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of the lateral valley. It must be a fine fall when the stream is full, as it then probably shoots out clear of the rock. But when I saw it there was only a film of water covering the surface of the rock from top to bottom. This surface is formed by the regular weathering of slaty beds in fine layers ; the upper part curves downward but the lower half is very nearly or quite vertical and of considerable width, and the whole fall, as seen from near the foot of it, is perhaps sixty feet high. In the valley above this fall is another somewhat more irregular, but I had not time to see this, as it was getting dark when I turned homewards.
The little inn at which I stayed was very quiet and comfortable. The landlord and his wife were both quiet and refined-looking people, not the least like the ordinary type of innkeepers. In the evening I sat with them in a parlour where friends and a superior class of visitors only were admitted ; and while I was there the district exciseman lodged in the house while making his rounds among the surrounding villages. He was a brisk and intelligent man, and was in no way treated as an enemy, but rather as a confidential friend. One evening when he and the host with myself were alone together, something brought up the names of Heloise and Abelard, whereupon the exciseman told us the whole story of these unfortunate lovers in a way that showed he was well acquainted with their correspondence, from which he quoted some of the more interesting passages, apparently verbatim, and with sympathetic intonation. This is the only occasion on which I have heard the subject dealt with in conversation, or, in fact, any similar subject in a village inn and between landlord and exciseman.
Early the next year, I think about February, my brother
A young man from
was one of the very loose young men with whom I was often associated, and I think as regards the filthiness of his language and of the stories with which he used frequently to regale us he surpassed all. However, he was in other respects a pleasant companion, being quite unconscious that his conversation was not appreciated, and to him I probably owe my life. One day, I think on a Sunday afternoon, we were walking together up a rocky and boggy valley which extended some miles to the west of the town. As we were strolling alone, picking our way among the rocks and bog, I inadvertently stepped upon one of those small bog eyeholes which abound in such places, and are very dangerous, being often deep enough to swallow up a man, or even a horse. One leg went in suddenly up to the hip, and I fell down, but fortunately with my other leg stretched out upon the surface. I was, however, in such a position that I could not rise, and had I been alone my efforts to extricate myself might easily have drawn my whole body into the bog, as I could feel no bottom to it. But my companion easily pulled me out, and we walked home, and thought little of it. It had, however, been a hard frost for some time, and the mud was ice-cold, and after a few days I developed a bad cough with loss of appetite and weakness. The local doctor, John Henry Heaton by name, was a friend of ours, and he gave me some medicine, but it did no good, and I got worse and worse, with no special pain, but with a disgust of food, and for more than a week I ate nothing but perhaps a small biscuit each day soaked in tea without milk, though always before and since I greatly disliked tea without milk. At length the doctor got frightened, and told my brother that he could do nothing for me, and that he could not be answerable for my life. He added that he knew but one man who could save me, a former teacher of his, Dr. Ramage, who was the only man who could cure serious lung disease, though he was considered a quack by his fellow practitioners.
As I got no better, a few days later we started for London, I think sleeping at Birmingham on the way. On going to Dr. Ramage, who tested my lungs, etc., he told my brother
that he was just in time, for that in a week more he could probably not have saved me, as I had an extensive abscess of the lungs. His treatment was very simple but most effective, and was the forerunner of that rational treatment by which it is now known that most lung diseases are curable. He ordered me to go home to Hoddesdon immediately, to apply half a dozen leeches to my chest at a place he marked with ink, and to take a bitter medicine he prescribed to give me an appetite; but these were only preliminaries. The essential thing was the use of a small bone breathing-tube, which he told us where to buy, and which I was to use three times a day for as many minutes as I could without fatigue ; that I was to eat and drink anything I fancied, be kept warm, but when the weather was mild sit out-of-doors. I was to come back to him in a week.
