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cise himself, early in the morning with these rightly prepared instruments, till such time as he should sweat, when, as the story goes, the virtue of the medicaments, perspiring through the wood, had so good an influence on the sultan's constitution, that they cured him of an indisposition which all the compositions he had taken inwardly had not been able to remove.
17. This eastern allegory is finely contrived to shew us how beneficial bodily labour is to health, and that exercise is the most effectual physic. I have described in my hundred and fifteenth paper, from the general structure and mechanism of an human body, how absolutely necessary exercise is for its preservation ; I shall in this place recommend another great preservative of health, which in many cases produces the same effects as exercise, and may, in some measures, supply its place, where opportunities of exercise are wanting.
18. The preservative I am speaking of is temperance, which has those particular advantages over all other means of health, that it may be practised by all ranks and conditions, at any season or in any place. It is a kind of regimen into which every man may put himself, without interruption of business, expense of money, or loss of time. If exercise throws off superfluities, temperance prevents them; if exercise clears the vessels, temperance neither satiates nor overstrains them; if exercise raises proper ferments in the humours, and promotes the circulation of the blood, temperance gives nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigour; if exercise throws off all superfluities, temperance starves it.
19. Physic, for the most part, is nothing else but the substitute of exercise or temperance. Medicines are indeed absolutely necessary in acute distempers, that cannot wait the slow operations of these two great instruments of health; but did men live in an habitual course of exercise and temperance, there would be but little occasion for them. Accordingly we find that those parts of the world are the most healthy, where they subsist by the chace : and that men lived longest when their lives were employed in hunting, and when they had little food besides what they caught.
20. Blistering, cupping, bleeding, are seldom of use to any but to the idle and intemperate; as all those in ward applications, which are so much in practice among us, are, for the most part, nothing else but expedients to make luxury consistent with health. The apothecary is perpetually employed in countermining the cook and the vintner. It was said of Diogenes, that meeting a young man who was going to a feast, he took him up in the street, and carried him home to his friends, as one who was running into imminent danger, had he not prevented him.
21. What would that philosopher have said, had he been present at the gluttony of a modern meal ? would he not have thought the master of a family mad, and have begged his servant to tie down his hands, had he seen him devour foul, fish, and flesh, swallow oil and vinegar, wines and spices; throw down sallads of twenty different herbs, sauces of an hundred ingredients, confections and fruits of numberless sweets and flavours ! What unnatural motions and counter ferments must such a medley of intemperance produce in the body? For my part, when I behold a fashionable table set out in all its magnificence, I fancy, that I see gouts and dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers, lying in ambuscade among the dishes.
22. Nature delights in the most plain and simple diet. Every animal, but man, keeps to one dish. Herbs are the food of this species, fish of that, and flesh of a third. Man falls upon every thing that comes in his way; not the smallest fruit of excresence of the earth, scarce a berry, or a mushroon, can es
It is impossible to lay down any determinate rule for temperance because what is luxury in one may be temperance in another; but there are few who have lived any time in the world, who are not judges of their own constitutions, so far as to know what kinds and what proportions of food do best agree with them.
23. Were I to consider my readers as my patients, and to prescribe such a kind of temperance as is accommodated to all persons, and such as is particularly suitable to our climate and way of living, I would copy the following rules of a very eminent physician. Make your whole repast out of one dish. If you indulge in a second, avoid drinking any thing strong till you have finished your meal; at the same time abstain from all sauces, or at least such as are not the most plain and simple.
24. A man could not be well guilty of gluttony, if he stuck to these few obvious and easy rules. In the first case, there could be no variety of tastes to solicit his palate and occasion excess: nor in the second any artificial provocatives to relieve satiety, and create a false appetite. Were I to prescribe a rule for drinking, it would be formed upon a saying quoted by Sir William Temple ; The first glass for myself, the second for my friends, the third for good humour, and the fourth for my enemies. But because it is impossible for one who lives in the world to diet himself always in so philosophical a manner,
I think every man should have his days of abstinence, according as his constitution will permit.
25. These are great reliefs to nature, as they qualify her for struggling with hunger and thirst, whenever any distemper or duty of life may put her upon such difficulties; and at the same time give her an opportunity of extricating herself from her oppressions, and recovering the several tones and springs of her distended vessels! Besides that, abstinence well-timed often kills a sickness in embryo, and destroys the first seeds of an indispositon.
26. It is observed by two or three ancient authors that Socrates notwithstanding he lived in Athens during that great plague, which has made so much noise through all ages, and has been celebrated at different times by such eminent hands; I say, notwithstanding that he lived in the time of this devouring pestilence, he never caught the least infection, which those writers unanimously ascribes to that uninterrupted temperance which he always observed.
27. And here I cannot but mention an observation which I have often made, upon reading the lives of the philosophers, and comparing them with any series of kings or great men of the same number. If we consider these ancient sages, a great part of whose philosophy consisted in a temperate and abstemious course of life, one would think the life of a philosopher and the life of a man were of two different dates. For we find that the generality of these wise men were nearer a hundred than sixty years of age at the time of their respective deaths.
