Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

5. As for myself, the only physic which has brought me safe to almost the age of man, and which I prescribe to almost all my friends, is abstinence. This is certainly the best physic for prevention, and very often the most effectual against a present distemper. In short, my recipe is, take nothing.

6. Were the body politic to be physicked like particular persons, I should venture to prescribe to it after the same manner. I remember when our whole island was shaken with an earthquake some years ago, there was an impudent mountebank who sold pills, which, as he told the country people, were very good against an earthquake. It may, perhaps, be thought as absurd to prescribe a diet for allaying popular commotions and national ferments. But I am verily persuaded, that if, in such a case, a whole nation were to enter into a course of abstinence, and eat nothing but water-gruel for a fortnight, it would abate the rage and animosity of parties, and not a little contribute to the cure of a distracted nation.'1

7. I have lately read with much interest, the life of that remarkable Venetian, Lewis Cornaro, who lived to upwards of a hundred years, healthful and active to the last. In his youth he was of a weak constitution, and by irregular indulgence reduced himself, at about forty years of age, to the brink of the grave, under a complication of disorders; at which extremity he was told that he had no other chance of his life but by becoming sober and temperate. Being wise enough to adopt this wholesome counsel, he reduced himself

Tatler, No. 240.

to a regimen, of which there are very few examples. My reader would not regret the outlay of half-a-crown for the interesting little book.

8. Mon. de Thou sums up this character as follows: In a word, Lewis Cornaro, by his sobriety and the regimen he observed in his diet, corrected the infirmities he had contracted by intemperance in his youth, and by the strength of his reason, moderated his inclinations and propensity to anger. So that in his old age he had as good a constitution of body, and as mild and even-tempered a mind, as before, in the flower of his youth, he was infirm and apt to fly out into a passion.'

9. Of Philopoemen, the celebrated Achæan general, it is said that he was 'plain in his dress, frugal in his diet, and took very little care of his body. In conversation he suffered patiently the ill-temper of others, even when they used contemptuous expressions; and, for himself, he was particularly careful never to give the least offence to any one. It was his study, during his life, to speak nothing but the truth; and indeed the slightest expressions of his were heard with respect, and immediately believed. And he was not obliged to employ a great many words to persuade, his conduct being a model of what every body else ought to do.'

10. Having before alluded to the Temperance Society, I will here insert a few extracts from its publications, which I hope are becoming more read and respected. Dr. Brown of Edinburgh, in an excellent tract, numbers domestic misery

1 Rollin, vol. ix. p. 245.

[ocr errors]

among the effects of intemperance: No families, in fact, are so generally, so deeply, so hopelessly miserable, as those of drunkards; their houses are often so many little hells. The comfortless home, the black fire-place, the cold victuals, the wasted wages, the pawned furniture, the naked starving children, the deep-rooted hatred, the mutual recriminations, the ceaseless broils, the blows, the wounds, the murders, which are such common occurrences in the families of drunkards-form a source of misery which no tongue can utter-no imagination conceive.' Solomon expresses the same thing in few words: "Who hath.woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." Prov. xxiii. 29.

11. Admiral Sir J. Brenton, in a speech at Greenwich, demanded, what could be more noble, more patriotic, more entitled to universal regard than the desire to promote family and domestic peace and harmony; and these might most certainly be obtained, if the poor could be persuaded to give up the use of spirituous liquors.'

12. Captain T- had been addicted to intemperate drinking, but after joining the society, he became so altered for the better, that his wife informed her friends that he was a new man, and every thing that she could wish; that he regularly attended a place of worship with her, and was now always good-tempered, and satisfied with every thing.'

13. Serle, in his Christian Remembrancer, has written admirably against luxury and other in

consistences in religious professors. Indeed there can be little Christian temper, or propriety of conversation, in those who eat and drink to the full, and even indulge to excess occasionally. How different was the example of Him whom they acknowledge to be their Lord and Master. How different too the example of the great apostle, who said, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." But this luxury is doubly criminal in Christian ministers. Zion occasionally mourns over the lapses of even eminent and popular ministers, who have the indiscretion to accept nearly all invitations from worldly professors. The tempers of such free-living persons are, in general, anything but christian. No duty is more insisted on than self-denial, which is not only to be exercised in regard to diet and other things, but also as regards our wills and tempers. Dr. Watts's caution to young ministers deserves a place here:- Guard against a love of pleasure, a sensual temper, an indulgence of appetite, an excessive relish of wine and dainties: this carnalizes the soul, and gives occasion to the world to reproach but too justly. Mr. Cecil, speaking of the means of maintaining and promoting spiritual-mindedness in ministers and private christians, says, among other things, Much depends on mortifying the body. There are silent marches which the flesh will steal on us the temper is too apt to rise: the tongue will let itself loose: the imagination, if liberty is given to it, will hurry us away.'

[ocr errors]

Remains, page 225.

299

CHAPTER XII.

TAKE PROPER EXERCISE.

Who temperance adds to exercise,

Health, nerve, and vigour are his prize.-HOLLAND.

1. DR. BUCHAN has justly remarked that Temperance and exercise are the two best physicians in the world.' To the propriety of this apothegm, both nature and common reason assent. Many in the higher and middle ranks so confine and nurse themselves that they seldom feel really well or comfortable in body or mind. In the place of manly and mental exercise they study only what may gratify a vitiated palate, and soothe a body that has become inert and unnerved by a long continued process in such varied indulgences as a fanciful imagination can suggest. Such a course of self-pampering must tend to injure the temper. Our nature is such that we are prone to become surly with confinement, something like dogs that are chained; and by constant keeping in-doors, we merge imperceptibly into little freaks, get a habit of knitting our brows, looking cross, finding

« PreviousContinue »