« AnteriorContinuar »
THE HISTORY OF LIFE AND DEATH.
It is an ancient saying and complaint, that life is short and art long; wherefore i behoveth us, who make it our chiefest aim to perfect arts, to take upon us the consideration of prolonging man's life, God, the author of all truth and life, prospering our endeavours. For, though the life of man be nothing else but a mass and accumulation of sins and sorrows, and they that look for an eternal life set but light by a temporary: yet the continuation of works of charity ought not to be contemned, even by us Christians. Besides, the beloved disciple of our Lord survived the other disciples; and many of the fathers of the church, especially of the holy monks and hermits, were long-lived ; which shows, that this blessing of long life, so often promised in the old law, had less abatement after our Saviour's days than other earthly blessings had; but to esteem of this as the chiefest good, we are but too prone. Only the inquiry is difficult how to attain the same, and so much the rather, because it is corrupted with false opinions and vain reports : for both those things, which the vulgar physicians talk of, radical moisture and natural heat, are but mere fictions; and the immoderate praises of chymical medicines first puff up with vain hopes, and then fail their admirers.
And as for that death which is caused by suffocation, putrefaction, and several diseases, we speak not of it now, for that pertains to a history of physic; but only of that death which comes by a total decay of the body, and the inconcoction of old age. Nevertheless, the last act of death. and the very extinguishing of life itself, which may so many ways be wrought outwardly and inwardly, (which, notwithstanding, have, as it were, one common porch before it comes to the point of death,) will be pertinent to be inquired of in this treatise; but we reserve that for the last place.
Thai which may be repaired by degrees, without a total waste of the first stock, is potentially eternal, as the vestal fire. Therefore, when physicians and philosophers saw that living creatures were nourished and their bodies repaired, but that this did last only for a time, and afterwards came old age, and in the end dissolution; they sought death in somewhat which could not properly be repaired, supposing a radical moisture incapable of solid reparation, and which, from the first infancy, received a spurious addition, but no true reparation, whereby it grew daily worse and worse, and, in the end, brought the bad to none at all. This conceit of theirs was both ignorant and vain; for all things living creatures are in their youth repaired entirely ; nay, they are for a time increased in quantity, bettered in quality, so as the matter of reparation might be eternal, if the manner of reparation did not fail. But this is the truth of it. There is in the declining of age an unequal reparation; some parts are repaired easily, others with difficulty and to their loss; so as from that time the bodies of men begin to endure the torments of Mezentius: that the living die in the embraces of the dead; and the parts easily repairable, through their conjunction with the parts hardly repairable, do decay; for the spirits, blood, flesh, and fat are, even after the decline of years, easily repaired; but the drier and more porous parts (as the membranes, all the tunicles, the sinews, arteries, veins, bones, cartilages, most of the bowels, in a word, almost all the organical parts) are hardly repairable, and to their loss. Now, these hardly repairable parts, when they come to their ollice of repairing the other, which are easily repairable, finding themselves deprived of their wanted ability and strength, cease to perform any longer their proper functions. By which means it comes to pass, that in process of time the whole tends to dissolution; and even those very parts which, in their own nature, are with much ease repairable, yet, through the decay of the organs of reparation, can no more receive reparation, but decline, and in the end utterly fail. And the cause of the termination of life is this, for that the spirits, like a gentle flame, continually preying upon bodies, conspiring with the outward air, which is ever sucking and drying of them, do, in time, destroy the whole fabric of the body, as also the particular engines and organs thereof, and make them unable for the work of reparation. These are the true ways of natural death, well and faithfully to be revolved in our minds; for he that knows not the way of nature, how can he succour her or turn her about?
