« PreviousContinue »
12 Were I to consider my readers as my patients, and to prescribe such a kind of temperance as is accommodated to all persons, and such as is particularly suitable to our climate and way of living, I would copy the following rules of a very eminent physician. Make your whole repast out of one dish. If you indulge in a second, avoid drinking any thing strong till you have finished your meal: at the same time abstain from all sauces, or at least such as are not the most plain and simple.
13 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 such eminent hands; I say, notwithstanding that he lived in the time of this devouring pestilence, he never caught the least infection, which those writers unanimously ascribe to that uninterrupted temperance which he always observed.
14 And here I cannot but mention an observation which I have often made, upon reading the lives of the philosophers, and comparing them with any series of kings or great men of the same number. If we consider these ancient sages, a great part of whose philosophy consisted in a temperate and abstemious 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 wise men were nearer a hundred than sixty years of age at the time of their respective deaths.
15 But the most 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 undoubted credit, as the late Venetian ambassador, who was of the same family, attested more than once in conversation, when he resided in England.
16 Cornaro, who was the author of the little treatise I am mentioning, was of an infirm constitution, till about forty, when, by obstinately persisting in an exact course of temperance, he recovered a perfect state of health; insomuch that at fourscore he published his book, which has been translated into English, under the title of Sure and Certain Methods of attaining a Long and Healthy Life.
17 He lived to give a third or fourth edition of it, and after having passed 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 sobriety. The mixture of the old man in it is rather a ! recommendation than a discredit to it.
18 Having designed this paper as the sequel to that upon exercise, I have not here considered temperance as it is a moral virtue, which I shall make the subject of a future speculation, but only as it is the means of health.
Spectator, No. 195.--Addison.
SECTION IV. Extracts from Dr. Belknap's address to the inhabitants
of New-Hampshire, at the close of his history of that
state. CITIZENS OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE,
1 Having spent above twenty years of my life with you, and past through various scenes of peace and war within that time, being personally acquainted with many of you, both in your public and private characters; and having an earnest desire to promote your true interest, I trust you will not think me altogether unqualified to give you a few hints by way of advice.
2 You are certainly a rising state; your numbers are rapidly increasing; and your importance in the political scale will be augmented, in proportion to your improving the natural advantages which your situation affords you, and to your cultivating the intellectual and moral powers of your selves and your children.
3 The first article on which I would open my mind to you is that of education. Nature has been as bountiful to you as to any other people, in giving your children genius and capacity; it is then your duty and your interest to cultivate their capacities, and render them serviceable to themselves and the community.
4 It was the saying of a great orator and statesman of antiquity, that “the loss which the commonwealth sustains, by a want of education, is like the loss which the year would suffer by the destruction of the spring.”
5 If the bud be blasted, the tree will yield no fruit. If the springing corn be cut down, there will be no harvest. So if the youth be ruined through a fault in their education, the community sustains a loss which cannot be repaired; “for it is too late to correct them when they are spoiled.”
6 Notwithstanding the care of your legislators in enacting
laws and enforcing them by severe penalties; notwithstanding the wise and liberal provisions which is made by some towns, and some private gentlemen in the state; yet there is still, in many places, “a great and criminal neglect of education.”
7 You are indeed a very considerable degree better, in this respect, than in the time of the late war; but yet much remains to be done. Great care ought to be taken, not only to provide a support for instructors of children and youth; but to be attentive in the choice of instructors; to see that they be men of good understanding, learning and morals; that they teach by their example as well as by their precepts; that they govern themselves and teach their pupils the art of selfgovernment.
8 Another source of improvement, which I beg leave to recommend, is the establishment of social libraries. This is the easiest, the cheapest and most effectual mode of diffusing knowledge among the people. For the sum of six or eight dollars at once, and a small annual payment besides, a man may be supplied with the means of literary improvement, during his life, and his children may inherit the blessing.
9 A few neighbors joined together in setting up a library, and placing it under the care of some suitable person, with a very few regulations, to prevent carelessness and waste, may render the most essential service to themselves and to the community.
10 Books may be much better preserved in this way, than if they belonged to individuals; and there is an advantage in the social intercourse of persons who have read the same books, by their conversing on the subjects which have occurred in their reading, and communicating their observations one to another.
