristics, with a view to helping him to find some congenial life activity. As he shrewdly put it:

"If this young man's thirst for alcohol is to be permanently quenched, it can only be by replacing the desire for drink with a desire for achievement in some field of effort that will engrossingly occupy his mind.”

And, in fact, a day came when, with an eye that was clear and a hand that no longer trembled, the whilom dipsomaniac expressed an earnest desire to go to work. He had already shown in a small way certain indications of executive ability, and a place was found for him in the office of a large factory. From the outset he attacked his duties with enthusiasm, displaying unexpected energy and trustworthiness. To-day, freed completely from the thrall of King Alcohol, he holds a most responsible managerial position, is in receipt of a handsome salary, and justly accounts himself one of the happiest and most fortunate of men.

This is a striking illustration of the possi bility of curing serious afflictions by the comparatively simple method of "mind fertilization," which is coming more and more into use among specialists in the treatment of functional nervous and mental disorders. Even when dealing with complicated cases of hysteria and other psycho-neuroses requiring the application of delicate psychological processes to ascertain and eradicate the special causes at work in each individual case, the best physicians nowadays supplement their therapeutic technique by a systematic attempt to "energize" their patients mentally, and in this way prevent any danger of relapse through the disintegrating effects of the introspection born of emptiness of mind. Thus the director of one well-known New England


private sanitarium for the hysterical and neurasthenic-the same medical psychologist, by the way, who so successfully handled the case of alcoholism just cited-makes it a point to have his patients "doing something interesting" almost all the day. In the evening he gathers them about him in a large livingroom, reads to them from classical authors, encourages questioning and discussion, then starts them playing games, and at ten o'clock packs them off to bed.

The one thing he absolutely prohibits is any exchange of confidences regarding the particular ailments from which they are suffering. Any patient who persists in talking of his ills to other patients is ruthlessly expelled from the sanitarium. The director's great endeavor, in fine, is to get his charges thinking about other subjects than themselves, and to provide their minds with really nourishing food. Under this regimen they live together in happy unity; to a stranger going among them, as I have often done, they betray not the slightest signs of abnormality; and in time they are able, not merely to mingle once more in society, but to take up their former vocations with a zeal and ability unknown to them before. Or, if they are so situated that they do not have to earn a living, they return to the outer world equipped with some "hobby" that affords an adequate outlet for the energy that might otherwise exhaust itself in disastrous self-communing.


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For the matter of that, many modern neurologists have found that the cultivation of "hobbies" often is quite sufficient in itself to restore to health the nervously unstrung; and, more than this, they earnestly advocate the " 'hobby habit as a preventive of nervous or mental breakdown. "Let a man," they argue, develop at least two great interests an ardent interest in his work, and an almost equally ardent interest in some hobby -and he may confidently expect to accomplish much, and to accomplish it without danger to his health. For in the intervals when he rests from his labors he will always have in his hobby an antidote to the boredom that exhausts and enfeebles." Nor does this argument rest on theory alone. is amply supported by the interesting circumstance that many of the hardest-working and longest-living of men are known to have been zealous hobby-riders.


Most significant is the extent to which hobbies have long been cultivated by medical men themselves. The names of Oliver Wen

dell Holmes, Weir Mitchell, and Conan Doyle rise at once into mind as particularly distinguished representatives of a long line of physicians who have diligently prosecuted a hobby for the writing of novels or poetry. Richard Caton, the famous English physician, is almost fully as famous an authority on the Esculapian temples of Greece, to the study of which he devoted his summers for more than thirty years. Joseph Leidy was rated the foremost palæontologist of his day. Samuel Morton, developing a hobby for accumulating skulls, formed a collection which became the basis of the largest collection of skulls in the world, stored in the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia. Another Philadelphia physician, Thomas B. Wilson, enriched the same institution by adding to it a wonderful collection of birds. The eminent Dr. Parry combined with faithful attendance to his professional duties a hobby for studying art, music, and poetry. Sir Hans Sloane collected fifty thousand books and twentythree thousand medals and coins. Cane collecting is the hobby of one present-day American physician; another breeds fancy fishes; a third, Dr. Roland G. Curtin, of Philadelphia, has at various times made special collections of book-plates, autographs, Continental currency, Indian canoe paddles, sharp-pointed weapons, and natural science specimens. Perhaps most impressive of all is the case of Rudolf Virchow, as narrated by Dr. James J. Walsh:

