Chapter I The Esquires Of The Body: Hunger

The Work of the Appetites.––We will first consider the Esquires of the Body; not that they are the chief Officers of State, but in Mansoul, as in the world, a great deal depends upon the least important people; and the Esquires of the Body have it very much in their power to make all go right or all go wrong in Mansoul.

Their work is very necessary for the well-being of the State. They build up the Body, and they see to it that there shall be new Mansouls to take the place of the old when these shall pass away. If each would attend to his own business and nothing else, all would go well; but there is a great deal of rivalry in the government, and every member tries to make the Prime Minister believe that the happiness of Mansoul depends upon him. If any one of these gets things altogether into his hands, all is in disorder.

How Hunger Behaves.––Esquire Hunger is the first of the appetites that comes to our notice. He is a most useful fellow. If he do not come down to breakfast in the morning, a poor meal is eaten, and neither work nor play goes well in Mansoul that day. If, for weeks together, Hunger do not sit down to table, thin fingers and hollow cheeks will show you what a good servant has left his post. He is easily slighted. If people say, 'I hate' bread and milk, or eggs, or mutton, or what not, and think about it and think about it, Hunger is disgusted and goes. But if they sit down to their meals without thinking about what they eat, and think of something more interesting, Hunger helps them through, bit by bit, until their plates are emptied, and new material has been taken in to build up their bodies. Hunger is not at all fond of dainties. He likes things plain and nice; and directly a person begins to feed upon dainties, like pastry, rich cake, too many sweets, Hunger goes; or rather, he changes his character and becomes Gluttony.

Hunger a Servant, Gluttony a Ruler.––It is as Gluttony that he tries to get the ear of the Prime Minister, saying, 'Leave it all to me, and I will make Mansoul happy. He shall want nothing but what I can give him.' Then begins a fine time. As long as Hunger was his servant, Mansoul thought nothing about his meals till the time for them came, and then he ate them with a good appetite. But Gluttony behaves differently. Gluttony leads his victim to the confectioner's windows and makes him think how nice this or that would taste: all his pocket-money goes in tarts, sweets, and toffee. He thinks at breakfast what pudding he should like for dinner, and asks for it as a favour. Indeed, he is always begging for bits of cake, and spoonfuls of jam, and extra chocolates. He does not think much about his lessons, because he has a penny in his pocket and is considering what is the nicest thing he can buy for it; or, if he is older, perhaps he has a pound, but his thought is still the same, and Gluttony gets it all. The greedy person turns away from wholesome meals, and does not care for work or play, because Gluttony has got the ear of the Prime Minister, and almost every thought of Mansoul turns one way––'What shall I eat?' he says. Gluttony begins with the little boy and goes with him all through life, only that, instead of caring for chocolate creams when he is a man, he cares for great dinners two hours long.

How Gluttony affects the Body.––But, you will say, if Hunger builds up the body, surely Gluttony must do so a great deal faster. It is true that sometimes the greedy person becomes fat, but it is muscle and not fat which makes the body strong and useful. Gluttony does not make muscle, and does cause horrid illnesses.

How to avoid Greediness.––The way to keep this enemy out of Mansoul is to stick to the rules which Hunger lays down. The chief of them is––Never think of your meals till they come, and, while you are eating, talk and think of something more amusing than your food. As for nice things, of course we all want nice things now and then; but let us eat what is given to us of the chocolate or fruit at table, and not think any more about it. Sweets or fruits are seldom served at school, we know, and when at school it is quite fair for a boy to allow himself to spend a certain part of his pocket-money in this way, not only for himself, but that he may have something to give away. But the boy who spends the whole, or the greater part, of his week's money on things to eat, or who is always begging for hampers from home, is a poor fellow, the victim of Gluttony. The best plan is to want to spend your money upon something else––some sort of collection, perhaps; or to save up to buy a present or a fishing-rod or anything worth having. Gluttony lets you alone when you cease to think of him and his good things.