Larger font
Smaller font

Health, or, How to Live

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    “PHYSICALLY, man is born in weakness. He is not the emblem of weakness, but the thing itself. Yet through the organs of his body, he holds relations to all material things. He is adapted to them and they to him; his eye to the light, his feet to locomotion, his muscles to resistance, gravitation, and force. If a man moves in harmony with the physical universe around him, it prospers and blesses all his works, lends him its resistless strength, endues him with its unerring skill, enriches him with its boundless wealth, and fills his body with strength, celerity, and joy. But woe to the people or the man, who through ignorance or defiance, contends against the visible mechanism or the invisible chemistry of Nature’s laws. Whoever will not learn and obey these laws, her lightnings blast, her waters drown, her fires consume, her pestilences extinguish; and she could crush the whole human race beneath her wheels, nor feel shock or vibration from the contact.HHTL 361.1

    “Intellectually, man is born in blank ignorance. To the infant, all knowledges are a nonentity. A few sensations make up all his consciousness. Yet through his capabilities, he holds direct relation with all the truths and all the wisdom which God has materialized (if I may so speak), and incorporated into the frame of nature. The material universe is not matter alone. It is filled with scientific treasures, inconceivable, boundless, endless. Knowledge furnishes the keys by which the apartments of the temple containing these treasures can be unlocked. Hence, whoever will obtain the key of any of these apartments; that is, whoever will acquire a knowledge of the system to which he belongs, can command such riches as Imperial or Oriental despot never dreamed of. Some of these treasures have already been discovered, and they are now enjoyed in the products of those useful and elegant arts which distinguish civilized men from barbarians. But beyond the boundaries of our present knowledge, treasures of yet undiscovered wealth, gorgeous and incomputable, lie crowded and heaped together, compared with which the Gazas and Indies of the past are but the gauds and toys of childhood. There they lie, all perfect, beautiful as truth herself, and only waiting for the coming of the great discoverer, — the Bacon, the Columbus, or the Franklin of the future age, — to reveal them, and make new benefactions to mankind. Yet this same intellect, by obeying the fiery impulses of appetite and passion may become the engine that sweeps itself and others to ruin.”HHTL 361.2

    “Now, it is the comprehensive duty of a College, so far as it can be done by human agency, to equip the youth whom it receives, with terrestrial and with celestial armor to meet the tremendous exigencies of their being. Above all, it is its duty to prepare them to equip themselves.HHTL 362.1

    “Listen to me, I pray you, while I endeavor to unfold these three classes of duties, in their order.HHTL 362.2

    “All ethical and religious histories, all intellectual philosophies, mourn over the degeneracy of the human heart, and the errors of the human mind. But were all the wrongs and calamities which pertain to the human race, to be classified according to their more immediate relation to the Body, the Intellect, or the Soul, I believe by far the greater proportion of them would be found to proceed immediately from the bodily appetites and propensities. This body of ours in which the soul dwells, — without which, as human beings, we can do nothing and are nothing, — seems not less lost to its first estate of blessedness than either the mind or the heart. Of the three great channels through which depravity sends out its copious streams to corrupt the character of individuals and to blast the happiness of the race, the largest current has its head-springs in the bodily appetites and passions. We weep and bleed at the terrible idea of “Adam’s Fall.” As to the body, would to God, there had been but one “Fall.” But from Adam through all the generations to ourselves, what has it been but a series of cascades, plunge after plunge, and deep below depth! Would it not be the direst of indignities and blasphemies to suggest that God could ever have created a race, so physically enervated, dwarfed and gangrenous, as ours now is? — not developed but stunted, not beautiful but deformed, not healthy but instead of health, that appalling catalogue of disease, whose definitions crowd the shelves of the physician’s library, and exhaust the copiousness of three languages for their nomenclature. These choleras, these plagues, these pale consumptions, these burning fevers, this taint and corruption of blood, which, after flowing under-ground for two or three generations, burst up from their subterranean passages to torment the lineage of guilty progenitors; — were all these, do you say, implanted and indigenous in the first generations of men, by God’s providence; or have they not all been since generated by man’s abuse? Congenital blindness, deaf-mutism, hydrocephalus, insanity, idiocy, did these come normally, through law, or by reason of the most flagrant violations of law? With one-fourth of the human race dying before they attain the age of one year, what sacrilege to suppose that God said of such a race, “Let us make man in our own image,” and then added, “so God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Intemperance, gout, scrofula, and the through and through rottenness of the licentious man, — did God enact laws which, by their faithful observance, would bear such fruits, in clusters as the vine bears grapes? No! It is impiety to suppose it. Trace back the pedigree of any bodily pain, disease, or privation of sense, and its ancestors, however remote, will be found in some violation of God’s physical laws, or in a culminating series of violations, too wickedly great for individual enterprise. Through the temptation of a bodily appetite, man first fell; and all theological schools, and Bible societies, and divine ministrations and ordinances, will never re-instate him in his pristine purity until the laws of physical health shall triumph, by bringing the bodily appetites and passions within the domain of conscience and religion.HHTL 362.3

