"In regard to the indulgence of appetite, and the management of the vital organs, society is still in a state of barbarism; and the young man who is true to his highest interests, must create a civilization for himself. The brutish part of our nature governs the spiritual. Were we to see a rich banker exchanging eagles for coppers by tale, or a rich merchant bartering silk for serge by the pound, we should deem them worthy of any epithet in the vocabulary of folly. Yet the same men buy pains whose prime cost is greater than the amplest fund of natural enjoyments. Their purveyor and market-man bring them home headaches, and indigestion, and neuralgia by hamper fulls. Their butler, bottles up stone, and gout, and the liver-complaint, falsely labeling them sherry, or madeira, or port, and the stultified masters have not wit enough to see through the cheat. The mass of society look with envy upon the epicure who, day by day, for four hours of luxurious eating suffers twenty hours of sharp aching; who pays a full price for a hot supper, and is so pleased with his bargain, that he throws in a sleepless and tempestuous night, as a gratuity. English factory children have received the commiseration of the world, because they were scourged to work eighteen hours out of the twenty-four; but there is many a theoretic republican who is a harsher Pharaoh to his stomach than this; - who allows it no more resting-time than he does his watch; who gives it no Sunday, no holiday, no vacation in any sense. Our pious ancestors enacted a law that suicides should be buried where four roads meet, and that a cart-load of stones should be thrown upon the body. Yet, when gentlemen or ladies commit suicide, not by cord or steel, but by turtle-soup or lobster-salad, they may be buried in consecrated ground, and under the auspices of the church, and the public are not ashamed to read an epitaph upon their tomb-stones false enough to make the marble blush. Were the barbarous old law now in force, that punished the body of the suicide for the offence which his soul had committed, we should find many a cemetery at the cross-roads. Is it not humiliating and amazing, that men, invited by the exalted pleasures of the intellect, and the sacred affections of the heart, to come to a banquet worthy of the gods, should stop by the way-side to feed on garbage, or to drink of the Circean cup that transforms them to swine!  

"If a young man, incited by selfish principles alone, inquires how he shall make his appetite yield him the largest amount of gratification, the answer is, by Temperance. The true epicurean art consists in the adaptation of our organs, not only to the highest, but to the longest enjoyment. Vastly less depends upon the table to which we sit down, than upon the appetite which we carry to it. The palled epicure, who spends five dollars for his dinner, extracts less pleasure from his meal than many a hardy laborer who dines for a shilling. The desideratum is, not greater luxuries, but livelier papillae; and if the devotee of appetite would propitiate his divinity aright, he would not send to the Yellowstone for buffaloes' tongues, nor to France for pate de fois gras, but would climb a mountain, or swing an ax. With health, there is no end to the quantity or the variety from which the palate can extract its pleasures. Without health, no delicacy that nature or art produces can provoke a zest. Hence, when a man destroys his health, he destroys, so far as he is concerned, whatever of sweetness, of flavor and of savor, the teeming earth can produce. To him who has poisoned his appetite by excesses, the luscious pulp of grape or peach, the nectareous juices of orange or pine-apple, are but a loathing and a nausea. He has turned gardens and groves of delicious fruit into gardens and groves of ipecac and aloes. The same vicious indulgences that blasted his health, blasted all orchards and cane-fields also. Verily, the man who is physiologically "wicked" does not live out half his days; nor is this the worst of his punishment, for he is more than half dead while he appears to live.   

"Let the young man, then, remember, that, for every offense which he commits against the laws of health, nature will bring him into judgment. However graciously God may deal with the heart, all our experience proves that he never pardons stomach, muscles, lungs or brain. These must expiate their offenses un-vicariously. Nay, there are numerous and obvious cases of violated physical laws, where Nature with all her diligence and severity, seems unable to scourge the offender enough during his life-time, and so she goes on plying her scourge upon his children and his children's children after him, even to the third and fourth generation. The punishment is entailed on posterity; nor human law, nor human device can break the entailment. And in these hereditary inflictions, nature abhors alike the primogeniture laws of England, and the Salic laws of France. All the sons and all the daughters are made inheritors; not in aliquot parts; but, by a kind of malignant multiplication in their distemper, each inherits the whole.   

"I ask the young man, then, who is just forming his habits of life, or just beginning to indulge those habitual trains of thought out of which habits grow, to look around him, and mark the examples whose fortune he would covet, or whose fate he would abhor. Even as we walk the streets, we meet with exhibitions of each extreme. Here, behold a patriarch, whose stock of vigor three-score years and ten seem hardly to have impaired. His erect form, his firm step, his elastic limbs, and undimmed senses, are so many certificates of good conduct; or, rather, so many jewels and orders of nobility with which nature has honored him for his fidelity to her laws. His fair complexion shows that his blood has never been corrupted; his pure breath, that he has never yielded his digestive aparatus for a vinter's cess-pool; his exact language and keen apprehension, that his brain has never been drugged or stupefied by the poisons of distiller or tobacconist. Enjoying his appetites to the highest, he has preserved the power of enjoying them. Despite the moral of the school-boy's story, he has eaten his cake and still kept it. As he drains the cup of life, there are no lees at the bottom. His organs will reach the goal of existence together. Painlessly as a candle burns down in its socket, so will he expire; and a little imagination would convert him into another Enoch, translated from earth to a better world without the sting of death.   

"But look at an opposite extreme, where an opposite history is recorded. What wreck so shocking to behold as the wreck of a dissolute man; - the vigor of life exhausted, and yet the first steps in an honorable career not taken; in himself a lazar house of disease; dead, but, by a heathenish custom of society, not yet buried! Rogues have had the initial letter of their title burnt into the palms of their hands; even for murder, Cain was only branded on the forehead; but over the whole person of the debauchee or the inebriate, the signatures of infamy are written. How nature brands him with stigma and opprobrium! How she hangs labels all over him, to testify her disgust at his existence, and to admonish others to beware of his example! How she loosens all his joints, sends tremors along his muscles, and bends forward his frame, as if to bring him upon all fours with kindred brutes, or to degrade him to the reptile's crawling! How she disfigures his countenance, as if intent upon obliterating all traces of her own image, so that she may sware she never made him! How she pours rheum over his eyes, sends foul spirits to inhabit his breath, and shrieks, as with a trumpet, from every pore of his body, 'BEHOLD A BEAST!' Such a man may be seen in the streets of our cities every day; if rich enough he may be found in the saloons, and at the tables of the 'Upper Ten;' but surely, to every man of purity and honor, to every man whose wisdom as well as whose heart is unblemished, the wretch who comes cropped and bleeding from the pillory, and redolent with its appropriate perfumes, would be a guest or a companion far less offensive and disgusting. 

"Now let the young man, rejoicing in his manly proportions, and in his comeliness, look on this picture and on that, and then say, after the likeness of which model he intends his own erect stature and sublime countenance shall be configured. 

1865 JW, HHTL 382