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EDAX ON APPETITE.
To the Editor of the Reflector.
I am going to lay before you a case of the most iniquitous persecution that ever poor devil suffered.
You must know, then, that I have been visited with a calamity ever since my birth. How shall I mention it without offending delicacy? Yet out it must. My sufferings then have all arisen from a most inordinate appetite
Not for wealth, not for vast possessions, then might I have hoped to find a cure in some of those precepts of philosophers or poets,—those verba et voces which Horace speaks of:
“ quibus hunc lenire dolorem
not for glory, not for fame, not for applause, for against this disease, too, he tells us there are certain piacula, or, as Pope has chosen to render it,
“ rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied, Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride ;"
nor yet for pleasure, properly so called : the strict and virtuous lessons which I received in early life from the best of parents,-a pious clergyman of the Church of England, now no more,- I trust have rendered me sufficiently secure on that
No, Sir, for none of these things; but an appetite, in its coarsest and least metaphorical sense, -an appetite for food.
The exorbitances of my arrow-root and papdish days I cannot go back far enough to remember, only I have been told, that my mother's constitution not admitting of my being nursed at home, the woman who had the care of me for that purpose
used to make most extravagant demands for my pretended excesses in that kind; which my parents, rather than believe any thing unpleasant of me, chose to impute to the known covetousness and mercenary disposition of that sort of people. This blindness continued on their
part after I was sent for home, up to the period when it was thought proper, on account of my advanced age, that I should mix with other boys more unreservedly than I had hitherto done. I was accordingly sent to boarding school.
Here the melancholy truth became too apparent to be disguised. The prying republic of which a great school consists, soon found me out : there was no shifting the blame any longer upon other people's shoulders,-no good-natured maid to take upon
herself the enormities of which I stood accused in the article of bread and butter, besides the crying sin of stolen ends of puddings, and cold pies strangely missing. The truth was but too manifest in my looks,-in the evident signs of inanition which I exhibited after the fullest meals, in spite of the double allowance which my master was privately instructed by my kind parents to give me. The sense of the ridiculous, which is but too much alive in grown persons, is tenfold more active and alert in boys. Once detected, I was the constant butt of their arrows,—the mark against which every puny leveller directed his little shaft of scorn. The very Graduses' and Thesauruses were raked for phrases to pelt me with by the tiny pedants. Ventri natus
Ventri deditus,-Vesana gula, -Escarum gurges, -Dapibus indulgens,—Non dans fræna gulæ, Sectans lautæ fercula mensæ, resounded wheresoever I past. I led a weary life, suffering the penalties of guilt for that which was no crime, but only following the blameless dictates of nature. The remembrance of those childish reproaches haunts me yet oftentimes in my dreams. My school-days come again, and the horror I used to feel, when in some silent corner retired from the notice of my unfeeling playfellows, I have sat to mumble the solitary slice of gingerbread allotted me by the bounty of considerate friends, and have ached at heart because I could not spare a portion of it, as I saw other boys do, to some favourite boy ;--for if I know my own heart, I was never selfish,—never possessed a luxury which I did not hasten to communicate to others; but my food, alas ! was none ; it was an indispensable necessary ; I could as soon have spared the blood in my veins, as have parted that with my companions.
Well, no one stage of suffering lasts for ever: we should grow reconciled to it at length, I suppose, if it did. The miseries of my school-days had their end; I was once more restored to the paternal dwelling. The affectionate solicitude of my parents was directed to the good-natured purpose of concealing even from myself the infirmity which haunted me. I was continually told that I was growing, and the appetite I displayed was humanely represented as being nothing more than a symptom and an effect of that. I used even to be complimented upon it. But this temporary fiction could not endure above a year or two. I ceased to grow, but alas ! I did not cease my demands for alimentary sustenance.
Those times are long since past, and with them have ceased to exist the fond concealment,--the indulgent blindness,--the delicate over-looking, --the compassionate fiction. I and my infirmity are left exposed and bare to the broad, unwinking eye of the world, which nothing can elude.' My meals are scanned, my mouthfuls weighed in a balance: that which appetite demands, is set down to the account of gluttony, a sin which my whole soul abhors, nay, which Nature herself has put it out of my power to commit. I am constitutionally disenabled from that vice; for how can he be guilty of excess, who never can get enough? Let them cease, then, to watch my plate ; and leave off their ungracious comparisons of it to the