Page images
PDF
EPUB

be diffused through all the ranks of life, but which, however useful and valuable, many seem content to want; it is considered as a vulgar and ignoble virtue, below the ambition of greatness or attention of wit, scarcely requisite among men of gaiety and spirit, and sold at its highest rate when it is sacrificed to a frolic or a jest.

6. Every man has daily occasion to remark what vexations and inconveniences arise from this privilege of deceiving one another. The active and vivacious have so long disdained the restraints of truth, that promises and appointments have lost their cogency, and both parties neglect their stipulations, because each concludes that they will be broken by the other.

7. Negligence is first admitted in trivial affairs and strengthened by petty indulgences. He who is not yet hardened by custom, ventures not on the violation of important engagements, but thinks himself bound by his word in cases of property or danger, though he allows himself to forget at what time he is to meet ladies in the park, or at what tavern his friends are expecting him.

8. This laxity of honour would be more tolerable, if it could be restrained to the play-house, the ball-room, or the card-table: yet even there it is sufficiently troublesome, and darkens those moments with expectation, suspense, uncertainty and resentment, which are set aside for the softer pleasure of life, and from which we naturally hope for unmingled enjoyment, and total relaxation. But he who suffers the slightest breach in his morality, can seldom tell what shall enter it, or how wide it shall be made; when a passage is opened, the influx of corruption is every moment wearing down opposition, and by slow degrees deluges the heart.

9. Aliger entered the world a youth of lively imagination, extensive views, and untainted principles. His curiosity incited him to range from place to place, and try all the varieties of conversation : his elegance of address and fertility of ideas gained him friends wherever he appeared; or at least he found the general kindness of reception always shewn to a young man whose birth and fortune gave him a claim to notice, and who has neither by vice or folly destroyed his privileges.

10. Aliger was pleased with this gen al smile of mankind and being naturally gentle and flexible, was industrious to preserve it by compliance and officiousness, but did not suffer his desire of pleasing to vitiate his integrity. It was his established maxim, that a promise is never to be broken: nor was it without long reluctance that he once suffered himself to be drawn away“ from a festal engagement by the importunity of another company. .

11. He spent the evening, as is usual in the rudiments of vice,

with perturbation and imperfect enjoyment, and met his disappointed friends in the morning with confusion and excuses. His companions, not accustomed to such scrupulous anxiety, laughed at his uneasiness, compounded the offence for å bottle, gave him courage to break his word again, and again levied the penalty.

12. He ventured the same experiment upon another society, and found them equally ready to consider it as a venial fault, always incident to a man of quickness and gaiety: till by degrees he began to think himself at liberty to follow his last invitation, and was no longer shocked at the turpitude of falsehood. He made no difficulty to promise his presence at distant places, and if listlessness happened to creep upon him, would sit at home with great tranquillity, and has often, while he sunk to sleep in a chair, held ten tables in continual expectation of his entrance.

13. He found it so pleasant to live in perpetual vacancy, that he soon dismissed his attention as an useless incumbrance, and resigned himself to carelessness and dissipation without any regard to the future or the past, or any other motive of action than the impulse of a sudden desire, or the attraction of immediate pleasure. The absent were immediately forgotten, and the hopes or fears of others bad no influence upon his conduct. He was in speculation completely just, but he never kept his promise to a creditor : he was benevolent, but always deceived those friends whom he undertook to patronize or assist; he was prudent, but suffered his affairs to be embarrassed for want of settling his accounts at stated times.

14. He courted a young lady, and when the settlements were drawn, took a ramble into the country on the day appointed to sign them. He resolved to travel, and sent his chests on shipboard, but delayed to follow them till he lost his passage. He was summoned as an evidence in a cause of great importance, and loitered in the way till the trial was pasi. It is said, that when he had with great expense formed an interest in a borough, his opponent contrived by some agents, who knew his temper, to lure him away on the day of election.

15. His benevolence draws him into the commission of a thousand crimes, which others, less kind or civil, would escape. His courtesy invites application, his promises produce dependence; he has pockets filled with petitions, which he intends sometime to deliver and enforce, and his table covered with letters of request, with which he purposes to comply ; but time slips imperceptibly away, while he is either idle or busy : his friends lose their opportunities, and charge upon him their miscarriages and calamities.

This character, however contemptible, is not peculiar to Algier.

E

16. They whose activity of imagination is often shifting tire scenes of expectation, are frequently subject to such sallies of caprice as make all their actions fortuitous, destroy the value of their friendship, obstruct the efficacy of their virtues, and set them below the meanest of those who persist in their resolutions, execute what they design, and perform what they have promised.

B В

Exercise and Temperance the best Preservative of Health. 1. ODILY labour is of two kinds, either that which a man

D submits to for his livelihood, or that which he undergoes for his pleasure. The latter of them generally changes the name of labour for that of exercise, but differs only from ordinary labour as it rises from another motive.

A country life abounds in both these kinds of labour, and for that reason gives a man a greater stock of health, and consequently a more perfect enjoyment of himself, than any other way of life.

2. I consider the body as a system of tubes and glands, or to use a more rustic phrase, a bundle of pipes and strainers, fitted to one another after so wonderful a manner, as to make a proper engine for the soul to work with. This description does not only comprehend the bowels, bones, tendons, veins, nerves, and. arteries, but every muscle and every ligature, which is a composition of fibres, that are so many imperceptible tubes or pipes interwoven on all sides with invisible glands or strainers.