    “So universal and long-continued have been the violations of the Physical Laws, and so omnipresent is human suffering as the consequence, that the very tradition of a perfect state of health has died out from among men. We are wonted to the presence of debility of pain. Religious men teach us to accept weakness and suffering as the appointed lot of humanity. Hence the conditions of health and longevity are not merely disregarded, but ignored, and men of the profoundest learning on other subjects are here ignorant of elements. University professors know how to take care of the solar system, but do not know how to take care of their own systems. I admire the rules of prosody by which Greek and Latin verse flow into harmonious numbers; but I prefer the tuneful pulse which never makes an elision, to any music of classical scanning. I once knew a professor of rhetoric in an American college, who choked himself to death at a dinner party, with an undivided piece of mutton. He knew to a semitone the rhetorical proportions in which breath should be sent out of the lungs; but was ignorant of the physiological quantities in which food should be taken into the stomach. Clergymen are forever exhorting us to keep our spirits clean and pure, and then, in their outer man, they exemplify their teachings by all the defilements of tobacco. They are Boanerges for the advancement of their own sect, but disdain companionship with that sect of the Nazarites who drank no wine. Statesmen and learned doctors debate and discuss the minor questions of political economy; but forget that a blight on public health is more pecuniarily disastrous than mildewed crops, and that the most adverse balances of trade are less impoverishing than the expenditures for sickness, the non-productiveness of bodily imbecility, and the costs of vice and crime.HHTL 363.1

    “I hold it to be morally impossible for God to have created, in the beginning, such men and women as we find in human race, in their physical condition, now to be. Examine the book of Genesis, which contains the earliest annals of the human family. As is commonly supposed, it comprises the first twenty-three hundred and sixty-nine years of human history. With child-like simplicity this book describes the infancy of mankind. Unlike modern histories, it detail the minutest circumstance of social and individual life. Indeed, it is rather a series of biographies than a history. The false delicacy of modern times did not forbid the mention of whatever was done or suffered. And yet, over all the expanse of time — for more than one-third part of the duration of the human race — not a single instance is recorded of a child born blind, or deaf, or dumb, or idiotic, or malformed in any way! During the whole period, not a single case of a natural death in infancy, or childhood is to be found. Not one man or woman died of disease. The simple record is, ‘and he died,’ or, he died ‘in good old age and full of years,’ or, he was old and full of days.’ No epidemic, nor even endemic disease prevailed, showing that they died the natural death of healthy men, and not the unnatural death of distempered ones. Through all this time (except in the single case of Jacob, in his old age, and then only for a day or two before his death) it does not appear that any man was ill, or that any old lady or young lady ever fainted. Bodily pain from disease is nowhere mentioned. No cholera infantum, scarlatina, measles, small pox — not even a toothache! So extraordinary a thing was it for a son to die before his father, that an instance of it is deemed worthy of special notice; and this first case of the reversal of nature’s law was two thousand years after the creation of Adam. See how this reversal of nature’s law has, for us, become the law; for how rare is it now for all the children of a family to survive the parents. Rachel died at the birth of Benjamin; but this is the only case of puerperal death, mentioned in the first twenty-four hundred years of the sacred history; and even this happened during the fatigues of a patriarchal journey, when passengers were not wafted along in the saloons of rail-car or steamboat. Had Adam, think you, tuberculous lungs? Was Eve flat-chested, or did she cultivate the serpentine line of grace in a curved spine? Did Nimrod get up in the morning with a furred tongue, or was he tormented with the dyspepsia? Had Esau the gout or hepatitis? Imagine how the tough old Patriarchs would have looked, at being asked to subscribe for a Lying-in-Hospital, or an Asylum for Lunatics, or an Eye and Ear Infirmary, of a School of Idiots or Deaf-mutes. What would their eagle-vision and swift-footedness have said to the project of a Blind Asylum, or an Orthopedic establishment? Did they suffer any of these revenges of nature against false civilization? No! Man came from the hand of God so perfect in his bodily organs, so defiant of heat and cold, of drought and humidity, so surcharged with vital force, that it took more than two-thousand years of the combined abominations of appetite and ignorance; it took successive ages of outrageous excess and debauchery, to drain off his electric energies and make him even accessible to disease; and then it took ages more to breed all these vile distempers which now nestle, like vermin, in every organ and fiber of our bodies!HHTL 364.1

    “During all this time, however, the fatal causes were at work, which wore away and finally exhausted the glorious and abounding vigor of the pristine race. At least as early as the third generation from Adam, polygamy began. Intermarriages were all along the order of the day.”HHTL 366.1

