“1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go 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 degrees.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to you friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana.”
So said Sydney smith to one Lady Morpeth back in 1820. How astonishing then, that modern day cures for misery, minor heartbreak or "low spirits" are so very similar, almost 200 years later.
Last night Mr Bangers and Mash declared our two month old relationship kaput (I’m not very good at this game am I?), issuing an exit speech that made me laugh and made me cry and eventually found us drinking coffee together two and a half hours later, holding hands and trying to ignore the fact that begging him (He is lovely, gentle and funny, with more morality in his little finger than I’ve got in my whole body. And he has a very desirable roll-top bath and understands html. Whats not to like?) not to abandon me, complete with obligatory snotty nose, probably wasn’t my finest hour…
So today please forgive me for over-indulging in centuries old advice and a big tub of Bohemian Raspberry Ben and Jerries. Should you find me stalking the streets of this green and pleasant land, bear in mind that I am doing my best to be in "the open air without fatigue" before returning to my humble abode to make the room where I "commonly sit" gay and pleasant…
I don’t know what was troubling Sydneys friend Lady Morpeth, but better advice she could not have receieved.