Therefore, the inquisition ought to be twofold ; the one touching the consumption or depredation of the body of man, the other touching the reparation and renovation of the same: to the end, that
the former may, as much as is possible, be forbidden and restrained, and the latter comforted. The forlaer of these pertains, especially, to the spirits and outward air, by which the depredation and waste is committed; the latter to the whole race of alimentation or nourishment, whereby the renovation or restitution is made. And, as for the former part, touching consumption, this hath many things common with bodies inanimate, or without life. For such things as the native spirit (which is in all tangible bodies, whether living or without life) and the ambient or external air worketh upon bodies inanimate, the same it attempteth upon animate or living bodies; although the vital spirit superadded, doth partly break and bridle those operations, partly exalt, and advance them wonderfully. For it is most manifest that inanimate bodies (most of them) will endure a long time without any reparation; but bodies animate, without food and reparation, suddenly fall and are extinguished, as the fire is. So, then, our inquisition shall be double. First, we will consider the body of man as inanimate, and not repaired by nourishment. Secondly, as animate, and repaired by nourishment. Thus, having prefaced these things, we come now to the topic-places of inquisition.
ARTICLES OF INQUISITION TOUCHING LIFE AND DEATH.
1. First, inquire of nature, durable and not the other by a renovation or reparation; whereof durable, in bodies inanimate or without life, as the former hath place only in bodies inanimate, also in vegetables; but that not in a large or just the latter in vegetables and living creatures, and treatise, but as in a brief or summary only. is perfected by alimentation or nourishment;
2. Also inquire diligently of desiccation, are- therefore, it will be fit to inquire of alimentation, faction, and consumption of bodies inanimate, and and of the ways and progresses thereof; yet this of vegetables, and of the ways and processes by not exactly, (because it pertains properly to the which they are done : and, further, of inhibiting titles of assimilation and alimentation,) but, as and delaying of desiccation, arefaction, and con- the rest, in progress only. sumption, and of the conservation of bodies in From the inquisition touching living creatures their proper state : and, again, of the inteneration, and bodies repaired by nourishment, pass on to emollition, and recovery of bodies to their former the inquisition touching man. And, now being freshness, after they be once dried and withered. come to the principal subject of inquisition, the
Neither need the inquisition touching these inquisition ought to be, in all points, more prethings to be full or exact, seeing they pertain cise and accurate. rather to their proper title of nature durable ; see- 5. Inquire touching the length and shortness ing also, they are not principles in this inquisition, of life in men, according to the ages of the world, but serve only to give light to the prolongation the several regions, climates, and places of their and instauration of life in living creatures. In nativity and habitation. which (as was said before) the same things come 6. Inquire touching the length and shortness to pass, but in a particular manner. So, from the of life in men, according to their races and famiinquisition touching bodies inanimate, and vegeta- lies, as if it were a thing hereditary; also, accord. bles, let the inquisition pass on to other living ing to their complexions, constitutions, and habits creatures besides man.
of body, their statures, the manner and time of 3. Inquire touching the length and shortness their growth, and the making and composition of of life in living creatures, with the due circum- their members. stances which make most for their long or short 7. Inquire touching the length and shortness lives.
of life in men, according to the time of their 4. But because the duration of bodies is two- nativity, but so as you omit, for the present, ali fold, one in identity, or the selfsame substance, I astrological observations, and the figures of
To the first article.
heaven under which they were born, only insist the character and form of old age, which will upon the vulgar and manifest observations; as, then be best done if you make a collection of all whether they were born in the seventh, eighth, the differences, both in the state and functions of ninth, or tenth month; also, whether by night or the body, betwixt youth and old age, that by them by day, and in what month of the year. you may observe what it is that produceth such
8. Inquire touching the length and shortness manifold effects ; let not this inquisition be of life in men, according to their fare, diet, govern- omitted. ment of their life, exercises, and the like. For, 17. Inquire diligently touching the differences as for the air in which men live, and make their in the state of the body, and the faculties of the abode, we account that proper to be inquired of mind in youth and old age; and whether there in the abovesaid article, touching the places of be any that remain the same, without alteration or their habitation.
abatement, in old age. 9. Inquire touching the length and shortness
Nature durable, and not durable. of life in men, according to their studies, their several courses of life, the affections of the mind,
The history. and divers accidents befalling them.
