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THE HISTORY OF LIFE AND DEATH.
It is an ancient saying and complaint, that life is short and art long; wherefore t 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.
That 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 in 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 office 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 forner 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 durable, in bodies inanimate or without life, as also in vegetables; but that not in a large or just treatise, but as in a brief or summary only.
2. Also inquire diligently of desiccation, arefaction, and consumption of bodies inanimate, and of vegetables, and of the ways and processes by which they are done: and, further, of inhibiting and delaying of desiccation, arefaction, and consumption, and of the conservation of bodies in their proper state: and, again, of the inteneration, emollition, and recovery of bodies to their former freshness, after they be once dried and withered. Neither need the inquisition touching these things to be full or exact, seeing they pertain rather to their proper title of nature durable; seeing also, they are not principles in this inquisition, but serve only to give light to the prolongation and instauration of life in living creatures. In which (as was said before) the same things come to pass, but in a particular manner. So, from the inquisition touching bodies inanimate, and vegetables, let the inquisition pass on to other living creatures besides man.
3. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in living creatures, with the due circumstances which make most for their long or short lives.
4. But because the duration of bodies is twofold, one in identity, or the selfsame substance,
the other by a renovation or reparation; whereof the former hath place only in bodies inanimate, the latter in vegetables and living creatures, and is perfected by alimentation or nourishment; therefore, it will be fit to inquire of alimentation, and of the ways and progresses thereof; yet this not exactly, (because it pertains properly to the titles of assimilation and alimentation,) but, as the rest, in progress only.
From the inquisition touching living creatures and bodies repaired by nourishment, pass on to the inquisition touching man. And, now being come to the principal subject of inquisition, the inquisition ought to be, in all points, more precise and accurate.
5. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in men, according to the ages of the world, the several regions, climates, and places of their nativity and habitation.
6. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in men, according to their races and families, as if it were a thing hereditary; also, accord. ing to their complexions, constitutions, and habits of body, their statures, the manner and time of their growth, and the making and composition of their members.
7. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in men, according to the time of their nativity, but so as you omit, for the present, all astrological observations, and the figures of
heaven under which they were born, only insist upon the vulgar and manifest observations; as, whether they were born in the seventh, eighth, ninth, or tenth month; also, whether by night or by day, and in what month of the year.
8. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in men, according to their fare, diet, government of their life, exercises, and the like. For, as for the air in which men live, and make their abode, we account that proper to be inquired of in the abovesaid article, touching the places of ❘ their habitation.
9. Inquire touching the length and shortness of life in men, according to their studies, their several courses of life, the affections of the mind, and divers accidents befalling them.
the character and form of old age, which will then be best done if you make a collection of all the differences, both in the state and functions of the body, betwixt youth and old age, that by them you may observe what it is that produceth such manifold effects; let not this inquisition be omitted.
17. Inquire diligently touching the differences in the state of the body, and the faculties of the mind in youth and old age; and whether there be any that remain the same, without alteration or abatement, in old age.
Nature durable, and not durable.
To the first article. The history.
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 through perspiration into air; yet gold decays neither way.
11. Inquire touching the signs and prognostics of long and short life, not those which betoken death at hand, (for they belong to a history of physic,) but those which are seen, and may be observed even in health, whether they be physiognomical signs or any other.
Hitherto have been propounded inquisitions touching length and shortness of life, besides the rules of art, and in a confused manner; now we think to add some, which shall be more art-like, and tending to practice, under the name of intentions. Those intentions are generally three; as for the particular distributions of them, we will propound them when we come to the inquisition itself. The three general intentions are the forbidding of waste and consumption, the perfecting of reparation, and the renewing of oldness.
12. Inquire touching those things which conserve and exempt the body of man from arefaction and consumption, at least, which put off and protract the inclination thereunto.
13. Inquire touching those things which pertain to the whole process of alimentation, (by which the body of man is repaired,) that it may be good, and with the best improvement.
14. Inquire touching those things which purge out the old matter, and supply with new; as also which do intenerate and moisten those parts which are already dried and hardened.
But, because it will be hard to know the ways of death, unless we search out and discover the seat or house, or rather den of death, it will be convenient to make inquisition of this thing; yet not of every kind of death, but of those deaths which are caused by want and indigence of nourishment, not by violence, for they are those deaths only which pertain to a decay of nature, and mere old age.
15. Inquire touching the point of death, and the porches of death leading thereunto from all parts, so as that death be caused by a decay of nature, and not by violence.
2. Quicksilver, though it be a humid and fluid body, and easily made volatile by fire, yet, (as we have observed,) by age alone, without fire, it neither wasteth nor gathereth rust.
3. Stones, especially the harder sort of them, and many other fossils, are of long lasting, and that though they be exposed to the open air; much more if they be buried in the earth. Notwithstanding, stones gather a kind of nitre, which is to them instead of rust. Precious stones and crystals exceed metals in long lasting; but then they grow dimmer and less orient if they be very old.
