« НазадПродовжити »
tent. It is, that, however medical writers may assert that heat, or cold, or excess of any sort, tends to accelerate death, yet the frame of man is constructed of such durable materials as to enable it to fight up against all the adversities of circumstance, and to withstand the rigours of all seasons, whether at the tropic or the poles.
old age is said to be “the only natural disease” inflicted upon human nature. For the rest, we have to thank our own ingenuity; not “the stars.” The curries of the East, the sauces of France, the grapes of Portugal and Spain, have been the enemies of man. The sins of the Roman banquets are visited on the heads of their imbecile generation; and we think that our modern apoplexies, and other errors of health, may be traced pretty distinctly to those enormous “ barons of beef” and roasted oxen, upon which our forefathers once fed to satiety. Now, having lost “the substantials,” we have nothing to do, but to get speedily thin upon turtle and stewed carp, (we wonder whether our friend of Swabia ended his two hundred and sixtyseventh year in the stew-pan), -and on legs of Welch mutton and other such etherial aliment, (scarce better than the chamelion's) and to begin our race of a thousand years, upon experience of our ancestors' folly.
In the first place, Moderation should be carved upon every plate, and should stand out in bright relief on every wine cup. Beaumont and Fletcher were wits and fine writers, but they did not know where to stop. They over past the goal. Their wit ran over and went to waste. They showed plethora rather than strength. It is the same with our friends the aldermen: they are rosy, but not healthy; huge, but not robust. The cold evening winds which meet them (like the scythe of Time) after the city ceremonials, would pass them harmlessly were they temperate at table. But the “sons of Belial” may never aspire to be long livers. The “bottle is the sun of their table,” and its circle is speedily accomplished. Neither should the student exult prematurely over his less worthy brethren. He too is marked out for a brief career. To sit and think and dream of love or heaven is delightful. It is a pity that any penalty should be attached to it. And yet, there is,-he must die. Study, in its excess, is like a fearful spell. It conjures up demons, and hideous phantasmas, legions of grisly shapes, fancies unutterable--things such as trooped
• Under the sooty flag of Acheron,
• Harpies and Hydras,-' and others, all armed with the shears of Fate, between which our slender threads sooner or later become entangled. Not only is excess of thought bad ; but the mere fact of sitting for a length
of time, tends to produce disease, and eventually death. The
“ Sedet, eternumque sedebit,” is all very well. It has been quoted often : yet he who sits much will certainly not sit for ever. He may breakfast with the Houris, and drink, in imagination, his nectar with Jove at noon; but in the evening he must sup with Pluto. He must go where poet and philosopher have gone before him; he must leave his body a meal for the worm, and shrink into a shadow,-to a name. He must part with all, even his darling books, even (perhaps) his thoughts, and descend like the Assyrian Ninus, from“ ceiled roofs to arched coffins; from living like a god, to die like man.”
-It is now time to give our readers some account of the books at the head of our article ; though we have some difficulty in finding for them an extract, either amusing or edifying, except from our friend Hermippus.
Yet, Roger Bacon was an extraordinary man. His wisdom obtained for him the hate of his contemporaries and the reputation of dealing with the devil. He was, in truth, a great light in a dark age, –a fiery pillar, that withered the green follies and dwarf superstitions around him. The light he yielded was for posterity, and it was only from posterity that he could hope for admiration or gratitude. He has, to be sure, been renowned rather for his a brazen head," than for his labours in art and science; yet he is well known by the studious to have been the precursor, in certain paths, of more famous men, who, acting upon his suggestions, have built up for themselves a great renown. He is said, by some, even to have been the inventor of gunpowder. Whether he was or not, or what his meanings are, in fact, is sometimes difficult to say; since he was compelled, by the jealous follies of his time, to wrap up his wisdom in a cloud of mystery. His book on the Cure of Old Age, is curious enough. It is not of much value as a medicinal work, of course; but it betrays the state of knowledge at that time, and shows how a wise man, like Bacon, could preserve, in the midst of great accuracy of thinking, certain small superstitions of science. He believes in dragon's blood (and of course in dragons,) in the bones of stags' hearts, and the aurum potabile; and discussēs the merits of oils which would put Mr. Atkinson and Messrs. Mokrifusky and Prince speedily to the blush. There is the Oil of Balm, Oleum Benedictum; and that which “ by art is made of bricks,”(we confess we should like to see this tried, were it only in a pantomime ;) and there is also the dragantum and albalcae, which“ strip off the grey hairs, and in their stead, do plant black and youthful ones.” He adds, however, “ I have not tried these things;" and we admire his caution.
