ePub 版

“ that employment, is succeeded by John Sowton; to “ whose place of enterer of messages and first coffee“ grinder, William Bird is promoted; and Samuel Bur« dock comes as shoe-cleaner in the room of the faid 66 Bird.”



Ægrescitquo medendo,


And fickens by the very means of health. THE following letter will explain itself, and needs no


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

. I AM one of that fickly tribe who are commonly "known by the name of Valetudinarians; and do • confess to you, that I firit contracted this ill habit of

body or rather of mind, by the study of physic. I no • sooner began to peruse books of this nature, but I • found my pulse was irregular; and scarce ever read the account of


disease that I did not fancy myself af• Aicted with. Doctor Sydenham's learned Treatise of • Fevers threw me into a lingering hectic, which hung

upon me all the while I was reading that excellent • piece. I then applied myself to the study of several • authors who have written upon phthisical distempers, ' and by that means fell into a consuinption; till at • length, growing very fat, I was in a manner shamed

out of that imagination. Not long after this, I found . in myself all the symptoms of the gout, except pain; « but was cured of it by a Treatise upon the Gravel, • written by a very ingenious author, who (as it is usual • for physicians to convert one distemper into another)

eased me of the gout by giving me the stone. I at

length studied myself into a complication of distempers ; • but accidentally taking into my hand that ingenious

• discourse

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

discourse written by Sanétorius, I was resolved to direct myself by a scheme of rules, which I had collected

from his observations. The learned world are very ' well acquainted with that gentleman's invention ; • who, for the better carrying on of his experiments, contrived a certain mathematical chair, which was to • artificially hung upon springs, that it would weigh any • thing as well as a pair of scales. By this means he · discovered how many ounces of his food pals’d by

perfpiration, what quantity of it was turned into nuu. ' rithment, and how much went away by the other chan

nels and distributions of nature.

• Having provided myself with this chair, I used to • study, eat, drink, and lieep in it; insomuch that I may ' be said, for these three last years, to have lived in a

pair of scales. I compute myself, when I am in full • health, to be precisely two hundred weight, falling • short of it about a pound after a day's fast, and ex

ceeding it as much after a very full meal; so that it is

my continual employment to trim the balance between ' these two volatile pounds in my constitution. In my

ordinary meals I fetch myf:If up to two hundred weight ! and half a pound; and if after having dined I find my• self fall short of it, I drink just to much small beer, or

eat such a quantity of bread, as is sufficient to make me • weight. In my greatest excesses I do not transgress

more than the other half pound; which, for my • health's sake, I do the first Monday in every month. • As soon as I find myself duly poiled after dinner, I • walk till I have perfpired five ounces and four fcruples ; • and when I discover, by my chair, that I am so far re• duced, I fall to my books, and study away three ounces

more. As for the remaining parts of the pound, I keep no account of them. I do not dine and sup by the

clock, but by my chair ; for when that informs nie my • pound of food is exhauited, I conclude myself to be • hungry, and lay in another with all diligence. In my • days of abstinence I lose a pound and an half, and on • folemn fasts ain two pounds lighter than on other days

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

« in the year:

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


[ocr errors]

• I allow myself, one night with another, a quarter of a pound of sleep within a few grains, more or less ; and

; ' if upen my rising I find that I have not consumed

my whole quantity, I take out the rest in my chair. • Upon an exact calculation of what I expended and 6 received the last year, which I always register in a • book, I find the medium to be two hundred weight; so • that I cannot discover that I am impaired one ounce in

my health during a whole twelvemonth. And vet, • Sir, notwithstanding this my great care to ballast my• felf equally every day, and to keep my body in its pro

per poise, so it is that I find myself in a fick and lan• guishing condition. My complexion is grown very fal• low, my pulse low, and my body hydropical. Let me • therefore beg you, Sir, to consider me as your patient, 6 and to give me more certain rules to walk by than those o I have already observed, and oblige

Your humble servant.'

you will

very much

[ocr errors]


This letter puts me in mind of an Italian epitaph, written on the monument of a valetudinarian ; " Stavo ben, ma per star meglio fto qui :which it is impof. fible to translate. The fear of death often proves mortal, aod sets people on methods to save their lives, which infallibly destroy them. This is a resection made by some historians, upon observing that there are many more thousands killed in a fight than in a battle; and may be applied to those multitudes of imaginary sick persons that break their constitutions by physic, and throw themselves into the arins of death, by endeavouring to escape it. This method is not only dangerous, but below the practice of a reasonable creature. To consult the preservation of life as the only end of it, to make our health our business, to engage in no action that is not part regimen or course of physic, are purposes fo abject, fo mean, fo unworthy huinan nature, that a generous foul would rather die than submit to thein. Besides that, a continual anxiety for life vitiates all the relishes of it, and casts a gloom over the whole face of nature; as it is impoflible we should take delight in any thing that we are every moment afraid of losing.

of a

I do not mean, by what I have here said, that I think any one to blame for taking due care of their health. On the contrary, as chierfulness of mind and capacity for bulincís, are in a great measure the effects of a well-tempered constitution, a man cannot be at too much pains to cultivate and preserve it. But this care, which we are prompted to, not only by common sense but by duty and instinal, thould never en. gage us in groundless fears, melancholy apprehensions, and imaginary distempers, which are natural to every man who is more anxious to live than how to live. In short, the prelervarion of life thould be only a fecondary concern, and the direction of it our principal. If we have this frame of mind, we shall take the best means to preserve life, without being over folicitous about the event; and shall arrive at that point of felicity which Martial has mentioned as the perfection of Happinets, of neither fearing nor withing for death.

In answer to the gentleman who tempers his health by ounces and by scruples, and, inítead of complying with thote natural fólicitations of hunger and thirit, drowsiness or love of exercise, governs himself by the prescriptions of his chair, I thall tell him a thort fabic. Jupiter, says the mythologiít, to reward the piety of a certain country man, promised to give him whatever he would ask: the countryman desired that he might have the management of the weather in his own citate: he obtained his request, and immediately difiributed rain, snow, and fun thine among his several fields, as he thought the nature of the soil required. At the end of the year, when he expected to see a more than ordinary crop, his harvest fell infinitely short of that of his neigl bours; upon which, says thc fable, he defired Jupiter to take the weather again into his own hands, or that otherwise he should utterly ruin himself.


[blocks in formation]


Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas

Regumque turres. O bcate texti,
Vitæ fumma brevis fpem nos vetat inchoare longam.

Jam te premet nox, fabulxque manies,
Et domus exilis Plutonia-


With equal foot, rich friend, impartial fate

Knocks at the cottage, and the palace gate :
Life's span forbids thee to extend thy cares,

And stretch thy hopes beyond thy years;
Night foon will seize, and you muit quickly go

To itory'd gholis, and Pluto's house below. CREECH. WHEN I am in a serious humour, I very often

walk by myself in Westminster-Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the folemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the church-yard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tomb-stones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another: the whole history of his life being coinprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have founding names given them, for no other rcalon but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head,


« 上一頁繼續 »