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The Ruins

Part II, Chapter 6
ON TEMPERANCE
Q. What is temperance?
A. It is a regular use of our faculties, which makes us never exceed in our sensations the
end of nature to preserve us; it is the moderation of the passions.
Q. Which is the vice contrary to temperance?
A. The disorder of the passions, the avidity of all kind of enjoyments, in a word, cupidity.
Q. Which are the principal branches of temperance?
A. Sobriety, and continence or chastity.
Q. How does the law of nature prescribe sobriety?
A. By its powerful influence over our health. The sober man digests with comfort; he is
not overpowered by the weight of aliments; his ideas are clear and easy; he fulfills all his
functions properly; he conducts his business with intelligence; his old age is exempt from
infirmity; he does not spend his money in remedies, and he enjoys, in mirth and gladness,
the wealth which chance and his own prudence have procured him. Thus, from one virtue
alone, generous nature derives innumerable recompenses.
Q. How does it prohibit gluttony?
A. By the numerous evils that are attached to it. The glutton, oppressed with aliments,
digests with anxiety; his head, troubled by the fumes of indigestion, is incapable of
conceiving clear and distinct ideas; he abandons himself with violence to the disorderly
impulse of lust and anger, which impair his health; his body becomes bloated, heavy, and
unfit for labor; he endures painful and expensive distempers; he seldom lives to be old;
and his age is replete with infirmities and sorrow.
Q. Should abstinence and fasting be considered as virtuous actions?
A. Yes, when one has eaten too much; for then abstinence and fasting are simple and
efficacious remedies; but when the body is in want of aliment, to refuse it any, and let it
suffer from hunger or thirst, is delirium and a real sin against the law of nature.
Q. How is drunkenness considered in the law of nature?
A. As a most vile and pernicious vice. The drunkard, deprived of the sense and reason
given us by God, profanes the donations of the divinity: he debases himself to the
 
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