In order to give the reader an idea of the style of this
book, we will quote one of the shortest chapters, which treats “ of things that excite the animal faculty, refresh men's bodies, and quicken motion.”
“ All wise men that have yet treated of the regiment of health, constantly affirm, that the aged, and men well grown in years, presently after they are risen from sleep, should be anointed with oil; so Royal Haly, in his fifth treatise of the Regiment of Old Men.
“For such anointing excites the animal faculty, and with it all the rest; for all other faculties depend of and proceed from that, as
Avicenna saith in his first canon Of the Faculties. .. “ But with what things this anointing should be made, physicians do very much vary.
“For the son of the Prince Abohaly, in his chapter of oils, affirms that all kinds of oil refresh the body, and help its motion ; but if all do this, it cannot otherwise chuse but that one sort must be better than another.
“ Haly, in his treatise of the Regiment of Old Men, thinks that old men should be anointed with the oil of squill, and with the oil of violets mixt with the oil of chamomel, and with the oil of dill.
“ But Aristotle affirms, in his book of the secrets of secrets, that anointing ought to be made with sweet smelling ointments, in the morning, at convenient seasons, that is, in autumn; and winter, with ointments made of myrrhe, and with the juice of an herb which is called a blite ; in summer and spring time cum unguento cærasino (made with Sander’s) Enilegio, and the juice of Enablætti ; and he affirms this in his canon of Baths.
“ I shall say nothing of the making of ointments, but that sheep's suet may be mixed with every ointment.
" Campanus Germanicus, who lived a long time ago, saith the wise men of India, after scarification, did lay on this very thing with oil of balm.
“ The son of the prince, in his canon of weariness, when he speaks of balm, saith, it ought to be fortified with wax or pitch, that it may long retain its virtue and operation.
“And thus we see, one oil operates more strongly in old men than another."
If we have any readers qualified for the “ regiment of old men," we beg them to look to this chapter. There is another too, in which the author bids us, after speaking of Haly and his “ canon of beauty,” to Take of the flowers of beans, pease, lupines, &c. &c. This may be agreeable to our fair readers. The man who could make a brazen head speak, may surely compete with the "author" of the “ milk of roses.”-Besides these, there is an odd chapter about “ wines.” Bacon says, “ that wine and water cheers the heart,” and adds, innocently," which I think is to be imputed to the wine, not the water.” We think so too. “ Avicenna (he says) and Royal Haly are in favour of red wine ; but Royal Haly, (also saith) that old and sour wine ought to be
adds, innoce. We thinkof red wine to be
avoided.” Now, with regard to the sour wine, we agree with him, but with regard to the old, (as Touchstone would say) we do not. We rather incline to Isaac, who thinks, that after a year is over, the goodness and strength of the wine doth begin. As to wine, Bacon seems to recommend it to the old, but not to the young, and at all times in moderation; for he says, “ If it be overmuch guzzled, it will do a great deal of harm.” We have heard as much ourselves; and we accordingly join in our friend's, the Friar's, counsel of temperance, with respect to this perilous though pleasant liquor. It will, (as he says) “ darken the understanding, though it be, itself, as bright as the sun."