    “After the exodus, excesses rapidly developed into diseases. First came cutaneous distempers, — leprosy, boils, elephantiasis and so forth, — the common effort of nature to throw visceral impurities to the surface. As early as king Asa, that royal malady, the gout, had been invented. Then came consumptions, and the burning ague, and disorders of the visceral organs, and pestilences; or, as the Bible expresses it, “great plagues of long continuance, and sore sicknesses of long continuance;” until in the time of Christ, we see how diseases of all kinds had become the common lot of mankind, by the crowds that flocked to him to be healed. And so frightfully, so disgracefully numerous, have diseases now become, that if we were to write down their names, in the smallest legible hand, on the smallest bits of paper, there would not be room enough on the human body to paste the labels.HHTL 366.2

    “I have neither time nor desire to describe to you the pestilent streams, the “Dead Seas” of physical abomination, through our blood which has flowed down to us, — foul as Acheron for the purity of the soul, oblivious as Lethe for the vigor of the mind. Yet the cause and the occasion would refuse to pardon me should I not enforce our obligations to re-elevate the race to bodily soundness, by showing some passages of its loathsome descent. I take one example from Greece, and one from Rome, — the two foremost nations of European antiquity. Some passages in St. Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians will be better understood when it is known that Venus was the tutelary goddess of their city. She had a magnificent temple on the northern slope of the Arco-Corinthus. This mountain was covered with other temples, dedicated to inferior deities, and with the splendid mansions of the opulent. But the fame of Venus rose high above those of all other divinities, and it was enjoined by the Corinthian law that one thousand beautiful females should officiate as courtesans or prostitutes before the altar of this goddess of Love. When calamity impended over city or nation, or when individuals would propitiate the goddess in behalf of private enterprises, they vowed a certain number of courtesans for her service, and such vows were always fulfilled. Opulent men from private nations flocked to a city whose merchandise was licentiousness. Hence ample revenues flowed into the public treasury; and hence, that class of men who know no higher law than the law of Mammon and Venus, applauded and sustained her civil polity. Corinth, as may well be supposed, became the most gay, dissipated and corrupt, and so, eventually, the most effeminate and feeble portion of Greece. Would you know something of Athenian manners and morals, look at Athenian literature, especially that of the stage.HHTL 366.3

    “For centuries, it was no better in Rome. Matrons deemed respectable, might be seen moving along the public streets, in a state of complete nudity, to witness festivals in honor of the gods, where such spectacles were exhibited as made simple nudity respectable and decent. In the splendid baths, reared by the prodigality of successive emperors, promiscuous bathing could be purchased at the price of a farthing. In crowded theatres, the cry of the audience, “Nudentur mimae,” was instantly obeyed. All of religion that was left, only served to exemplify the amours and licentiousness of the gods.HHTL 367.1

    “I cannot repeat, what came later was indescribably worse, sucked vast nations into its engulfing vortex, and has sent down its loathsome influences to corrupt the blood and enervate the brain of succeeding generations.HHTL 368.1

    “Every diseased man who bequeaths his maladies to his offspring; every drunkard who rears children from his inflamed and corrupted blood; every licentious man who transmits his weakness and his wickedness as an inheritance of suffering, is another repetition of the Fall of Man.HHTL 368.2

    “From such causes, by adamantine laws, and through unalterable predestinations, has come our present diluted and depleted humanity; effete, diseased and corrupted of blood; abnormal, wasted, and short-lived; with its manliness so evaporated and its native fires so quenched, that our present world compared with what it should be and what it might be, is but a Lazar-house of disease, and an Asylum for the Feeble-minded. The imbecile races of Italy and Spain, the half-grown millions of India and Mexico, like river-mouths, are only the foul drainage of ancestral continents, all gushing with fountains of debilitating and corrupting vices.HHTL 368.3

    “Then reflect, that, as the number of ancestors doubles at each ascending remove, — two parents, four grand-parents, eight great grand-parents, and so onward, — there are, even at only the tenth degree, more than a thousand conduits of whose united streams each child is the receptacle; and how swollen with the feculence of all transmissible malignities, both of body and mind, must be his blood and brain.HHTL 368.4

    “Why then should we wonder that all our animal propensities are represented in our ethics; that Mammon has been the Lycurgus of much of our civil polity, and that a denial of the great law of Human Brotherhood so often finds refuge and resting-places in our popular theology!HHTL 368.5

    “It has been somewhat generally conjectured that the early generations had some method of computing time very different from ours, and hence that the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, (with one or two exceptions,) did not, according to the literal record, live to the age of between nine hundred and a thousand years, — afterwards gradually tapering down to between one and two hundred years, at the time of the Egyptian vassalage. 1With their accustomed disregard of women, the Hebrew historians, with but an exception of two, never mention how old they were at the time of their death. But it is a strong, if not a conclusive argument in favor of a literal version, that, if the race had not been created with ten times more vital force than it now possesses, its known violations of all the laws of Health and Life would, long ere this, have extinguished it altogether. So rapidly had it run down, that, at the time of David, — about half-way from Adam to the present day, — he spoke of the average human life, as only three-score years and ten. Now, ask the Bills of Mortality, and they will tell you that in Europe and in the United States, it is but thirty years; and in great cities, but twenty years.HHTL 369.1

