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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 M. Brillon's gardens and what fine walks they contain ; you know the handsome flight of a 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.
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, satisfy 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 M. 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, etc.; 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 buts. 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. Ab! how tiresome you are !
Gout. Well, then, to my office; it should not be forgotten that I am your physician. There !
Franklin. Oh-h-h! 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 an 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.
THE ART OF PROCURING PLEASANT
INSCRIBED TO MISS
BEING WRITTEN AT HER
As a great part of our life is spent in sleep, during which we have sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful dreams, it becomes of some consequence to obtain the one kind and avoid the other; for whether real or imaginary, pain is pain and pleasure is pleasure. If we can sleep without dreaming, it is well that painful dreams are avoided. If, while we sleep, we can have any pleasant dreams, it is, as the French say, autant de gagne, so much added to the pleasure of life.
To this end it is, in the first place, necessary to be careful in preserving health by due exercise and great temperance; for in sickness the imagination is disturbed, and disagreeable, sometimes terrible, ideas are apt to present themselves. Exercise should precede meals, not immediately follow them; the first promotes, the latter, unless moderate, obstructs digestion. If, after exercise, we feed sparingly, the digestion will be easy and good, the body lightsome, the temper cheerful, and all the animal functions performed agreeably. Sleep, when it follows, will be natural and undisturbed, while indolence, with full feeding, occasions nightmares and horrors inexpressible; we fall from precipices, are assaulted by wild beasts, murderers, and demons, and experience every variety of distress. Observe, however, that the quantities of food and exercise are relative things : those who move much may, and indeed ought to, eat more; those who use little exercise should eat little. In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eat about twice as much as nature requires. Suppers are not bad if we have not dined; but restless nights follow hearty suppers after full dinners. Indeed, as there is a difference in constitutions, some rest well after these meals; it costs them only a frightful dream and an apoplexy, after which they sleep till doomsday. Nothing is more common in the newspapers than instances of people who, after eating a hearty supper, are found dead abed in the morning.
Another means of preserving health to be attended to is the having a constant supply of fresh air in your bodchamber. It has been a great mistake, the sleeping in rooms exactly closed and the beds surrounded by curtains. No outward air that may come in to you is so unwholesome as the unchanged air, often breathed, of a close chamber. As boiling water does not grow hotter by long boiling if the particles that receive greater heat can escape, so living bodies do not putrify if the particles, so fast as they become putrid, can be thrown off. Nature expels them by the pores of the skin and lungs, and in a free, open air they are carried off; but in a close room we receive thein again and again, though they become more and more corrupt. A number of persons crowded into a small room thus spoil the air in a few minutes, and even render it mortal as the Black Hole at Calcutta. A single per