Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was provided by Ben R. Schneider, Lawrence University, Wisconsin. It is in the public domain. "Florio's Translation of Montaigne's Essays was first published in 1603. In 'The World's Classics' the first volume was published in 1904, and reprinted in 1910 and 1924." Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only.
HIS hudling up of so much trash, or packing of so many severall pieces, is done so strangely, as I never lay hands on it but when an over lazie idlenesse urgeth me, and nowhere but in mine owne house. So has it beene compact at sundry pauses, and contrived at severall intervalls, as occasions have sometime for many months together, here and there in other places detained me. Besides, I never correct my first imaginations by the second, it may happen I now and then alter some word rather to diversifie then take any thing away. My purpose is to represent the progress of my humours, that every part be seen or member distinguished as it was produced. I would to God I had begunne sooner, and knew the tracks of my changes and course of my variations. A boy whom I employed to write for me supposed he had gotten a rich bootie when he stole some parts which he best liked; but one thing comforts me, that he shall gaine no more than I lost by them. I am growne elder by seven or eight yeares since I beganne them; nor hath it beene with-out some new purchase. I have by the liberality of years acquainted my selfe with the stone-chollike. Their commerce and long conversation is not easily past over without some such-like fruite. I would be glad that of many other presents they have ever in store, to bestow upon such as waite upon them long, they had made choice of some one that had beene more acceptable unto me: for they could never possess me with any that, even from my infancy, I hated more. Of all accidents incident to age it was that I feared most. My selfe have many times thought I went on too farre, and that to hold out so long a journey, I must of necessitie in the end stumble upon some such unpleasing chance. I perceived plainly and protested sufficiently it was high time to depart, and that according to the rule of skilfull chirurgions, who when they must cut off some members life must be seared to the quicke and cut to the sound flesh. That nature is wont to make him pay untolerable usurie who doth not yeeld or pay the same in due time. I was so farre from being readie to make lawfull tender of it, that in eighteene months, or thereabouts, I have continued in so yrkesome and unpleasing plight, I have already learn'd to apply my selfe unto it; and am now entring into covenant with this chollicall kinde of life; for therein I finde matter wherewith to comfort me, and to hope better. So much are men enured in their miserable estate, that no condition is so poore but they will accept: so they may continue in the same. Heare Mæcenas -Debilem facito manu,And Tamburlane cloked the fantasticall cruelty he exercised upon Lazars or Leprousmen with a foolish kinde of humanitie, putting all he could finde or heare of to death, (as he said) to ridde them from so painefull and miserable a life as they lived. For there was none so wretched amongst them that would not rather have beene three times a leper than not to be at all. And Antisthenes the Stoick being very sicke, and crying out, 'Oh, who shall deliver me from my tormenting evils?' Diogenes, who was come to visite him, foorthwith presenting him a knife: 'Mary, this,' said he, 'and that very speedily, if thou please': 'I mean not of my life,' replied be, 'but of my sickness.' The sufferances which simply touch us in minde doe much lesse afflict me then most men: partly by judgement; for the world deemeth diverse things horible, or avoydable with the losse of life, to me are in a manner indifferent: partly by a stupid and insensible complexion, I have in accidents that hit me not point-blancke: which complexion I esteeme one of the better partes of my naturall condition. But the truely-essentiall and corporall sufferances, those I taste very sensibly: yet is it, having other times fore-apprehended them with a delicate and weake sight, and by the enjoying of this long health and happy rest, which God hath lent me the better part of my age, somewhat impaired; I had by imagination conceived them so intolerable that, in good truth, I was more afraide than since I have found hurt in them: whereupon I dayly augment this opinion: that most of our soules faculties (as we employ them) doe more trouble than stead the quiet repose of life. I am continually grapling with the worst of all diseases, the most grievous, the most mortall, the most remedilesse and the most violent. I have alreadie had triall of five or six long and painefull fittes of it. Neverthelesse, eyther I flatter-my selfe, or in this plight there is yet something that would faine keep life and soule together, namely, in him whose minde is free from feare of death, and from the threats, conclusions and consequences which physicke is ever buzzing into our heads. But the effect of paine it selfe hath not so sharpe a smarting, or so pricking a sharpenesse, that a setled man should enter into rage or fall into despaire. This commoditie at least I have by the chollicke, that what I could never bring to passe in my selfe, which was altogether to reconcile and thoroughly to acquaint my selfe with death, shee shall atchieve, she shall accomplish, for by how much more shee shall importune and urge me, by so much lesse shall death bee fearefull unto mee. I had already gotten, not to be beholding to life, but onely in regard of life, and for lives sake: she shall also untie this intelligence and loose this combination. And God graunt, if in the end her sharpenesse shall happen to surmount my strength, shee cast me not into other extremities no lesse vicious, no lesse bad, that is, to love and desire to die.
