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"273"
by [?]

This is an age of prescriptions. Morning after morning, from the back- page of your newspaper, quick and uncostly cures for every human ill thrust themselves wildly on you. The age of miracles is not past. But I would raise no false hopes of myself. I am no thaumaturgist. Do you awake with a sinking sensation in the stomach? Have you lost the power of assimilating food? Are you oppressed with an indescribable lassitude? Can you no longer follow the simplest train of thought? Are you troubled throughout the night with a hacking cough? Are you–in fine, are you but a tissue of all the most painful symptoms of all the most malignant maladies ancient and modern? If so, skip this essay, and try Somebody’s Elixir. The cure that I offer is but a cure for overwrought nerves–a substitute for the ordinary `rest-cure.’ Nor is it absurdly cheap. Nor is it instant. It will take a week or so of your time. But then, the `rest-cure’ takes at least a month. The scale of payment for board and lodging may be, per diem, hardly lower than in the `rest-cure’; but you will save all but a pound or so of the very heavy fees that you would have to pay to your doctor and your nurse (or nurses). And certainly, my cure is the more pleasant of the two. My patient does not have to cease from life. He is not undressed and tucked into bed and forbidden to stir hand or foot during his whole term. He is not forbidden to receive letters, or to read books, or to look on any face but his nurse’s (or nurses’). Nor, above all, is he condemned to the loathsome necessity of eating so much food as to make him dread the sight of food. Doubtless, the grim, inexorable process of the `rest-cure’ is very good for him who is strong enough and brave enough to bear it, and rich enough to pay for it. I address myself to the frailer, cowardlier, needier man. Instead of ceasing from life, and entering purgatory, he need but essay a variation in life. He need but go and stay by himself in one of those vast modern hotels which abound along the South and East coasts.

You are disappointed? All simple ideas are disappointing. And all good cures spring from simple ideas.

The right method of treating overwrought nerves is to get the patient away from himself–to make a new man of him; and this trick can be done only by switching him off from his usual environment, his usual habits. The ordinary rest-cure, by its very harshness, intensifies a man’s personality at first, drives him miserably within himself; and only by its long duration does it gradually wear him down and build him up anew. There is no harshness in the vast hotels which I have recommended. You may eat there as little as you like, especially if you are en pension. Letters may be forwarded to you there; though, unless your case is a very mild one, I would advise you not to leave your address at home. There are reading-rooms where you can see all the newspapers; though I advise you to ignore them. You suffer under no sense of tyranny. And yet, no sooner have you signed your name in the visitors’ book, and had your bedroom allotted to you, than you feel that you have surrendered yourself irrepleviably. It is not necessary to this illusion that you should pass under an assumed name, unless you happen to be a very eminent actor, or cricketer, or other idol of the nation, whose presence would flutter the young persons at the bureau. If your nervous breakdown be (as it more likely is) due to merely intellectual distinction, these young persons will mete out to you no more than the bright callous civility which they mete out impartially to all (but those few) who come before them. To them you will be a number, and to yourself you will have suddenly become a number–the number graven on the huge brass label that depends clanking from the key put into the hand of the summoned chambermaid. You are merely (let us say) 273.