28. But the most remarkable instance of the efficacy of temperance towards the procuring of long life, is what we meet with in a little book published by Lewis Cornaro, the Venitian ; which I the rather mention, because it is of undoubted credit, as the late Venitian ambassador, who was of the same family, attested more than once in conversation, when he resided in England, that Cornaro, who was the author of the little treatise I am mentioning, was of an infirm constitution, till about forty, when, obstinately persisting in an exact course of temperance, he recovered a perfect state of health; insomuch that at four-score he published his book, which has been translated into English under the title of Sure and certain methods of attaining a long and healthy life.
29. He lived to give a third or fourth edition of it, and after having pased his hundredth year died without pain or agony, and like one who falls asleep. The treatise I mentioned has been taken notice of by several eminent authors, and is written with such a spirit of cheerfulness, religion and good sense, as are the natural concomitance of temperance and sobriety. The mixture of the old man in it is rather a recommendation than a discredit to it.
The Duty of Secrecy: T is related by Quintus Curtius, that the Persians always conceive a lasting and invincible contempt of a man, who had violated the laws of secrecy: for they thought, that howerer he might be deficient in the qualities requisite to actual excellence, the negative virtues at least were always in his power, and though he perhaps could not speak well if he were to try, it was still easy for him not to speak.
2. In this opinion of the easiness of secrecy, they seem to have considered it as opposed, not to treachery, but loquacity, and to have conceived the man whom they thus censured, not frightened by menaces to reveal, or bribed by promises to betray, but incited by the mere pleasure of talking, or some other motive equally trivial, to lay open his heart without reflection, and to let whatever he knew slip from him, only for want of power to retain it.
3. Whether, by their settled and avowed scorn of thoughtless talkers, the Persians were able to diffuse to any great extent the virtue of taciturnity, we are hindered by the distances of those times from being able to discover, there being very few memoirs remaining of the court of Persepolis, nor any distinct accounts handed down to us of their office-clerks, their ladies of the bedchamber, their attornies, their chamber-maids, or their footmen.
4. In these latter ages, though the old animosity against a prattler is still retained, it appears wholly to have lost its effects upon mankind; for secrets are so seldom kept, that it may with some reason be doubted, whether the ancients were not mistaken in their first postulate, whether the quality of retention be so generally bestowed, and whether a secret has not some subtile volatility, by which it escapes almost imperceptibly at the smallest vent; or some power of fermentation, by whic, it expands itself so as to burst the heart that will not give it way.
5. Those who study either the body or the mind of man, very often find the most specious and pleasing theory falling under the weight of contrary experience; and instead of gratifying their vanity by referring efects from causes, they are always reduced at last to conjecture causes from effects. That it is easy to be secret, the speculatist can demonstrate in his retreat, and therefore thinks himself justified in placing confidence; the man of the world knows, that whether difficult or not, it is uncommon, and therefore finds himself rather inclined to search after the reason of this universal failure in one of the most important duties of society.
6. The vanity of being known to be trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it; for however absurd it
may be thought to boast an honour by an act that shiews that it was conferred without merit, yet most men seem rather inclined to confess the want of virtue than of importance, and more willingly shew their influence than their power, though at
the expense of their probity, than glide through life with no other pleasure than the private consciousness of fidelity: which, while it is preserved, must be without praise, except from the single person who tries and knows it.
7. There are many ways of telling a secret by which a man exempts himself from the reproaches of his conscience, and gratifies his pride without suffering himself to believe that he impairs his virtue. He tells the private affairs of his patron, or his friend, only to those from whom he would not conceal his own;
he tells them to those, who have no temptation to betray their trust, or with a denunciation of a certain forfeiture of his friends if he discovers that they become public.
8. Secrets are very frequently told in the first ardour of kindness, or of love, for the sake of proving, by so important a sacrifice, the sincerity of professions, or the warmth of tenderness; but with this motive, though it be sometimes strong in itself, vanity generally concurs, since every man naturally desires to be most esteemed by those whom he loves, or with whom he converses, with whom he passes his hours of pleasure, and to whom he retires from business and from care.
-9. When the discovery of secrets is under consideration, there is always a distinction carefully to be made between our own and those of another, those of which we are fully masters as they effect only our own interest, and those which are deposited with us in trust, and involve the happiness or convenience of such as we have no right to expose to hazard by experiments upon their lives, without their consent. To tell our own secrets is generally folly, but that folly is without guilt; to communicate those with which we
are intrusted is always treachery, and treachery for the most part combined with folly.
10. There have, indeed been some enthusiastic and irrational zealots for friendship, who have maintained, and perhaps believed, that one friend has a right to all that is in possession of another; and therefore it is a violation of kindness to exempt any secret from this boundless confidence; accordingly a late female minister of state has been shameless enough to inform the world, that she used, when she wanted to extract any thing from her sovereign, to remind her of Montaigne's reasoning, who has determined, that to tell a secret to a friend is no breach of fidelity, because the number of persons trusted is not multiplied, a man and his friend being virtually the same.
11. That such a fallacy could be imposed upon any human understanding, or that an author could have been imagined to advance a position so remote from truth and reason, any otherwise than as a declaimer, to shew to what extent he could stretch his imagination, and with what strength he could press his prin