Debilem pede, coxa.
Lubricos quate dentes,
Vita dum superego, bene est. -- SEN. Epist. ci.
Make me be weake of hand,
Scarce on my legges to stand,
Shake my loose teeth with paine,
'Tis well so life remaine.Summum nec metuas diem, nec optes. -- MART. 1. x. Epig. xlvii. ult.They are two passions to be feared, but one hath her remedy neerer than the other. Otherwi se I have ever, found that precept ceremonious which so precisely appoints a man to set a good countenance, a setled resolution, and disdainefull carriage, upon the sufferance of evills. Why doth Philosophy, which onely respecteth livelinesse and regardeth effects, ammuze it selfe about these externall apparances? Let her leave this care to Mimikes, to Histrions, and to Rhetoricke Masters, who make so great accompt of our gestures. Let her hardly remit this vocall lithernesse unto evill, if it be neither cordiall nor stomacall. And let her lend her voluntary plaints to the kinde of sighes, sobs, palpitations, and palenesse which nature hath exempted from our puissance. Alwayes provided, the courage be without feare, and words sans dispaire: let her be so contented. 'What matter is it if wee bend our armes, so we writhe not our thoughts?' She frame thus for ourselves, not for others: to be, not to seeme. Let her applie her selfe to governe our understanding, which she hath undertaken to instruct. Let her in the pangs or fits of the chollike, still maintains the soule capable to acknowledge her selfe and follow her accustomed course, resisting sorrow and enduring griefe, and not shamefully to prostrate her selfe at his feet: mooved and chafed with the combate, not basely suppressed nor faintly overthrowne: capable of entertainement and other occupations unto a certaine limit. In so extreme accidents it is cruelty to require so composed a warde at our hands. If we have a good game it skills not, though we have an ill countenance. If the body be any whit eased by complaining, let him doe it: if stirring or agitation please him, let him turne, rowle, and tosse himselfe as long as he list: if with raising his voyce, or sending it forth with more violence, he think his griefe any thing alayed or vented (as some physitians affirme it somewhat easeth women great with childe, and is a meane of easie or speedy delivery) feare he not to do it; or if he may but entertaine his torment, let him mainly cry out. Let us not commaund our voyce to depart; but if she will, let us not hinder it, Epicurus doth not only pardon his wise-man to crie out, when he is grieved or vexed, but perswadeth him to it. Pugiles etiam quum feriunt, in jactandis cæstibus ingemiscunt, quia profundenda voce omne corpus intenditur venitque plaga vehementior: (Cic. Tusc. Qu. ii.) 'Men when they fight with sand-bags, or such he avy weapons, in fetching their blow and driving it, will give a groane withall because by stretching their voyce all their body is also strayned, and the stroke cometh with more vehemence.' We are vexed and troubled enough with the evill, without troubling and vexing our selves with these superfluous rules. This I say to excuse those which are ordinarily seene to rage in the fits, and storme in the assaults of this sicknesse, for, as for me, I have hitherto past it over with somewhat a better countenance, and am content to groane without braying and exclaiming. And yet I trouble not myselfe to maintaine this exterior decencie; for I make small reckoning of such an advantage, in that I lend my sicknesse what it requireth: but either my paine is not so excessive, or I beare it with more constancy than the vulgar sorte. Indeede I must confesse, when the sharpe fits or throwes assaile me, I complaine and vexe my selfe, but yet I never fall into despaire, as that fellow:
Nor feare thy latest doome,
Nor wish it ere it come.Eiulatu, questu, gemitu, fremitibusI feele my selfe in the greatest heate of my sicknesse and I ever found my selfe capable and in tune, to speake, to thinke, and to answer, as soundly as at any other time, but not so constantly, because my paine doth much trouble and distract me. When I am thought to bee at the lowest, and that such as are about me spare me, I often make a triall of my forces, and propose them such discourses as are furthest from my state. There is nothing impossible for mee; and me thinkes I can doe all things upon a sodaine fitte, so it continue not long. Oh, why have not I the gift of that dreamer mentioned by Cicero, who dreaming that hee was closely embracing a yong wench, found himselfe ridde of the stone in his sheetes! Mine doe strangely dis-wench me. In the intermission or respites of this outragious paine, when as my ureters (through which the urine passeth from the reines to the bladder) languish without gnawing me, I sodainely returne into my ordinary forme; forsomuch as my mind taketh no other allarume but the sensible and corporall. All which I certainely owe unto the care I have had to prepare my selfe by reason and discourse of such accidents:
Resonando multum flebiles voces refert. -- Cic. ibid.