    “Awful and unspeakable violations of God’s laws have done this dreadful work. It is the violation of the laws of Health and Life, I emphatically repeat, which has cut down the years of man to this contemptible brevity and harrows those years with pain; which surrounds the cradle with diseases that spring, like wolves, upon the infant at his birth, and which, instead of the olden days when no child was dead-born, brings such multitudes into the world, who, though they may not be dead-born as to breathing, are so as to intellect and heart. A joy that had wings and laughter, once inhabited every joint and vital organ of man’s frame. Pain has conquered this festive domain, and turns human breath into sighs.HHTL 369.2

    “No other part of the organic world with which we are acquainted, has suffered this dire change. Under intelligent culture, the vegetable world is constantly outgrowing itself, in size, beauty and richness. All animal natures thrive, strengthen and surpass the progenitors of their stock, when subjected to the law of their being. Man alone, of all the earth, pales and dwarfs and sickens; begets children, the party-colored tissue of whose existence is the woof of one disease woven into the warp of another; transmits insanity and gout and consumption and scrofula; procreates blindness and deaf-muteness and those human fungi, the brainless idiots; spawns polished imbecility through our cities, which they, by their wealth, send to college, to be converted into pillars of Church and State. And why? Solely because man will break Heaven’s laws. Because, for the sake of money, or for pride, disease will marry disease, and blood wed kindred blood. Because, when God commanded Adam to work, that is, to take some form of exercise, in the garden, that is, in the open air, men will not exercise, and will live in dwellings which add artificial poisons to natural ones, and then breathe the virulent compound. Popes and hierarchs send to Jordan to obtain ‘holy water’ for the baptism of their children, that they may give their spirits a figurative cleansing, but will not keep them physically clean with the pure water at their door; and the royal sinner imports a few cubic yards of the ‘holy earth’ from Jerusalem, in which that body of his may be buried, wherein sin has rioted and wantoned through all his life; — as though the thought the Omniscient could be cajoled into forgetfulness of the difference between ‘holy water or ‘holy earth,’ and the pure in heart, and the obedient in life.HHTL 369.3

    But, besides defying all the laws of God in regard to pure air, cleanliness, diet, exercise, and the selection of healthful occupations and healthful sites for residences, — besides these sins of omission, how numberless are the sins of commission which we commit, — sins which are expelling all manly power and womanly endurance from the race. To say nothing of the stimulants taken in our common morning and evening beverages, (which are no more necessary or useful to enable healthy men or women to perform their labor than a morning dram is for the lark or the eagle, for the buffalo or the leviathan,) — to say nothing of these, the people of this nation annually madden their brains with two hundred millions of gallons of intoxicating liquors; and not only stupefy and defile themselves, but transmit irritable nerves and contaminated blood to their children by the consumption of more than thirty million dollars’ worth of tobacco. Of this immense sum, squandered for this foul and abominable weed, it is estimated by Dr. Cole, — an able writer on Physiology, — that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ take five million dollars’ worth of their share. It is an indisputable fact that, taking the whole United States together, much more money is expended for the single article of cigars than for all the Common Schools in the Union. Cigars against schools; cigars against the great cause of Popular Education; and Appetite triumphs over Intellect and Morals! And where these natural poisons of alcohol and tobacco are used most freely, the Church and the School-house are seen most rarely. I say nothing of opium and other narcotics. And, after quenching still more the expiring embers of vitality that yet glimmer in the race, and corrupting its corruption to a more malignant type, we call ourselves civilized and, — may Heaven pardon the audacity, — Christian. Are those the practices of civilization which honeycomb the bones and leave the muscles sodden, while they irritate the nerves and evaporate electricity from the brain? Is that Christianity which obeys the ceremonial law rather than the eternal; which asks the blessing of Heaven upon its food, and then gorges itself like a wolf; which offers the morning prayer, but all the day long passes unheeding by the hungry, the naked, the sick and by the prisoner’s door. The time will come when men will speak of Christian and un-Christian health, as they do now of Christian and un-Christian character.HHTL 370.1

    “For all these ancestral sins, posterity suffers through all its organism, and in every endowment. We suffer for the offences of our progenitors; our descendants will suffer for ours. The self-justifying ancestor may asseverate that his surfeits of viands and wines and his indulgence in narcotics do him no harm, but, three generations afterwards, delirium and gout will shriek out their denial in his great-grand-children.HHTL 371.1

