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without a corresponding injury. Health is the result of simple food, abstinence from stimulants, seasonable hours of repose, regular employment, much exercise in the open air, proper clothing and a tranquil mind. Any transgression of any one of these laws is sure to be followed by suffering, by impaired health, an enfeebled constitution, disordered nerves, wretchedness and dejection. Now let us see if one single law of all these I have enumerated, is observed in this country, especially among the higher classes. The progress of luxury among us, the freedom of communication among all nations, has loaded the tables of the more affluent classes with the delicacies of all lands. It is as much as the most considerate and abstinent can do to restrain themselves amid so many thousand temptations, within the bounds of healthful moderation. But what shall I say of the sumptuous entertainments which fashion has made necessary to those who mingle in general society? After having been compelled by ill health to make myself scientifically acquainted with this subject, when I see the feasts to which I am invited by the generous hospitality of my
nearest and dearest friends, I confess I am appalled. When I see the variety and the richness of one course after another as it comes on, I am filled with astonishment, I marvel, not why there are so many invalids amongst us, but how we live at all.
This mode of living will possibly do for men, who exercise much in the open air, and whose constitutions are more robust. It might do for women who are active housekeepers, or who consider it a sacred duty to take a long walk every day. But to those who do neither, but sit in warm apartments, and busy themselves in reading or needle work, it is absolute destruction. When we add to this, late hours, crowded saloons, thin dressing, and hardly an apology for shoes, how should it be otherwise, than that our women, the most beautiful the sun has ever shone upon, should be the earliest to fade? At that period of life when the European woman is in the meridian of matronly beauty, full of energy, life, and cheerfulness, the American woman has shrunk into the withered proportions of advanced life. I consider this to be one of the most melancholy features of our state of society. And are
the daughters of this land, who thus trifle with themselves, aware of the full import of the term, bad health? Those who have never experienced it, have no idea of the length and the breadth, the height and the depth of its sad significance. It means in the first place, the loss of all personal charms. It means a faded complexion, early wrinkles, and gray hairs. It means the decay of all the susceptibilities of enjoyment. It means a deadness to all that is cheerful and pleasant in life. It means a distressing sense of burden and oppression under the most common and easy duties, which are otherwise the source of satisfaction and alacrity. It means a sick room with all its horrible and loathsome paraphernalia of medicines, and drugs, and potions, at the very thought of which the soul sickens and revolts. If there be one woman within the sound of my voice, who possesses firm health and a sound constitution, I entreat her, if she have any regard for her own happiness, if she do not wish to strip this life of every charm, to make it her religious duty to preserve so invaluable a blessing.
She will do this the rather, as I shall go
on to show, that her happiness depends upon it in more ways than she may at first be aware. It is impossible for ill health and a serene temper to go together. Ill health is almost always attended by weakness and irritability of the nervous system. Things that we can bear calmly when we are in health, become the causes of insupportable vexation when we are sick. Disagreeable thoughts then become almost as painful as cuts and bruises when we are in health. The female constitution is at all times much more liable to impressions than that of the other sex. In ill health this is greatly aggravated; and she must be a saint indeed, who in perpetual ill health, and the derangement of domestic affairs, which is almost sure to ensue, can always keep her temper
A serene temper is perhaps the first requisite to domestic happiness. Any failure here strikes at the root of all enjoyment. Our sources of happiness are more spiritual than is generally conceived. The world at large is apt to judge by externals; when they see wealth and splendor they imagine there must be happiness of course. But nothing
can be more mistaken. Happiness resides in the mind, and the upholsterer can do very little to procure it. It consists in a consciousness of harmony, of esteem, and attachment, more than in any thing else. Wherever there is entire confidence, and a consciousness of true attachment, there is the very material of satisfaction. Existence under those circumstances is happiness. We breathe it like the very atmosphere which surrounds us. Any interruption of this feeling is not so much a remote cause of unhappiness, as it is itself wretchedness and misery. There is no other way to live happily then, but to gain entire mastery over the temper. And this difficulty is vastly increased by the irritability of ill health.
There is an obscure tradition, which has been handed down from a remote antiquity, that the female sex are prone to abuse the noble gift of speech; in short that they are apt to make a rash and unadvised use of the tongue. They are accused of having an unwarrantable curiosity about the affairs of other people, and then an irrepressible desire of communicating to others that of which they had better have been ignorant themselves.