1. Metals are of that long lasting, that men 10. Inquire, apart, touching those medicines cannot trace the beginnings of them; and when which are thought to prolong life.
they do decay, they decay through rust, not 11. Inquire touching the signs and prognostics through perspiration into air; yet gold decays of long and short life, not those which betoken neither way. death at hand, (for they belong to a history of 2. Quicksilver, though it be a humid and fiuid physic,) but those which are seen, and may be body, and easily made volatile by fire, yet, (as observed even in health, whether they be physi- we have observed,) by age alone, without fire, it ognomical signs or any other.
neither wasteth nor gathereth rust. Hitherto have been propounded inquisitions 3. Stones, especially the harder sort of them, touching length and shortness of life, besides the and many other fossils, are of long lasting, and rules of art, and in a confused manner; now we that though they be exposed to the open air; think to add some, which shall be more art-like, much more if they be buried in the earth. Notand tending to practice, under the name of inten- withstanding, stones gather a kind of nitre, which tions. Those intentions are generally three; as is to them instead of rust. Precious stones and for the particular distributions of them, we will crystals exceed metals in long lasting; but then propound them when we come to the inquisition they grow dimmer and less orient if they be very itself. The three general intentions are the for- old. bidding of waste and consumption, the perfecting 4. It is observed that stones lying towards the of reparation, and the renewing of oldness. north do sooner decay with age than those that
12. Inquiro touching those things which con- lie towards the south; and that appears manifestly serve and exempt the body of man from arefaction in pyramids, and churches, and other ancient and consumption, at least, which put off and pro- buildings; contrariwise, in iron, that exposed to tract the inclination thereunto.
the south, gathers rust sooner, and that to the 13. Inquire touching those things which pertain north later; as may be seen in the iron bars of to the whole process of alimentation, (by which windows, and no marvel, seeing in all putrefacthe body of man is repaired,) that it may be tion (as rust is) moisture hastens dissolutions ; good, and with the best improvement.
in all simple arefaction, dryness. 14. Inquire touching those things which purge 5. In vegetables, (we speak of such as are fell. out the old matter, and supply with new; as also ed, not growing,) the stocks or bodies of harder which do intenerate and moisten those parts trees, and the timber made of them, last divers which are already dried and hardened.
ages. But then there is difference in the bodies But, because it will be hard to know the ways of trees: some trees are, in a manner, spongy, as of death, unless we search out and discover the the elder, in which the pith in the midst is soft, seat or house, or rather den of death, it will be and the outward part harder; but in timber trees, convenient to make inquisition of this thing; yet as the oak, the inner part (which they call heart nut of every kind of death, but of those deaths of oak) lasteth longer. which are caused by want and indigence of 6. The leaves, and flowers, and stalks of plants nourishment, not by violence, for they are those are but of short lasting, but dissolve into dust, deaths only which pertain to a decay of nature, unless they putrefy; the roots are more durable. and mere old age.
7. The bones of living creatures last long, as 15. Inquire touching the point of death, and we may see it of men's bones in charnel-houses; the porches of death leading th eunto from all horns, also, last very long; so do teeth, as it is parts, so as that death be caused by a decay of seen in ivory, and the sea-horse teeth. mature, and not by violence.
8. Hides, also, and skins, endure very long, as 16. Lastly, because it is behoveful to know is evident in old parchment hooks: paper, like
wise will last many ages, though not so long as herbs which will last three or four years, as the parchment.
violet, strawberry, burnet, primrose, and sorrel. 9. Such things as have passed the fire last But borage and bugloss, which seem so alike long, as glass and bricks; likewise flesh and when they are alive, differ in their deaths; for fruits that have passed the fire, last longer than borage will last but one year, bugloss will las! raw; and that not only because the baking of more. the fire forbids putrefaction, but also because 14. But many hot herbs bear their age and the watery humour being drawn forth, the oily years better; hyssop, thyme, savory, pot marjohumour supports itself the longer.
