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N° 195. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1711.
Νήπιοι, ουδ' ίστασιν όσω πλέον ήμισυ παντός.
Hes: Oper. et Dier. I. i. 40.
THERE is a story in the Arabian Nights Tales of a king who had long languished under an ill habit of body, and had taken abundance of remedies to no purpose. At length, says the fable, a physician cured him by the following method : He took a hollow ball of wood, and filled it with several drugs; after which he closed it up so artificially that nothing appeared. He likewise took a mall, and after having hollowed the handle, and that part which strikes the ball, he inclosed in them several drugs after the same manner as in the ball itself. He then ordered the sultan, who was his patient, to exercise himself early in the morning with these rightly prepared instruments, till such time as he should sweat; when, as the story goes, the virtue of the medicaments perspiring through the wood had so good an influence on the sultan's constitution, that they cured him of an indisposition which all the compositions he had taken inwardly had not been able to remove. This eastern allegory is finely contrived to shew us how beneficial bodily labour is to health, and that exercise is the most effectual physic. I have described in my hundred and fifteenth paper, from the general structure and mechanism of a human body, how absolutely necessary exercise is for its preservation. I shall in this place recommend another great preservative of health, which in many cases produces the same effects as exercise, and may, in some measure, supply its place, where opportunities of exercise are wanting. The preservative I am speaking of is temperance, which has those particular advantages above all other means of health, that it may be practised by all ranks and conditions, at any season, or in any place. It is a kind of regimen into which every man may put himself, without interruption to business, expense of money, or loss of time. If exercise throws off all superfluities, temperance prevents them ; if exercise clears the vessels, temperance neither satiates nor overstrains them; if exercise raises proper ferments in the humours, and promotes the circulation of the bood, temperance gives nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigour; if exercise dissipates a growing distemper, temperance starves it.
Physic for the most part is nothing else but the substitute of exercise or temperance. Medicines are indeed absolutely necessary in acute distempers, that cannot wait the slow operations of these two great instruments, of health; but did men live in an habitual course of exercise and temperance, there could be but little occasion for them. Accordingly we find that those parts of the world are the most healthy, where they subsist by the chase; and that men lived longest when their lives were employed in hunting, and when they had little food,