Shut Your Mouth, Issue 114

Front Cover
Pantianos Classics, 1869 - Indians - 114 pages

George Catlin discusses how closing one's mouth during sleep and day to day will foster improvement in mental and physical condition. This edition contains all of the original illustrations the author made.

Walking among and studying various Native American tribes in the 19th century, the author noticed that many of the elders possessed a serene and well-preserved appearance. The young members of the tribe seemed especially healthy, with an innate resistance to certain illnesses and congenital conditions. Seeing the tribe's members sleeping, he noted that they all did so with closed mouths.

Catlin pondered whether this habit contributed to the physical vigor of the people, and investigated further. After venturing back to the towns of the Midwest, he attests to witnessing how terrible many people who had practiced mouth breathing throughout life appeared, and became deeply opposed to its practice. This book details how children and young people can be encouraged against mouth breathing, and notes how different the facial countenance appears between mouth breathing people and nose breathers.

Today, the notion that mouth breathing promotes physical ugliness or decrepitude is wholly disavowed as an eccentric idea with no basis in fact. However, sleep researchers have demonstrated that breathing with the mouth open while asleep can result in more snoring and thus a lower quality of sleep and therefore health. Overall, one could venture that Catlin's ideas possess a certain merit, even if his book is an exaggeration.

Although primarily known today as a painter and traveller who became an emissary of sorts to the Plains tribes, George Catlin was also an enthusiastic if occasional writer. He admired the Native American peoples for their traditions and distinctive appearance, and took to painting them - his marked talent led to their respect for his gifts, and they duly welcomed him with friendship.


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Page 24 - It is a known fact that man can inhale through his nose, for a certain time, mephitic air, in the bottom of a well, without harm; but if he opens his mouth to answer a question, or calls for help, in that position, his lungs are closed and he expires.
Page 14 - I have seen a poor Indian woman in the wilderness lowering her infant from the breast, and pressing its lips together as it falls asleep in its cradle in the open air, and afterwards looked into the Indian multitude for the results of such a practice, I have said to myself ' Glorious education ! such a mother deserves to be the nurse of emperors...
Page 83 - Mouth — that your words may be words of wisdom, and give no advantage to thine adversary ' — might be adopted with good effect in Civilized life : & he who would strictly adhere to it, would be sure to reap its benefits in his waking hours; and would soon find the habit running into his hours of rest, into which he would calmly enter ; dismissing the nervous anxieties of the day, as he firmly...
Page 83 - In the social transactions of life, this might have its beneficial results, as the most friendly, cautionary advice, or be received as the grossest of insults ; but where I would paint and engrave it, in every Nursery, and on every Bed-post in the Universe, its meaning could not be mistaken ; and if obeyed, its importance would soon be realized.
Page 14 - ... life covering the faces of their infants sleeping in overheated rooms, with their little mouths open and gasping for breath, and afterwards looked into the multitude, I have been struck with the evident evil and lasting results of this incipient stage of education, and have been forcibly struck and shocked when I have looked into the Bills of Mortality, which I believe to be so frightfully swelled by the results of this habit thus contracted, and practised in contravention to Nature's design.
Page 23 - ... the tingling excitements of the few which pass them, cause the muscular involitions of sneezing, by which they are violently and successfully resisted. The air which enters the lungs is as different from that which enters the nostrils as distilled water is different from the water in an ordinary cistern or a frogpond. The arresting and purifying process of the nose upon the atmosphere, with its poisonous ingredients, passing through it, though less perceptible, is not less distinct, nor less...
Page 80 - ... keep your mouth shut when you read, when you write, when you listen, when you are in pain, when you are walking, when you are running, when you are riding, and, by all means, when you are angry. There is no person in society but who will find, and acknowledge, improvement in health and enjoyment, from even a temporary attention to this advice.
Page 40 - Nature, and a matter of necessity, even during their waking hours and the usual avocations of life, to breathe through the mouth, which is constantly open ; while the nasal ducts, being vacated, like vacated roads that grow up to grass and weeds, become the seat of Polypus and other diseases.
Page 75 - Factor and myself succeeded in 81 bringing them to a reconciliation, and finally to a shaking of hands ; by which we had the satisfaction of knowing, beyond a doubt, that we had been the means of saving the life of one of these men ; and a short time afterwards, while alone with the Indian, I asked him if he had not felt fears of his antagonist, who appeared much his superior in size and in strength ; to which he very promptly replied — ' No, not in the least ; I never fear harm from a man who...
Page 23 - ... measure the air and equalize its draughts, during the hours of repose. The atmosphere is nowhere pure enough for man's breathing until it has passed this mysterious refining process; and therefore the imprudence and danger of admitting it...

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