« PreviousContinue »
lofophical a manner, I think every man fhould have his days of abstinence, according as his conftitution will permit. These are great reliefs to nature, as they qualify her for strugling with hun. ger 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 oppreffions, and recovering the several tones and springs of her distended vefsels. Besides that abstinence well timed often kills a fick-, nefs in embryo, and destroys the first feeds of an indisposition. 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 fuch eminent bands; I say, notwithstanding that he lived in the time of this devouring pestilence, he never caught the least infection, which those writers un-. animously ascribe to that uninterrupted temperance which he always observed.
And here I cannot but mention an observation which I have often made, upon reading the lives of the philofophers, and comparing them with any series of kings or great men of the fame number. If we consider thefe ancient sages, a great part of whose philosophy consisted in a temperate and abftenious 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 wife inen were nearer "an hundred than sixty years of age at the time of their respective deaths. But the moft 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 Venetian; which I the rather mention, because it is of undoubed credit, as the late Venetian ambassador, who was of the same fa. mily, attested more than once in conversation, when
he resided in England. Cornaro, who was the author of the little treatise I am mentioning, was of an infirm conftitution, until about forty, when by obstinately persisting in an exact course of temperance, he recovered a perfect state of health ; infomuch that at fourscore he published his book, which has been translated into Englifbo under the title of Sure and certain methods of attaining a long and healthy life. He lived to give a third or fourth edition of it, and after having paffed his hundredth year, died without pain or agony, and like one who falls asleep. The treatise I mention 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 concomitants of temperance and fobriety. The mixture of the old man in it is rather a recommendation than a discredit to it.
Having designed this paper as the sequel to that upon exercise, I have not here confidered temperance as it is a moral virtue, which I shall make the fubject of a future fpeculation, but only as it is the means of health.
NO 196. MONDAY, OCTOBER 15.
Eft ulubris, animus fi te non deficit æquus.
HOR. Ep. xi. 1. 1.ver. 30. True happiness is to no place confin'd, But still is found in a contented mind. · Mr. SPECTATOR, THere is a particular fault which I have obTH
served in the most of the moralifts in all sages, and that is, that they are always professing · "themselves and teaching others to be happy. This 6- state is not to be arrived at in this life, therefore
I would recommend to you to talk in an humbler
• strain than your predeceffors have done, and in' stead of prefuming to be happy, instruct us only • to be easy. The thoughts of him who would be • discreet, and aim at practicable things, should
turn upon allaying our pain rather than promot• ing our joy. Great inquietude is to be avoided, • but great felicity is not to be attained. The great • leffon is equanimity, a regularity of spirit, which c is a little above cheerfulness and below mirth. « Cheerfulness is always to be supported if a man . is out of pain, but mirth to a prudent man should always be accidental : It should naturally arise
out of the occasion, and the occasion seldom be “ laid for it; for those tenpers who want mirth to
be pleased, are like the constitutions which flag ' without the use of brandy. Therefore, I say, • let your precepts be, Be casy. That mind is dif• solute and ungoverned, which must be hurried
out of itself by loud laughter or sensual pleasure, • or else be wholly unactive.
• There are a couple of old fellows of my ac.
quaintance who meet every day and smoke a pipe, • and by their natural love to each other, though
they have been men of business and bustle in the • world, enjoy a greater tranquility than either • could have worked himself into by any chapter • of Seneca. Indolence of body and mind, when
we aim at no more, is very frequently enjoyed; • but the very inquiry after happiness has fomo
thing restless in it, which a man who lives in
series of temperate meals, friendly conversations, • and easy slumbers, gives himself no trouble about. .. While men of refinement are talking of tranqui. • lity, he poffeffes it.
What I would by these broken expressions re* commend to you, Mr. SPECTATOR, is, that you * would speak of the way of life, which plain men
may pursue, to fill up the spaces of time with fa• tisfaction. It is a lamentable circumstance, that
• wisdom, or, as you call it, philosophy, should • furnish ideas only for the learned ; and that a
man must be a philofopher to know how to pass
away his time agreeably. It would therefore be • worth your pains to place in an handsome light « the relations and affinities among men, which ren• der their conversation with each other so grate• ful, that the highest talents give but an impotent
pleasure in comparison with them. You may • find descriptions and discourses which will render • the fire-fide of an honest artificer as entertaining as your own club is to you. Good-nature has
endless source of pleasures in it; and the re• presentation of domestick life filled with its na
tural gratifications, instead of the neceffary vexations which are generally insisted upon in the writings of the witty) will be a very good office to society. · The viciffitudes of labour and rest in the lower part of mankind, make their being pass away with • that fort of relish which we express by the word · comfort; and should be treated of by you, who
are a SPECTATOR, as well as such fubjects which
appear indeed more speculative, but are less in• structive. In a word, Sir, I would have you turn
your thoughts to the advantage of such as want
• I am, Sir,
• T. B.
• Mr. SPECTATOR, Hackney, October 12. : I Am the young woman whom you did so much
justice to some time ago, in acknowledging " that I am perfect mistress of the fán, and use it * with the utmost knowledge and dexterity. In
deed the world, as malicious as it is, will allow, ** that from an hurry of laughter I recollect myself * the most suddenly, make a courtesy, and let fall
my hands before me, closing my fan at the same
instant, the best of any woman in England. I • am not a little delighted that I have had your no• tice and approbation; and however other young
„women may rally me out of cnry, I triumph in *ft, and demand a place in your friendship. You
must therefore perinit me to lay before you the present state of my mind. I was reading your
Spectator of the ninth instant, and thought the s circumstance of the ass divided between two bundles of hay which equally affected his senses, • was a lively representation of my present condii tion : For you are to know that I am extremely
enamoured with two young Gentlemen who at * this time pretend to me. One must hide nothing ' when one is asking advice, therefore I will own
to you, that I am very amorous and very covet
ous. My lover Will is very rich, and my lover * Tom very handsome. I can have either of them ' when I please: But when I debate the question in
iny own mind, I cannot take Tom for fear of lof
ing Will's estate, nor enter upon IWill's estate, and * bid adieu to Tom's person. I am very young, ' and yet no one in the world, dear Sir, has the ' main cliance more in her head than myself. Tom is • the gayeft, the blitheft creature! He dances well,
is very civil, and diverting at all hours and sea• fons. On he is the joy of ny eyes ! But then a
gain Will is fo very rich and careful of the main. How many pretty dresses does Tom appear in to charm me! But then it immediately occurs to
me, that a man of his circumstances is so much • the poorer, Upon the whole, I have at last ex
amined both these desires of love and avarice,
and upon ftri&tly weighing the matter I begin to " think I shall be covetous longer than fond; there