    “Now let the man who would fear God, and work righteousness, survey this subject in its comprehensiveness and its solemnity. As was before said, the larger portion of the crimes against morality and religion, — crimes which savor of the second death, — germinate in what we call the bodily propensities. Intemperance and concupiscence, beget the vilest forms of selfishness, beget rebellion against God and the crime of not loving man. Look at the catalogue of offences which the moralist defines in his ethics, or the lawgiver denounces in his penal code, — at once so tropical in their luxuriance and so Tartarianin their fruits; — the murders, the incendiarisms and the nameless and numberless inhumanities of intemperance; the harems of the Mussulman and the polygamies of the Mormon, the illegitimate births, the infanticides and the crimes to forestall infanticide; the organized haunts in our great cities where iniquity is transacted by night, as business is transacted in the market-places by day; — and then reflect that these are but random specimens of those offences that come from the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eye. Yet these are the crimes that block up the pathway of education, and turn the sweetest persuasions of the Gospel and its most appalling alarms into empty sounds in the ears of men. In view of all this, it is no extravagance to say that our youth need physiological knowledge, as a preventive both against the debilities of ill-health, and the ferocities of animal passion, as much as they need literary and scientific knowledge against the calamities of ignorance and superstition or religious training for the love and service of God.HHTL 372.1

    However well-intentioned men may become under the influence of literary and religious institutions, yet when the bodily organization is weak, the power of virtuous effort is proportionably enfeebled. In a languid frame, benevolence and piety themselves degenerate into revery or barren contemplation. Sickly men dare not take the field, and wage battle with their satanic foes. If money-changers invade the temple, they cannot scourge them out. If wicked men build distilleries or kidnap Africans, they can only write a moral tract or sing a pious song, and let distiller and kidnapper go on. Next after Heaven, the brave heart of Martin Luther had its reinforcements from his strong frame. All along the life-way of a pure-minded but feeble-bodied man, on the right-hand and on the left, his path is lined by memory’s gravestones, which mark the spots where benevolent enterprises perished and were buried, through lack of physical vigor to embody them in deeds.HHTL 372.2

    ‘ ‘ Tis then, a painful sense comes on,
    Of something wholly lost and gone;
    HHTL 373.1

    Of something from our being’s chain
    Broke off, not to be linked again.’
    HHTL 373.2

    “If it be a solemn duty to keep the spirit pure, as a sanctuary for the Most High; if heart and soul and mind are to be devoted to the service of God and of our fellow-men; then who can overstate our responsibility to keep the body, — through which alone and by which alone, the highest achievements of practical heroism can be won upon earth, — in the robustest working and militant condition. Oh, if piety, like the army, kept a sick-list, what a populous hospital it would show! Well did the Apostle say ‘Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof.’ Well did he urge his followers onward by telling them that ‘every man that striveth for the mastery [in the race] is temperate in all things.’ Well did he exhort all who called themselves by the name of Christ to present their ‘bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.’ And well did he set forth, what was perhaps the greatest of all his achievements: ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.HHTL 373.3

    “Now think for a moment what mankind would gain were they relieved from early decrepitude, and from the weakness and bondage of earlier bodily ailments. What elasticity would be given to muscle, what vision to mind, what pinions to genius. What can the consumptive man do in felling a forest, by the side of the hardy pioneer, — the one exhausting his strength on a sapling; the other, mowing the trees into windrows. The tall man stretches up his hand and plucks the fruit, without an effort, which the child would perish before he could reach. It is just so with the tall mind compared with the short one. No combatants are so unequally matched, as when one is shackled with error, while the other rejoices in the self-demonstrability of truth; yet when virtue contends with vice for the extirpation of social abuses, or for the advancement of great reforms, how often do the strong bodied reprobates vanquish the weak-bodied saints. In all the higher departments of invention and discovery, in the soarings of genius, and in the exultant aspirations of sentiment, all well-organized and healthy persons rise, as by natural bouyancy, to the sublimities of an upper sphere, whither imbecility or mediocrity of strength, with all their strivings, can never soar.HHTL 374.1

    “Half of what passes among men for talent is nothing but strong health. I do not here so much refer to the sound man’s power of mastering truth by intuition, which the sickly arrive at only by long painstaking, as to his ability of persistence in holding on to any work, after weaker hands are forced to let go; his power of continuing the chase for a noble prize, after weaker limbs faint, or of stretching the vision on and on, after common eyes swim and darken.HHTL 374.2

    “Besides, about the same amount of time must always be lost in coming to the age of maturity, whether the available period of subsequent life be cut down to twenty years, or extended to a hundred.HHTL 374.3

    “I often used to wonder why the moderns, with all our accumulations of power derived from the sciences; with such an expansion of the useful arts, by which, through the medium of machinery, we train the forces of nature to do the far greater portion of our work, and with a consciousness every way so much richer than belonged to antiquity; — I have often wondered, I say, why the moderns, with these incalculable advantages, are comparatively so little in advance of the ancients. Not only in the sayings of the wise men of old, but in the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, in the decipherings of Champollion, and in Layard’s exhumed wonders of Nineveh, there are such proofs of wisdom, of genius and of skill, — such intuitions into the very heart of things, — as give a transient plausibility to the old hyperbole, that there is nothing new under the sun. With the experience and discoveries of all past times treasured in our books; with our alliance and co-partnership with the powers of nature; with the beacons of ancient error to warn, and the illuminations of ancient wisdom to direct, our advance beyond all our ancestors ought to be immeasurably greater than it now is. The only solution of that painful problem is this: that all our immense advantages have but a little more than indemnified us for the appalling degeneracy of our physical strength and our mental intuitions. The improved external world of nature and art have been almost cancelled by the deteriorated internal world of vigor and insight.HHTL 374.4

