« 上一頁繼續 »
་ ་ ས་
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 very 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.
"I will therefore give an account of my recreations, and the relish which I find at this stage of life, in order to convince the public, which may likewise be done by all those who know me, that the state I have now attained is by no means death, but real life; such a life as by many is deemed happy, since it abounds with all the felicity that can be enjoyed in this world. And this testimony they will give, in the first place, because they see, and not without the greatest amazement, the good state of health and spirits I enjoy; how I mount my horse without any assistance, or advantage of situation; and how I not only ascend a single flight of stairs, but climb up a hill from bottom to top, afoot, and with the greatest ease and unconcern; then, how gay, pleasant, and good humoured I am; how free from every perturbation of mind, and every disagreeable thought; in lieu of which, joy and peace have so firmly fixed their residence in my bosom, as never to depart from it. Moreover, they know in what manner I pass my time, so as not to find life a burden; seeing I can contrive to spend every hour of it with the greatest delight and pleasure, having frequent opportunities of conversing with many honourable gentlemen; men valuable for their good sense and manners, their acquaintance with letters, and every other good quality. Then, when I cannot enjoy their conversation, I betake myself to the reading of some good book. When I have read as much as I like, I write; endeavouring in this as in every thing else, to be of service to others, to the utmost of
"These things I do with the greatest ease to myself, at their proper seasons, in a house of my own; which, being situate in the most beautiful quarter of this noble and learned city of Padua, is, in itself, really convenient and handsome, such, in a word, as it is no longer the fashion to build; for, in one part of it, I can shelter myself from extreme heat; and in the other, from extreme cold; having contrived the apartments according to the rules of architecture, which teach us what is to be observed in practice. Besides this house, I have my several gardens, supplied with purling streams, in which I always find something to do, that amuses me.
"I have another way of diverting myself, which is, going every April and May, and likewise every September and October, for some days, to enjoy an eminence belonging to me in those Euganean hills, and in the most beautiful part of them, adorned with fountains and gardens; and, above all, a convenient and handsome lodge; in which place I likewise, now and then, make one in some hunting party suitable to my taste and age.
"Then I enjoy, for as many days, my villa in the plain, which is laid out in regular streets, all terminating in a large square, in the middle of which stands the church, suited to the condition of the place. This villa is divided by a wide and rapid branch of the river Brenta, on both sides of which there is a considerable extent of country, consisting entirely of fertile and well-cultivated fields.
"Besides, this district is now, God be praised, exceedingly well inhabited, which it was not at first, but rather the reverse; for it was marshy, and the air so unwholesome, as to make it a residence fitter
for adders than men. But, on my draining off the waters, the air mended, and people resorted to it so fast, and increased to such a degree, that it soon acquired the perfection in which it now appears; hence I may say with truth, that I have given, in this place, an altar and a temple to God, with souls to adore him. These are things which afford me infinite pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction, as often as I go to see and enjoy them.
"At the same season every year, I revisit some of the neighbouring cities, and enjoy such of my friends as live there, taking the greatest pleasure in their company and conversation; and, by their means, I also enjoy the conversation of other men of parts, who live in the same places; such as architects, painters, sculptors, musicians, and husbandmen, with whom this age most certainly abounds. I visit their new works; I revisit their former ones; and I always learn something which gives me satisfaction. I see the palaces, gardens, antiquities; and, with these, the squares and other public places, the churches, the fortifications, leaving nothing unobserved, from whence I may reap either entertainment or instruction. But what delights me most is, in my journeys backwards and forwards, to contemplate the situation and other beauties of the places I pass through; some in the plain, others on hills, adjoining to rivers or fountains; with a great many fine houses and gardens.
"Nor are my recreations rendered less agreeable and entertaining by my not seeing well, or not hearing readily every thing that is said to me; or by any other of my senses not being perfect; for they are all, thank God, in the highest perfection; particularly my palate, which now relishes better the simple fare I meet, wherever I happen to be, than it formerly did the most delicate dishes, when I led an irregular life. Nor does the change of beds give me any uneasiness, so that I sleep every where soundly and quietly, without experiencing the least disturbance; and all my dreams are pleasant and delightful."
