Page images

good health: “Good-by; I am going to have a good time for a little while; I will be very glad to see yon again in the autumn." Then in the autumn, when you are hard at work in your office, or store, or shop, or counting. room, Good Health will come in and say: "Good-by; I am going.” You say: “Where are you going?" "O!” says Good Health, “I am going to take a vacation.” It is a poor rule that will not work both ways, and your good health will leave you choleric, and splenetic, and exhausted. You coquetted with your good health in the summer-time, and your good health is coquetting with you in the winter-time. A fragment of Paul's charge to the jailer would be an appropriate inscription for the hotel register in every watering-place: “Do thyself no harm."

Another temptation hovering around the wateringplace is to the formation of hasty and life-long alliances. The watering-places are responsible for more of the domestic infelicities of this country than all other things combined. Society is so artificial there that no sure judgment of character can be formed. They who form companionships amid such circumstances, go into a lottery where there are twenty blanks to one prize. In the severe tug of life you want more than glitter and splash. Life is not a ball-room, where the music decides the step, and bow, and prance, and graceful swing of long trail can make up for strong common sense. You might as well go among the gaily-painted yachts of a summer regatta to find war vessels, as to go among the light spray of the summer watering-place to find character that can stand the test of the great struggle of human life. Ah, in the battle of life you want a stronger weapon than a lace fan or a croquet mallet! The load of life is so heavy that in order to draw it you want a tean stronger than one made up of a masculine grasshopper and a feminine butterfly. If there is any man in the community that excites my contempt, and that ought to excite the contempt of every man and woman, it is the soft-handed, soft-headed fop, who, perfumed until the air is actually sick, spends his summer in taking killing attitudes, and waving sentimental adieus, and talking infinitesimal nothings, and finding his heaven in the set of a lavender kid-glove. Boots as tight as an inquisition. Two hours of consummate skill exhibited in the tie of a flaming cravat. His conversation made up of “Ahs!" and "Ohs!" and "He-hes !” It would take five hundred of them stewed down to make a teaspoonful of calf'sfoot jelly. There is only one counterpart to such a man as that, and that is the frothy young woman at the watering-place; her conversation made up of French moonshine; what she has on her head only equalled by what she has on her back; useless ever since she was born, and to be useless until she is dead; and what they will do with her in the next world I do not know, except to set her up on the banks of the River of Life, for eternity, to look sweet! God intends us to admire music, and fair faces and graceful step; but amid the heartlessness, and the inflation and the fantastic influences of our modern watering-places, beware how you make life-long covenants.

Another temptation that will hover over the wateringplace is that to baneful literature. Almost every one starting off for the summer takes some reading matter. It is a book out of the library, or off the book-stand, or bought of the boy hawking books through the cars. I really believe there is more pestiferous trash read among the intelligent classes in July and August than in all the other ten months of the year. Men and women who at


home would not be satisfied with a book that was not really sensible, I found sitting on hotel piazza, or under the trees, reading books, the index of which would make them, blush if they knew that you knew what the book was. “O,” they say, "you must have intellectual recreation.” Yes. There is no need that you take along into & watering-place, “Hamilton's Metaphysics," or some thunderous discourse on the eternal decrees, or "Faraday's Philosophy." There are many easy books that are good. You might as well say: “I propose now to give a little rest to my digestive organs, and instead of eating heavy meat and vegetables, I will, for a little while, take lighter food- a little strychnine and a few grains of ratsbane." Literary poison in August is as bad as literary poison in December. Mark that. Do not let the frogs and the lice of a corrupt printing-press jump and crawl into your Saratoga trunk or White Mountain valise. Would it not be an awful thing for you to be struck with lightning some day when you had in your hand one of these paper-covered romances--the hero a Parisian roue, the heroine an unprincipled flirt_chapters in the book that you would not read to your children at the rate of a hundred dollars a line. Throw out all that stuff from your suminer baggage. Are there not good books that are easy to read-books of entertaining travel; books of congenial history; books of pure fun; books of poetry, ringing with merry canto; books of fine engraving; books that will rest the mind as well as purify the heart and elevate the whole life? My hearers, there will not be an hour between this and the day of your death when you can afford to read a book lacking in moral principle.

Another temptation hovering all around our wateringplaces, is to intoxicating beverage. I am told that it is

[ocr errors]

becoming more and more fashionable for women to drink; and it is not very long ago that a lady of great respectability, in this city, having taken two glasses of wine away from home, became violent, and her friends, ashamed, forsook her, and she was carried to a police station, and afterward to her disgraced home. I care not how well a woman may dress, if she has taken enough of wine to flush her cheek and put a glassiness on her eye, she is intoxicated. She may be handed into a 2500 dollar carriage, and have diamonds enough to confound the Tiffany's--she is intoxicated. She may be a graduate of Packer Institute, and the daughter of some man in danger of being nominated for the Presidency--she is drunk. You may have a larger vocabulary than I have, and you may say in regard to her that she is convivial,” or she is "merry," or she is "festive," or she is "exhilarated;" but you cannot, with all your garlands of verbiage, cover up the plain fact that it is an old-fashioned case of drunk. Now the watering-places are full of temptations to inen and women to tipple. At the close of the ten-pin or billiard game, they tipple. At the close of the cotillion, they tipple. Seated on the piazza cooling themselves off, they tipple. The tinged glasses come around with bright straws, and they tipple. First, they take " light wines” as they call them; but “light wines," are heavy enough to debase the appetite. There is not a very long road between champagne at five dollars a bottle and whisky at five cents a glass. Satan has three or four grades down which he takes men to destruction. One man he takes up, and through one spree pitches him into eternal darkness. That is a rare case. Very seldom, indeed, can you find a man who will be such a fool as that. Satan will take another man to & yrade, to a descent at an angle about like the Penn

[ocr errors]

sylvania coal-shute, or the Mount Washington rail track, and shove him off. But that is very rare. When a man goes down to destruction, Satan brings him to a plane. It is almost a level. The depression is so slight that you can hardly see it. The man does not actually know that he is on the down grade, and it tips only a little toward darkness—just a little. And the first mile it is claret, and the second mile it is sherry, and the third mile it is punch, and the fourth mile it is ale, and the fifth mile it is porter, and the sixth mile it is brandy, and then it gets steeper, and steeper, and steeper, and the man gets frightened, and says: “O, let me get off.” “No,” says the conductor, “this is an express-train, and it don't stop until it gets to the Grand Central depot of Smashupton!” Ah, "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” And if any young man of my congregation should get astray this summer in this direction, it will not be because I have not given him fair warning.

My friends, whether you tarry at home--which will be quite as safe and perhaps quite as comfortable—or go into the country, arm yourself against temptation. The grace of God is the only safe shelter, whether in town or country. There are watering-places accessible to all of

You cannot open a book of the Bible without find. ing out some such watering-place. Fountains open for sin and uncleanness. Wells of salvation. Streams from Lebanon. A flood struck out of the rock by Moses. Fountains in the wilderness discovered by Hagar. Water to drink and water to bathe in. The river of God which is full of water. Water of which if a man drink, he shall never thirst. Wells of water in the Valley of Bach.


« PreviousContinue »