    “I must dwell upon this topic no longer now, unexhausted though it be. Yet when I ponder upon the wealth of human happiness that lies folded within it, I am almost tempted to call upon the student to leave his learning, and the philosopher his science, and the clergyman his theologies, and first teach men how to obey the laws of God in their physical frames; — how to glorify Him in their bodies as an accompaniment, if not a pre-requisite to glorifying Him in their spirits.HHTL 375.1

    “Oh, how beautiful is the ever-changing and ever-renewing beauty of Health! — the marmorean repose of infantile sleep; the singing gladness of childhood; the exultant and sometimes wayward impulses of youth, intoxicated and bewildered by varieties of joy; the firm, right-onward march of manhood unbarbed by an arrow of pain, and uncrippled age at last, venerable in its serene and lofty front; — how beautiful are they all! Less beautiful is the clear-springing fountain with its flower-adorned brink; less noble the mighty river cleaving its mountain-barred passage to the deep, and less reflective of all the glories of Heaven, its outspreading and calmer current as it lapses and dies into the sea!HHTL 375.2

    Again Mr. Mann says:HHTL 376.1

    “An earnest student is prone to ruin his health. Hope cheats him with the belief that, if he can study now without cessation, he can do so always. Because he does not see the end of his strength, he foolishly concludes it has no end. A spendthrift of health, is one of the most reprehensible of spendthrifts. I am certain I could have performed twice the labor, both better and with greater ease to myself, had I known as much of the Laws of Health and Life, at twenty-one, as I do now. In college, I was taught all about the motions of the planets, as carefully as though they would have been in danger of getting off the track if I had not known how to trace their orbits; but about my own organization, and the conditions indispensable to the healthful functions of my own body, I was left in profound ignorance. Nothing could be more preposterous. I ought to have begun at home, and taken the stars when it should come their turn. The consequence was, I broke down at the beginning of my second college year, and have never had a well day since. Whatever labor I have been since able to do, I have done it all on credit, instead of capital, — a most ruinous way, either in regard to health or money. For the last twenty-five years, so far as it regards health, I have been put, from day to day, on my good behavior; and during the whole of this period, as an Hibernian would say, if I had lived as other folks do for a month, I should have died in a fortnight.HHTL 376.2

    “Health has a great deal to do with what the world calls talent. Take a lawyer’s life through, and high health is at least equal to fifty per cent more brain. Endurance, cheerfulness, wit, eloquence, attain a force and splendor, with health, which they can never approach without it. It often happens that the credit awarded to the intellect belongs to the digestion. Though I do not believe that genius and eupepsy are convertible terms, yet the former can never rise to its loftiest heights unaided by the latter.HHTL 376.3

    Again, a wise man with a great enterprise before him, first looks around for suitable instruments wherewith to execute it; and he thinks it all-important to command these instruments, before he begins his labor. Health is an indispensable instrument for the best qualities, and the highest finish of all work. Think of the immense advantage you would have in a suit in court, if, after a week’s or a fortnight’s laborious investigation of facts, you could come in for the closing argument, on the last day, fresh and elastic, with only so much more of momentum and fervor for the velocity and the glow you had acquired, while your wilted opponent had little more vitality than a bag of sand. How long will our teachers and trainers of youth suffer boxers and racers to be wiser in their generation than themselves?HHTL 377.1

    “Have you ever studied Human Physiology? If not, get such a work as Jarvis,’ or Cutter’s, or Cole’s, or Carpenter’s, and ‘read, learn, and inwardly digest’ it, and then obey it religiously. I say religiously; for Health comes within the domain of conscience and religion. The materials being given, a man is as responsible for his health as for his character. He determines that the former shall be not less than the latter. Extraordinaries excepted, a man should be ashamed of being in ill health as he should be of getting drunk.HHTL 377.2

    “But I cannot dwell longer on this topic. Get health, if you have it not; keep it, if you have it.”HHTL 377.3

    And again he says:—HHTL 377.4

    “But amid the exuberance of this country, our dangers spring from abundance rather than from scarcity. Young men, especially young men in our cities, walk in the midst of allurements for the appetite. Hence, health is imperiled; and so indispensable an element is health in all forms of human welfare, that whoever invigorates his health has already obtained one of the great guaranties of mental superiority, of usefulness, and of virtue. Health, strength, and longevity, depend upon immutable laws. There is no chance about them. There is no arbitrary interference of higher powers with them. Primarily our parents, and secondarily ourselves, are responsible for them. The providence of God is no more responsible, because the virulence of disease rises above the power of all therapeutics, or because one-quarter part of the human race die before completing the age of one year — die before completing one-seventieth part of the term of existence allotted to them by the Psalmist — I say the providence of God is no more responsible for these things, than it is for picking pockets or stealing horses.HHTL 377.5