Of Lord Bacon, "the great Lord Bacon," we shall say but little. We do not profess to give, in the present article, a regular, serious, medical essay upon human life, nor to discuss at large its pretensions to perpetuity. We are desirous briefly of affording our readers an idea of what certain persons have said upon the subject; and of enticing them, if it may so be, to look into the writings of those worthies. The works of Lord Bacon, alone, are a mine of learning. If you miss one jewel you find another, sometimes rich, sometimes sparkling, always valuable. He had at once a deep and a heightened style; not so flowing as Jeremy Taylor, and scarcely so sublime as Sir Thomas Brown; yet better adapted perhaps than either for enforcing his own profound suggestions, for laying bare the discovered land of knowledge, and promulgating the experiments and latefound truths of science. He is, we believe, wrong in some of his positions, although every thing he says is worth attention..
In his History of Life and Death, in particular, he says among other things, that a life of study conduces to longevity. We apprehend that he is here mistaken. He says also, that the inhabitants of northern countries live longer than those of southern climates. This may be; but the evidences of longevity in hot, are as striking as those in cold countries: and the tables (which we have before referred to) of the old persons living in Greenwich hospital, and Kilmainham barracks, Ireland, show that heat and cold are not to be relied on either as friends or enemies to long living.
Lord Bacon seems to be of opinion, that the term of human life has not been shortened since the time of the sons of Noah. We give a short extract from his works; though his Advancement of Learning, or his Fables, would better justify our eulogy.
"The succession of ages, and of the generations of men, seems no way to shorten the length of human life; since the age of man down from Moses's time to the present, has stood at about eighty years, without gradually declining, as one might have expected. But, doubtless, there are times in every country, when men live to a longer or shorter term; and they generally prove longest lived, when the times afford but a simple diet, and give greater occasion to bodily exercise; and shorter-lived, when the times are more polite, or abound in luxury and ease: but these things have their changes and revolutions; whilst the succession of mankind holds on uninterrupted in its course. And, no question, but the case is the same in other animals; as neither oxen, horses, sheep, &c. have had their term of life shortened in the latter ages; and therefore, the lives of creatures, it should seem, were at once abridged by the deluge."
How this may be, we know not. One thing, however, is certain; namely, that persons have been known to attain ages almost incredible, without any thing appearing to account for their extreme longevity. Is it not fair to conclude from this, that there are seeds of long life within us, and that its growth would be great, were it not cut short by accident, by folly, or inherited disease?
The author of Hermippus Redivivus was John Henry Cohausen, a German physician, who did not quite make good his own theory, but died in a sort of nonage, when he was only eighty-five years of age. His book was translated into English by Dr. John Campbell, and has always been considered curious, as giving a summary of the many facts and opinions, which have been published respecting this very interesting subject. Hermippus Redivivus takes its name from the following inscription:
66 ESCULAPIO ET SANITATI
L. CLODIUS HERMIPPUS
QUI VIXIT ANNOS CXV. DIES V.
QUOD ETIAM POST MORTEM
NON PARUM MIRANTUR PHYSICI
This, our author, in one part of his book, seems inclined to translate, pleasantly enough, into keeping a ladies' school' We confess that our interpretation is different:-But let the Latin decide. Hermippus, it seems, lived to the age of 115 years, and commends his plan to the consideration of physicians and posterity.
Formerly, life seems scarcely to have been in the same request that it now is. The people of Cea (one of the Cyclades) had a law, that compelled all those who survived the age of three-score to drink the juice of hemlock. We wonder of what age the senators were who fashioned this act of parliament! In China, they order matters differently, as we know. There, the gray-headed sages permit infanticide, on account of the excess of population. And this is well; for otherwise the people would be apt to inquire into the inconvenience, and might perhaps dispose of the old in a similar way, as the less useful part of the community
Suicide, which is now so heinous that we are consigned to a cross road, with certain offensive solemnities (which, however, have no effect, but that of shocking the spectators), was once permitted and sometimes encouraged. The oddest instance of felo de se is one mentioned by Valerius Maximus, where an old "lady, who has been happy all her life, is apprehensive that Fortune may change her countenance." By what process of reasoning she arrived at this conjecture, we do not learn. This is the anecdote, as given by Valerius Maximus.
"He relates, that going into Asia with Sextus Pompeius, and passing by the city of Julis, he was present at the death of a lady, aged about ninety. She had declared to her superiors the reason which induced her to quit the world; and after this, she prepared to swallow down the poison; and imagining that the presence of Pompey would do great honour to the ceremony, she most humbly besought him to come thither on that occasion. He granted her request, and exhorted her very eloquently, and with the utmost earnestness, to live. However, this was to no purpose; she thanked him for his kind wishes, and besought the gods to reward him, not so much those she was going to, as those she was quitting. I have hitherto,' said she,