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Title: Health - Five Lay Sermons to Working-People
Author: Brown, John, 1810-1882
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Health - Five Lay Sermons to Working-People" ***

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    He is not far from every one of us. For in Him we live
    and move not less than in Him we have our being.

            "Out of darkness comes the hand
    Reaching through nature,--moulding man."





    _Late Ticknor and Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co._

    _Affectionately inscribed to the memory of the_ REV. JAMES
    TRENCH, _the heart and soul of the Canongate Mission, who, while
    he preached a pure and a fervent gospel to its heathens, taught
    them also and therefore to respect and save their health, and
    was the Originator and Keeper of their Library and Penny Bank,
    as well as their Minister._


Three of these sermons were written for, and (shall I say?) preached
some years ago, in one of the earliest missionary stations in Edinburgh,
established by Broughton Place Congregation, and presided over at that
time by the Reverend James Trench; one of the best human beings it was
ever my privilege to know. He is dead; dying in and of his work,--from
typhus fever caught at the bedside of one of his poor members--but he
lives in the hearts of many a widow and fatherless child; and lives
also, I doubt not, in the immediate vision of Him to do whose will was
his meat and his drink. Given ten thousand such men, how would the
crooked places be made straight, and the rough places plain, the
wildernesses of city wickedness, the solitary places of sin and despair,
of pain and shame, be made glad! This is what is to regenerate mankind;
this is the leaven that some day is to leaven the lump.

The other two sermons were never preached, except in print; but they
were composed in the same key. I say this not in defence, but in
explanation. I have tried to speak to working men and women from my lay
pulpit, in the same words, with the same voice, with the same thoughts I
was in the habit of using when doctoring them. This is the reason of
their plain speaking. There is no other way of reaching these sturdy and
weather and work-beaten understandings; there is nothing fine about them
outside, though they are often as white in the skin under their clothes
as a duchess, and their hearts as soft and tender as Jonathan's, or as
Rachel's, or our own Grizel Baillie's; but you must speak out to them,
and must not be mealy-mouthed if you wish to reach their minds and
affections and wills. I wish the gentlefolks could hear and could use a
little more of this outspokenness; and, as old Porson said, condescend
to call a spade a spade, and not a horticultural implement; five letters
instead of twenty-two, and more to the purpose.

You see, my dear working friends, I am great upon sparing your strength
and taking things cannily. "All very well," say you; "it is easy
speaking, and saying, Take it easy; but if the pat's on the fire it maun
bile." It must, but you needn't poke up the fire forever, and you may
now and then set the kettle on the hob, and let it sing, instead of
leaving it to burn its bottom out.

I had a friend who injured himself by overwork. One day I asked the
servant if any person had called, and was told that some one had. "Who
was it?" "O, it's the little gentleman that _aye rins when he walks_!"
So I wish this age would walk more and "rin" less. A man can walk
farther and longer than he can run, and it is poor saving to get out of
breath. A man who lives to be seventy, and has ten children and (say)
five-and-twenty grandchildren, is of more worth to the state than three
men who die at thirty, it is to be hoped unmarried. However slow a coach
seventy may have been, and however energetic and go-ahead the three
thirties, I back the tortoise against the hares in the long run.

I am constantly seeing men who suffer, and indeed die, from living too
fast; from true though not consciously immoral dissipation or scattering
of their lives. Many a man is bankrupt in constitution at forty-five,
and either takes out a _cessio_ of himself to the grave, or goes on
paying ten per cent for his stock-in-trade; he spends his capital
instead of merely spending what he makes, or better still, laying up a
purse for the days of darkness and old age. A queer man, forty years
ago,--Mr. Slate, or, as he was called, _Sclate_, who was too clever and
not clever enough, and had not wisdom to use his wit, always scheming,
full of "go," but never getting on,--was stopped by his friend, Sir
Walter Scott,--that wonderful friend of us all, to whom we owe Jeanie
Deans and Rob Roy, Meg Merrilies and Dandie Dinmont, Jinglin' Geordie,
Cuddie Headrigg, and the immortal Baillie,--one day in Princess Street.
"How are ye getting on, Sclate?" "Oo, just the auld thing, Sir Walter;
_ma pennies a' gang on tippenny eerands_." And so it is with our nervous
power, with our vital capital, with the pence of life; many of them go
on "tippenny eerands." We are forever getting our bills renewed, till
down comes the poor and damaged concern with dropsy or consumption,
blazing fever, madness, or palsy. There is a Western Banking system in
living, in using our bodily organs, as well as in paper-money. But I am
running off into another sermon.

Health of mind and body, next to a good conscience, is the best blessing
our Maker can give us, and to no one is it more immediately valuable
than to the laboring man and his wife and children; and indeed a good
conscience is just moral health, the wholeness of the sense and the
organ of duty; for let us never forget that there is a religion of the
body, as well as, and greatly helpful of, the religion of the soul. We
are to glorify God in our souls and in our bodies, for the best of all
reasons, _because they are his_, and to remember that at last we must
give account, not only of our thoughts and spiritual desires and acts,
but _all the deeds done in our body_. A husband who, in the morning
before going to his work, would cut his right hand off sooner than
injure the wife of his bosom, strangles her that same night when mad
with drink; that is a deed done in his body, and truly by his body, for
his judgment is gone; and for that he must give an account when his name
is called; his judgment was gone; but then, as the child of a drunken
murderer said to me, "A' but, sir, wha goned it?" I am not a teetotaler.
I am against teetotalism as a doctrine of universal application; I think
we are meant to use these things as not abusing them,--this is one of
the disciplines of life; but I not the less am sure that drunkenness
ruins men's bodies,--it is not for me to speak of souls,--is a greater
cause of disease and misery, poverty, crime, and death among the
laboring men and women of our towns, than consumption, fever, cholera,
and all their tribe, with thieving and profligacy and improvidence
thrown into the bargain: these slay their thousands; this its tens of
thousands. Do you ever think of the full meaning of "he's the waur o'
drink?" How much the waur?--and then "dead drunk,"--"mortal." Can there
be anything more awfully significant than these expressions you hear
from children in the streets?

       *       *       *       *       *

You will see in the woodcut a good illustration of the circulation of
the blood: both that through our lungs, by which we breathe and burn,
and that through the whole body, by which we live and build. That hand
grasps the heart, the central depot, with its valves opening out and in,
and, by its contraction and relaxation, makes the living fluid circulate
everywhere, carrying in strength, life, and supply to all, and carrying
off waste and harm. None of you will be the worse of thinking of that
hand as His who makes, supports, moves, and governs all things,--that
hand which, while it wheels the rolling worlds, gathers the lambs with
his arm, carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with
young, and which was once nailed for "our advantage on the bitter

                                                               J. B.
    December 16, 1861.






       "  IV. HEALTH





Everybody knows the Doctor; a very important person he is to us all.
What could we do without him? He brings us into this world, and tries to
keep us as long in it as he can, and as long as our bodies can hold
together; and he is with us at that strange and last hour which will
come to us all, when we must leave this world and go into the next.

When we are well, we perhaps think little about the Doctor, or we have
our small joke at him and his drugs; but let anything go wrong with our
body, that wonderful tabernacle in which our soul dwells, let any of its
wheels go wrong, then off we fly to him. If the mother thinks her
husband or her child dying, how she runs to him, and urges him with her
tears! how she watches his face, and follows his searching eye, as he
examines the dear sufferer; how she wonders what he thinks,--what would
she give to know what he knows! how she wearies for his visit! how a
cheerful word from him makes her heart leap with joy, and gives her
spirit and strength to watch over the bed of distress! Her whole soul
goes out to him in unspeakable gratitude when he brings back to her from
the power of the grave her husband or darling child. The Doctor knows
many of our secrets, of our sorrows, which no one else knows,--some of
our sins, perhaps, which the great God alone else knows; how many cares
and secrets, how many lives, he carries in his heart and in his hands!
So you see he is a very important person the Doctor, and we should do
our best to make the most of him, and to do our duty to him and to

A thinking man feels often painfully what a serious thing it is to be a
doctor, to have the charge of the lives of his fellow-mortals, to stand,
as it were, between them and death and eternity and the judgment-seat,
and to fight hand to hand with Death. One of the best men and greatest
physicians that ever lived, Dr. Sydenham, says, in reference to this,
and it would be well if all doctors, young and old, would consider his

"It becomes every man who purposes to give himself to the care of
others, seriously to consider the four following things: _First_, That
he must one day give an account to the Supreme Judge of all the lives
intrusted to his care. _Secondly_, That all his skill and knowledge and
energy, as they have been given him by God, so they should be exercised
for his glory and the good of mankind, and not for mere gain or
ambition. _Thirdly_, and not more beautifully than truly, Let him
reflect that he has undertaken the care of no mean creature, for, in
order that we may estimate the value, the greatness of the human race,
the only begotten Son of God became himself a man, and thus ennobled it
with his divine dignity, and, far more than this, died to redeem it; and
_Fourthly_, That the Doctor, being himself a mortal man, should be
diligent and tender in relieving his suffering patients, inasmuch as he
himself must one day be a like sufferer."

I shall never forget a proof I myself got twenty years ago, how serious
a thing it is to be a doctor, and how terribly in earnest people are
when they want him. It was when cholera first came here in 1832. I was
in England at Chatham, which you all know is a great place for ships and
sailors. This fell disease comes on generally in the night; as the Bible
says, "it walks in darkness," and many a morning was I roused at two
o'clock to go and see its sudden victims, for then is its hour and
power. One morning a sailor came to say I must go three miles down the
river to a village where it had broken out with great fury. Off I set.
We rowed in silence down the dark river, passing the huge hulks, and
hearing the restless convicts turning in their beds in their chains.
The men rowed with all their might: they had too many dying or dead at
home to have the heart to speak to me. We got near the place; it was
very dark, but I saw a crowd of men and women on the shore, at the
landing-place. They were all shouting for the Doctor; the shrill cries
of the women, and the deep voices of the men coming across the water to
me. We were near the shore, when I saw a big old man, his hat off, his
hair gray, his head bald; he said nothing, but turning them all off with
his arm, he plunged into the sea, and before I knew where I was, he had
me in his arms. I was helpless as an infant. He waded out with me,
carrying me high up in his left arm, and with his right levelling every
man or woman who stood in his way.

It was Big Joe carrying me to see his grandson, little Joe; and he bore
me off to the poor convulsed boy, and dared me to leave him till he was
better. He did get better, but Big Joe was dead that night. He had the
disease on him when he carried me away from the boat, but his heart was
set upon his boy. I never can forget that night, and how important a
thing it was to be able to relieve suffering, and how much Old Joe was
in earnest about having the Doctor.

Now, I want you to consider how important the Doctor is to you. Nobody
needs him so much as the poor and laboring man. He is often ill. He is
exposed to hunger and wet and cold, and to fever, and to all the
diseases of hard labor and poverty. His work is heavy, and his heart is
often heavy, too, with misery of all kinds,--his heart weary with its
burden,--his hands and limbs often meeting with accidents,--and you know
if the poor man, if one of you falls ill and takes fever, or breaks his
leg, it is a far more serious thing than with a richer man. Your health
and strength are all you have to depend on; they are your
stock-in-trade, your capital. Therefore I shall ask you to remember
_four things_ about your duty to the Doctor, so as to get the most good
out of him, and do the most good to him too.

_1st_, It is your duty to trust the Doctor;

_2dly_, It is your duty to obey the Doctor;

_3dly_, It is your duty to speak the truth to the Doctor, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth; and,

_4thly_, It is your duty to reward the Doctor.

And so now for the _first_. It is your duty to _trust_ the Doctor, that
is, to believe in him. If you were in a ship, in a wild storm, and among
dangerous rocks, and if you took a pilot on board, who knew all the
coast and all the breakers, and had a clear eye, and a firm heart, and a
practised hand, would you not let him have his own way? would you think
of giving him your poor advice, or keep his hand from its work at the
helm? You would not be such a fool, or so uncivil, or so mad. And yet
many people do this very same sort of thing, just because they don't
really trust their Doctor; and a doctor is a pilot for your bodies when
they are in a storm and in distress. He takes the helm, and does his
best to guide you through a fever; but he must have fair play; he must
be trusted even in the dark. It is wonderful what cures the very sight
of a doctor will work, if the patient believes in him; it is half the
battle. His very face is as good as a medicine, and sometimes
better,--and much pleasanter too.