The effect of his treatment was immediate. I at once began to eat, and though I could not breathe through the tube for more than a minute at first, I was soon enabled to increase it to three and then to five minutes. It was constructed with a valve so that the air entered freely, but passed out slowly so that it was kept in the lungs for a few seconds at each inspiration. When I paid my second visit to Dr. Ramage, he told me that I was getting on well, and need not come to him again, that I was to continue using the breathing-tube for five minutes three or four times a day. He also strongly advised me, now I saw the effect of deep and regular breathing, to practise breathing in the same way without the tube, and especially to do so when at leisure, when lying down, or leaning back in an easy-chair, and to be sure to fill my lungs well and breathe out slowly. “The natural food of the lungs,” he said, “is fresh air. If people knew this, and acted upon it, there would be no consumption, no lung disease.” I have never forgotten this. I have practised it all my life (at intervals), and do so still, and I am sure that I owe my life to Dr. Ramage's treatment and advice.
In about two months I was well again, and went back to Kington, and after a little office-work my brother and I went
to the little village of Llanbister, near the middle of Radnorshire, the nearest towns being Builth, in Breconshire, and Newtown, in Montgomeryshire, both more than twelve miles distant. This was a very large parish, being fifteen miles long, but I think we could only have corrected the old map or we should have been longer there than we really were. Here, also, we had a young gentleman with us for a month or two to practise surveying. He was, I think, a Welshman, and a pleasant and tolerably respectable young man, but he had one dreadful habit-excessive smoking. I have never met a person so much a slave to the habit, and even if I had had any inclination to try it again after my first failure, his example would have cured me.
He prided himself on being a kind of champion smoker, and assured us that he had once, for a wager, smoked a goodsized china teapot full of tobacco through the spout. He smoked several pipes of very strong tobacco during the day, beginning directly after breakfast, and any idle moments were occupied by smoking. The village being an excessively small one, and the population of the parish very scattered, there was only one public-house, where we were living, and the landlady went every week to market to lay in a stock of necessaries, including tobacco. One market day our friend found himself without tobacco, and on asking for some, was told there was none till the mistress came home in the evening. He was in despair ; went to the only little village shop, but they did not keep it ; to the two or three houses in the village, but none was to be found. He was the picture of misery all day; he could eat no dinner ; he wandered about, saliva dropping from his mouth, and looking as if he were insane. The tobacco did not come till about seven in the evening. His relief was great and instantaneous, and after a pipe he was able to eat some supper. Had the tobacco not come he declared he would have died, and I believe he would have had a serious illness. This terrible slavery to the smoking habit gave the final blow to my disinclination to tobacco, which has been rendered more easy to me by my generally good appetite and my thorough enjoyment of
appetizing food and drinks. Of the latter, I took beer and wine in moderation during the first fifty years of my life, after which period I became practically a total abstainer for special hygienic reasons; and my own experience and observation has led me to the conclusion that alcoholic drinks, taken constantly, are especially injurious in old age and shorten the lives of many persons.
It was during this early period of my life that, on two occasions only, I exceeded the limits of moderation, and both were due to my youthful shyness and dislike of appearing singular in society. One of these was at a dinner at Mr. Sayce's, where the wine-drinking was especially prolonged, and when at last we left the table, I felt my head dizzy and my steps a little uncertain. The other was at Rhayader at a time when my brother was away, and Dr. Heaton and another friend were dining at the inn together with myself. At dinner the doctor ordered a bottle of port wine and filled my glass with the others. After dinner, the bottle being emptied, the doctor said, "One bottle is a very small allowance for three. Let's have another.” Of course, the friend agreed, and I said nothing, and was too shy to make an excuse and leave the table. Of this bottle I tried, weakly, to refuse any share, but the doctor insisted on giving me half a glass each round; and when this bottle was empty, he ordered another, saying, "That's only one each," and I was compelled to have some of that too, but I drank as little as I could, and again felt very dizzy and uncomfortable. Before going the doctor said to the waiter, “We've had three bottles of port; charge one to each of us." Of course, I dare not say a word ; and when our bill came in, and my brother saw the bottle of port wine charged which he had not ordered, he asked for an explanation, and when I told him the circumstances, he evidently thought I had done very wrong, but said nothing more about it, knowing, perhaps, the difficulties of a shy lad in the society
This little circumstance, perhaps more than anything else, led to my never again taking more wine than I felt inclined to take, and that was usually two or three glasses only.