Cornaro

 

In consequence, therefore, of my taking such methods, I have always enjoyed, and. God be praised, still enjoy, the best of health. It is true, that, besides the two most important rules relative to eating and drinking, which I have ever been very scrupulous to observe (that is, not to take of either, more than my stomach could easily digest, "and to use only those things which agree with me), I have carefully avoided, as far as possible, all extreme heat, cold, extraordinary fatigue, interruption of my usual hours of rest, or staying long in bad air. I likewise did all that lay in my power, to avoid those evils, which we do not find it so easy to remove: melancholy, hatred, and other violent passions, which appear to have the greatest influence on our bodies. I have not, however, been able to guard so well against these disorders, as not to suffer myself now and then to be hurried away by them. But I have discovered this fact, that these passions, have, in the main, no great influence over bodies governed by the two foregoing rules of eating" and drinking. Galen, who was an eminent physician, has said, that, so long as he followed these two rules, he suffered but little from such disorders, so little, that they never gave him above a day's uneasiness. That what he says is true, I am a living witness, and so are many others who know me, and have seen me, how often I have been exposed to heats and colds, and disagreeable changes of weather, without taking harm, and have likewise seen me (owing to various misfortunes which have more than once befallen me) greatly disturbed in mind; these things, however, did me but little harm, whereas, other members of my family, who followed not my way of living, were greatly disturbed; such in a word, was their grief and dejection at seeing me involved in expensive law suits, commenced against me by great and powerful men, that, fearing I should be ruined, they were seized with great melancholy humour, with which intemperate bodies always abound, and such influence had it over their bodies, that they were carried off before their time; whereas, I suffered nothing on the occasion, as I had in me no superfluous humours of that kind; nay, in order to keep up my spirits, I brought myself to think that God had permitted these suits against me, in order to make me more sensible of my strength of body and mind; and that I should get the better of them with honour and advantage, as it, in fact, came to pass; for, at last, I obtained a decree exceedingly favourable to my fortune and character.

But I may go a step farther, and show how favourable to recovery is a temperate life, in case of accident. At the age of seventy years, I happened, as is often the case, to be in a coach, which, going at a smart rate, was upset, and in that condition drawn a considerable way before the horses could be stopped. I received so many shocks and bruises, that I was taken out with my head and body terribly battered, and a dislocated leg and arm. When the physicians saw me in so bad a plight, they concluded that in three days I should die, but thought they would try what bleeding and purging would do, in order to prevent inflammation and fever. But I, on the contrary, knowing that, by reason of the sober life I had lived for so many years, my blood was in good and pure condition, refused to be either purged or bled. I just caused my arm and leg to be set, and suffered myself to be rubbed with some oils, which they said were proper on the occasion. Thus, without using any other kind of remedy, I recovered, as I thought I should, without feeling the least alteration in myself, or any bad effects from the accident; a thing which appeared no less than miraculous in the eyes of the physicians. Hence, we may infer, that he who leads a sober and regular life, and commits no excess in his diet, can suffer but little from mental disorders or external accidents. On the contrary, I conclude, especially from the late trial I have had, that excesses in eating and drinking are often fatal. Four years ago, I consented to increase the quantity of my food by two ounces, my friends and relations having, for some time past, urged upon me the necessity of such increase, that the quantity I took was too little for one so advanced in years; against this, I urged that nature was content with little, and that with this small quantity I had pre- served myself for many years in health and activity, that I believed as a man advanced in years, his stomach grew weaker, and therefore the tendency should be to lessen the amount of food rather than to in- crease. I further reminded them of the two proverbs, which say: he who has a. mind to eat a great deal, must eat but little; eating little makes life long, and, living long, he must eat much; and the other proverb was: that, what we leave after making a hearty meal, does us more good than what we have eaten. But my arguments and proverbs were not able to prevent them teasing me upon the subject; therefore, not to appear obstinate, or affecting to know more than the physicians themselves, but above all, to please my family, I consented to the increase before mentioned; so that, whereas previous, what with bread, meat, the

yolk of an egg, and soup, I ate as much as twelve ounces, neither more nor less, I now increased it to fourteen; and whereas before I drank but fourteen ounces of wine, I now increased it to sixteen. This increase, 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. On the twelfth day, I was attacked with a violent pain in my side, which lasted twenty-two hours and was followed by a fever, which continued thirty-five days without any respite, insomuch that all looked upon me as a dead man; but, God be praised, I recovered, 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.

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