    “Were a young man to write down a list of his duties, Health should be among the first items in the catalogue. This is no exaggeration of its value; for health is indispensable to almost every form of human enjoyment; it is the grand auxiliary of usefulness and should a man love the Lord his God, with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, he would have ten times more heart and soul and mind and strength, to love Him with, in the vigor of health, than under the palsy of disease. Not only the amount, but the quality of the labor which a man can perform, depends upon his health. The work savors of the workman. If the poet sickens, his verse sickens; if black, venous blood flows to an author’s brain, it beclouds his pages; and the devotions of a consumptive man, scent of his disease as Lord Byron’s obscenities smell of gin. Not only ‘lying lips,’ but a dyspeptic stomach, is an abomination to the Lord. At least in this life so dependent is mind upon material organization, — the functions and manifestations of the soul upon the condition of the body it inhabits, — that the materialist hardly states practical results too strongly, when he affirms that thought and passion, wit, imagination and love, are only emanations from exquisitely organized matter, such as perfume is the effluence of flowers, or music the ethereal product of AEolian harp.HHTL 378.1

    “In regard to the indulgence of appetite, and the management of the vital organs, society is still in a state of barbarism; and the young man who is true to his highest interests, must create a civilization for himself. The brutish part of our nature governs the spiritual. Were we to see a rich banker exchanging eagles for coppers by tale, or a rich merchant bartering silk for serge by the pound, we should deem them worthy of any epithet in the vocabulary of folly. Yet the same men buy pains whose prime cost is greater than the amplest fund of natural enjoyments. Their purveyor and market-man bring them home headaches, and indigestion, and neuralgia by hamper-fulls. Their butler, bottles up stone, and gout, and the liver-complaint, falsely labelling them sherry, or madeira, or port, and the stultified masters have not wit enough to see through the cheat. The mass of society look with envy upon the epicure who, day by day, for four hours of luxurious eating suffers twenty hours of sharp aching; who pays a full price for a hot supper, and is so pleased with his bargain, that he throws in a sleepless and tempestuous night, as a gratuity. English factory children have received the commiseration of the world, because they were scourged to work eighteen hours out of the twenty-four; but there is many a theoretic republican who is a harsher Pharaoh to his stomach than this; — who allows it no more resting-time than he does his watch; who gives it no Sunday, no holiday, no vacation in any sense. Our pious ancestors enacted a law that suicides should be buried where four roads meet, and that a cart-load of stones should be thrown upon the body. Yet, when gentlemen or ladies commit suicide, not by cord or steel, but by turtle-soup or lobster-salad, they may be buried in consecrated ground, and under the auspices of the church, and the public are not ashamed to read an epitaph upon their tomb-stones false enough to make the marble blush. Were the barbarous old law now in force, that punished the body of the suicide for the offence which his soul had committed, we should find many a cemetery at the cross-roads. Is it not humiliating and amazing, that men, invited by the exalted pleasures of the intellect, and the sacred affections of the heart, to come to a banquet worthy of the gods, should stop by the way-side to feed on garbage, or to drink of the Circean cup that transforms them to swine!HHTL 379.1

    “If a young man, incited by selfish principles alone, inquires how he shall make his appetite yield him the largest amount of gratification, the answer is, by Temperance. The true epicurean art consists in the adaptation of our organs, not only to the highest, but to the longest enjoyment. Vastly less depends upon the table to which we sit down, than upon the appetite which we carry to it. The palled epicure, who spends five dollars for his dinner, extracts less pleasure from his meal than many a hardy laborer who dines for a shilling. The desideratum is, not greater luxuries, but livelier papillae; and if the devotee of appetite would propitiate his divinity aright, he would not send to the Yellowstone for buffaloes’ tongues, nor to France for pate de fois gras, but would climb a mountain, or swing an ax. With health, there is no end to the quantity or the variety from which the palate can extract its pleasures. Without health, no delicacy that nature or art produces can provoke a zest. Hence, when a man destroys his health, he destroys, so far as he is concerned, whatever of sweetness, of flavor and of savor, the teeming earth can produce. To him who has poisoned his appetite by excesses, the luscious pulp of grape or peach, the nectareous juices of orange or pine-apple, are but a loathing and a nausea. He has turned gardens and groves of delicious fruit into gardens and groves of ipecac and aloes. The same vicious indulgences that blasted his health, blasted all orchards and cane-fields also. Verily, the man who is physiologically “wicked” does not live out half his days; nor is this the worst of his punishment, for he is more than half dead while he appears to live.HHTL 380.1

    “Let the young man, then, remember, that, for every offense which he commits against the laws of health, nature will bring him into judgment. However graciously God may deal with the heart, all our experience proves that he never pardons stomach, muscles, lungs or brain. These must expiate their offenses un-vicariously. Nay, there are numerous and obvious cases of violated physical laws, where Nature with all her diligence and severity, seems unable to scourge the offender enough during his life-time, and so she goes on plying her scourge upon his children and his children’s children after him, even to the third and fourth generation. The punishment is entailed on posterity; nor human law, nor human device can break the entailment. And in these hereditary inflictions, nature abhors alike the primogeniture laws of England, and the Salic laws of France. All the sons and all the daughters are made inheritors; not in aliquot parts; but, by a kind of malignant multiplication in their distemper, each inherits the whole.HHTL 380.2

