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Franklin. Your reasonings grow very tiresome.
Gout. I stand corrected. I will be silent and continue my office; take that, and that.
Franklin. Oh! Ohh! Talk on, I pray you!
Gout. No, no; I have a good number of twinges for you to-night, and you may be sure of some more to-morrow.
Franklin. What, with such a fever! I shall go distracted. Oh! Eh! Can no one bear it for me 1
Gout. Ask that of your horses; they have served you faithfully.
Franklin. How can you so cruelly sport with my torments?
Gout. Sport! I am very serious. I have here a list of offences against your own health distinctly written, and can justify every stroke inflicted on you.
Franklin. Read it then.
Gout. It is too long a detail; but I will briefly mention some particulars.
Franklin. Proceed. I am all attention.
Gout. Do you remember how often you have promised yourself, the following morning, a walk in the grove of Boulogne, in the garden de la Muette, or in your own garden, and have violated your promise, alleging, at one time, it was too cold, at another too warm, too windy, too moist, or what else you pleased; when in truth it was too nothing, but your insuperable love of ease?
Franklin. That I confess may have happened occasionally, probably ten times in a year.
Gout. Your confession is very far short of the truth; the gross amount is one hundred and ninety-nine times.
Franklin. Is it possible?
Gout. So possible, that it is fact; you may rely on the accuracy of my statement. You know Mr. Brillon's gardens, and what fine walks they contain; you know the handsome flight of an hundred steps, which lead from the terrace above to the lawn below. You have been in the practice of visiting this amiable family twice a week, after dinner, and it is a maxim of your own, that "a man may take as much exercise in walking a mile, up and down stairs, as in ten on level ground." What an opportunity was here for you to have had exercise in both these ways! Did you embrace it, and how often?
Franklin. I cannot immediately answer that question.
Gout. I will do it for you; not once.
Franklin. Not once?
Gout. Even so. During the summer you went there at six o'clock. You found the charming lady, with her lovely children and friends, eager to walk with you, and entertain you with their agreeable conversation; and what has been your choice? Why to sit on the terrace, satisfying yourself with the fine prospect, and passing your eye over the beauties of the garden below, without taking one step to descend and walk about in them. On the contrary, you call for tea and the chess-board ; and lo! you are occupied in your seat till nine o'clock, and that besides two hours' play after dinner; and then, instead of walking home, which would have bestirred you a little, you step into your carriage. How absurd to suppose that all this carelessness can be reconcilable with health, without my interposition!
Franklin. I am convinced now of the justness of poor Richard's remark, that "Our debts and our sins are always greater than we think for."
Gout. So it is. You philosophers are sages in your maxims, and fools in your conduct.
Franklin. But do you charge among my crimes, that I return in a carriage from Mr. Brillon's?
Gout. Certainly; for, having been seated all the while, you cannot object the fatigue of the day, and cannot want therefore the relief of a carriage.
Franklin. What then would you have me do with my carriage?
Gout. Burn it if you choose; you would at least get heat out of it once in this way; or, if you dislike that proposal, here's another for you; observe the poor peasants, who work in the vineyards and grounds about the villages of Passy, Auteuil, Chaillot, &c.; you may find every day, among these deserving creatures, four or five old men and women, bent and perhaps crippled by weight of years, and too long and too great labor. After a most fatiguing day, these people have to trudge a mile or two to their smoky huts. Order your coachman to set them down. This is an act that will be good for your soul; and, at the same time, after your visit to the Brillons, if you return on foot, that will be good for your body.
Franklin. Ah! how tiresome you are!
Gout. Well, then, to my office; it should not be forgotten that I am your physician. There.
Franklin. Ohhh! what a devil of a physician!
Gout. How ungrateful you are to say so! Is it not I who, in the character of your physician, have saved you from the palsy, dropsy, and apoplexy? one or other of which would have done for you long ago, but for me.
Franklin. I submit, and thank you for the past, but entreat the discontinuance of your visits for the future; for, in my mind, one had better die than be cured so dolefully. Permit me just to hint, that I have also not been unfriendly to you. I never feed physician or quack of any kind, to enter the list against you; if then you do not leave me to my repose, it may be said you are ungrateful too.
Gout. I can scarcely acknowledge that as any objection. As to quacks, I despise them; they may kill you indeed, but cannot injure me. And, as to regular physicians, they are at last convinced, that the gout, in such a subject as you are, is no disease, but a remedy; and wherefore cure a remedy ? — but to our business, —there.
Franklin. Oh! Oh! — for Heaven's sake leave me; and I promise faithfully never more to play at chess, but to take exercise daily, and live temperately.
Gout. I know you too well. You promise fair; but, after a few months of good health, you will return to your old habits; your fine promises will be forgotten like the forms of the last year's clouds. Let us then finish the account, and I will go. But I leave you with an assurance of visiting you again at a proper time and place; for my object is your good, and you are sensible now that I am your real friend.
TO MADAME HELVETIUS, AT AUTEUIL.
— And now I mention your friends, let me tell
you, that I have in my way been trying to form some hypothesis to account for your having so many, and of such various kinds. I see that statesmen, philosophers, historians, poets, and men of learning of all sorts, are drawn around you, and seem as willing to attach themselves to you as straws about a fine piece of amber. It is not that you make pretensions to any of their sciences; and, if you did, similarity of studies does not always make people love one another. It is not, that you take pains to engage them; artless simplicity is a striking part of your character. I would not attempt to explain it by the story of the ancient, who, being asked why philosophers sought the acquaintance of kings, and kings not that of philosophers, replied, that philosophers knew what they wanted, which was not always the case with kings. Yet thus far the comparison may go, that we find in your sweet society, that charming benevolence, that amiable attention to oblige, that disposition to please and be pleased, which we do not always find in the society of one another. It springs from you; it has its influence on us all; and in your company we are not only pleased with you, but better pleased with one another, and with ourselves. I am ever, with great respect and affection, &c.
À MADAME HELVÉTIUS.
Chagriné de votre résolution barbare, prononcée si positivement hier au soir, de rester seule pendant la vie en honneur de votre cher mari, je me retirois chez moi, tombois sur mon lit, me croyois mort, et que je me trouvois dans les Champs-Elisées.
On me demanda si j'avois envie de voir quelques personnages particuliers. "Menez-moi chez les philosophes." "Il y en a deux qui demeurent ici près dans ce jardin; ils sont de très-bons voisins, et très-amis l'un de l'autre." "Qui sont-ils?" "Socrate et Helvétius." "Je les estime prodigieusement tous les deux; mais faites-moi voir premièrement Helvétius, parce que j'entends un peu de François et pas un mot de Grec." — Il m'a reçu avec beaucoup de courtoisie, m'ayant connu, disoit-iL de réputation il y avoit quelque temps. B me