Alkalyn

 

Since, therefore, it appears that a regular life is so profitable and virtuous, it ought to be universally followed; and more so, as it does not clash with duties of any kind, but is easy to all. Neither is it necessary that all should eat as little as I do—twelve ounces—or not to eat of many things from which I, because of the natural weakness of my stomach, abstain. Those with whom all kinds of food agree, may eat of such, only they are forbidden to eat a greater quantity, even of that which agrees with them best, than their stomachs can with ease digest. The same is to be understood of drink. The only rule for such to observe in eating and drinking, is the quantity rather than the quality; but for those who, like myself, are weak of constitution, these must not only be careful as to quantity, but also to quality, partaking only of such things as are simple, and easy to digest. 

Let no one tell me that there are numbers, who, though they live most irregularly, attain in health and spirits to a great age. This argument is grounded on uncertainty and hazard, and such cases are rare. Men should not, therefore, because of these exceptional cases, be persuaded to irregularity or indulgence. Whoever, trusting to the strength of his constitution, slights these observations, may expect to suffer by so doing, and to live in constant danger of disease and death. I therefore affirm, that a man, even of a bad constitution, who leads a strictly regular and sober life, is surer of a long one, than he of the best constitution who lives carelessly and irregularly. If men have a mind to live long and healthy, and die without sickness of body or mind, but by mere dissolution, they must submit to a regular and abstemious life, for such a life keeps the blood clean and pure. It suffers no vapours to ascend from the stomach to the head; hence, the brain of him who thus lives enjoys constant serenity; he can soar above the low and grovelling concerns of this life to the exalted and beautiful contemplation of heavenly things to his exceeding comfort and satisfaction. He then truly discerns the brutality of those excesses into which men fall, and which bring them misery here and hereafter; while he may with comfort look forward to a long life, conscious that, through the mercy of God, he has relinquished the paths of vice and intemperance, never again to enter them; and, through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to die in His favour. He therefore does not suffer himself to be cast down with the thoughts of death, knowing that it will not attack him violently, or by surprise, or with sharp pains and feverish sensations, but will come upon him with ease and gentleness; like a lamp, the oil of which is exhausted, he will pass gently, and without any sickness, from this terrestrial and mortal, to a celestial and eternal life.

Some sensual unthinking persons affirm, that a long life is no great blessing, and that the state of a man, who has passed his seventy-fifth year, cannot really be called life; but this is wrong, as I shall fully prove; and it is my sincere wish, that all men would endeavour to attain my age, that they might enjoy that period of life, which of all others is most desirable. 

I will therefore give an account of my recreations, and the relish which I find at this stage of life. There are many who can give testimony as to the happiness of my life. In the first place, they see with astonishment the good state of my health and spirits; how I mount my horse without assistance, how I not only ascend a flight of stairs, but can climb a hill with greatest ease. Then, how gay and good-humoured I am; my mind ever undisturbed, in fact, joy and peace having fixed their abode in my breast. Moreover, they know in what manner I spend my time, so as never to find life weary: I pass my hours in great delight and pleasure, in converse with men of good sense and intellectual culture; then, when I cannot enjoy their company, 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 other things to be of service to others; and these things I do with the greatest ease to myself, living in a pleasant house in the most beautiful quarter of this noble city of Padua. Besides this house, I have my gardens, supplied with pleasant streams in which I always find something to do which

amuses me. Nor are my recreations rendered less agreeable by the failing of any of my senses, for they are all, thank God, perfect, particularly my palate, which now relishes better the simple fare I have, than it formerly did the most delicate dishes, when I led an irregular life. Nor does the change of beds give me any uneasiness: I can sleep everywhere soundly and quietly, and my dreams are pleasant and delightful. It is likewise with the greatest pleasure I behold the success of an undertaking so important to this state; I mean that of draining and improving so many uncultivated pieces of ground, an undertaking begun within my memory, but which I thought I should never see completed; nevertheless I have, and was even in person assisting in the work for two months together, in those marshy places during the heats in summer, without ever finding myself worse for the fatigues or inconveniences I suffered; of so much efficacy is that orderly life, which I everywhere constantly lead.

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