If you ever suffer from low spirits or melancholy, you might consider the wise advice of Sydney Smith:
- Get into the shower bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75° or 80°.
- Short views of human life — not further than dinner or tea.
- Be as busy as you can.
- See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you, and of those acquaintances who amuse you.
- Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
- Avoid poetry, dramatic representations except comedy, music, serious novels, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling and emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
- Keep good blazing fires.
- Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
I have also always been partial to the advice Smith gave to a young girl of his acquaintance:
Lucy, dear child, mind your arithmetic. You know, in the first sum of yours I ever saw, there was a mistake. You had carried two (as a cab is licensed to do) and you ought, dear Lucy, to have carried but one. Is this a trifle? What would life be without arithmetic but a scene of horrors? You are going to Boulogne, the city of debts, peopled by men who never understood arithmetic; by the time you return, I shall probably have received my first paralytic stroke, and shall have lost all recollection of you; therefore I now give you my parting advice. Don’t marry any body who has not a tolerable understanding and a thousand a year, and God bless you, dear child.
What is the source for Smith's advice on melancholy?
I got it from Auden's essay on Smith in Forewords and Afterwords.
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