The Medicine of the Merry Heart
George H. Morrison
That this is true of a man's self is accepted by everybody nowadays. There is a medicinal value in a merry heart which every physician willingly admits. So strangely knit are we of flesh and spirit, that the one is always reacting on the other. There is the closest intercourse between the unseen spirit and the material organs of the human frame. A certain temper, allowed to rule unchecked, becomes the mother of the most painful maladies; while another temper, diligently cultivated, will do much to keep these maladies away. No prescription, couched in mysterious Latin, and costing a hundred times its real value, is half so medicinal for certain states of body as the possession of a merry heart. And that is why doctors are giving us far less now of things that benefit no one but the seller, and giving us more prescriptions that cost nothing, but make for a certain lightness of the soul. For open windows and exercise and sunshine are not prescribed for their own sake alone. It is not just for their physical effects that such insistence is put on them today. It is also because they have such a powerful influence on that unseen heart by which we live, and which, when glad and radiant and songful, is a better medicine than any on the shelves.
But it was not of that chiefly that Solomon was thinking when he took his pen in hand to write this proverb. He was thinking not of the effect upon oneself, but of the effect of a merry heart on other people. Probably, like many another proverb, it had been struck out in his own personal experience. He had been gloomy one day, and very ill at ease, with a brooding melancholy on his kingly heart. And all the knowledge of which he was the master, and all the delights of which he was the lord, and all the covenant mercies of his father David, could not banish the shadow from that royal brow. And then right down the marble corridor, nearer and nearer, came a singi ...
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