    “I ask the young man, then, who is just forming his habits of life, or just beginning to indulge those habitual trains of thought out of which habits grow, to look around him, and mark the examples whose fortune he would covet, or whose fate he would abhor. Even as we walk the streets, we meet with exhibitions of each extreme. Here, behold a patriarch, whose stock of vigor three-score years and ten seem hardly to have impaired. His erect form, his firm step, his elastic limbs, and undimmed senses, are so many certificates of good conduct; or, rather, so many jewels and orders of nobility with which nature has honored him for his fidelity to her laws. His fair complexion shows that his blood has never been corrupted; his pure breath, that he has never yielded his digestive aparatus for a vinter’s cess-pool; his exact language and keen apprehension, that his brain has never been drugged or stupefied by the poisons of distiller or tobacconist. Enjoying his appetites to the highest, he has preserved the power of enjoying them. Despite the moral of the school-boy’s story, he has eaten his cake and still kept it. As he drains the cup of life, there are no lees at the bottom. His organs will reach the goal of existence together. Painlessly as a candle burns down in its socket, so will he expire; and a little imagination would convert him into another Enoch, translated from earth to a better world without the sting of death.HHTL 381.1

    “But look at an opposite extreme, where an opposite history is recorded. What wreck so shocking to behold as the wreck of a dissolute man; — the vigor of life exhausted, and yet the first steps in an honorable career not taken; in himself a lazarhouse of disease; dead, but, by a heathenish custom of society, not yet buried! Rogues have had the initial letter of their title burnt into the palms of their hands; even for murder, Cain was only branded on the forehead; but over the whole person of the debauchee or the inebriate, the signatures of infamy are written. How nature brands him with stigma and opprobrium! How she hangs labels all over him, to testify her disgust at his existence, and to admonish others to beware of his example! How she loosens all his joints, sends tremors along his muscles, and bends forward his frame, as if to bring him upon all fours with kindred brutes, or to degrade him to the reptile’s crawling! How she disfigures his countenance, as if intent upon obliterating all traces of her own image, so that she may sware she never made him! How she pours rheum over his eyes, sends foul spirits to inhabit his breath, and shrieks, as with a trumpet, from every pore of his body, ‘BEHOLD A BEAST!’ Such a man may be seen in the streets of our cities every day; if rich enough he may be found in the saloons, and at the tables of the ‘Upper Ten;’ but surely, to every man of purity and honor, to every man whose wisdom as well as whose heart is unblemished, the wretch who comes cropped and bleeding from the pillory, and redolent with its appropriate perfumes, would be a guest or a companion far less offensive and disgusting.HHTL 382.1

    “Now let the young man, rejoicing in his manly proportions, and in his comeliness, look on this picture and on that, and then say, after the likeness of which model he intends his own erect stature and sublime countenance shall be configured.HHTL 382.2

    “Society is infinitely too tolerant of the roue, — the wretch whose life-long pleasure it has been to debase himself and to debauch others; whose heart has been spotted with infamy so much, that it is no longer spotted, but hell-black all over; and who, at least, deserves to be treated as travelers say the wild horses of the prairies treat a vicious fellow, — the noblest of the herd forming a compact circle round him, heads outward, and kicking him to death.HHTL 382.3

    “But why should not a young man indulge an ambition to lay up a stock of health, as well as to lay up stocks of any other kind? Health is earned, — as literally so, as any commodity in the market. Health can be accumulated, invested, made to yield its interest, and its compound interest, and thus be doubled and redoubled. The capital of health, indeed, may all be forfeited by one physical misdemeanor, as a rich man may sink all his property in one bad speculation; but it is as capable of being increased as any other kind of capital; and it can be safely insured, on payment of the reasonable premium of temperance and forethought. This, too, is a species of wealth which is not only capable of a life-long enjoyment by its possessor, but it may be transmitted to children by a will and testament that no human judicature can set aside.HHTL 383.1

    “Why, too, should not a young man be ambitious to amass a capital of health upon which he can draw, in cases of emergency, without danger of bankruptcy or even protest? Suppose, in the course of life, some brilliant achievement should be offered for his winning, — some literary or scientific labor, or some victory over the leagued forces of vice, or error, or ignorance, — which might demand for its triumph a double amount of exertion, for months, or for years; — then when he feels that he can do a day’s work every day, and another day’s work every night, and still live as long and enjoy as much as his fellows, will he not experience a delight in the consciousness of his power, a thousand times more vivid and more pure than a capitalist can ever feel over his funds, or a miser over his hoards? And is not this a legitimate satisfaction; nay, a lofty and honorable ambition, to which a true man may properly aspire?”HHTL 383.2

    Larger font
    Smaller font