-Cornaro was a Venetian. In his youth he had been a reveller, a drinker, a sitter up o' nights; but finding that pleasant system utterly subversive of health, as well as serenity of temper, he gave it up. He grew ill and choleric. Though he was a man of strong brain and stout heart, his head ached and his nerves shook beneath the all-conquering tyranny of wine. The resolution which he had originally possessed, had not entirely forsaken him; and accordingly, by one bold stroke, he cut the links which bound him, and recovered his freedom and his health at once. He then observed great sobriety and a strict regimen in his diet, and lived quietly and cheerfully till he was more than a hundred years old. Cornaro is certainly an amusing, lively writer, and contrives to put you into a state of hope and good-humour. You make excellent resolutions while you read his life. His privations seem nothing,-a little agreeable abstinence; a relaxation from the severer toil of drinking. You having nothing to do but—refrain, (what can be easier ?) and the hundred years are secured to you.
Our author seems to have had great firmness in adhering to a regular system of diet, which in truth appears to be the principal point which distinguishes him from others. Once, however, his “ dearest friends and relations” overcame him, and this is the consequence of his yielding.
“My dearest friends and relations, actuated by the warm and laudable affection and regard they had for me, seeing how little I ate, represented to me, in conjunction with my physicians, that the sustenance I took could not be sufficient to support one so far advanced in years, when it was become necessary not only to preserve nature, but to increase its vigour. That as this could not be done without food, it was absolutely.incumbent upon me to eat a little more plentifully. I, on the other hand, produced my reasons for not complying with their desires. These were, that nature is content with little, and that with this little I had preserved myself so many years; and that, to me, the habit of it was become a second nature; besides, it was more agreeable to reason, that as I advanced in years, and lost my strength, I should rather lessen than increase the quantity of my
food : further, that it was but natural to think, that the powers of the stomach grew weaker from day to day, on which account I could see no reason to make such an addition. To corroborate my arguments, I alleged those two natural and very true proverbs ; one, that he who has a mind to eat a great deal, must eat but little; which is said for no other reason than this, that eating little makes a man live very long; and living very long, he must eat a great deal. The other proverb was, that what we leave after making a hearty meal, does us more good than what we have eaten. But neither these proverbs, nor any other arguments I could think of, were able to prevent their teasing me more than ever. Wherefore, not to appear obstinate, or affecting to know more than the physicians themselves, but, above all, to please my family, who vēry earnestly desired it, from a persuasion that such an addition to my usual allowance must preserve the tone of my stomach, I consented to increase the quantity of food, but by two ounces only. So that, as before, what with bread, meat, the yolk of an egg, and soup, I ate as much as weighed in all twelve ounces, neither more nor less. I now increased it to fourteen; and as before I drank but fourteen ounces of wine, I now increased it to sixteen. This increase and irregularity had, in eight days' time, such an effect upon me, that from being cheerful and brisk, I began to be peevish and melancholy, so that nothing could please me; and was constantly of so strange a temper, that I neither knew what to say to others, nor what to do with myself. On the twelfth day, I was attacked with a most violent pain in my side, which held me twenty-two hours, and was succeeded by a terrible fever, which continued thirty-five days, and as many nights, without giving me a moment's respite ; though, to say the truth, it began to abate on the sixteenth; but notwithstanding such abatement, I could not, during the whole time, sleep half a quarter of an hour together, insomuch that every one looked upon me as a dead man; but, God be praised, I recovered, merely by my former regular course of life, though then in my seventy-eighth year, and in the coldest season of a very cold year, and reduced to a mere skeleton; and I am positive, that it was the great regularity I had observed for so many years, and that only, which rescued me from the jaws of death."
The reader may now take a specimen of his lively garrulous vein; and learn what may be the amusements of a man at fourscore. To our thoughts, they present a delightful picture. The author would have been a worthy candidate for the philosopher's stone and the elixir vita; for he seems to have understood the use both of riches and a prolonged life.
“ Some sensual, inconsiderate persons affirm, that a long life is no blessing; and that the state of a man, who has passed his seventyfifth year, cannot really be called life, but death ; but this is a great mistake, as I shall fully prove; and it is my sincere wish, that all men would endeavour to attain my age, in order that they also may enjoy that period of life, which, of all others, is the most desirable.