Candy, Clothes, And Conscience
( Originally Published 1906 ) Recreation loses all its value, and becomes instantly a discreation, as soon as a man or a woman ceases to be its master and becomes its slave. It is bad enough when what should be one's avocation practically supercedes his vocation ; but when his recreation supplants both vocation and avocation, alas for that life ! When the teacher subordinates his teaching to his tennis, and the preacher is evidently less enthusiastic for the gospel than for golf, the sport that should have made more of a worker has made less of a worker, and through this overdoing the player is undone.Recreation loses all its value, and becomes instantly a discreation, as soon as a man or a woman ceases to be its master and becomes its slave. It is bad enough when what should be one's avocation practically supercedes his vocation ; but when his recreation supplants both vocation and avocation, alas for that life ! When the teacher subordinates his teaching to his tennis, and the preacher is evidently less enthusiastic for the gospel than for golf, the sport that should have made more of a worker has made less of a worker, and through this overdoing the player is undone.
NOW I can close my list of requirements for the best playing with a queer trio ; namely, these : No recreation can be a success that is not based upon sensible eating, sensible dressing, and a good conscience.
No one can play when he has a headache or a toothache, dyspepsia or biliousness. The nations—did you ever think of it ?—that best know how to play, best know how to' eat, eat fewest sweetmeats and most of food for bone and blood and brain, eat less for the doctors, the confectioners, the bakers, drink less for the brewers, the distillers, and soda-water men, and eat and drink more for character, for manliness and womanliness.
I have seen, first and last, a great many schoolgirls and schoolboys who sinned in this regard, who, with little exaggeration, break-fasted on bananas and chocolate, dined on pie and coffee, and lunched on cake, candy, and tea. In running over the list in my mind, I do not find one who was not a languid, lank, lackadaisical specimen of boyhood or girlhood, totally incapable of a genuine laugh, and ignorant of the meaning of a game. I have knowledge, too, of many a business man whose breakfast is fifty hurried gulps of hot cakes and strong coffee, whose lunch is coffee again and a piece of mince pie, and whose dinner is the rest of the bill of fare. Cross ? Of course they are. And the evening backgammon or a " sing " before bedtime ? As soon expect a hippopotamus to play Chopin. No ; bad digestion means bad humor. Bread and meat, milk and fruits, these make the flashing eye ; these are the components of the merriest and lightest laughter ; these, to speak in true parable, are the strong horses that draw the chariot of good cheer.
Then as to dress. It is said, you know, that it takes nine tailors to make one man. The tailors and tailoresses have been taking constant and terrible revenge for this maxim by unmaking all the men and women they can lay their tape-measures on. Have you ever seen the tailor-made young man and the tailor-made young woman try to run ? A lad or a lass should run as lightly and gracefully as a bird lilts through the air. Let us make a rubber coat that would just fit a swallow and put it on an eagle ; let us hang his wings with silk and broadcloth and set the king of birds to soaring. He will not cut as ridiculous a figure as do our tight-booted, tight-waisted, distorted, short-breathed, large-veined, over-weighted, clothes-tortured young men and women when they attempt any out-of-door amusement. If talking about dress, especially feminine dress, ever did any good, I should be tempted to pursue this subject further. Suffice it to say that I will admit no one among my joyous Knights of Play who cannot breathe to the very bottom of the lungs, push blood to the most distant capillary, and show a foot with parallel toes.
The final requisite is a good conscience. I will not dilate upon this head, lest you should dub this a sermon, but will merely say that a harsh word can change the jolliest amusement into labored drudgery, that unfairness destroys whatever peace of mind recreation formss that spite or anger or bitterness of soul is poison potent enough to blot all good cheer from any life.