The first five years of a dissipated life are comparatively easy, for it is all down hill; but when the man wakes up and finds his tongue wound with blasphemies, and his eyes swimming in rheum, and the antennae of vice feeling along his nerves, and the spiderish poison eating through his very life, and, he resolves to return, he finds it hard traveling, for it is up hill, and the fortresses along the road open on him their batteries. We go into sin, hop, skip and jump; we come out of it creeping on all fours.
Let flies and dogs and men keep out of mischief. It is smooth all the way there, and rough all the way back. It is ice-cream for Carlo clear down to the bottom of the can, but afterward it is blinded eyes and sore neck and great fright. It is only eighteen inches to go into the freezer; it is three miles out. For Robert Burns it is rich wine and clapping hands and carnival all the way going to Edinburgh; but going back, it is worn-out body, and lost estate, and stinging conscience, and broken heart, and a drunkard’s grave.
Better moderate our desires. Carlo had that morning as good a breakfast as any dog need to have. It was a law of the household that he should be well fed. Had he been satisfied with bread and meat, all would have been well. But he sauntered out for luxuries. He wanted ice-cream. He got it, but brought upon his head the perils and damages of which I have written. As long as we have reasonable wants we get on comfortably, but it is the struggle after luxuries that fills society with distress, and populates prisons, and sends hundreds of people stark mad. Dissatisfied with a plain house, and ordinary apparel, and respectable surroundings, they plunge their head into enterprises and speculations from which they have to sneak out in disgrace. Thousands of men have sacrificed honor and religion for luxuries, and died with the freezer about their ears.
Young Catchem has one horse, but wants six. Lives in a nice house on Thirtieth street, but wants one on Madison Square. Has one beautiful wife, but wants four. Owns a hundred thousand dollars of Erie stock, but wants a million. Plunges his head into schemes of all sorts, eats his way to the bottom of the can till he cannot extricate himself, and constables, and sheriffs, and indignant society, which would have said nothing had he been successful, go to pounding him because he cannot get his head out.
Our poor old Carlo is dead now. We all cried when we found that he would never frisk again at our coming, nor put up his paw against us. But he lived long enough to preach the sermon about caution and contentment of which I have been the stenographer.
Old games repeated.