Practical Remedies Against Melancholy – By Sydney Smith

“Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done, so I feel for you.” Writes the English Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845) to a woman dealing with low spirits, giving her a list of 20 things that might help her. Sydney  was a writer and a preacher. He was well known for his humour, below you can read two short writings by him on the topic of melancholy:

Make your surroundings as cheerful as possible


“Cheerfulness and good spirits depend in a great degree upon bodily causes but much may be done for the promotion of this turn of mind. Persons subject to low spirits should make the rooms in which they live as cheerful as possible; taking care that the paper with which the wall is covered should be of a brilliant, lively colour, hanging up pictures or prints, and covering the chimney-piece with beautiful china. A bay-window looking upon pleasant objects, and, above all, a large fire whenever the weather will permit, are favourable to good spirits, and the tables near should be strewed with books and pamphlets.

To this must be added as much eating and drinking as is consistent with health; and some manual employment for men, — as gardening, a carpenter’s shop, the turning-lathe, etc. Women have always manual employment enough, and it is a great source of cheerfulness. Fresh air, exercise, occupation, society, and travelling, are powerful remedies.”

Resist melancholy steadily through little pleasures


“Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach. I once gave a lady two-and-twenty recipes against melancholy; one was a bright fire; another, to remember all the pleasant things said to and of her; another, to keep a box of sugar-plums on the chimney piece, and a kettle simmering on the hob.

I thought this mere trifling at the moment, but have in after life discovered how true it is that these little pleasures often banish melancholy better than higher and more exalted objects; and that no means ought to be thought too trifling which can oppose it either in ourselves or others.”

From: The wit and wisdom of the Rev. Sydney Smith; a selection of the most memorable passages in his writings and conversation.

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