One day a laboring man came to me with indigestion. He had a sour and
sore stomach, and heartburn, and the water-brash, and wind, and colic,
and wonderful misery of body and mind. I found he was eating bad food,
and too much of it; and then, when its digestion gave him pain, he took
a glass of raw whiskey. I made him promise to give up his bad food and
his worse whiskey, and live on pease-brose and sweet milk, and I wrote
him a prescription, as we call it, for some medicine, and said, "Take
_that_, and come back in a fortnight and you will be well." He did come
back, hearty and hale;--no colic, no sinking at the heart, a clean
tongue, and a cool hand, and a firm step, and a clear eye, and a happy
face. I was very proud of the wonders my prescription had done; and
having forgotten what it was, I said, "Let me see what I gave you."
"O," says he, "I took it." "Yes," said I, "but the prescription." "_I
took it_, as you bade me. I swallowed it." He had actually eaten the bit
of paper, and been all that the better of it; but it would have done him
little, at least less good had he not trusted me when I said he would be
better, and attended to my rules.

So, take my word for it, and trust your Doctor; it is his due, and it is
for your own advantage. Now, our next duty is to _obey_ the Doctor. This
you will think is simple enough. What use is there in calling him in, if
we don't do what he bids us? and yet nothing is more common--partly from
laziness and sheer stupidity, partly from conceit and suspiciousness,
and partly, in the case of children, from false kindness and
indulgence--than to disobey the Doctor's orders. Many a child have I
seen die from nothing but the mother's not liking to make her swallow a
powder, or put on a blister; and let me say, by the by, teach your
children at once to obey you, and take the medicine. Many a life is lost
from this, and remember you may make even Willie Winkie take his
castor-oil in spite of his cries and teeth, _by holding his nose_, so
that he must swallow.

_Thirdly, You should tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth_, to your Doctor. He may be never so clever, and never so
anxious, but he can no more know how to treat a case of illness without
knowing all about it, than a miller can make meal without corn; and many
a life have I seen lost from the patient or his friends concealing
something that was true, or telling something that was false. The
silliness of this is only equal to its sinfulness and its peril.

I remember, in connection with that place where Big Joe lived and died,
a singular proof of the perversity of people in not telling the Doctor
the truth,--as you know people are apt to send for him in cholera when
it is too late, when it is a death rather than a disease. But there is
an early stage, called premonitory,--or warning,--when medicines can
avail. I summoned all the people of that fishing-village who were well,
and told them this, and asked them if they had any of the symptoms. They
all denied having any (this is a peculiar feature in that terrible
disease, they are afraid to _let on_ to themselves, or even the Doctor,
that they are "in for it"), though from their looks and from their going
away while I was speaking, I knew they were not telling the truth. Well,
I said, "You must, at any rate, every one of you take some of this,"
producing a bottle of medicine. I will not tell you what it was, as you
should never take drugs at your own hands, but it is simple and cheap. I
made every one take it; only one woman going away without taking any;
she was the only one of all those _who died_.

_Lastly, It is your duty to reward_ your Doctor. There are four ways of
rewarding your Doctor. The first is by giving him your money; the second
is by giving him your gratitude; the third is by your doing his bidding;
and the fourth is by speaking well of him, giving him a good name,
recommending him to others. Now, I know few if any of you can pay your
Doctor, and it is a great public blessing that in this country you will
always get a good Doctor willing to attend you for nothing, and this
_is_ a great blessing; but let me tell you,--I don't think I need tell
you,--try and pay him, be it ever so little. It does you good as well as
him; it keeps up your self-respect; it raises you in your own eye, in
your neighbor's, and, what is best, in your God's eye, because it is
doing what is right. The "man of independent mind," be he never so poor,
is "king of men for a' that"; ay, and "for twice and mair than a' that";
and to pay his way is one of the proudest things a poor man can say, and
he may say it oftener than he thinks he can. And then let me tell you,
as a bit of cool, worldly wisdom, that your Doctor will do you all the
more good, and make a better job of your cure, if he gets something,
some money for his pains; it is human nature and common sense, this. It
is wonderful how much real kindness and watching and attendance and
cleanliness you may get _for so many shillings a week_. Nursing is a
much better article at that,--much,--than at _nothing_ a week. But I
pass on to the other ways of paying or rewarding your Doctor, and, above
all, _to gratitude_.

Honey is not sweeter in your mouths, and light is not more pleasant to
your eyes, and music to your ears, and a warm, cosey bed is not more
welcome to your wearied legs and head, than is the honest, deep
gratitude of the poor to the young Doctor. It is his glory, his reward;
he fills himself with it, and wraps himself all round with it as with a
cloak, and goes on in his work, happy and hearty; and the gratitude of
the poor is worth the having, and worth the keeping, and worth the
remembering. Twenty years ago I attended old Sandie Campbell's wife in a
fever, in Big Hamilton's Close in the Grassmarket,--two worthy, kindly
souls they were and are. (Sandie is dead now.) By God's blessing, the
means I used saved "oor Kirsty's" life, and I made friends of these two
forever; Sandie would have fought for me if need be, and Kirsty would do
as good. I can count on them as my friends, and when I pass the
close-mouth in the West Port, where they now live, and are thriving,
keeping their pigs, and their hoary old cuddie and cart, I get a
courtesy from Kirsty, and see her look after me, and turn to the women
beside her, and I know exactly what she is saying to them about "Dr.
Broon." And when I meet old Sandie, with his ancient and long-lugged
friend, driving the draff from the distillery for his swine, I see his
gray eye brighten and glisten, and he looks up and gives his manly and
cordial nod, and goes on his way, and I know that he is saying to
himself, "God bless him! he saved my Kirsty's life," and he runs back in
his mind all those twenty past years, and lays out his heart on all he
remembers, and that does him good and me too, and nobody any ill.
Therefore, give your gratitude to your Doctor, and remember him, like
honest Sandie; it will not lose its reward and it costs you nothing; it
is one of those things you can give and never be a bit the poorer, but
all the richer.

One person I would earnestly warn you against, and that is the _Quack
Doctor_. If the real Doctor is a sort of God of healing, or rather our
God's cobbler for the body, the Quack is the Devil for the body, or
rather the Devil's servant against the body. And like his father, he is
a great liar and cheat. He offers you what he cannot give. Whenever you
see a medicine that cures everything, be sure it cures nothing; and
remember, it may kill. The Devil promised our Saviour all the kingdoms
of the world if he would fall down and worship him; now this was a lie,
he could not give him any such thing. Neither can the Quack give you his
kingdoms of health, even though you worship him as he best likes, by
paying him for his trash; he is dangerous and dear, and often
deadly,--have nothing to do with him.

We have our duties to one another, yours to me, and mine to you: but we
have all our duty to one else,--to Almighty God, who is beside us at
this very moment--who followed us all this day, and knew all we did and
didn't do, what we thought and didn't think,--who will watch over us all
this night,--who is continually doing us good,--who is waiting to be
gracious to us,--who is the great Physician, whose saving health will
heal all our diseases, and redeem our life from destruction, and crown
us with loving-kindness and tender mercies,--who can make death the
opening into a better life, the very gate of heaven; that same death
which is to all of us the most awful and most certain of all things, and
at whose door sits its dreadful king, with that javelin, that sting of
his, which is sin, our own sin. Death would be nothing without sin, no
more than falling asleep in the dark to awake to the happy light of the
morning. Now, I would have you think of your duty to this great God, our
Father in heaven; and I would have you to remember that it is your duty
to trust him, to believe in him. If you do not, your soul will be
shipwrecked, you will go down in terror and in darkness.

It is your duty to _obey_ him. Whom else in all this world should you
obey, if not him? and who else so easily pleased, if we only do obey?
It is your duty to speak the truth to him, not that he needs any man to
tell him anything. He knows everything about everybody; nobody can keep
a secret from him. But he hates lies; he abhors a falsehood. He is the
God of truth, and must be dealt honestly with, in sincerity and godly
fear; and, lastly, you must in a certain sense _reward_ him. You cannot
give him money, for the silver and gold, the cattle upon a thousand
hills, are all his already, but you can give him your grateful lives;
you can give him your hearts; and as old Mr. Henry says, "Thanksgiving
is good, but thanks-living is better."

One word more; you should call your Doctor early. It saves time; it
saves suffering; it saves trouble; it saves life. If you saw a fire
beginning in your house, you would put it out as fast as you could. You
might perhaps be able to blow out with your breath what in an hour the
fire-engine could make nothing of. So it is with disease and the Doctor.
A disease in the morning when beginning is like the fire beginning; a
dose of medicine, some simple thing, may put it out, when if left alone,
before night it may be raging hopelessly, like the fire if left alone,
and leaving your body dead and in the ruins in a few hours. So, call in
the Doctor soon; it saves him much trouble, and may save you your life.

And let me end by asking you to call in the Great Physician; to call him
instantly, to call him in time; there is not a moment to lose. He is
waiting to be called; he is standing at the door. But he must be
_called_,--he may be called too late.



You remember our last sermon was mostly about your duties to the Doctor.
I am now going to speak about his duties to you; for you know it is a
law of our life, that there are no one-sided duties,--they are all
double. It is like shaking hands, there must be two at it; and both of
you ought to give a hearty grip and a hearty shake. You owe much to
many, and many owe much to you. The Apostle says, "Owe no man anything
but to love one another"; but if you owe that, you must be forever
paying it; it is always due, always running on; and the meanest and most
helpless, the most forlorn, can always pay and be paid in that coin, and
in paying can buy more than he thought of. Just as a farthing candle,
twinkling out of a cotter's window, and, it may be, guiding the gudeman
home to his wife and children, sends its rays out into the infinite
expanse of heaven, and thus returns, as it were, the light of the
stars, which are many of them suns. You cannot pass any one on the
street to whom you are not bound by this law. If he falls down, you help
to raise him. You do your best to relieve him, and get him home; and let
me tell you, to your great gain and honor, the poor are far more ready
and better at this sort of work than the gentlemen and ladies. You do
far more for each other than they do. You will share your last loaf; you
will sit up night after night with a neighbor you know nothing about,
just because he is your neighbor, and you know what it is to be
neighbor-like. You are more natural and less selfish than the fine
folks. I don't say you are better, neither do I say you are worse; that
would be a foolish and often mischievous way of speaking. We have all
virtues and vices and advantages peculiar to our condition. You know the
queer old couplet,--

    "Them what is rich, them rides in chaises;
    Them what is poor, them walks like blazes."

If you were well, and not in a hurry, and it were cold, would you not
much rather "walk like blazes" than ride listless in your chaise? But
this I know, for I have seen it, that according to their means, the poor
bear one another's burdens far more than the rich.

There are many reasons for this, outside of yourselves, and there is no
need of your being proud of it or indeed of anything else; but it is
something to be thankful for, in the midst of all your hardships, that
you in this have more of the power and of the luxury of doing immediate,
visible good. You pay this debt in ready-money, as you do your meal and
your milk; at least you have very short credit, and the shorter the
better. Now, the Doctor has his duties to you, and it is well that he
should know them, and that you should know them too; for it will be long
before you and he can do without each other. You keep each other alive.
Disease, accidents, pain, and death reign everywhere, and we call one
another _mortals_, as if our chief peculiarity was that we must die, and
you all know how death came into this world. "By one man sin entered the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all
have sinned"; and disease, disorder, and distress are the fruits of sin,
as truly as that apple grew on that forbidden tree. You have nowadays
all sorts of schemes for making bad men good, and good men better. The
world is full of such schemes, some of them wise and some foolish; but
to be wise they must all go on the principle of lessening misery by
lessening _sin_; so that the old weaver at Kilmarnock, who at a meeting
for abolishing slavery, the corn laws, and a few more things, said, "Mr.
Preses, I move that we abolish Original Sin," was at least beginning at
the right end. Only fancy what a world it would be, what a family any of
ours would be, when everybody did everything that was right, and nothing
that was wrong, say for a week! The world would not know itself. It
would be inclined to say with the "wee bit wifiekie," though reversing
the cause, "This is no me." I am not going to say more on this point. It
is not my parish. But you need none of you be long ignorant of who it is
who has abolished death, and therefore vanquished sin.