11 From this mutual intercourse, another advantage may arise; for the persons who are thus associated may not only acquire, but originate knowledge. By studying nature and the sciences; by practising arts, agriculture and manufactures, at the same time that theyimprove their minds in reading, they may be led to discoveries and improvements, original and beneficial; and being already formed into society, they may diffuse their knowledge, ripen their plans, correct
their mistakes, and promote the cause of science and human· ity in a very considerable degree.
12 The book of nature is always open to our view, and we may study it at our leisure, 6'Tis elder scripture, writ by
God's own hand." The earth, the air, the sea, the rivers, the mountains, the rocks, the caverns, the animal and vegetable tribes, are fraught with instruction. Nature is not half explored: and in what is partly known there are many mysteries, which time, observation and experience must unfold.
13 Every social library, among other books, should be furnished with those of natural philosophy, botany, zoology, chymistry, husbandry, geography and astronomy: that inquiring minds may be directed in their inquiries; that they may see what is known, and what still remains to be discovered; and that they may employ their leisure and their various opportunities in endeavoring to add to the stock of science, and thus enrich the world with their observations and improvements.
14 Suffer me to add a few words on the use of spiritous liquor, that bane of society, that destroyer of health, morals and property. Nature indeed has furnished her vegetable productions with spirit; but she has so combined it with other substances, that unless her work be tortured by fire, the spirit is not separated, and cannot prove pernicious. Why should this force be put on nature, to make her yield a noxious draught, from materials which in their original state are salutary?
15 The juice of the apple, the fermentations of barley, and decoction of spruce, are amply sufficient for the refreshment of man, let his labor be ever so severe, and his perspiration ever so expensive. Our forefathers, for many years after the settlement of the country, knew not the use of distilled spirits.
16 Malt was imported from England, and wine from the Western or Canary Islands, with which they were refreshed, before their own fields and orchards yielded them a supply. An expedition was once undertaken against a nation of Indians, when there was but one pint of strong water (as it was then called) in the whole army, and that was reserved for the sick; yet no complaint was made for want of refreshment.
17 Could we but return to the primitive manners of our ancestors, in this respect, we should be free from many of the disorders, both of body and mind, which are now experienced. The disuse of ardent spirits would also tend to abol, ish the infamous traffic of slaves, by whose labor this baneful material is procured.
18 Were I to form a picture of happy society, it would be a town consisting of a due mixture of hills, vallies, and streams of water. The land well fenced and cultivated; the
roads and bridges in good repair; a decent inn for the refreshment of travellers, and for public entertainments. The inhabitants mostly husbandmen; their wives and daughters domestic manufacturers; a suitable proportion of handicraft workmen, and two or three traders; a physician and a lawyer, each of whom should have a farm for his support. .
19 A clergyman, of good understanding, of a candid disposition and exemplary morals; not a metaphysical, nor a polemic, but a serious and practical preacher. A schoolmaster who should understand his business, and teach his pupils to govern themselves. A social library, annually increasing, and under good regulation. · 20 A club of sensible men, seeking mutual improvement, a decent musical society. No intriguing politician, horsejockey, gambler or' sot; but all such characters treated with contempt. Such a situation may be considered as the most favorable to social happiness of any which this world can afford,
SECTION V. . Dialogue between Mrs. Careless and Mrs. Friendly, upon
female education. Mrs. Careless. Good morning, my dear Mrs. Friendly. I came to request your company in a walk; but I see you are engaged with a book; pray what is it? · Mrs. Friendly. It is a treatise on female education, which pleases me much, and will, with domestic avocations, deprive me of the pleasure of walking with you this morning.
Mrs. Care. And what have you to do with treatises on education? I seldom read any thing, and never books of that kind. I should as soon think of plodding through a volume of old sermons. · Mrs. Fr. I assure you I consider the education of youth, females in particular, to be a matter of the first importance; and I take great pleasure in reading the observations of ingenious writers on the subject. I have children, in whose welfare, I need not tell you, I am deeply interested; and their happiness or misery, their honor or infamy, entirely depend, in my opinion, on the principles and habits they acquire in youth, whilst the mind is tender, and the voice of instruction sinks deep. · Mrs. Care. But cannot children be educated, unless their parents read books on the subject ?
Mrs. Fr. Certainly they can, if their parents are themselves qualified for the task. But I find it a difficult and