3. From this general idea of a human body, without considering it in its niceties of anatomy, let us see how absolutely necessary labour is for the right preservation of it. There must be freyuent motions and agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the juices contained in it, as well as to clear and cleanse that infinitude of pipes and strainers of which it is composed, and to give their solid parts a more firm and lasting tone. Labour or exercise ferments the humours, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundencies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigour, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.

4. I might here mention the effects which this has upon all the faculties of the mind, by keeping the understanding clear, the imagination untroubled, and refining those spirits that are necessary for the proper exertion of our intellectual faculties, during the present laws of union between soul and body. It is to a neglect in this particular that we must ascribe the spleen, which is so frequent in men of studious and sedentary tempers, as well as the vapours to which those of the other sex are so often subject.

5. Had not exercise been absolutely necessary for our well

being, nature would not have made the body so proper for it, by giving such an activity to the limbs, and such a pliancy to every part, as necessarily produce those compressions, extensions, contorsions, dilations, and all other kinds of motions that are necessary for the preservation of such a system of tubes and glands as has been before mentioned. And that we might not want inducements to engage us in such an exercise of the body as is proper for its welfare, it is so ordered, that nothing va!nable can be procured without it. Not to mention riches and honour, even food and raiment are not to become at, without the toil of the hands and sweats of the brows.

6. Providence furnishes materials, but expects that we should work thens up ourselves. The earth must be laboured before it gives its increase, and when it is forced into its several products, how

many hands must they pass through before they are fit for use ? Manufactures, trade and agriculture, naturally employ more than nineteen parts of the species in twenty; and as for those who are not obliged to labour, by the condition in which they are born, they are more miserable than the rest of mankind, unless they indulge themselves in that voluntary labour which goes by the name of exercise.

7. My friend Sir Roger has been an indefatigable man in business of this kind, and has hung several parts of his house with the trophies of his former labours. The walls of his great hall are covered with the horns of several kinds of deer that he has killed in the chase, which he thinks the most valuable furniture of his house, as they afford him frequent topics of discourse, and shew that he has not been idle.

8. At the lower end of the hall is a large otter's skin stuffed with hay, which his mother ordered to be hung up in that manner, and the knight looks upon it with great satisfaction, because it seems he was but nine years old when his dog killed it. A little room adjoining to the hall is a kind of arsenal, filled with guns of several sizes and inventions, with which the knight has made great havoc in the woods, and destroyed many thousands of pheasants, partridges, and woodcocks. His stable-doors are patched with noses that belong to foxes of the knight's own hynting down.

9. Sir Roger shewed me one of them, that for distinction sake, has a brass nail stuck through it, which cost him about fifteen hours riding, carried him through half a dozen countries, killed him a brace of geldings, and lost about half his dogs. This the knight looks upon as one of the greatest exploits of his life.

10. The perverse widow whom I have given some account of, was the death of several foxes; for Sir Roger has told me, that in the course of his amours he patched the western door of his

stable. Whenever the widow was cruel, the foxes were sure to pay for it. In proportion as his passion for the widow abated, and old age come on, he left off fox-hunting; but a hare is not yet safe that sits within ten miles of his house.

11. There is no kind of exercise which I would so recommend to my readers of both sexes as this of riding, as there is none which so much conduces in health, and is every way accommodated to the body according to the idea which I have given of it. Doctor Sydenham is very lavish in its praises; and if the English reader will see the mechanical effects of it described at length, he may find them in a book published not many years since, under the title of Medicina Gymnastica.

12. For my own part, when I am in town, for want of these opportunities, I exercise myself an hour every morning upon a dumb bell that is placed in the corner of my room, and pleases me the more because it does every thing I require in the most profound silence. My landlady and her daughters are so well acquainted with my hours of exercise, that they never come into my room to disturb me while I am ringing.

13. When I was some years younger than I am at present, I used to employ myself in a more laborious diversion, which I learned from a Latin treatise of exercise, that is written with great erudition; it is there called the “skiomachia,” or the fighting with a man's own shadow, and consists in the brandishing of two short sticks grasped in each hand, and loaded with plugs of lead at either end. This opens the chest, exercises the limbs, and gives a man all the pleasure of boxing, without the blows.

14. I could wish that several learned men would lay out that time which they employ in controversies and disputes about nothing, in this method of fighting with their own shadows. It might conduce

very much to evaporate the spleen, which makes them uneasy to the public as well as to themselves.

As I am a compound of soul and body, I consider myself as obliged to a double scheme of duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the business of the day, when I do not thus employ the one in labour and exercise, as well as the other in study and contemplation.

15. There is a story in the Arabian Night's Tales, of a king who had long languished under an ill habit of body, and had taken abundance of remedies to no purpose. At length, says the fable, a physician cured him by the following method : he took an hollow ball of wood, and filled it with several drugs; after which he closed it up so artificially that nothing appeared. He likewise took a mall, and after having hollowed the handle, and that part which strikes the ball, inclosed in them several drugs after the same manner as in the ball itself.

16. He then ordered the sultan, who was his patient, to exer

« PreviousContinue »