ram, balm, wormwood, germander, sage, and the 10. Water of all liquors is soonest drunk up by like. Fennel dies yearly in the stalk, buds again air; contrariwise, oil latest; which we may see from the root; but pulse and sweet marjoram can not only in the liquors themselves, but in the better endure age than winter, for being set in a liquors mixed with other bodies; for paper wet very warm place and well fenced, they will live with water, and so getting some degree of trans- more than one year. It is known that a knot of parency, will soon after wax white, and lose the hyssop twice a year shorn hath continued forty transparency again, the watery vapour exhalıng; years. but oiled paper will keep the transparency long, 15. Bushes and shrubs live threescore years, the oil not being apt to exhale; and, therefore, they and some double as much. A vine may attain to that counterfeit men's hands will lay the oiled threescore years, and continue fruitful in the old paper upon the writing they mean to counterfeit, age. Rosemary well placed will come also to and then essay to draw the lines.
threescore years; but whitethorn and ivy endure 11. Gums, all of them, last very long; the like above a hundred years. As for the bramble, the do wax and honey.
age thereof is not certainly known, because bow. 12. But the equal or unequal use of things ing the head to the ground it gets new roots, so as conduceth no less to long lasting, or short lasting, you cannot distinguish the old from the new. than the things themselves; for timber, and 16. Amongst great trees the longest livers are stones, and other bodies standing continually in the oak, the holm, wild ash, the elm, the beech the water, or continually in the air, last longer tree, the chestnut, the plane tree, ficus ruminalis, than if they were sometimes wet, sometimes dry; the lote tree, the wild olive, the palm tree, and the and so stones continue longer if they be laid to- mulberry tree. Of these some have come to the wards the same coast of heaven in the building age of eight hundred years; but the least livers that they lay in the mine. The same is of plants of them do attain to two hundred. removed, if they be coasted just as they were 17. 'But trees odorate, or that have sweet woods, before.
and trees rozenny, last longer in their woods or
timber than those abovesaid, but they are not so Observations.
long-lived as the cypress tree, maple, pine, box, (1.) Let this be laid for a foundation, which is
juniper. The cedar being borne out by the vastmost sure, that there is in every tangible body a
ness of his body, lives well near as long as the spirit, or body pneumatical, enclosed and covered former. with the tangible parts; and that from this spirit
18. The ash, fertile and forward in bearing, is the beginning of all dissolution and consump-reacheth to a hundred years and somewhat better; tion, so as the antidote against them is the de- which also the birch, maple, and service tree taining of this spirit.
sometimes do; but the poplar, lime tree, willow, (2.) This spirit is detained two ways ; either and that which they call the sycamore, and walnut by a straight enclosure, as it were, in a prison, tree, live not so long. or by a kind of free and voluntary detention.
19. The apple tree, pear tree, plum tree, pomeAgain, this voluntary stay is persuaded two ways: granate tree, citron tree, medlar tree, black cherry either if the spirit itself be not too movable or tree, cherry tree, may attain to fifty or sixty years ; eager to depart, or if the external air importune it especially if they be cleansed from the moss not too much to come forth. So then, two sorts wherewith some of them are clothed. of substances are durable, hard substances and
20. Generally greatness of body in trees, if oily: hard substance binds in the spirits close; other things be equal, hath some congruity with oily, partly enticeth the spirit to stay, partly is of length of life; so hath hardness of substance ; that nature that it is not importuned by air ; for and trees bearing mast or nuts are commonly air is consubstantial to water, and flame to oil; longer livers than trees bearing fruit or berries; and touching nature durable and not durable in likewise trees putting forth their leaves late, and bodies inanimate, thus much.
shedding them late again, live longer than those The History.
that are early either in leaves or fruit; the like is 13. Herbs of the colder sort die yearly, both in of wild trees in comparison of orchard trees. root and stalk, as lettuce, purslane; also wheat, And, lastly, in the same kind trees that bear a and all kind of corn; yet there are some cold sour fruit outlive those that bear a sweet fruit.