Well, then, it is the duty of the Doctor in the first place, to _cure
us_; in the second, _to be kind to us_; in the third, to be _true to
us_; in the fourth, to keep _our secrets_; in the fifth, to _warn us_,
and, best of all, to _forewarn us_; in the sixth, to _be grateful to
us_; and, in the last, to _keep his time and his temper_.

And, _first_, it is the duty of the Doctor to _cure_ you,--if he can.
That is what we call him in for; and a doctor, be he never so clever and
delightful, who doesn't cure, is like a mole-catcher who can't catch
moles, or a watchmaker who can do everything but make your watch go. Old
Dr. Pringle of Perth, when preaching in the country, found his shoes
needed mending, and he asked the brother whom he was assisting to tell
him of good cobbler, or as he called him, a _snab_. His friend mentioned
a "Tammas Rattray, a godly man, and an elder." "But," said Dr. Pringle,
in his snell way, "can he mend my shoon? that's what I want; I want a
shoemaker; I'm not wanting an elder." It turned out that Tammas was a
better elder than a shoemaker. A doctor was once attending a poor woman
in labor; it was a desperate case, requiring a cool head and a firm
will; the good man--for he _was_ good--had neither of these, and, losing
his presence of mind, gave up the poor woman as lost, and retired into
the next room to pray for her. Another doctor, who, perhaps, wanted what
the first one had, and certainly had what he wanted, brains and courage,
meanwhile arrived, and called out, "Where is Doctor ----?" "O, he has
gone into the next room to pray!" "Pray! tell him to come here this
moment, and help me; he can work and pray too"; and with his assistance
the snell doctor saved that woman's life. This, then, is the Doctor's
first duty to you,--to cure you,--and for this he must, in the first
place, be up to his business; he must know what to do, and, secondly, he
must be able to do it; he must not merely do as a pointer dog does,
stand and say, "There it is," and no more, he must point and shoot too.
And let me tell you, moreover, that unless a man likes what he is at,
and is in earnest, and sticks to it, he will no more make a good doctor
than a good anything else. Doctoring is not only a way for a man to do
good by curing disease, and to get money to himself for doing this, but
it is also a study which interests for itself alone, like geology, or
any other science; and moreover it is a way to fame and the glory of the
world; all these four things act upon the mind of the Doctor, but unless
the first one is uppermost, his patient will come off second-best with
him; he is not the man for your lives or for your money.

They tell a story, which may not be word for word true, but it has truth
and a great principle in it, as all good stories have. It is told of one
of our clever friends, the French, who are so knowing in everything. A
great French doctor was taking an English one round the wards of his
hospital; all sort of miseries going on before them, some dying, others
longing for death, all ill; the Frenchman was wonderfully eloquent about
all their diseases, you would have thought he saw through them, and knew
all their secret wheels like looking into a watch or into a glass
beehive. He told his English friend what would be seen in such a case,
_when the body was opened_! He spent some time in this sort of work, and
was coming out, full of glee, when the other doctor said: "But, Doctor
----, you haven't _prescribed_ for these cases." "O, neither I have!"
said he, with a grumph and a shrug; "I quite forgot _that_"; that being
the one thing why these poor people were there, and why he was there
too. Another story of a Frenchman, though I dare say we could tell it of
ourselves. He was a great professor, and gave a powerful poison as a
medicine for an ugly disease of the skin. He carried it very far, so as
to weaken the poor fellow, who died, just as the last vestige of the
skin disease died too. On looking at the dead body, quite smooth and
white, and also quite dead, he said, "Ah, never mind; he was _dead

So let me advise you, as, indeed, your good sense will advise
yourselves, to test a Doctor by this: Is he in earnest? Does he speak
little and do much? Does he make your case his first care? He may, after
that, speak of the weather, or the money-market; he may gossip, and even
_haver_; or he may drop, quietly and shortly, some "good words,"--the
fewer the better; something that causes you to think and feel; and may
teach you to be more of the Publican than of the Pharisee, in that story
you know of, when they two went up to the temple to pray; but, generally
speaking, the Doctor should, like the rest of us, stick to his trade and
mind his business.

_Secondly_, It is the Doctor's duty to be _kind_ to you. I mean by this,
not only to speak kindly, but to _be_ kind, which includes this and a
great deal more, though a kind word, as well as a merry heart, does good
like a medicine. Cheerfulness, or rather cheeriness, is a great thing in
a Doctor; his very foot should have "music in't, when he comes up the
stair." The Doctor should never lose his power of pitying pain, and
letting his patient see this and feel it. Some men, and they are often
the best at their proper work, can let their hearts come out only
through their eyes; but it is not the less sincere, and to the point;
you can make your mouth say what is not true; you can't do quite so much
with your eyes. A Doctor's eye should command, as well as comfort and
cheer his patient; he should never let him think disobedience or despair
possible. Perhaps you think Doctors get hardened by seeing so much
suffering; this is not true. Pity as a motive, as well as a feeling
ending in itself, is stronger in an old Doctor than in a young, so he be
made of the right stuff. He comes to know himself what pain and sorrow
mean, what their weight is, and how grateful he was or is for relief and

_Thirdly_, It is his duty to be _true_ to you. True in word and in deed.
He ought to speak nothing but the truth, as to the nature, and extent,
and issues of the disease he is treating; but he is not bound, as I said
you were, to tell _the whole truth_,--that is for his own wisdom and
discretion to judge of; only, never let him tell an untruth, and let him
be honest enough, when he can't say anything definite, to say nothing.
It requires some courage to confess our ignorance, but it is worth it.
As to the question, often spoken of,--telling a man he is dying,--the
Doctor must, in the first place, be sure the patient is dying; and,
secondly, that it is for his good, bodily and mental, to tell him so: he
should almost always warn the friends, but, even here, cautiously.

_Fourthly_, It is his duty to _keep your secrets_. There are things a
Doctor comes to know and is told which no one but he and the Judge of
all should know; and he is a base man, and unworthy to be in such a
noble profession as that of healing, who can betray what he knows must
injure, and in some cases may ruin.

_Fifthly_, It is his duty to _warn_ you against what is injuring your
health. If he finds his patient has brought disease upon himself by sin,
by drink, by overwork, by over-eating, by over-anything, it is his duty
to say so plainly and firmly, and the same with regard to the treatment
of children by their parents; the family doctor should forewarn them; he
should explain, as far as he is able and they can comprehend them, the
Laws of Health, and so tell them how to _prevent disease_, as well as do
his best to _cure_ it. What a great and rich field there is here for our
profession, if they and the public could only work well together! In
this, those queer, half-daft, half-wise beings, the Chinese, take a
wiser way; they pay their Doctor for keeping them well, and they stop
his pay as long as they are ill!

_Sixthly_, It is his duty to be _grateful_ to you; 1st, for employing
him, whether you pay him in money or not, for a Doctor, worth being
one, makes capital, makes knowledge, and therefore power, out of every
case he has; 2dly, for obeying him and getting better. I am always very
much obliged to my patients for being so kind as to be better, and for
saying so; for many are ready enough to say they are worse, not so many
to say they are better, even when they are; and you know our Scotch way
of saying, "I'm no that ill," when "I" is in high health, or, "I'm no
ony waur," when "I" is much better. Don't be niggards in this; it cheers
the Doctor's heart, and it will lighten yours.

_Seventhly_, and lastly, It is the Doctor's duty _to keep his time and
his temper_ with you. Any man or woman who knows how longed for a
doctor's visit is, and counts on it to a minute, knows how wrong, how
painful, how angering it is for the Doctor not to keep his time. Many
things may occur, for his urgent cases are often sudden, to put him out
of his reckoning; but it is wonderful what method, and real
consideration, and a strong will can do in this way. I never found Dr.
Abercrombie a minute after or _before_ his time (both are bad, though
one is the worser), and yet if I wanted him in a hurry, and stopped his
carriage in the street, he could always go with me at once; he had the
knack and the principle of being true in his times, for it is often a
matter of _truth_. And the Doctor must keep his _temper_: this is often
worse to manage than even his time, there is so much unreason, and
ingratitude, and peevishness, and impertinence, and impatience, that it
is very hard to keep one's tongue and eye from being angry: and
sometimes the Doctor does not only well, but the best, when he is
downrightly angry, and astonishes some fool, or some insolent, or some
untruth doing or saying patient; but the Doctor should be patient with
his patients, he should bear with them, knowing how much they are at the
moment suffering. Let us remember Him who is full of compassion, whose
compassion never fails; whose tender mercies are new to us every
morning, as his faithfulness is every night; who healed all manner of
diseases, and was kind to the unthankful and the evil; what would become
of us, if he were as impatient with us as we often are with each other?
If you want to be impressed with the Almighty's infinite loving-kindness
and tender mercy, his forbearance, his long-suffering patience, his
slowness to anger, his Divine ingeniousness in trying to find it
possible to spare and save, think of the Israelites in the desert, and
read the chapter where Abraham intercedes with God for Sodom, and these
wonderful "peradventures."

But I am getting tedious, and keeping you and myself too long, so good
night. Let the Doctor and you be honest and grateful, and kind and
cordial, in one word, dutiful to each other, and you will each be the
better of the other.

I may by and by say a word or two to you on your _Health_, which is your
wealth, that by which you are and do well, and on your _Children_, and
how to guide it and them.



Our text at this time is Children and their treatment, or as it sounds
better to our ears, Bairns, and how to guide them. You all know the
wonder and astonishment there is in a house among its small people when
a baby is born; how they stare at the new arrival with its red face.
Where does it come from? Some tell them it comes from the garden, from a
certain kind of cabbage; some from "Rob Rorison's bonnet," of which wha
hasna heard? some from that famous wig of Charlie's, in which the cat
kittled, when there was three o' them leevin', and three o' them dead;
and you know the Doctor is often said to bring the new baby in his
pocket; and many a time have my pockets been slyly examined by the
curious youngsters,--especially the girls!--in hopes of finding another
baby. But I'll tell you where all the babies come from; _they all come
from_ _God_; his hand made and fashioned them; he breathed into their
nostrils the breath of life,--of his life. He said, "Let this little
child be," and it was. A child is a true creation; its soul, certainly,
and in a true sense, its body too. And as our children came from him, so
they are going back to him, and he lends them to us as keepsakes; we are
to keep and care for them for his sake. What a strange and sacred
thought this is! Children are God's gifts to us, and it depends on our
guiding of them, not only whether they are happy here, but whether they
are happy hereafter in that great unchangeable eternity, into which you
and I and all of us are fast going. I once asked a little girl, "Who
made you?" and she said, holding up her apron as a measure, "God make me
that length, and I growed the rest myself." Now this, as you know, was
not quite true, for she could not grow one half-inch by herself. God
makes us grow as well as makes us at first. But what I want you to fix
in your minds is, that children come from God, and are returning to him,
and that you and I, who are parents, have to answer to him for the way
we behave to our dear children,--the kind of care we take of them.

Now, a child consists, like ourselves, of a body and a soul. I am not
going to say much about the guiding of the souls of children,--that is a
little out of my line,--but I may tell you that the soul, especially in
children, depends much, for its good and for its evil, for its happiness
or its misery, upon the kind of body it lives in: for the body is just
the house that the soul dwells in; and you know that, if a house be
uncomfortable, the tenant of it will be uncomfortable and out of sorts;
if its windows let the rain and wind in, if the chimney smoke, if the
house be damp, and if there be a want of good air, then the people who
live in it will be miserable enough; and if they have no coals, and no
water, and no meat, and no beds, then you may be sure it will soon be
left by its inhabitants. And so, if you don't do all you can to make
your children's bodies healthy and happy, their souls will get miserable
and cankered and useless, their tempers peevish; and if you don't feed
and clothe them right, then their poor little souls will leave their
ill-used bodies,--will be starved out of them; and many a man and woman
have had their tempers, and their minds and hearts, made miseries to
themselves, and all about them, just from a want of care of their bodies
when children.

