Charles Lamb

10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London

Moderation In Diet

The drunkard's sin, excess in wine,
Which reason drowns, and health destroys,
As yet no failing is of thine,
Dear Jim; strong drink's not given to boys.
You from the cool fresh stream allay
Those thirsts which sultry suns excite;
When choked with dust, or hot with play,
A cup of water yields delight.
And reverence still that temperate cup,
And cherish long the blameless taste;
To learn the faults of men grown up,
Dear Jim, be wise and do not haste.
They'll come too soon.-But there's a vice,
That shares the world's contempt no less;
To be in eating over-nice,
Or to court surfeits by excess.
The first, as finical, avoid;
The last is proper to a swine:
By temperance meat is best enjoyed;
Think of this maxim when you dine.
Prefer with plain food to be fed,
Rather than what are dainties styled;
A sweet tooth in an infant's head
Is pardoned, not in a grown child.
If parent, aunt, or liberal friend,
With splendid shilling line your purse,
Do not the same on sweetmeats spend,
Nor appetite with pampering nurse.
Go buy a book; a dainty eaten
Is vanished, and no sweets remain;
They who their minds with knowledge sweeten,
The savour long as life retain.
Purchase some toy; a horse of wood,
A pasteboard ship; their structure scan;
Their mimic uses understood
The school-boy make a kind of man.
Go see some show; pictures or prints;
Or beasts far brought from Indian land;
Those foreign sights oft furnish hints,
That may the youthful mind expand.
And something of your store impart,
To feed the poor and hungry soul;
What buys for you the needless tart,
May purchase him a needful roll.
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