4. Age most of all, but yet slowest of all, Aristotle noted well the difference between drieth ; as in all bodies which (if they be not plants and living creatures, in respect of their prevented by putrefaction) are dry with age. But nourishment and reparation : namely, that the bo- age is nothing of itself, being only the measure dies of living creatures are confined within certain of time; that which causeth the effect is the bounds, and that after they become to their full native spirit of bodies, which sucketh up the growth, they are continued and preserved by nou- moisture of the body, and then, together with it, rishment, but they put forth nothing new except fieth forth, and the air ambient, which multihair and nails, which are counted for no better plieth itself upon the native spirits and juices of than excrements; so as the juice of living crea- the body, and preyeth upon them. tures must of necessity sooner wax old; but in
5. Cold, of all things, most properly drieth; trees, which put forth yearly new boughs, new for drying is not caused but by contraction; now, shoots, new leaves, and new fruits, it comes to contraction is the proper work of cold. But, bepass that all these parts in trees are once a year cause we men have heat in a high degree, namely, young and renewed. Now, it being so, that what-that of fire, but cold in a very low degree, no soever is fresh and young draws the nourishment other than that of winter, or perhaps of ice, or more lively and cheerfully to it than that which of snow, or of nitre; therefore, the drying caused is decayed and old, it happens withal, that the by cold is but weak, and easily resolved. Notstock and body of the tree, through which the sap withstanding we see the surface of the earth to passeth to the branches, is refreshed and cheered be more dried by frost or by March winds than with a more bountiful and vigorous nourishment by the sun, seeing the same wind both licketh in the passage than otherwise it would have been. up the moisture, and affecteth with coldness. And this appears manifest (though Aristotle noted
6. Smoke is a drier, as in bacon and neats' it not, neither hath he expressed these things so tongues, which are hanged up in the chimneys; clearly and perspicuously) in hedges, copses, and and perfumes of olibanum or lignum aloes, and pollards, when the plashing, shedding, or lop- the like, dry the brain and cure catarrhs. ping, comforteth the old stem or stock, and
7. Salt, after some reasonable continuance, maketh it more flourishing and long-lived.
drieth not only on the outside, but in the inside
also, as in fiesh and fish salted, which, if they Desiccation, Prohibiting of Desiccation, and Intene- have continued any long time, have a manifest ration of that which is desiccated and dried.
3. Hot gums applied to the skin dry and To the second article. The History.
wrinkle it, and some astringent waters also do 1. Fire and strong heats dry some things and the same. melt others.
9. Spirit of strong waters imitateth the fire in “Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit, drying, for it will both poach an egg put into it Uno eodemque igne ?"
and toast bread. How this clay is hardened, and how this wax 10. Powders dry like sponges by drinking up is melted, with one and the same thing, fire? It the moisture, as it is in sand thrown upon lines drieth earth, stones, wood, cloth, and skins, and new written; also, smoothness and politeness of whatsoever is not liquifiable; and it melteth bodies (which suffer not the vapour of moisture metals, wax, gums, butler, tallow, and the like.
to go in by the pores) dry by accident, because 2. Notwithstanding, even in those things which it exposeth it to the air, as it is seen in precious the fire melteth, if it be very vehement and con- stones, looking-glasses, ai.d blades of swords, tinueth, it doth at last dry them. For metal in a upon which if you breathe, you shall see at first strong fire, (gold only excepted,) the volatile part a little mist, but soon after it vanisheth like a being gone forth, will become less ponderous and cloud. And thus much for desiccation or drying. more brittle ; and those oily and fat substances 11. They use at this day, in the east parts of in the like fire will burn up, and be dried and Germany, garners in vaults under ground, wherein parched.
they keep wheat and other grains, laying a good 3. Air, especially open air, doth manifestly quantity of straw both under the grains and about dry, but not melt; as highways, and the upper them, to save them from the dampness of the part of the earth, moistened with showers, are vault, by which device they keep their grains dried ; linen clothes washed, if they be hanged twenty or thirty years. And this doth not only out in the air, are likewise dried; herbs, and preserve them from fustiness, but (that which leaves, and flowers, laid forth in the shade, are pertains more to the present inquisition) preserves dried. But much more suddenly doth the air them also in that greenness that they are fit and this, if it be either enlightened with the sun- serviceable to make bread. The same is reported heams, (so that they cause no putrefaction,) or to have been in use in Cappadocia and Thracia, it the air be stirred, as when the wind bloweth, and some parts of Spain. or in rooms open on all sides.
12. The placing of garners on the tops of