There is something very sad, and, in a true sense, very unnatural, in an
unhappy child. You and I, grown-up people, who have cares, and have had
sorrows and difficulties and sins, may well be dull and sad sometimes;
it would be still sadder, if we were not often so; but children should
be always either laughing and playing, or eating and sleeping. Play is
their business. You cannot think how much useful knowledge, and how much
valuable bodily exercise, a child teaches itself in its play; and look
how merry the young of other animals are: the kitten making fun of
everything, even of its sedate mother's tail and whiskers; the lambs,
running races in their mirth; even the young asses,--the
baby-cuddie,--how pawky and droll and happy he looks with his fuzzy
head, and his laughing eyes, and his long legs, stot, stotting after
that venerable and _sair nauden-doun lady_, with the long ears, his
mother. One thing I like to see, is a child clean in the morning. I like
to see its plump little body well washed, and sweet and _caller_ from
top to bottom. But there is another thing I like to see, and that is a
child dirty at night. I like a _steerin' bairn_,--goo-gooin', crowing
and kicking, keeping everybody alive. Do you remember William Miller's
song of "Wee Willie Winkie?" Here it is. I think you will allow,
especially you who are mothers, that it is capital.

    "Wee Willie Winkie
      Rins through the toun,
    Up stairs an' doon stairs
      In his nicht-goun,
    Tirlin' at the window,
      Crying at the lock,
    'Are the weans in their bed,
      For it's noo ten o'clock?'

    "'Hey Willie Winkie,
      Are ye comin' ben!
    The cat's singin' gray thrums
      To the sleepin' hen,
    The dog's speldert on the floor,
      And disna gi'e a cheep,
    But here's a waakrife laddie!
      That winna fa' asleep.'

    "'Onything but sleep, you rogue!
      Glow'rin' like the moon!
    Rattlin' in an airn jug
      Wi' an airn spoon,
    Rumblin', tumblin' roun' about,
      Crawin' like a cock,
    Skirlin' like a kenna-what,
      Wauk'nin' sleepin' folk.

    "'Hey, Willie Winkie,
      The wean's in a creel!
    Wamblin' aff a bodie's knee
      Like a verra eel,
    Ruggin' at the cat's lug,
      And ravelin' a' her thrums,--
    Hey, Willie Winkie,--
      See, there he comes!'

    "Wearied is the mither
      That has a stoorie wean,
    A wee stumpie stousie,
      Wha canna rin his lane,
    That has a battle aye wi' sleep
      Afore he'll close an e'e,--
    But ae kiss frae aff his rosy lips
      Gi'es strength anew to me."

Is not this good? first-rate! The cat singin' gray thrums, and the wee
stumpie stousie, ruggin' at her lug, and ravlin' a' her thrums; and
then what a din he is making!--rattlit' in an airn jug wi' an airn
spoon, skirlin' like a kenna-what, and ha'in' a battle aye wi' sleep.
What a picture of a healthy and happy child!

Now, I know how hard it is for many of you to get meat for your
children, and clothes for them, and bed and bedding for them at night,
and I know how you have to struggle for yourselves and them, and how
difficult it often is for you to take all the care you would like to do
of them, and you will believe me when I say, that it is a far greater
thing, because a far harder thing, for a poor, struggling, and it may be
weakly woman in your station, to bring up her children comfortably, than
for those who are richer; but still you may do a great deal of good at
little cost either of money or time or trouble. And it is well-wared
pains; it will bring you in two hundred percent in real comfort, and
profit, and credit; and so you will, I am sure, listen good-naturedly to
me, when I go over some plain and simple things about the health of your

To begin with their _heads_. You know the head contains the brain, which
is the king of the body, and commands all under him; and it depends on
his being good or bad whether his subjects,--the legs, and arms, and
body, and stomach, and our old friends the bowels, are in good order and
happy, or not. Now, first of all, keep the head cool. Nature has given
it a nightcap of her own in the hair, and it is the best. And keep the
head clean. Give it a good scouring every Saturday night at the least;
and if it get sore and scabbit, the best thing I know for it is to wash
it with soft soap (black soap), and put a big cabbage-blade on it every
night. Then for the _lungs_, or _lichts_,--the bellows that keep the
fire of life burning,--they are very busy in children, because a child
is not like grown-up folk, merely keeping itself up. It is doing this,
and growing too; and so it eats more, and sleeps more, and breathes more
in proportion than big folk. And to carry on all this business it must
have fresh air, and lots of it. So, whenever it can be managed, a child
should have a good while every day in the open air, and should have
well-aired places to sleep in. Then for their _nicht-gowns_, the best
are long flannel gowns; and children should be always more warmly clad
than grown-up people,--cold kills them more easily. Then there is the
_stomach_, and as this is the kitchen and great manufactory, it is
almost always the first thing that goes wrong in children, and generally
as much from too much being put in, as from its food being of an
injurious kind. A baby, for nine months after it is born, should have
almost nothing but its mother's milk. This is God's food, and it is the
best and the cheapest, too. If the baby be healthy it should be weaned
or spained at nine or ten months; and this should be done gradually,
giving the baby a little gruel, or new milk, and water and sugar, or
thin bread-berry once a day for some time, so as gradually to wean it.
This makes it easier for mother as well as baby. No child should get
meat or hard things till it gets teeth to chew them, and no baby should
ever get a drop of whiskey, or any strong drink, unless by the Doctor's
orders. Whiskey, to the soft, tender stomach of an infant, is like
vitriol to ours; it is a burning poison to its dear little body, as it
may be a burning poison and a curse to its never-dying soul. As you
value your children's health of body, and the salvation of their souls,
never give them a drop of whiskey; and let mothers, above all others,
beware of drinking when nursing. The whiskey passes from their stomachs
into their milk, and poisons their own child. This is a positive fact.
And think of a drunk woman carrying and managing a child! I was once,
many years ago, walking in Lothian Street, when I saw a woman staggering
along very drunk. She was carrying a child; it was lying over her
shoulder. I saw it slip, slippin' farther and farther back. I ran, and
cried out; but before I could get up, the poor little thing, smiling
over its miserable mother's shoulder, fell down, like a stone, on its
head on the pavement; it gave a gasp, and turned up its blue eyes, and
had a convulsion, and its soul was away to God, and its little soft,
waefu' body lying dead, and its idiotic mother grinning and staggering
over it, half seeing the dreadful truth, then forgetting it, and
cursing and swearing. That was a sight! so much misery, and wickedness,
and ruin. It was the young woman's only child. When she came to herself,
she became mad, and is to this day a drivelling idiot, and goes about
forever seeking for her child, and cursing the woman who killed it. This
is a true tale, too true.

There is another practice which I must notice, and that is giving
children laudanum to make them sleep, and keep them quiet, and for
coughs and windy pains. Now, this is a most dangerous thing. I have
often been called in to see children who were dying, and who did die,
from laudanum given in this way. I have known four drops to kill a child
a month old; and ten drops one a year old. The best rule, and one you
should stick to, as under God's eye as well as the law's, is, never to
give laudanum without a Doctor's line or order. And when on this
subject, I would also say a word about the use of opium and laudanum
among yourselves. I know this is far commoner among the poor in
Edinburgh than is thought. But I assure you, from much experience, that
the drunkenness and stupefaction from the use of laudanum is even worse
than that from whiskey. The one poisons and makes mad the body; the
other, the laudanum, poisons the mind, and makes it like an idiot's. So,
in both matters beware; death is in the cup, murder is in the cup, and
poverty and the workhouse, and the gallows, and an awful future of pain
and misery,--all are in the cup. These are the wages the Devil pays his
servants with for doing his work.

But to go back to the bairns. At first a word on our old friends, the
bowels. Let them alone as much as you can. They will put themselves and
keep themselves right, if you take care to prevent wrong things going
into the stomach. No sour apples, or raw turnips or carrots; no sweeties
or tarts, and all that kind of abomination; no tea, to draw the sides of
their tender little stomachs together; no whiskey, to kill their
digestion; no _Gundy_, or _Taffy_, or _Lick_, or _Black Man_, or _Jib_;
the less sugar and sweet things the better; the more milk and butter and
fat the better; but plenty of plain, halesome food, parritch and milk,
bread and butter, potatoes and milk, good broth,--kail as we call it.
You often hear of the wonders of cod-liver oil, and they are wonders;
poor little wretches who have faces like old puggies, and are all belly
and no legs, and are screaming all day and all night too,--these poor
little wretches under the cod-liver oil, get sonsy, and rosy, and fat,
and happy, and strong. Now, this is greatly because the cod-liver oil is
capital _food_. If you can't afford to get cod-liver oil for delicate
children, or if they reject it, give them plain olive oil, a
tablespoonful twice a day, and take one to yourself, and you will be
astonished how you will both of you thrive.

Some folk will tell you that children's feet should be always kept warm.
I say no. No healthy child's feet are warm; but the great thing is to
keep the body warm. That is like keeping the fire good, and the room
will be warm. The chest, the breast, is the place where the fire of the
body,--the heating apparatus,--is, and if you keep it warm, and give
_it_ plenty of fuel, which is fresh air and good food, you need not mind
about the feetikins, they will mind themselves; indeed, for my own part,
I am so ungenteel as to think bare feet and bare legs in summer the most
comfortable wear, costing much less than leather and worsted, the only
kind of soles that are always fresh. As to the moral training of
children, I need scarcely speak to you. What people want about these
things is, not knowledge, but the will to do what is right,--what they
know to be right, and the moral power to do it.

Whatever you wish your child to be, be it yourself. If you wish it to be
happy, healthy, sober, truthful, affectionate, honest, and godly, be
yourself all these. If you wish it to be lazy and sulky, and a liar, and
a thief, and a drunkard, and a swearer, be yourself all these. As the
old cock crows, the young cock learns. You will remember who said,
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will
not depart from it." And you may, as a general rule, as soon expect to
gather grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles, as get good,
healthy, happy children from diseased and lazy and wicked parents.

Let me put you in mind, seriously, of one thing that you ought to get
done to all your children, and that is, to have them vaccinated, or
inoculated with the cow-pock. The best time for this is two months after
birth, but better late than never, and in these times you need never
have any excuse for its not being done. You have only to take your
children to the Old or the New Town Dispensaries. It is a real crime, I
think, in parents to neglect this. It is cruel to their child, and it is
a crime to the public. If every child in the world were vaccinated,
which might be managed in few years, that loathsome and deadly disease,
the small-pox, would disappear from the face of the earth; but many
people are so stupid, and so lazy, and so prejudiced, as to neglect this
plain duty, till they find to their cost that it is too late. So promise
me, all seriously in your hearts, to see to this if it is not done
already, and see to it immediately.

Be always frank and open with your children. Make them trust you and
tell you all their secrets. Make them feel at ease with you, and make
_free_ with them. There is no such good plaything for grown-up children
like you and me as _weans_, wee ones. It is wonderful what you can get
them to do with a little coaxing and fun. You all know this as well as I
do, and you all practise it every day in your own families. Here is a
pleasant little story out of an old book. "A gentleman having led a
company of children beyond their usual journey, they began to get weary,
and all cried to him to carry them on his back, but because of their
multitude he could not do this. 'But,' says he, 'I'll get horses for us
all'; then cutting little wands out of the hedge as ponies for them, and
a great stake as a charger for himself, this put mettle in their little
legs, and they rode cheerily home." So much for a bit of ingenious fun.

One thing, however poor you are, you can give your children, and that is
your prayers, and they are, if real and humble, worth more than silver
or gold,--more than food and clothing, and have often brought from our
Father who is in heaven, and hears our prayers, both money and meat and
clothes, and all worldly good things. And there is one thing you can
always teach your child; you may not yourself know how to read or write,
and therefore you may not be able to teach your children how to do these
things; you may not know the names of the stars or their geography, and
may therefore not be able to tell them how far you are from the sun, or
how big the moon is; nor be able to tell them the way to Jerusalem or
Australia, but you may always be able to tell them who made the stars
and numbered them, and you may tell them the road to heaven. You may
always teach them to pray. Some weeks ago, I was taken out to see the
mother of a little child. She was very dangerously ill, and the nurse
had left the child to come and help me. I went up to the nursery to get
some hot water, and in the child's bed I saw something raised up. This
was the little fellow under the bedclothes kneeling. I said, "What are
you doing?" "I am praying God to make mamma better," said he. God likes
these little prayers and these little people,--for of such is the
kingdom of heaven. These are his little ones, his lambs, and he hears
their cry; and it is enough if they only lisp their prayers. "Abba,
Father," is all he needs; and our prayers are never so truly prayers as
when they are most like children's in simplicity, in directness, in
perfect fulness of reliance. "They pray right up," as black Uncle Tom
says in that wonderful book, which I hope you have all read and wept

I forgot to speak about punishing children. I am old-fashioned enough to
uphold the ancient practice of warming the young bottoms with some
sharpness, if need be; it is a wholesome and capital application, and
does good to the bodies, and the souls too, of the little rebels, and it
is far less cruel than being sulky, as some parents are, and keeping up
a grudge at their children. Warm the bott, say I, and you will warm the
heart too; and all goes right.