"For more than a year I lived close to the great German pathologist Virchow, and found that his varied interests were probably the secret of his power to devote himself to work for many hours a day, take only a small amount of sleep, and yet live healthily and happily for over eighty years. Frequently he did not leave the Prussian Legislature until 1 A.M., or even later, and yet he seldom failed to be at his laboratory before 7:30 o'clock in the morning, though it was several miles from his home and took over half an hour to get there. Besides pathology he was deeply interested in anthropology and in most of the biological sciences, and his favorite hobby was the practical care of the health of the city of Berlin. From the time that Berlin, just after the Franco-Prussian War, began to grow out of the half-million provincial town that it was into the great world capital that it became, Virchow had charge of the health of the men engaged on the sewer farms of the city. . . . His visits to

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the farms, his planning for the prevention of the spread of disease, his deep interest in the reports and the constant improvement of conditions, instead of hampering his other intellectual activity by wasting brain force, probably proved restful by diverting the blood stream away to the cells that occupied themselves with this other and very different problem, and so proved a benefit, not an evil."

And, Dr. Walsh might well have added, they proved beneficial by keeping Virchow so busy that he had no time to waste in thinking about himself. This, let me insist, is the therapeutic value of hobbies, as demonstrated both by the experience of the many long-lived great men who have had hobbies and by the results of actual trial of the " hobby cure." I know of one young woman, a typical nervous invalid, who persisted in her invalidism until she fell into the hands of a physician wise enough to see that all she needed was a self-escaping interest. At his suggestion she began a systematic study of Oriental rugs, developed an intense enthusiasm for this subject, and soon was enjoying life like any normal, healthy woman. Another "nervous patient," a middle-aged man of wealth and social prominence, has been in the best of health since a discerning friend, recognizing his need for self-forgetfulness, interested him in the Boy Scout movement.

A hobby

for charity work has been the salvation of many a neurasthenic, while many another has been helped back to health by some collection hobby-the collecting of books, pictures, coins, stamps, and so forth.

To be sure, there is such a thing as riding a hobby to death-that is, allowing it to become a mischievous obsession. I used to know a little wizened-up gentleman who in early life had been a promising physician. As plenty of other men have done before and since, he took up checker-playing as a means of mental relaxation. Little by little, without clearly appreciating it, he allowed his interest in checkers to dominate his interest in medical work, and when I knew him he had long since retired from the practice of medicine and was



spending almost every waking moment at the checker-board. Withal, and testifying eloquently to the health-preserving virtue of hobbies, he was as spry and energetic a little old, man as one could meet anywhere, always in good spirits, and blessed with marvelous keenness of mind.

That, however, he had actually lost much through over-devotion to his hobby cannot be denied. Most people, fortunately, are in little danger of being similarly swept off their feet. And, on the other hand, devotion to a hobby may, in addition to benefiting the health, so enlarge the intellectual powers of the hobby-rider as to open to him unexpected opportunities for personal advancement and social usefulness. Among a boat-load of immigrants from Germany to the United States there once was a poor young man who, after sundry adventures in quest of a livelihood, settled in Kansas City, where, near the public library, he established a small stand for the sale of fruit and peanuts. was his vocation; his avocation, or hobby, was the study of languages, at which he worked with admirable diligence in the public library, sometimes closing his peanut-stand for hours when absorbed in the solution of a specially fascinating linguistic problem.


A day came when the University of Missouri, needing an additional instructor in languages, sent an emissary to the Kansas City librarian, with the request that the latter name a good man for the post. "The only man I can honestly recommend at this moment,' said the librarian, "is that foreigner yonder," and he pointed to the young immigrant, toiling eagerly over a huge tome. A few minutes' conversation satisfied the University's representative that the librarian's judgment was excellent, and a little later the peanut-vender closed his stand for all time and began teaching. To-day he is one of the really shining lights of Harvard University.

By all means, then, let us cultivate some hobby. In any event, if we would retain our health and happiness, let us always remember that the most dangerous thing we can have about us is a vacant mind.

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