With howling, growning and complaint of fates,
Most lamentable cries he imitates.----- laborumI am handled somewhat roughly for a prentise, and with a violent and rude change; being at one instant falne from a very pleasing, calme, and most happy condition of life, unto the most dolorous, yrkesome, and painefull that can possibly be imagined: for, besides that in it selfe it is a disease greatly to be feared, its beginnings or approaches are in mee sharper or more difficult than it is wont to trouble others withall. The pangs and fittes thereof doe so often assaile mee, that in a manner I have no more feeling of perfect health. Notwithstanding I hitherto keepe my spirit so seated as, if I can but joyne constancy unto it, I finde my selfe to be in a much better state of life than a thousand others, who have neither ague nor other infirmitie but such as for want of discourse they give themselves. There is a certaine fashion of subtile humilitie which procedeth of presumption: as this, that in many things we acknowledge our ignorance, and are so curteous to avowe that in Natures workes there are some qualities and conditions which to us are imperceptible, and whereof our sufficiencie cannot discover the meanes nor finde out the causes. By this honest and conscientious declaration, we hope to gaine that we shall also be beleeved in those we shall say to understand. Wee neede not goe to cull out miracles, and chuse strange difficulties: mee seemeth, that amongst those things we ordinarily see there are such incomprehensible rarities as they exceed all difficulty of miracles. What monster is it that this teare or drop of seed whereof we are ingendred brings with it, and in it the impressions, not only of the corpor all forme, but even of the very thoughts and inclinations of our fathers? Where doth this droppe of water contains or lodge this infinite number of formes? And how bear they these resemblances of so rash and unruly a progresse, that the childes childe shall be answerable to his grandfather, and the nephew to his uncle? In the family of the Lepidus the Roman, there have beene three, not successively, but some between, that were borne with one same eye covered with a cartilage or gristle. There was a race in Thebes which from their mothers wombe bare the forme of a burre, or yron of a launce; and such as had it not were judged as misbegotten and deemed unlawfull. Aristotle reporteth of a certaine nation, with whom all women were common, where children were allotted their fathers only by their resemblances. It may be supposed that I am indebted to my father for this stonie-quality, for he died exceedingly tormented with a great stone in his bladder. He never felt himself troubled with the disease but at the age of sixtie-seaven yeares, before which time he had never felt any likelihood or motion of it, nor in his reines, nor in his sides, nor elsewhere: and untill then had lived in very prosperous health, and little subject to infirmities, and continued seven yeares and more with that disease training a very dolorous lives-end. I was borne five and twenty yeares before his sickness and during the course of his healthy state, his third child. Where was al this while the propension or inclination to this defect hatched? And when he was so farre from such a disease, that light part of his substance wherewith he composed me, how could it for her part beare so great an impression of it? And how so closely covered, that fortie-five yeares after, I have begunne to have a feeling of it? and hitherto alone, among so many brethren and sisters, and all of one mother. He that shal resolve me of this progresse I will believe him as many other miracles as he shall please to tell mee: alwayes provided (as commonly they doe) hee goe not about to pay me with a doctrine much more difficult and fantastical then the thing it selfe (let physitians somewhat excuse my libertie): for by the same infusion and fatall insinuation, I have received the hate and contempt of their doctrine. The antipathie which is betweene me and their arte is to me hereditarie. My father lived three score and fourteene yeares; my grandfather three score and nine; my great grandfather very neere fourescore, and never tasted or tooke any kinde of physicke. And whatsoever was not in ordinary use amongst them was deemed a drug. Physicke is grounded upon experience and examples. So is mine opinion. Is not this a manifest kinde of experience, and very advantageous? I know not whether in all their registers they are able to finde me three more, borne, bred, brought up, and deceased, under one roofe, in one same chimnie, that by their owne direction and regiment have lived so long. Wherein they must needes grant me, that if it be not reason, at least it is fortune that is on my side. Whereas among physitians fortune is of more consequence then reason. Low-brought and weake as