And now I must end. I have many things I could say to you, but you have
had enough of me and my bairns, I am sure. Go home, and when you see the
little curly pows on their pillows, sound asleep, pour out a blessing on
them, and ask our Saviour to make them his; and never forget what we
began with, that they came from God, and are going back to him, and let
the light of eternity fall upon them as they lie asleep, and may you
resolve to dedicate them and yourselves to him who died for them and for
us all, and who was once himself a little child, and sucked the breasts
of a woman, and who said that awful saying, "Whosoever shall offend one
of these little ones, it had been better for him that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the midst of the



My dear friends,--I am going to give you a sort of sermon about your
health,--and you know a sermon has always a text; so, though I am only a
doctor, I mean to take a text for ours, and I will choose it, as our
good friends the ministers do, from that best of all books, the Bible.
Job ii. 4: "All that a man hath will he give for his life."

This, you know, was said many thousands of years ago by the Devil, when,
like a base and impudent fellow, as he always was and is, he came into
the presence of the great God, along with the good angels. Here, for
once in his life, the Devil spoke the truth and shamed himself.

What he meant, and what I wish you now seriously to consider, is, that a
man--you or I--will lose anything sooner than life; we would give
everything for it, and part with all the money, everything we had, to
keep away death and to lengthen our days. If you had £500 in a box at
home, and knew that you would certainly be dead by to-morrow unless you
gave the £500, would you ever make a doubt about what you would do? Not
you! And if you were told that if you got drunk, or worked too hard, or
took no sort of care of your bodily health, you would turn ill to-morrow
and die next week, would you not keep sober, and work more moderately,
and be more careful of yourself?

Now, I want to make you believe that you are too apt to do this very
same sort of thing in your daily life, only that instead of to-morrow or
next week, your illness and your death comes next year, or at any rate,
some years sooner than otherwise. _But your death is actually preparing
already, and that by your own hands_, by your own ignorance, and often
by your own foolish and sinful neglect and indulgence. A decay or
rottenness spreads through the beams of a house, unseen and unfeared,
and then, by and by down it comes, and is utterly destroyed. So it is
with our bodies. You plant, by sin and neglect and folly, the seeds of
disease by your own hands; and as surely as the harvest comes after the
seed-time, so will you reap the harvest of pain, and misery, and death.
And remember there is nobody to whom health is so valuable, is worth so
much, as the poor laboring man; it is his stock-in-trade, his wealth,
his capital; his bodily strength and skill are the main things he can
make his living by, and therefore he should take better care of his
body and its health than a rich man; for a rich man may be laid up in
his bed for weeks and months, and yet his business may go on, for he has
means to pay his men for working under him, or he may be what is called
"living on his money." But if a poor man takes fever, or breaks his leg,
or falls into a consumption, his wife and children soon want food and
clothes: and many a time do I see on the streets poor, careworn men,
dying by inches of consumption, going to and from their work, when, poor
fellows, they should be in their beds; and all this just because they
cannot afford to be ill and to lie out of work,--they cannot spare the
time and the wages.

Now, don't you think, my dear friends, that it is worth your while to
attend to your health? If you were a carter or a coach-driver, and had a
horse, would you not take care to give him plenty of corn, and to keep
his stable clean and well aired, and to curry his skin well, and you
would not kill him with overwork, for, besides the cruelty, this would
be a dead loss to you,--it would be so much out of your pocket? And
don't you see that God has given you your bodies to work with, and to
please him with their diligence; and it is ungrateful to him, as well as
unkind and wicked to your family and yourself, to waste your bodily
strength, and bring disease and death upon yourselves? But you will say,
"How can we make a better of it? We live from hand to mouth; we can't
have fine houses and warm clothes, and rich food and plenty of it." No,
I know that; but if you have not a fine house, you may always have a
clean one, and fresh air costs nothing,--God gives it to all his
children without stint,--and good plain clothes and meal may now be had
cheaper than ever.

Health is a word that you all have some notion of, but you will perhaps
have a clearer idea of it when I tell you what the word comes from.
Health was long ago _wholth_, and comes from the word _whole_ or _hale_.
The Bible says, "They that are whole need not a physician"; that is,
healthy people have no need of a doctor. Now, a man is whole when, like
a bowl or any vessel, he is entire, and has nothing broken about him; he
is like a watch that goes well, neither too fast nor too slow. But you
will perhaps say, "You doctors should be able to put us all to rights,
just as a watchmaker can clean and sort a watch; if you can't, what are
you worth?" But the difference between a man and a watch is, that you
must try to mend the man when he is going. You can't stop him and then
set him agoing; and, you know, it would be no joke to a watchmaker, or
to the watch, to try and clean it while it was going. But God, who does
everything like himself, with his own perfectness, has put inside each
of our bodies a Doctor of his own making,--one wiser than we with all
our wisdom. Every one of us has in himself a power of keeping and
setting his health right. If a man is overworked, God has ordained that
he desires rest, and that rest cures him. If he lives in a damp, close
place, free and dry air cures him. If he eats too much, fasting cures
him. If his skin is dirty, a good scrubbing and a bit of yellow soap
will put him all to rights.

What we call disease or sickness is the opposite of health, and it comes
on us,--1st. By descent from our parents. It is one of the surest of all
legacies; if a man's father and mother are diseased, naturally or
artificially, he will have much chance to be as bad, or worse. 2dly.
Hard work brings on disease, and some kinds of work more than others.
Masons who hew often fall into consumption; laborers get rheumatism, or
what you call "the pains"; painters get what is called their colic, from
the lead in the paint, and so on. In a world like ours, this set of
causes of disease and ill health cannot be altogether got the better of;
and it was God's command, after Adam's sin, that men should toil and
sweat for their daily bread; but more than the half of the bad effects
of hard work and dangerous employments might be prevented by a little
plain knowledge, attention, and common sense. 3dly. Sin, wickedness,
foolish and excessive pleasures, are a great cause of disease. Thousands
die from drinking, and from following other evil courses. There is no
life so hard, none in which the poor body comes so badly off, and is
made so miserable, as the life of a drunkard or a dissolute man. I need
hardly tell you, that this cause of death and disease you can all avoid.
I don't say it is easy for any man in your circumstances to keep from
sin; he is a foolish or ignorant man who says so, and that there are no
temptations to drinking. You are much less to blame for doing this than
people who are better off; but you CAN keep from drinking, and you know
as well as I do, how much better and happier, and healthier and richer
and more respectable you will be if you do so. 4thly and lastly. Disease
and death are often brought on from ignorance, from not knowing what are
called the _laws of health_,--those easy, plain, common things which, if
you do, you will live long, and which, if you do not do, you will die

Now, I would like to make a few simple statements about this to you; and
I will take the body bit by bit, and tell you some things that you
should know and do in order to keep this wonderful house that your soul
lives in, and by the deeds done in which you will one day be
judged,--and which is God's gift and God's handiwork,--clean and
comfortable, hale, strong, and hearty; for you know that, besides doing
good to ourselves and our family and our neighbors with our bodily
labor, we are told that we should glorify God in our bodies as well as
in our souls, for they are his, more his than ours,--he has bought them
by the blood of his Son Jesus Christ. We are not our own, we are bought
with a price; therefore ought we to glorify God with our souls and with
our bodies, which are his.

Now, first, for _the skin_. You should take great care of it, for on its
health a great deal depends; keep it clean, keep it warm, keep it dry,
give it air; have a regular scrubbing of all your body every Saturday
night; and, if you can manage it, you should every morning wash not only
your face, but your throat and breast, with cold water, and rub yourself
quite dry with a hard towel till you glow all over. You should keep your
hair short if you are men; it saves you a great deal of trouble and

Then, the inside of your _head_,--you know what is inside your
head,--your brain; you know how useful it is to you. The cleverest pair
of hands among you would be of little use without brains: they would be
like a body without a soul, a watch with the mainspring broken. Now, you
should consider what is best for keeping the brain in good trim. One
thing of great consequence is _regular sleep, and plenty of it_. Every
man should have at the least eight hours in his bed every
four-and-twenty hours, and let him sleep all the time if he can; but
even if he lies awake it is a rest to his wearied brain, as well as to
his wearied legs and arms. _Sleep is the food of the brain._ Men may go
mad and get silly, if they go long without sleep. Too much sleep is bad;
but I need hardly warn you against that, or against too much meat. You
are in no great danger from these.

Then, again, whiskey and all kinds of intoxicating liquors in excess are
just so much poison to the brain. I need not say much about this, you
all know it; and we all know what dreadful things happen when a man
poisons his brain and makes it mad, and like a wild beast with drink; he
may murder his wife, or his child, and when he comes to himself he knows
nothing of how he did it, only the terrible thing is certain, that he
_did_ do it, and that he may be hanged for doing something when he was
mad, and which he never dreamt of doing when in his senses: but then he
knows that he made himself mad, and he must take all the wretched and
tremendous consequences.

From the brains we go to the _lungs_,--you know where they are,--they
are what the butchers call the _lichts_; here they are, they are the
bellows that keep the fire of life going; for you must know that a
clever German philosopher has made out that we are all really
burning,--that our bodies are warmed by a sort of burning or combustion,
as it is called,--and fed by breath and food, as a fire is fed with
coals and air.

Now the great thing for the lungs is plenty of fresh air, and plenty of
room to play in. About seventy thousand people die every year in Britain
from that disease of the lungs called consumption,--that is, nearly half
the number of people in the city of Edinburgh; and it is certain that
more than the half of these deaths could be prevented if the lungs had
fair play. So you should always try to get your houses well ventilated,
that means to let the air be often changed, and free from impure
mixtures; and you should avoid crowding many into one room, and be
careful to keep everything clean, and put away all filth; for filth is
not only disgusting to the eye and the nose, but is dangerous to the
health. I have seen a great deal of cholera, and been surrounded by
dying people, who were beyond any help from doctors, and I have always
found that where the air was bad, the rooms ill ventilated, cleanliness
neglected, and drunkenness prevailed, there this terrible scourge, which
God sends upon us, was most terrible, most rapidly and widely
destructive. Believe this, and go home and consider well what I now say,
for you may be sure it is true.

Now we come to the _heart_. You all know where it is. It is the most
wonderful little pump in the world. There is no steam-engine half so
clever at its work, or so strong. There it is in every one of us, beat,
beating,--all day and all night, year after year, never stopping, like
a watch ticking; only it never needs to be wound up,--God winds it up
once for all. It depends for its health on the state of the rest of the
body, especially the brains and lungs. But all violent passions, all
irregularities of living, damage it. Exposure to cold when drunk,
falling asleep, as many poor wretches do, in stairs all night,--this
often brings on disease of the heart; and you know it is not only
dangerous to have anything the matter with the heart, it is the
commonest of all causes of sudden death. It gives no warning; you drop
down dead in a moment. So we may say of the bodily as well as of the
moral organ, "Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the
issues of life."