4. It is observed that stones lying towards the north do sooner decay with age than those that lie towards the south; and that appears manifestly in pyramids, and churches, and other ancient buildings; contrariwise, in iron, that exposed to the south, gathers rust sooner, and that to the north later; as may be seen in the iron bars of windows, and no marvel, seeing in all putrefaction (as rust is) moisture hastens dissolutions; in all simple arefaction, dryness.
5. In vegetables, (we speak of such as are felled, not growing,) the stocks or bodies of harder trees, and the timber made of them, last divers ages. But then there is difference in the bodies of trees: some trees are, in a manner, spongy, as the elder, in which the pith in the midst is soft, and the outward part harder; but in timber trees, as the oak, the inner part (which they call heart of oak) lasteth longer.
6. The leaves, and flowers, and stalks of plants are but of short lasting, but dissolve into dust, unless they putrefy; the roots are more durable.
7. The bones of living creatures last long, as we may see it of men's bones in charnel-houses; horns, also, last very long; so do teeth, as it is seen in ivory, and the sea-horse teeth.
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.
9. Such things as have passed the fire last long, as glass and bricks; likewise flesh and fruits that have passed the fire, last longer than raw; and that not only because the baking of the fire forbids putrefaction, but also because the watery humour being drawn forth, the oily humour supports itself the longer.
10. Water of all liquors is soonest drunk up by air; contrariwise, oil latest; which we may see not only in the liquors themselves, but in the liquors mixed with other bodies; for paper wet with water, and so getting some degree of transparency, will soon after wax white, and lose the transparency again, the watery vapour exhaling; but oiled paper will keep the transparency long, the oil not being apt to exhale; and, therefore, they that counterfeit men's hands will lay the oiled paper upon the writing they mean to counterfeit, and then essay to draw the lines.
violet, strawberry, burnet, primrose, and sorrel. But borage and bugloss, which seem so alike when they are alive, differ in their deaths; for borage will last but one year, bugloss will last more.
14. But many hot herbs bear their age and years better; hyssop, thyme, savory, pot marjoram, balm, wormwood, germander, sage, and the like. Fennel dies yearly in the stalk, buds again from the root; but pulse and sweet marjoram can better endure age than winter, for being set in a very warm place and well fenced, they will live more than one year. It is known that a knot of hyssop twice a year shorn hath continued forty years.
15. Bushes and shrubs live threescore years, and some double as much. A vine may attain to threescore years, and continue fruitful in the old age. Rosemary well placed will come also to 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.
12. But the equal or unequal use of things conduceth no less to long lasting, or short lasting, than the things themselves; for timber, and stones, and other bodies standing continually in the water, or continually in the air, last longer than if they were sometimes wet, sometimes dry; and so stones continue longer if they be laid towards the same coast of heaven in the building that they lay in the mine. The same is of plants removed, if they be coasted just as they were before.
age thereof is not certainly known, because bow. ing the head to the ground it gets new roots, so as you cannot distinguish the old from the new.
16. Amongst great trees the longest livers are the oak, the holm, wild ash, the elm, the beech tree, the chestnut, the plane tree, ficus ruminalis, the lote tree, the wild olive, the palm tree, and the mulberry tree. Of these some have come to the age of eight hundred years; but the least livers of them do attain to two hundred.
17. But trees odorate, or that have sweet woods, and trees rozenny, last longer in their woods or timber than those abovesaid, but they are not so long-lived as the cypress tree, maple, pine, box, juniper. The cedar being borne out by the vastness of his body, lives well near as long as the former.
(1.) Let this be laid for a foundation, which is most sure, that there is in every tangible body a spirit, or body pneumatical, enclosed and covered 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 detaining of this spirit.
(2.) This spirit is detained two ways; either by a straight enclosure, as it were, in a prison, or by a kind of free and voluntary detention. Again, this voluntary stay is persuaded two ways: either if the spirit itself be not too movable or eager to depart, or if the external air importune it not too much to come forth. So then, two sorts of substances are durable, hard substances and oily hard substance binds in the spirits close; oily, partly enticeth the spirit to stay, partly is of that nature that it is not importuned by air; for air is consubstantial to water, and flame to oil; and touching nature durable and not durable in bodies inanimate, thus much.
13. Herbs of the colder sort die yearly, both in root and stalk, as lettuce, purslane; also wheat, and all kind of corn; yet there are some cold
which also the birch, maple, and service tree sometimes do; but the poplar, lime tree, willow, and that which they call the sycamore, and walnut tree, live not so long.
19. The apple tree, pear tree, plum tree, pomegranate tree, citron tree, medlar tree, black cherry tree, cherry tree, may attain to fifty or sixty years; especially if they be cleansed from the moss wherewith some of them are clothed.
