Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

79. CHAPTER LXXIX (continued)

"Seeing is a mode of touching, touching is a mode of feeding, feeding is a mode of assimilation, assimilation is a mode of recreation and reproduction, and this is crossing--shaking yourself into something else and something else into you."

He spoke laughingly, but it was plain he was serious. He continued:-

"People are always coming to me who want crossing, or change, if you prefer it, and who I know have not money enough to let them get away from London. This has set me thinking how I can best cross them even if they cannot leave home, and I have made a list of cheap London amusements which I recommend to my patients; none of them cost more than a few shillings or take more than half a day or a day."

I explained that there was no occasion to consider money in this case.

"I am glad of it," he said, still laughing. "The homoeopathists use aurum as a medicine, but they do not give it in large doses enough; if you can dose your young friend with this pretty freely you will soon bring him round. However, Mr Pontifex is not well enough to stand so great a change as going abroad yet; from what you tell me I should think he had had as much change lately as is good for him. If he were to go abroad now he would probably be taken seriously ill within a week. We must wait till he has recovered tone a little more. I will begin by ringing my London changes on him."

He thought a little and then said:-

"I have found the Zoological Gardens of service to many of my patients. I should prescribe for Mr Pontifex a course of the larger mammals. Don't let him think he is taking them medicinally, but let him go to their house twice a week for a fortnight, and stay with the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros, and the elephants, till they begin to bore him. I find these beasts do my patients more good than any others. The monkeys are not a wide enough cross; they do not stimulate sufficiently. The larger carnivora are unsympathetic. The reptiles are worse than useless, and the marsupials are not much better. Birds again, except parrots, are not very beneficial; he may look at them now and again, but with the elephants and the pig tribe generally he should mix just now as freely as possible.

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