We now come to the _stomach_. You all know, I dare say, where it lies!
It speaks for itself. Our friends in England are very respectful to
their stomachs. They make a great deal of them, and we make too little.
If an Englishman is ill, all the trouble is in his stomach; if an
Irishman is ill, it is in his heart, and he's "kilt entirely"; and if a
Scotsman, it is in his "heed." Now, I wish I saw Scots men and women as
nice and particular about their stomachs, or rather about what they put
into them, as their friends in England. Indeed, so much does your
genuine John Bull depend on his stomach, and its satisfaction, that we
may put in his mouth the stout old lines of Prior:--

    "The plainest man alive may tell ye
    The seat of empire is the Belly:
    From hence are sent out those supplies,
    Which make us either stout or wise;
    The strength of every other member
    Is founded on your Belly-timber;
    The qualms or raptures of your blood
    Rise in proportion to your food,
    Your stomach makes your fabric roll,
    Just as the bias rules the bowl:
    That great Achilles might employ
    The strength designed to ruin Troy,
    He dined on lions' marrow, spread
    On toasts of ammunition bread;
    But by his mother sent away,
    Amongst the Thracian girls to play,
    Effeminate he sat and quiet;
    Strange product of a cheese-cake diet.
    Observe the various operations,
    Of food and drink in several nations.
    Was ever Tartar fierce or cruel,
    Upon the strength of water-gruel?
    But who shall stand his rage and force,
    If first he rides, then eats his horse!
    Salads and eggs, and lighter fare,
    Turn the Italian spark's guitar;
    And if I take Dan Congreve right,
    Pudding and beef make Britons fight."

Good cooking is the beauty of a dinner. It really does a man as much
good again if he eats his food with a relish, and with a little
attention, it is as easy to cook well as ill. And let me tell the wives,
that your husbands would like you all the better, and be less likely to
go off to the public-house, if their bit of meat or their drop of broth
were well cooked. Laboring men should eat well. They should, if
possible, have meat--_butcher-meat_--ever day. Good broth is a capital
dish. But, above all, keep whiskey out of your stomachs; it really plays
the very devil when it gets in. It makes the brain mad, it burns the
coats of the stomach; it turns the liver into a lump of rottenness; it
softens and kills the heart; it makes a man an idiot and a brute. If you
really need anything stronger than good meat, take a pot of wholesome
porter or ale; but I believe you are better without even that. You will
be all the better able to afford good meat, and plenty of it.

With regard to your _bowels_,--a very important part of your
interior,--I am not going to say much, except that neglect of them
brings on many diseases; and laboring men are very apt to neglect them.
Many years ago, an odd old man, at Green-cock, left at his death a
number of sealed packets to his friends, and on opening them they found
a Bible, £50, and a box of pills, and the words, "Fear God, and keep
your bowels open." It was good advice, though it might have been rather
more decorously worded. If you were a doctor, you would be astonished
how many violent diseases of the mind, as well as of the body, are
produced by irregularity of the bowels. Many years ago, an old minister,
near Linlithgow, was wakened out of his sleep to go to see a great lady
in the neighborhood who was thought dying, and whose mind was in
dreadful despair, and who wished to see him immediately. The old man,
rubbing his eyes, and pushing up his Kilmarnock nightcap, said, "And
when were her leddyship's booels opened?" And finding, after some
inquiry, that they were greatly in arrears, "I thocht sae. Rax me ower
that pill-box on the chimney-piece, and gie my compliments to Leddy
Margret, and tell her to tak thae twa pills, and I'll be ower by and by
mysel'." They did as he bade them. They did their duty, and the pills
did theirs, and her leddyship was relieved, and she was able at
breakfast-time to profit by the Christian advice of the good old man,
which she could not have done when her nerves were all wrong. The old
Greeks, who were always seeking after wisdom, and didn't always find it,
showed their knowledge and sense in calling depression of mind
Melancholy, which means black bile. Leddy Margret's liver, I have no
doubt, had been distilling this perilous stuff.

My dear friends, there is one thing I have forgot to mention, and that
is about keeping common-stairs clean; you know they are often abominably
filthy, and they aggravate fever, and many of your worst and most deadly
diseases; for you may keep your own houses never so clean and tidy, but
if the common-stair is not kept clean too, all its foul air comes into
your rooms, and into your lungs, and poisons you. So let all in the
stair resolve to keep it clean, and well aired.

But I must stop now. I fear I have wearied you. You see I had nothing
new to tell you. The great thing in regulating and benefiting human
life, is not to find out new things, but to make the best of the old
things,--to live according to Nature, and the will of Nature's
God,--that great Being who bids us call him our Father, and who is at
this very moment regarding each one of us with far more than any earthly
father's compassion and kindness, and who would make us all happy if we
would but do his bidding, and take his road. He has given us minds by
which we may observe the laws he has ordained in our bodies, and which
are as regular and as certain in their effects, and as discoverable by
us as the motions of the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; and we
shall not only benefit ourselves and live longer and work better and be
happier, by knowing and obeying these laws, from love to ourselves, but
we shall please him, we shall glorify him, and make him our
_Friend_,--only think of that! and get his blessing, by taking care of
our health, from love to him, and a regard to his will, in giving us
these bodies of ours to serve him with, and which he has, with his own
almighty hands, so fearfully and wonderfully made.

I hope you will pardon my plainness in speaking to you. I am quite in
earnest, and I have a deep regard, I may say a real affection, for you;
for I know you well. I spent many of my early years as a doctor in going
about among you. I have attended you long ago when ill; I have delivered
your wives, and been in your houses when death was busy with you and
yours, and I have seen your fortitude, energy, and honest, hearty,
generous kindness to each other; your readiness to help your neighbors
with anything you have, and to share your last sixpence and your last
loaf with them. I wish I saw half as much real neighborliness and
sympathy among what are called your betters. If a poor man falls down in
a fit on the street, who is it that takes him up and carries him home,
and gives him what he needs? it is not the man with a fine coat and
gloves on,--it is the poor, dirty-coated, hard-handed, warm-hearted
laboring man.

Keep a good hold of all these homely and sturdy virtues, and add to them
temperance and diligence, cleanliness and thrift, good knowledge, and,
above all, the love and the fear of God, and you will not only be happy
yourselves, but you will make this great and wonderful country of ours
which rests upon you still more wonderful and great.



My dear friends,--We are going to ring in now, and end our course. I
will be sorry and glad, and you will be the same. We are this about
everything. It is the proportion that settles it. I am, upon the whole,
as we say, sorry, and I dare say on the whole you are not glad. I
dislike parting with anything or anybody I like, for it is ten to one if
we meet again.

My text is, "_That His way may he known upon earth; His saving health to
all nations._" You will find it in that perfect little Psalm, the 67th.
But before taking it up, I will, as my dear father used to say,--you all
remember him, his keen eye and voice; his white hair, and his grave,
earnest, penetrating look; and you should remember and possess his
Canongate Sermon to you,--"The Bible, what it is, what it does, and what
it deserves,"--well, he used to say, let us _recapitulate_ a little. It
is a long and rather kittle word, but it is the only one that we have.
He made it longer, but not less alive, by turning it into "a few
recapitulatory remarks." What ground then have we travelled over?
_First_, our duties to and about the Doctor; to call him in time, to
trust him, to obey him, to be grateful to, and to pay him with our money
and our hearts and our good word, if we have all these; if we have not
the first, with twice as much of the others. _Second_, the Doctor's
duties to us. He should be able and willing to cure us. That is what he
is there for. He should be sincere, attentive, and tender to us, keeping
his time and our secrets. We must tell him all we know about our
ailments and their causes, and he must tell us all that is good for us
to know, and no more. _Third_, your duties to your children; to the wee
Willie Winkies and the little wifies that come toddlin' hame. It is your
duty to _mind_ them. It is a capital Scotch use of this word: they are
to be in your mind; you are to exercise your understanding about them;
to give them simple food; to keep goodies and trash, and raw pears and
whiskey, away from their tender mouths and stomachs; to give them that
never-ending meal of good air, night and day, which is truly food and
fire to them and you; to _be_ good before as well as to them, to speak
and require the truth in love,--that is a wonderful expression, isn't
it?--the truth in love; that, if acted on by us all, would bring the
millennium next week; to be plain and homely with them, never _spaining_
their minds from you. You are all sorry, you mothers, when you have to
spain their mouths; it is a dreadful business that to both parties; but
there is a spaining of the affections still more dreadful, and that need
never be, no, never, neither in this world nor in that which is to come.
Dr. Waugh, of London, used to say to bereaved mothers, Rachels weeping
for their children, and refusing to be comforted, for that simplest of
all reasons, because they were not, after giving them God's words of
comfort, clapping them on the shoulders, and fixing his mild deep eyes
on them (those who remember those eyes well know what they could mean),
"My woman, your bairn is where it will have two fathers, but never but
one mother."

You should also, when the time comes, explain to your children what
about their own health and the ways of the world they ought to know, and
for the want of the timely knowledge of which many a life and character
has been lost. Show them, moreover, the value you put upon health, by
caring for your own.

Do your best to get your sons well married, and soon. By "well married,"
I mean that they should pair off old-fashionedly, for love, and marry
what deserves to be loved, as well as what is lovely. I confess I think
falling in love is the best way to begin; but then the moment you fall,
you should get up and look about you, and see how the land lies, and
whether it is as goodly as it looks. I don't like walking into love, or
being carried into love; or, above all, being sold or selling yourself
into it, which, after all, is not it. And by "soon," I mean as soon as
they are keeping themselves; for a wife, such a wife as alone I mean, is
cheaper to a young man than no wife, and is his best companion.

Then for your duties to yourselves. See that you make yourself do what
is _immediately_ just to your body, feed it when it is really hungry;
let it sleep when it, not its master, desires sleep; make it happy, poor
hard-working fellow! and give it a gambol when it wants it and deserves
it, and as long as it can execute it. Dancing is just the music of the
feet, and the gladness of the young legs, and is well called the poetry
of motion. It is like all other natural pleasures, given to be used, and
to be not abused, either by yourself or by those who don't like it, and
don't enjoy your doing it,--shabby dogs these, beware of them! And if
this be done, it is a good and a grace, as well as pleasure, and
satisfies some good end of our being, and in its own way glorifies our
Maker. Did you ever see anything in this world more beautiful than the
lambs running races and dancing round the big stone of the field; and
does not your heart get young when you hear,--

    "Here we go by Jingo ring,
    Jingo ring, Jingo ring;
    Here we go by Jingo ring,
      About the merry ma tanzie."

This is just a dance in honor of poor old pagan Jingo; measured
movements arising from and giving happiness. We have no right to keep
ourselves or others from natural pleasures; and we are all too apt to
interfere with and judge harshly the pleasures of others; hence we who
are stiff and given to other pleasures, and who, now that we are old,
know the many wickednesses of the world, are too apt to put the vices of
the jaded, empty old heart, like a dark and ghastly fire burnt out, into
the feet and the eyes, and the heart and the head of the young. I
remember a story of a good old Antiburgher minister. It was in the days
when dancing was held to be a great sin, and to be dealt with by the
session. Jessie, a comely, and good, and blithe young woman, a great
favorite of the minister's, had been guilty of dancing at a friend's
wedding. She was summoned before the session to be "dealt with,"--the
grim old fellows sternly concentrating their eyes upon her, as she stood
trembling in her striped short-gown, and her pretty bare feet. The
Doctor, who was one of divinity, and a deep thinker, greatly pitying her
and himself, said, "Jessie, my woman, were ye dancin'?"

"Yes," sobbed Jessie.

"Ye maun e'en promise never to dance again, Jessie."

"I wull, sir; I wull promise," with a courtesy.

"Now, what were ye thinking o', Jessie, when ye were dancin'? tell us
truly," said an old elder, who had been a poacher in youth.

"Nae ill, sir," sobbed out the dear little woman.

"Then, Jessie, my woman, aye dance," cried the delighted Doctor.

And so say I, to the extent, that so long as our young girls think "nae
ill," they may dance their own and their feet's fills; and so on with
all the round of the sunshine and flowers God has thrown on and along
the path of his children.

