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The Argosy Vol. 51, No. 4, April, 1891

Sustenance is essential alike to life and longevity


They

are to be found in implicit obedience to the Laws of God and Nature. These imply the use and not the misuse or abuse of all the powers and faculties given to us by an all-wise and all-merciful Providence. If human beings would only abide by these laws they would not only enjoy long health and long life but they would also pass that life in comfort and happiness.

With respect to the physical, intellectual and moral man, work is the essential factor in procuring health and happiness. Idleness is the bane of both. Man and woman were born to work either by hand or brain. Man in the outer world, woman in the home. The man who lives without an object in life is not only not doing his duty to God, but he is a curse to himself and others. But work, like everything else, should be limited. Many cannot do this, and overtax both their physical and intellectual energies. The employment of labour should be regulated by the capabilities of the working-classes, not by the economy or profits to be obtained by extra labour; and legislation, if paternal, as it should be, ought to protect the toiler in all instances--not in the few in which it attempts to ameliorate his condition. So with every pursuit or avocation, the leisure essential to health and happiness is too often sacrificed to cupidity, and when this is the case there can be no longevity.

Exercise is beneficial to man; but it should not be taken in excess, or in too

trying a form. It is very questionable if what are called "Athletic Sports" are not too often as hurtful as they are beneficial. It is quite certain that they cannot be indulged in with impunity after a certain time of life.

Sustenance is essential alike to life and longevity, but it is trite to say it must be in moderation, and as far as possible select. So in the case of temperance, moderation is beneficial, excess hurtful. Total abstainers defeat the very object they propose to advocate when they propose to do away with all because excess is hurtful. Extremes are always baneful, and the monks of old were wise in their generation when they denounced gluttony and intemperance as cardinal vices. The physical powers are as a rule subject to the will, which is the exponent of our passions and propensities and of our moral and intellectual impulses. Were it not so we could not curb our actions, restrain our appetites, or keep within that moderation which is essential to health, happiness and longevity.

Our passions and propensities are imparted to us for a wise purpose, and are therefore beneficial in their use. It is only in their neglect, misuse or abuse that they become hurtful. A French author has pertinently put it thus: "The passions act as winds to propel our vessel, our reason is the pilot that steers her; without the winds she would not move, without the pilot she would be lost."

Even our affections, so pure and beautiful in themselves, may, by abuse, be made sources of mischief, evil and disease. The abuses are too well known to require repetition here. The powers of energy and resistance, beneficial in themselves, in their abuse bring about the spirit of contradiction, violence and combat.

It seems passing strange that even our moral feelings should be liable to abuse; but it is so, even with the best. Benevolence and charity may be misplaced or be in excess of our means. They assume the shape of vices in the form of prodigality and extravagance. The honest desire to acquire the necessities of life or the means for moral and intellectual improvement may in excess become cupidity or covetousness, and lead even to the appropriation of what is not our own. Kleptomania is met with in the book-worm or the antiquarian, as well as in the feminine lover of dress or those in poverty and distress. Firmness may become obstinacy; the justifiable love of self may, by abuse, become pride; and a proper and chaste wish for the approbation of others may be turned into the most absurd of vanities. Even religion itself may be carried to uncharitableness, fanaticism and persecution. Still more strange it must appear that even the intellectual faculties should be liable to abuse; but it is part of the pains and penalties of the constitution of man that it should be so. It is so to teach us that moderation is wisdom and the only conduct that leads to health and happiness.


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