20. Generally greatness of body in trees, if other things be equal, hath some congruity with length of life; so hath hardness of substance; and trees bearing mast or nuts are commonly longer livers than trees bearing fruit or berries; likewise trees putting forth their leaves late, and shedding them late again, live longer than those that are early either in leaves or fruit; the like is of wild trees in comparison of orchard trees. And, lastly, in the same kind trees that bear a sour fruit outlive those that bear a sweet fruit.
Aristotle noted well the difference between plants and living creatures, in respect of their nourishment and reparation: namely, that the bodies of living creatures are confined within certain bounds, and that after they become to their full growth, they are continued and preserved by nourishment, but they put forth nothing new except hair and nails, which are counted for no better than excrements; so as the juice of living creatures must of necessity sooner wax old; but in trees, which put forth yearly new boughs, new shoots, new leaves, and new fruits, it comes to pass that all these parts in trees are once a year young and renewed. Now, it being so, that whatsoever is fresh and young draws the nourishment more lively and cheerfully to it than that which is decayed and old, it happens withal, that the stock and body of the tree, through which the sap passeth to the branches, is refreshed and cheered with a more bountiful and vigorous nourishment in the passage than otherwise it would have been. And this appears manifest (though Aristotle noted it not, neither hath he expressed these things so clearly and perspicuously) in hedges, copses, and pollards, when the plashing, shedding, or lopping, comforteth the old stem or stock, and maketh it more flourishing and long-lived. Desiccation, Prohibiting of Desiccation, and Inteneration of that which is desiccated and dried.
To the second article. The History.
4. Age most of all, but yet slowest of all, drieth; as in all bodies which (if they be not prevented by putrefaction) are dry with age. But age is nothing of itself, being only the measure of time; that which causeth the effect is the native spirit of bodies, which sucketh up the moisture of the body, and then, together with it, flieth forth, and the air ambient, which multiplieth itself upon the native spirits and juices of the body, and preyeth upon them.
5. Cold, of all things, most properly drieth; for drying is not caused but by contraction; now, contraction is the proper work of cold. But, because we men have heat in a high degree, namely, that of fire, but cold in a very low degree, no other than that of winter, or perhaps of ice, or of snow, or of nitre; therefore, the drying caused by cold is but weak, and easily resolved. Notwithstanding we see the surface of the earth to be more dried by frost or by March winds than by the sun, seeing the same wind both licketh up the moisture, and affecteth with coldness.
6. Smoke is a drier, as in bacon and neats' tongues, which are hanged up in the chimneys; and perfumes of olibanum or lignum aloes, and the like, dry the brain and cure catarrhs.
7. Salt, after some reasonable continuance, drieth not only on the outside, but in the inside also, as in flesh and fish salted, which, if they have continued any long time, have a manifest
3. Hot gums applied to the skin dry and wrinkle it, and some astringent waters also do
1. Fire and strong heats dry some things and the same. melt others.
"Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit,
Uno eodemque igne ?"
How this clay is hardened, and how this wax is melted, with one and the same thing, fire? It drieth earth, stones, wood, cloth, and skins, and whatsoever is not liquifiable; and it melteth metals, wax, gums, butter, tallow, and the like.
2. Notwithstanding, even in those things which the fire melteth, if it be very vehement and continueth, it doth at last dry them. For metal in a strong fire, (gold only excepted,) the volatile part being gone forth, will become less ponderous and more brittle; and those oily and fat substances in the like fire will burn up, and be dried and parched.
9. Spirit of strong waters imitateth the fire in drying, for it will both poach an egg put into it and toast bread.
10. Powders dry like sponges by drinking up the moisture, as it is in sand thrown upon lines new written; also, smoothness and politeness of bodies (which suffer not the vapour of moisture to go in by the pores) dry by accident, because it exposeth it to the air, as it is seen in precious stones, looking-glasses, ai.d blades of swords, upon which if you breathe, you shall see at first a little mist, but soon after it vanisheth like a cloud. And thus much for desiccation or drying.
11. They use at this day, in the east parts of Germany, garners in vaults under ground, wherein they keep wheat and other grains, laying a good quantity of straw both under the grains and about them, to save them from the dampness of the vault, by which device they keep their grains twenty or thirty years. And this doth not only preserve them from fustiness, but (that which pertains more to the present inquisition) preserves them also in that greenness that they are fit and
3. Air, especially open air, doth manifestly dry, but not melt; as highways, and the upper part of the earth, moistened with showers, are dried; linen clothes washed, if they be hanged out in the air, are likewise dried; herbs, and leaves, and flowers, laid forth in the shade, are dried. But much more suddenly doth the air this, if it be either enlightened with the sun-serviceable to make bread. The same is reported beams, (so that they cause no putrefaction,) or if the air be stirred, as when the wind bloweth, or in rooms open on all sides.
to have been in use in Cappadocia and Thracia, and some parts of Spain.
12. The placing of garners on the tops of