_Lastly_, your duty to your own bodies: to preserve them; to make, or
rather let--for they are made so to go--their wheels go sweetly; to keep
the _girs_ firm round the old barrel; neither to over nor under work our
bodies, and to listen to their teaching and their requests, their cries
of pain and sorrow; and to keep them as well as your souls unspotted
from the world. If you want to know a good book on Physiology, or the
Laws of Health and of Life, get Dr. Combe's _Physiology_; and let all
you mothers get his delightful _Management of Infancy_. You will love
him for his motherly words. You will almost think he might have worn
petticoats,--for tenderness he might; but in mind and will and eye he
was every inch a man. It is now long since he wrote, but I have seen
nothing so good since; he is so intelligent, so reverent, so full of the
solemnity, the sacredness, the beauty, and joy of life, and its work; so
full of sympathy for suffering, himself not ignorant of such evil,--for
the latter half of his life was a daily, hourly struggle with death,
fighting the destroyer from within with the weapons of life, his brain
and his conscience. It is very little physiology that you require, so
that it is physiology, and is suitable for your need. I can't say I like
our common people, or indeed, what we call our ladies and gentlemen,
poking curiously into all the ins and outs of our bodies as a general
accomplishment, and something to talk of. No, I don't like it. I would
rather they chose some other _ology_. But let them get enough to give
them awe and love, light and help, guidance and foresight.

These, with good sense and good senses, humility, and a thought of a
hereafter in this world as well as in the next, will make us as able to
doctor ourselves--especially to act in the _preventive service_, which
is your main region of power for good--as in this mortal world we have
any reason to expect. And let us keep our hearts young, and they will
keep our legs and our arms the same. For we know now that hearts are
kept going by having strong, pure, lively blood; if bad blood goes into
the heart, it gets angry, and shows this by beating at our breasts, and
frightening us; and sometimes it dies of sheer anger and disgust, if its
blood is poor or poisoned, thin and white. "He may dee, but he'll never
grow auld," said a canty old wife of her old minister, whose cheek was
ruddy like an apple.

_Run for the Doctor_; don't saunter to him, or go in, by the by, as an
old elder of my father's did, when his house was on fire. He was a
perfect Nathanael, and lived more in the next world than in this, as you
will soon see. One winter night he slipped gently into his neighbor's
cottage, and found James Somerville reading aloud by the blaze of the
licht coal; he leant over the chair, and waited till James closed the
book, when he said, "By the by, I am thinkin' ma hoose is on fire!" and
out he and they all ran, in time to see the auld biggin' fall in with a
glorious blaze. So it is too often when that earthly house of ours--our
cottage, our tabernacle--is getting on fire. One moment your finger
would put out what in an hour all the waters of Clyde would be too late
for. If the Doctor is needed, the sooner the better. If he is not, he
can tell you so, and you can rejoice that he had a needless journey, and
pay him all the more thankfully. So run early and at once. How many
deaths--how many lives of suffering and incapacity--may be spared by
being in time! by being a day or two sooner. With children this is
especially the case, and with workingmen in the full prime of life. A
mustard plaster, a leech, a pill, fifteen drops of Ipecacuanha wine, a
bran poultice, a hint, or a stitch in time, may do all and at once, when
a red-hot iron, a basinful of blood, all the wisdom of our art, and all
the energy of the Doctor, all your tenderness and care, are in vain.
Many a child's life is saved by an emetic at night, who would be lost in
twelve hours. So send in time; it is just to your child or the patient,
and to yourself; it is just to your Doctor; for I assure you we Doctors
are often sorry, and angry enough, when we find we are too late. It
affronts us, and our powers, besides affronting life and all its
meanings, and Him who gives it. And we really _enjoy_ curing; it is like
running and winning a race,--like hunting and finding and killing our
game. And then remember to go to the Doctor early in the day, as well as
in the disease. I always like my patients to send and say that they
would like the Doctor "to call before he goes out!" This is like an
Irish message, you will say; but there is "sinse" in it. Fancy a Doctor
being sent for, just as he is in bed, to see some one, and on going he
finds they had been thinking of sending in the morning, and that he has
to run neck and neck with death, with the odds all against him.

I now wind up with some other odds and ends. I give you them as an old
wife would empty her pockets,--such wallets they used to be!--in no
regular order; here a bit of string, now a bit of gingerbread, now an
"aiple," now a bunch of keys, now an old almanac, now three _bawbees_
and a bad shilling, a "wheen" buttons all marrowless, a thimble, a bit
of black sugar, and maybe at the very bottom a "goold guinea."

_Shoes._--It is amazing the misery the people of civilization endure in
and from their shoes. Nobody is ever, as they should be, comfortable at
once in them; they hope in the long-run and after much agony, and when
they are nearly done, to make them fit, especially if they can get them
once well wet, so that the mighty knob of the big toe may adjust himself
and be at ease. For my part, if I were rich, I would advertise for a
clean, wholesome man, whose foot was exactly my size, and I would make
him wear my shoes till I could put them on, and not know I was in
them.[1] Why is all this? Why do you see every man's and woman's feet so
out of shape? Why are there corns, with their miseries and maledictions?
Why the virulence and unreachableness of those that are "soft"? Why do
our nails grow in, and sometimes have to be torn violently off?

[1] Frederick the Great kept an aid-de-camp for this purpose,
and, poor fellow! he sometimes wore them too long, and got a kicking for
his pains.

All because the makers and users of shoes have not common sense, and
common reverence for God and his works enough to study the shape and
motions of that wonderful pivot on which we turn and progress. Because
FASHION,--that demon that I wish I saw dressed in her own crinoline, in
bad shoes, a man's old hat, and trailing petticoats, and with her (for
she must be a _her_) waist well nipped by a circlet of nails with the
points inmost, and any other of the small torments, mischiefs, and
absurdities she destroys and makes fools of us with,--whom, I say, I
wish I saw drummed and hissed, blazing and shrieking, out of the
world,--because this contemptible slave, which domineers over her
makers, says the shoe must be elegant, must be so and so, and the
beautiful living foot must be crushed into it, and human nature must
limp along Princess Street and through life natty and wretched.

It makes me angry when I think of all this. Now, do you want to know how
to put your feet into new shoes, and yourself into a new world? Go and
buy from Edmonston and Douglas sixpence worth of sense, in _Why the Shoe
Pinches_; you will, if you get your shoemaker to do as it bids him, go
on your ways rejoicing; no more knobby, half-dislocated big toes; no
more secret parings, and slashings desperate, in order to get on that
pair of exquisite boots or shoes.

Then there is the _Infirmary_.--Nothing I like better than to see
subscriptions to this admirable house of help and comfort to the poor,
advertised as from the quarry men of Craigleith; from Mr. Milne the
brassfounder's men; from Peeblesshire; from the utmost Orkneys; and from
those big, human mastiffs, the navvies. And yet we doctors are often met
by the most absurd and obstinate objections by domestic servants in
town, and by country people, to going there. This prejudice is
lessening, but it is still great. "O, I canna gang into the Infirmary; I
would rather dee!" Would you, indeed? Not you, or, if so, the sooner the
better. They have a notion that they are experimented on, and slain by
the surgeons; neglected and poisoned by the nurses, etc., etc. Such
utter nonsense! I know well about the inner life and work of at least
our Infirmary, and of that noble old Minto House, now gone; and I would
rather infinitely, were I a servant, 'prentice boy, or shopman, a
porter, or student, and anywhere but in a house of my own, and even
then, go straight to the Infirmary, than lie in a box-bed off the
kitchen, or on the top of the coal-bunker, or in a dark hole in the
lobby, or in a double-bedded room. The food, the bedding, the
physicians, the surgeons, the clerks, the dressers, the medicines, the
wine and porter,--and they don't scrimp these when necessary,--the
books, the Bibles, the baths, are all good,--are all better far than one
man in ten thousand can command in his own house. So off with a grateful
heart and a fearless to the Infirmary, and your mistress can come in and
sit beside you; and her doctor and yours will look in and single you out
with his smile and word, and cheer you and the ward by a kindly joke,
and you will come out well cured, and having seen much to do you good
for life. I never knew any one who was once in, afraid of going back;
they know better.

There are few things in human nature finer than the devotion and courage
of medical men to their hospital and charitable duties; it is to them a
great moral discipline. Not that they don't get good--selfish good--to
themselves. Why shouldn't they? Nobody does good without getting it; it
is a law of the government of God. But, as a rule, our medical men are
not kind and skilful and attentive to their hospital patients, because
this is to make them famous, or even because through this they are to
get knowledge and fame; they get all this, and it is their only and
their great reward. But they are in the main disinterested men. Honesty
is the best policy; but, as Dr. Whately, in his keen way, says, "that
man is not honest who is so for this reason," and so with the doctors
and their patients. And I am glad to say for my profession, few of them
take this second-hand line of duty.

_Beards._--I am for beards out and out, because I think the Maker of the
beard was and is. This is reason enough; but there are many others. The
misery of shaving, its expense, its consumption of time,--a very
corporation existing for no other purpose but to shave mankind. Campbell
the poet, who had always a bad razor, I suppose, and was late of rising,
said he believed the man of civilization who lived to be sixty had
suffered more pain in littles every day in shaving than a woman with a
large family had from her lyings-in. This would be hard to prove; but
it is a process that never gets pleasanter by practice; and then the
waste of time and temper,--the ugliness of being ill or unshaven. Now,
we can easily see advantages in it; the masculine gender is intended to
be more out of doors, and more in all weathers than the smooth-chinned
ones, and this protects him and his Adam's apple from harm. It acts as
the best of all respirators to the mason and the east-wind. Besides, it
is a glory; and it must be delightful to have and to stroke a natural
beard, not one like bean-stalks or a bottle-brush, but such a beard as
Abraham's or Abd-el-Kader's. It is the beginning ever to cut, that makes
all the difference. I hazard a theory, that no hair of the head or beard
should ever be cut, or needs it, any more than the eyebrows or
eyelashes. The finest head of hair I know is one which was never cut. It
is not too long; it is soft and thick. The secret where to stop growing
is in the end of the native untouched hair. If you cut it off, the poor
hair does not know when to stop; and if our eyebrows were so cut, they
might be made to hang over our eyes, and be wrought into a veil.
Besides, think of the waste of substance of the body in hewing away so
much hair every morning, and encouraging an endless rotation of crops!
Well, then, I go in for the beards of the next generation, the unshorn
beings whose beards will be wagging when we are away; but of course they
must be clean. But how are we to sup our porridge and kail? Try it when
young, when there is just a shadowy down on the upper lip, and no fears
but they will do all this "elegantly" even. Nature is slow and gentle in
her teaching even the accomplishment of the spoon. And as for women's
hair, don't plaster it with scented and sour grease, or with any grease;
it has an oil of its own. And don't tie up your hair tight, and make it
like a cap of iron over your skull. And why are your ears covered? You
hear all the worse, and they are not the cleaner. Besides, the ear is
beautiful in itself, and plays its own part in the concert of the
features. Go back to the curls, some of you, and try in everything to
dress as it becomes you, and as you become; not as that fine lady, or
even your own Tibbie or Grizzy chooses to dress, it may be becomingly to
her. Why shouldn't we even in dress be more ourselves than somebody or
everybody else?

I had a word about _Teeth_. Don't get young children's teeth drawn. At
least, let this be the rule. Bad teeth come of bad health and bad and
hot food, and much sugar. I can't say I am a great advocate for the
common people going in for tooth-brushes. No, they are not necessary in
full health. The healthy man's teeth clean themselves, and so does his
skin. A good dose of Gregory often puts away the toothache. It is a
great thing, however, to get them early stuffed, if they need it; that
really keeps them and your temper whole. For appearance' sake merely, I
hate false teeth, as I hate a wig. But this is not a matter to dogmatize
about. I never was, I think, deceived by either false hair, or false
teeth, or false eyes, or false cheeks, for there are in the high--I
don't call it the great--world, plumpers for making the cheeks round, as
well as a certain dust for making them bloom. But you and I don't enjoy
such advantages.

_Rheumatism_ is peculiarly a disease of the workingman. One old
physician said its only cure was patience and flannel. Another said six
weeks. But I think good flannel and no drunkenness (observe, I don't say
no drinking, though very nearly so) are its best preventives. It is a
curious thing, the way in which cold gives rheumatism. Suppose a man is
heated and gets cooled, and being very well at any rate, and is sitting
or sleeping in a draught; the exposed part is chilled; the pores of its
skin, which are always exuding and exhaling waste from the body,
contract and shut in this bad stuff; it--this is my theory--not getting
out is taken up by a blunder of the deluded absorbents, who are always
prowling about for something, and it is returned back to the centre, and
finds its way into the blood, and poisons it, affecting the heart, and
carrying bad money, bad change, bad fat, bad capital all over the body,
making nerves, lungs, everything unhappy and angry. This vitiated blood
arrives by and by at the origin of its mischief, the chilled shoulder,
and here it wreaks its vengeance, and in doing so, does some general
good at local expense. It gives pain; it produces a certain inflammation
of its own, and if it is not got rid of by the skin and other ways, it
may possibly kill by the rage the body gets in, and the heat; or it may
inflame the ill-used heart itself, and then either kill, or give the
patient a life of suffering and peril. The medicines we give act not
only by detecting this poison of blood, which, like yeast, leavens all
in its neighborhood, but by sending it out of the body like a culprit.

