Chapter III Esquires Of The Body: Restlessness And Rest

Restlessness makes the Body Strong.––I hardly know by what names to call the two Esquires of the Body whom I am now to introduce to you, but both are good body-servants. Perhaps Restlessness and Rest will do as well as any. You have noticed that a baby is seldom quite still when he is wide awake: he is kicking his legs about, or playing with his fingers or toes, or crawling, or clutching or throwing something down or picking it up, or laughing, or crowing, or crying. Little boys and girls, too, cannot bear to sit still long at lessons. They want to run into the garden and see what their pet frog is doing. When lessons are over a good romp is delightful, or a race, or a good deal of tumbling about head-over-heels. Later, people want to play cricket or football, or to ride bicycles, or climb mountains. They think they do all these things just because it is fun; but, really, good Esquire Restless will not let them alone, but gives them an uneasy feeling if they are not pretty often doing something which is rather hard to do and rather tiring. He is playing the part of a faithful body-servant. He is helping to make Mansoul a strong and wiry body, able to swim and ride, to jump and run; able to walk far and to hit true and to do every service that the Prime Minister may require. In fact, the business of Restlessness is to strengthen and harden the muscles which Hunger feeds.

But Restlessness may be a Hard Master.––Restlessness, from being a good servant, might become a hard master; indeed, he sometimes does become so, and people do things that are too hard for them in the way of rowing or climbing running or jumping. Worse still, the Dæmon of Restlessness possesses them, and they cannot settle to any kind of work or play because they always want to be doing something else. This is a very unfortunate state to get into, because it is only by going on doing one thing steadily that we learn to do it well, whether it be cricket or algebra; so it is well to be on the watch for the moment when Restlessness, the good servant, turns into Restlessness, the unquiet Dæmon who drives us about from post to pillar, and will not give us firm standing ground anywhere in life.

Rest, a Good Servant.––In a general way, his fellow-servant and brother, Rest, steps in with, 'It is my turn now,' and the tired person is glad to sit down and be quiet for a little, or lie on his face with a book, or, best of all, go to sleep soundly at night and wake up refreshed and ready for anything. Thus the muscles take such turns of work and rest as help them to grow and become strong.

Sloth, a Tyrant.––I daresay you are glad to hear of an Esquire of the Body who is not followed by a black shadow threatening Mansoul with ruin; but, alas! we cannot be let off. Rest, too, has his Dæmon, whose name is Sloth. 'A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep,' is the petition with which he besieges the Prime Minister. Once Sloth is ruler in Mansoul, the person cannot wake up in the morning, dawdles over his dressing, comes down late for breakfast, hates a walk, can't bear games, dawdles over his preparation, does not want to make boats or whistles, or collect stamps, drops in all his lessons, is in the Third form when he ought to be in the Sixth, saunters about the corners of the playing-field with his hands in his pockets, never does anything for anybody, not because he is unkind or ill-natured, but because he will not take the trouble.

Poor fellow! he does not know that he is falling daily more and more under the power of a hard master. The less he exerts himself, the less he is able to exert himself, because the muscles, which Restlessness keeps firm and in good order, Sloth relaxes and weakens until it becomes a labour to raise the hand to the head or to drag one foot after another. People used to be very much afraid of Sloth and to call him one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but somehow he is less thought about now; perhaps because we find so many things to do that we cannot bear to be slothful. Still, if your friends call you idle about play or work, or, worse, indolent, or, worse still, lazy, pull yourself together without loss of time, for be sure the Dæmon, Sloth, is upon you, and once you get into his clutches you are in as bad a case, and your life is as much in danger of being ruined, as if Gluttony or Drunkenness had got hold of you. But take courage, the escape is easy: Restlessness is on the alert to save you from Sloth in the beginning. Up and be doing, whether at work or play.