The Horse and the Bells” cautions that recreation is good—but not to overindulge; the theme was explored often in the pages of Robert Merry’s Museum
“The Horse and the Bells, a Fable” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, June 1841; p. 178)

A wagoner, whose business it was to transport goods from one town to another, had a fine horse, upon whose saddle he was accustomed to carry several bells, which kept up a cheerful jingling as he trudged along the road. The horse got used to these bells, ad was so much pleased with them, that he seemed dull and out of spirits when, for some reason, they were left off. The wagoner, perceiving that his horse did not work so well without the bells, restored them to their place, remarking that his horse was like himself—he liked music and merriment, and even hard work came more easy for a little recreation by the way.

There was much truth and good sense in the observation of the wagoner. “All work and no play,” says the proverb, “makes Jack a dull boy.” It is right and proper that we should devote some part of our time to amusement, for by this means we are cheered and enlivened., and qualified to engage in our severer duties with good effort. But we should be careful of two points: first, that we choose innocent amusements, and second, that we do not permit our recreations so far to engross our thoughts or our time, as to interfere with the sober business of life.

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