_Vaccination._--One word for this. Never neglect it; get it done within
two months after birth, and see that it is well done; and get all your
neighbors to do it.

_Infectious Diseases._--Keep out of their way; kill them by fresh air
and cleanliness; defy them by cheerfulness, good food (_better_ food
than usual, in such epidemics as cholera), good sleep, and a good

When in the midst of and waiting on those who are under the scourge of
an epidemic, be as little very close to the patient as you can, and
don't inhale his or her breath or exhalations when you can help it; be
rather in the current to, than from him. Be very cleanly in putting away
all excretions at once, and quite away; go frequently into the fresh
air; and don't sleep in your day clothes. Do what the Doctor bids you;
don't crowd round your dying friend; you are stealing his life in taking
his air, and you are quietly killing yourself. This is one of the worst
and most unmanageable of our Scottish habits, and many a time have I
cleared the room of all but one, and dared them to enter it.

Then you should, in such things as small-pox, as indeed in everything,
carry out the Divine injunction, "_Whatsoever_ ye would that men should
do unto you, do ye even so to them." Don't send for the minister to pray
with and over the body of a patient in fever or delirium, or a child
dying of small-pox or malignant scarlet fever; tell him, by all means,
and let him pray with you, and for your child. Prayers, you know, are
like gravitation, or the light of heaven; they will go from whatever
place they are uttered; and if they are real prayers, they go straight
and home to the centre, the focus of all things; and you know that poor
fellow with the crust of typhus on his lips, and its nonsense on his
tongue,--that child tossing in misery, not knowing even its own
mother,--what can they know, what heed can they give to the prayer of
the minister? He may do all the good he can,--the most good maybe when,
like Moses on the hillside, in the battle with Amalek, he uplifts his
hands apart. No! a word spoken by your minister to himself and his God,
a single sigh for mercy to him who is mercy, a cry of hope, of despair
of self, opening into trust in him, may save that child's life, when an
angel might pour forth in vain his burning, imploring words into the
dull or wild ears of the sufferer, in the vain hope of getting _him_ to
pray. I never would allow my father to go to typhus cases; and I don't
think they lost anything by it. I have seen him rising in the dark of
his room from his knees, and I knew whose case he had been laying at the

And now, my dear friends, I find I have exhausted our time, and never
yet got to the sermon, and its text--"_That the way of God_"--what is
it? It is his design in setting you here; it is the road he wishes you
to walk in; it is his providence in your minutest as in the world's
mightiest things; it is his will expressed in his works and word, and in
your own soul it is his salvation. That it "_may be known_," that the
understandings of his intelligent, responsible, mortal and immortal
creatures should be directed to it, to study and (as far as we ever can
or need) to understand that which, in its fulness, passes all
understanding; that it may be known "_on the earth_," here, in this very
room, this very minute; not, as too many preachers and performers do, to
be known only in the next world,--men who, looking at the stars, stumble
at their own door, and it may be _smoor_ their own child, besides
despising, upsetting, and extinguishing their own lantern. No! the next
world is only to be reached through this; and our road through this our
wilderness is not safe unless on the far beyond there is shining the
lighthouse on the other side of the dark river that has no bridge. Then
"_His saving health_"; His health--whose?--God's--his soundness, the
wholeness, the perfectness, that is alone in and from him,--health of
body, of heart, and brain, health to the finger-ends, health for
eternity as well as time. "_Saving_"; we need to be saved, and we are
salvable, this is much; and God's health can save us, that is more. When
a man or woman is fainting from loss of blood, we sometimes try to save
them, when all but gone, by transfusing the warm rich blood of another
into their veins. Now this is what God, through his Son, desires to do;
to transfuse his blood, himself, through his Son, who is himself, into
us, diseased and weak. "_And_" refers to his health being "_known_,"
recognized, accepted, used, "_among all nations_"; not among the U.P.s,
or the Frees, or the Residuaries, or the Baptists, or the New Jerusalem
people,--nor among us in the Canongate, or in Biggar, or even in old
Scotland, but "among all nations"; then, and only then, will the people
praise thee, O God; will all the people praise thee. Then, and then
only, will the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, will
bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear

And now, my dear and patient friends, we must say good night. You have
been very attentive, and it has been a great pleasure to me as we went
on to preach to you. We came to understand one another. You saw through
my jokes, and that they were not always nothing but jokes. You bore with
my solemnities, because I am not altogether solemn; and so good night,
and God bless you, and may you, as Don Quixote, on his death-bed, says
to Sancho, May you have your eyes closed by the soft fingers of your
great-grandchildren. But no, I must shake hands with you, and kiss the
bairns,--why shouldn't I? if their mouths are clean and their breath
sweet? As for you, _Ailie_, you are wearying for the child; and he is
tumbling and fretting in his cradle, and wearying for you; good by, and
away you go on your milky way. I wish I could (unseen) see you two
enjoying each other. And good night, my bonnie _wee wifie_; you are
sleepy, and you must be up to make your father's porridge; and _Master
William Winkie_, will you be still for one moment while I address you?
Well, Master William, _wamble_ not off your mother's lap, neither rattle
in your excruciating way in an airn jug wi' an airn spoon; no more
crowing like a cock, or skirlin' like a kenna-what. I had much more to
say to you, sir, but you will not bide still; off with you, and a
blessing with you.

Good night, _Hugh Cleland_, the best smith of any smiddy; with your
bowly back, your huge arms, your big heavy brows and eyebrows, your
clear eye, and warm unforgetting heart. And you, _John Noble_, let me
grip your horny hand, and count the queer knobs made by the perpetual
mell. I used, when I was a Willie Winkie, and wee, to think that you
were born with them. Never mind, you were born for them, and of old you
handled the trowel well, and built to the plumb. _Thomas Bertram_, your
loom is at a discount, but many's the happy day I have watched you and
your shuttle, and the interweaving treadles, and all the mysteries of
setting the "wab." You are looking well, and though not the least of an
ass, you might play Bottom must substantially yet. _Andrew Wilson_,
across the waste of forty years and more I snuff the fragrance of your
shop; have you forgiven me yet for stealing your paint-pot (awful joy!)
for ten minutes to adorn my rabbit-house, and for blunting your pet
_furmer_? Wise you were always, and in the saw-pit you spoke little, and
wore your crape. Yourself wears well, but take heed of swallowing your
shavings unawares, as is the trick of you "wrights"; they confound the
interior and perplex the Doctor.

_Rob Rough_, you smell of rosin, and your look is stern, nevertheless,
or all the rather, give me your hand. What a grip! You have been the
most sceptical of all my hearers; you like to try everything, and you
hold fast only what you consider good; and then on your _crepida_ or
stool, you have your own think about everything human and divine, as you
smite down errors on the lapstane, and "yerk" your arguments with a
well-rosined lingle; throw your window open for yourself as well as for
your blackbird; and make your shoes not to pinch. I present you, sir,
with a copy of the book of the wise Switzer.

And nimble _Pillans_, the clothier of the race, and quick as your
needle, strong as your corduroys, I bid you good night. May you and the
cooper be like him of Fogo, each a better man than his father; and you,
_Mungo_ the mole-catcher, and _Tod Laurie_, and _Sir Robert_ the cadger,
and all the other odd people, I shake your fists twice, for I like your
line. I often wish I had been a mole-catcher, with a brown velveteen, or
(fine touch of tailoric fancy!) a moleskin coat; not that I dislike
moles,--I once ate the fore-quarter of one, having stewed it in a
Florence flask, some forty years ago, and liked it,--but I like the
killing of them, and the country by-ways, and the regularly irregular
life, and the importance of my trade.

And good night to you all, you women-folks. _Marion Graham_ the
milkwoman; _Tibbie Meek_ the single servant; _Jenny Muir_ the
sempstress; _Mother Johnston_ the howdie, thou consequential Mrs. Gamp,
presiding at the gates of life; and you in the corner there, _Nancy
Cairns_, gray-haired, meek and old, with your crimped mutch as white as
snow; the shepherd's widow, the now childless mother, you are stepping
home to your _bein_ and lonely room, where your cat is now ravelling a'
her thrums, wondering where "she" is.

Good night to you all, big and little, young and old; and go home to
your bedside, there is Some One waiting there for you, and his Son is
here ready to take you to him. Yes, he is waiting for every one of you,
and you have only to say, "Father, I have sinned,--take me"--and he sees
you a great way off. But to reverse the parable; it is the first-born,
your elder brother, who is at your side, and leads you to your Father,
and says, "I have paid his debt"; that Son who is ever with him, whose
is all that he hath.

I need not say more. You know what I mean. You know who is waiting, and
you know who it is who stands beside you, having the likeness of the Son
of Man. Good night! The night cometh in which neither you nor I can
work,--may we work while it is day; whatsoever thy _hand_ findeth to do,
do it with thy might, for there is no work or device in the grave,
whither we are all of us hastening; and when the night is spent, may we
all enter on a healthful, a happy, an everlasting to-morrow!

               Cambridge: Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.



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SPARE HOURS. First Series, I vol. 16mo. Cloth, $2.00; Half calf, $3.75.

_CONTENTS._--Rab and his Friends.--"With Brains, Sir."--The Mystery of
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Hallam.--Education through the Senses.--Vaughan's Poems.--Dr.
Chalmers.--Dr. George Wilson.--St. Paul's Thorn in the Flesh.--The Black
Dwarf's Bones.--Notes on Art.

    "Dr. John Brown is a medical practitioner in Edinburgh, whose
    leisure mements have been devoted to the cultivation of letters,
    and who, without the slightest degree of formality or reserve,
    pours out his feelings on paper, showing himself equally at home
    in the sphere of genial criticism, pathetic sentiment, and gay
    and sportive humor. His confessions have the frankness of
    Montaigne, and almost the playful _naïveté_ of Charles Lamb,
    combined with a vein of tender earnestness that stamps the
    individuality of the writer. The tone of his remarks is
    uniformly healthful, showing a genuine love of nature, and a
    cordial sympathy with all conditions of humanity."--_New York

=SPARE HOURS.= Second Series, I vol. 16mo. With Steel Portrait and
Illustrations. Cloth, $2.00; Half calf, $3.75.

_CONTENTS._--John Leech.--Marjorie Fleming.--Jeems the
Door-keeper.--Minchmoor.--The Enterkin.--Health: Five Lay Sermons to
Working-People.--The Duke of Athole.--Struan.--Thackeray's
Death.--Thackeray's Literary Career.--More of "Our Dogs."--Plea for a
Dog Home.--"Bibliomania."--"In Clear Dream and Solemn Vision."--A
Jacobite Family.

    "An excellent portrait of the author, showing a broad brow, and
    a face replete with sense, shrewdness, humor, and resolute
    force, adds to the attractiveness of one of the most attractive
    volumes of essays published for a long period."--_Boston

=RAB AND HIS FRIENDS.= Paper, 25 cents.

    "Dr. Brown's masterpiece is the story of a dog called 'Rab.' The
    tale moves from the most tragic pathos to the most reckless
    humor, and could not have been written but by a man of genius.
    Whether it moves to laughter or to tears, it is perfect in its
    way, and immortalizes its author."--_London Times._

    "A veritable gem. It is true, simple, pathetic, and touched with
    an antique grace."--_Fraser's Magazine._

=MARJORIE FLEMING ("Pet Marjorie").= Paper, 25 cents.

    "A story of one of the most exquisite children, miraculously
    brilliant, thoughtful, and fascinating."--_Detroit Post._

    "A quaint, winning, sympathetic, beautiful sketch of
    child-life."--_Springfield Republican._



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