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NUMB. 85. Tuesday, January 8, 1751.
Otia fi tollas periere Cupidinis arcus
Contemptaque jacent, et fine luce faces.
At busy hearts in vain love's arrows fly;
MANY writers of eminence in physick have
laid out their diligence upon the confideration of those distempers to which men are exposed by particular states of life, and very learned treatises have been produced upon the maladies of the camp, the sea, and the mines. There are, indeed, few employments which a man accustomed to anatomical enquiries, and medical refinements, would not find reasons for declining as dangerous to health, did not his learning or experience inform him, that almost every occupation, however inconvenient or formidable, is happier and safer than a life of floth.
The necessity of action is not only demonstrable from the fabrick of the body, but evident from observation of the universal practice of mankind, who, for the preservation of health, in those whose rank or wealth exempts them from the necessity of lucrative labour, have invented sports and diversions, though not of equal use to the world with manual trades, yet of equal fatigue to those who practise them, and differing only from the drudgery of the husbandman or manufacturer, as they are acts of choice, and therefore performed without the painful sense of com
pulsion. The huntsman rises early, pursues his game through all the dangers and obstructions of the chace, swims rivers, and scales precipices, till he returns home no less harassed than the soldier, and has perhaps sometimes incurred as great hazard of wounds or death : yet he has no motive to incite his ardour; he is neither subject to the commands of a general, nor dreads any penalties for neglect and disobedience; he has neither profit nor honour to expect from his perils and his conquests, but toils without the hope of mural or civick garlands, and must content himself with the praise of his tenants and companions.
But such is the constitution of man, that labour may be styled its own reward ; nor will any external incitements be requisite, if it be considered how much happiness is gained, and how much misery escaped, by frequent and violent agitation of the body.
Ease is the most that can be hoped from a sedentary and unactive habit ; ease, a neutral state between pain and pleasure. The dance of spirits, the bound of vigour, readiness of enterprize, and defiance of fatigue, are reserved for him that braces his nerves, and hardens his fibres, that keeps his limbs pliant with motion, and by frequent exposure fortifies his frame against the common accidents of cold and heat.
With ease, however, if it could be secured, many would be content; but nothing terrestrial can be kept at a stand. Ease, if it is not rising into pleasure, will be falling towards pain ; and whatever hope the dreams of speculation may suggest of observing the proportion between nutriment and labour, and keeping the body in a healthy state by supplies exactly equal to its waste, we know that, in ef
fect, the vital powers, unexcited by motion, grow gradually languid ; that, as their vigour fails, obstructions are generated ; and that from obstructions proceed most of those pains which wear us away slowly with periodical tortures, and which, though they sometimes suffer life to be long, condemn it to be useless, chain us down to the couch of misery, and mock us with the hopes of death.
Exercise cannot secure us from that diffolution to which we are decreed; but, while the soul and body continue united, it can make the association pleasing, and give probable hopes that they shall be disjoined by an easy separation. It was a principle among the ancients, that acute diseases are from heaven, and chronical from ourselves; the dart of death indeed falls from heaven, but we poison it by our own mis. conduct: to die is the fate of man, but to die with lingering anguish is generally his folly *.
It is necessary to that perfection of which our present state is capable, that the mind and body should both be kept in action; that neither the faculties of the one nor of the other be suffered to grow lax or torpid for want of use; that neither health be purchased by voluntary submission to ignorance, nor knowledge cultivated at the expence of that health, which must enable it either to give pleasure to its poffeffor, or assistance to others. It is too frequently the pride of students to despise those amusements and recreations, which give to the rest of mankind
* This passage was once ftrangely supposed by some readers to recommend suicide, instead of exercise, which is surely the more obvious meaning. See, however, a letter from Dr. JOHNSON on the subject, in Boswell's Life, vol, iv. p. 162.
strength of limbs and cheerfulness of heart. Solitude and contemplation are indeed feldom consistent with such skill in common exercises or sports as is necefsary to make them practised with delight, and no man is willing to do that of which the necessity is not pressing and immediate, when he knows that his awk. wardness must make him ridiculous.
Ludere qui nescit, campestribus abftinet armis,
He that's unskilful will not toss a ball,
Thus the man of learning is often resigned, almost by his own consent, to languor and pain ; and while in the prosecution of his studies he suffers the weari. ness of labour, is subject by his course of life to the maladies of idleness.
It was, perhaps, from the observation of this mischievous omission in those who are employed about intellectual objects, that Locke has, in his System of Education; urged the necessity of a trade to men of all ranks and professions, that when the mind is weary with its proper task, it may be relaxed by a slighter attention to some mechanical operation; and that while the vital functions are resuscitated and awakened by vigorous motion, the understanding may be restrained from that vagrance and diffipation by which it relieves itself after a long intenseness of thought, unless fome allurement be presented that may engage application without anxiety.
There is so little reason for expecting frequent conformity to Locke's precept, that it is not necefsary to enquire whether the practice of mechanical arts might not give occasion to petty emulation, and degenerate ambition; and whether, if our divines and physicians were taught the lathe and the chisel, they would not think more of their tools than their books ? as Nero neglected the care of his empire for his chariot and his fiddle. It is certainly dangerous to be too much pleased with little things; but what is there which may not be perverted ? Let us remem, ber how much worse employment might have been found for those hours, which a manual occupation appears to engrofs ; let us compute the profit with the loss, and when we reflect how often a genius is allured from his studies, consider likewise that perhaps by the same attractions he is sometimes withheld from debauchery, or recalled from malice, from ambition, from envy, and from luft.
I have always admired the wisdom of those by whom our female education was instituted, for having contrived, that every woman, of whatever condition, should be taught some arts of manufacture, by which the vacuities of recluse and domestick leisure
be filled up:
These arts are more necessary, as the weakness of their fex and the general system of life debar ladies from many employments which, by diversifying the circumstances of men, preserve them from being cankered by the rust of their own thoughts. I know not how much of the virtue and happiness of the world may be the consequence of this judicious regulation. Perhaps, the most powerful fancy might be unable to figure the confusion and flaughter that