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DIALOGUE BETWEEN FRANKLIN AND THE GOUT.
Midnight, October 8S, 1780.
Franklin. Eh! oh! eh! What have I done to merit these cruel sufferings?
Gout. Many things; you have ate and drank too freely, and too much indulged those legs of yours in their indolence. Franklin. Who is it that accuses me?Gout. It is I, even I, the Gout. Franklin. What! my enemy in person?Gout. No—not your enemy. Franklin. I repeat it; my enemy: for you would not only torment my body to death, but ruin my good name: you reproach me as a glutton and a tippler: now all the world that knows me will allow that I am neither the one nor the other.
Gout. The world may think as it pleases: it is always very complaisant to itself, and sometimes to its friends; but I very well know, that the quantity of meat and drink proper for a man who takes a reasonable degree of exercise, would be too much for another who never takes any.
Franklin. I take—Eh '. Oh !—as much exercise •—Eh!—as I can, Madam Gout. You know my sedentary state, and on that account, it would seem, Madam Gout, as if you might spare me a little, seeing it is not altogether my own fanlt.
Gout. Not a jot: your rhetoric and your politeness are thrown away; your apology avails nothing. If your situation in life is a sedentary one, your amusements, your recreations, at least, should be active. You ought to walk or ride; or, if the weather prevents that, play at billiards. But let us examine your course of life. While the mornings are long, and you have leisure to go abroad, what do you do? Why, instead of gaining an appetite for breakfast, by salutary exercise, you amuse yourself with books, pamphlets, or newspapers, which commonly are not worth the reading. Yet you eat an inordinate breakfast—four dishes of tea, with cream, and one or two buttered toasts, with slices of hung beef, which I fancy are not things the most easily digested. Immediately afterward you sit down to write at your desk, or converse with persons who apply to you on business. Thus the time passes till one, without any kind of bodily exercise. But all this I could pardon, in regard, as you say, to your sedentary condition. But what is your practice after dinner? Walking in the beantiful gardens of those friends with whom you have dined, would be the choice of men of sense: yours is to be fixed down to chess, where you are found engaged for two or three hours! This is your perpetual recreation, which is the least eligible of any for asedentary man, becanse, instead of accelerating the motion of the fluids, the rigid attention it requires helps to retard the circulation and obstruct internal secretions. Wrapped in the speculations of this wretched game, you destroy your constitution. What can be expected from such a course of living, but a body replete with stagnant humours, ready to fall a prey to all kinds of dangerous maladies, if I, the Gout, did not occasionally bring you relief by agitating these humours, and so purifying or dissipating them? If it was in some nook or alley in Parite, deprived of walks, that you played a while at chess after dinner, this might be excusable, but the same taste prevails with you in Passy, Autenil, Montmartre, or Sanoy, places where there are the finest gardens and walks, a pure air, beantiful women, and most agreeable and instructive conversation; all which you might enjoy by frequenting the walks! But these are rejected for this abominable game of chess. Fie, then, Mr. Franklin! But amidst my instructions, I had almost forgot to administer my wholesome corrections: so take that twinge—and that.
Franklin. Oh! Eh! Oh !—Oh-h-h! As much instruction as you please, Madam Gout, and as many reproaches—but pray, madam, a truce with your corrections!
Gout. No, sir, no—I will not abate a particle of what is so much for your good—therefore—
Franklin. Oh! Eh-h-h!—It is not fair to say I take no exercise, when I do very often, going out to dine, and returning in my carriage.
Gout. That, of all imaginable exercise, is the most slight and insignificant, if you allnde to the motion of a carriage suspended on springs. By observing the degree of heat obtained by different kinds of motion, we may form an estimate of the quantity of exercise given by each. Thus, for example, if you turn out to walk in winter with cold feet, in an hour's time you will be in a glow all over; ride on horseback, the same effect will scarcely be perceived by four hours' round trotting: but if you loll in a carriage, such as you have mentioned, you may travel all day, and gladly enter the last inn to warm your feet by a fire. Flatter yourself then no longer, that half an hour's airing in your carriage deserves the name of exercise. Providence has appointed few to roll in carriages, while he has given to all a pair of legs, which are machines infinitely more commodious and serviceable. Be grateful, then, and make a proper use of yours. Would you know how they forward the circulation of your fluids, in the very action of transporting you from place to place? Observe, when you walk, that all your weight Is alternately thrown from one leg to the other; this occasions a great pressure on the vessels of the foot, and repels their contents. When relieved, by the weight being thrown on the other foot, the vessels of the first are allowed to replenish, and by a return of this weight, this repulsion again succeeds; thus accelerating the circulation of the blood. The heat produced in any given time depends on the degree of this acceleration: the fluids are shaken, the humours attenuated, the secretions facilitated, and all goes well; the cheeks are rnddy, and health is established. Behold your fair friend at Autenil: a lady who received from bounteous nature more really useful science than half a dozen such pretenders to philosophy as you have been able to extract from all your books. When she honours you with a visit, it is on foot. She walks all hours of the day,and leaves indolence and its concomitant maladies to be endured by her horses. In this see at once the preservative of her health and personal charms. But you, when you go to Autenil, must have your carriage, though it is no farther from Passy to Autenil, than from Autenil to Passy.
Franklin. Your reasonings grow very tiresome.
Gout. I stand corrected. I will be silent, and continue my office: take that—and that.
Franklin. Oh! Oh-h! 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?
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 your 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 ninetynine times.
Franklin. Is it possible?
Gout. So possible that it is fact; you may rely on the accuracy of my statement. You know Mr.