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having put most of them in slight summer suits, has turned my speculations to a subject that concerns every one who is sensible of cold or heat, which I believe takes in the greatest part of my readers.

There is nothing in nature more inconstant than the British climate, if we except the humour of its inhabitants. We have frequently in one day all the seasons of the year. I have shivered in the dog-days, and been forced to throw off my coat in January. I have gone to bed in August, and rose in December. Summer has often caught me in my Drap de Berry, and winter in my Doily suit.

I remember a very whimsical fellow (commonly known by the name of Posture-master) in king Charles the Second's reign, who was the plague of all the tailors about town. He would often send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders. When the clothes were brought home and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder. Upon which the tailor begged pardon for the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but upon a third trial found him a straight-shouldered man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a humpback. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. My reader will apply this to any one who would adapt a suit to a season of our English climate.

After this short descant on the uncertainty of our English weather, I come to my moral.

A man should take care that his body be not too

soft for his climate; but rather, if possible, harden and season himself beyond the degree of cold wherein he lives. Daily experience teaches us how we may inure ourselves by custom to bear the extremities of weather without injury. The inhabitants of Nova Zembla go naked, without complaining of the bleakness of the air in which they are born, as the armies of the northern nations keep the field all winter. The softest of our British ladies expose their arms and necks to the open air, which the men could not do without catching cold, for want of being accustomed to it. The whole body by the same means might contract the same firmness and temper. The Scythian that was asked how it was possible for the inhabitants of his frozen climate to go naked, replied,

Because we are all over face. Mr. Locke advises parents to have their children's feet washed every morning in cold water, which might probably prolong multitudes of lives.

I verily believe a cold bath would be one of the most healthful exercises in the world, were it made use of in the education of youth. It would make their bodies more than proof to the injuries of the air and weather. It would be somewhat like what the poets tell us of Achilles, whom his mother is said to have dipped, when he was a child, in the river Styx. The story adds, that this made him invulnerable all over, excepting that part which his mother held in her hand during this immersion, and which by that means lost the benefit of these hardening waters. Our common practice runs in a quite contrary method. We are perpetually softening ourselves by good fires and warm clothes. The air within our rooms has generally two or three degrees more of heat in it than the air without doors.

Crassus is an old lethargic valetudinarian. For these twenty years last past he has been clothed in frieze of the same colour, and of the same piece. He fancies he should catch his death in any other kind of manufacture; and though his avarice would incline him to wear it until it was threadbare, he dares not do it lest he should take cold when the nap is off. He could no more live without his frieze coat, than without his skin. It is not indeed so properly his coat, as what the anatomists call one of the integuments of the body.

How different an old man is Crassus from myself! It is indeed the particular distinction of the Ironsides to be robust and hardy, to defy the cold and rain, and let the weather do its worst. My father lived until a hundred without a cough; and we have a tradition in the family, that my grandfather used to throw off his hat, and go openbreasted, after fourșcore. As for myself, they used to souse me over head and cars in water when I was a boy, so that I am now looked upon as one of the most case-hardened of the whole family of the Ironsides. In short, I have been so plunged in water and inured to the cold, that I regard myself as a piece of true-tempered steel, and can say with the above-mentioned Scythian, that I am face, or, if my enemies please, forehead all over.




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Book VIIpage 6





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