I am now, let them not take me at an advantage, nor let them not threaten me: for that were insulting arrogance. And to say truth, I have by my familiar examples gained enough upon them, although they take hold and stay there. Humane things have not so much constancie: it is now two hundred yeares, wanting but eighteene, that this essay continueth with us: for the first was borne in the yeare of our Lord one thousand foure hundred and two, some reason there is why this experience should now beginne to faile us. Let them not upbraide me with those infirmities which now have seized upon me: is it not sufficient to have lived seven and fortie yeares in good and perfect health for my part? Suppose it to be the end of my ca rriere, yet it is of the longest. Mine ancestors by some secret instinct and naturall inclination have ever loathed al maner of physicke: for the very sight of drugs bred a kinde of horror in my father. The Lord of Gaviac, mine unckle by the fathers side, a man of the church, sickish even from his birth, and who notwithstanding made his weake life to hold untill sixtie seaven yeares, falling once into a dangerous and vehement continuall feaver, it was by the physitians concluded that unlesse he would aide himselfe (for they ofte terme that aide which indeede is impeachment) he was but a dead man. The good soule, afrighted as he was at that horrible sentence, answred thus, why then I am a dead man: but shortly after God made their prognostications to proove vaine. The Lord of Bussaguet, last of the brethren (for they were foure), and by much the last, he alone submitted himselfe to that arte, as I imagine by reason of the frequence he had in other sciences; for he was a counsellor in the Court of Parliament, which prospered so ill with him that though he were in shew of a very strong complexion, he died long before the others, except one, the Lord of Saint Michæl. It may well be I have received of them that natural dyspathie to physicke. Yet if there had been no other consideration but this, I would have endevoured to force it. For all these conditions, which without reason are borne in us, are vicious. It is a kinde of maladie a man mu st fight withall. It may be I had such a propension, but I have settled and strengthened the same by discourses which in me have confirmed the opinion I have of it. For I have also the consideration to refuse physicke by reason of the sharpnesse of its taste. It would not easily agree with my humour, who thinke health worthy to be purchased with the price of all cauteries and incisions, how painefull soever. And following Epicurus, mee seemeth that all maner of voluptuousnesse should be avoided, if greater griefes follow them, and griefes to be sought after, that have greater voluptuousnesse ensuing them. Health is a very precious jewell, and the onely thing that in pursuite of it deserveth a man should not onely employ time, labour, sweate and goods, but also life to get it; forasmuch as without it life becommeth injurious unto us. Voluptuousnes, science and vertue, without it, tarnish and vanish away. And to the most constant and exact discourses that philosophy will imprint in our min ds to the contrary, wee neede not oppose any thing against it but the image of Plato, being visited with the falling sickenesse, or an apoplexie; and in this presupposition chalenge him to call the richest faculties of his minde to helpe him. All meanes that may bring us unto health, cannot be esteemed of men either sharpe or deare. But I have some other apparances which strangely make me to distrust al his ware. I doe not say but there may be some art of it: it is certaine that amongst so m any of Natures workes there are some things proper for the preservation of our health. I know there are some simples which in operation are moistening and some drying. My selfe have found, by experience, that radish rootes are windie, and senie-leeves breede loosenes in the belly. I have the knowledge of divers such experiments, as I know that mutton nourisheth, that wine warmeth me. And Solon was wont to say that eating was, as all other drugges are, a medicine against the disease of hunger. I disallow not the use we draw from the world, nor doubt I of natures power and fruitfulnesse, and other application to our need. I see that the pickrell-fish and the swallowes live well by her lawes. I greatly distrust the inventions of our wit, of our arte and of our science, in favour of which we have forsaken nature, and abandoned her rules; wherein we can neither observe limitation nor keepe moderation. As we term justice, the composition of the first lawes that came unto our hands, and their practice and dispensation very often most wicked and inconvenient. And as those which mocke and condemne it, intend not neverthelesse to wrong this noble virtue; but onely to condemne the abuse and profanation of so sacred a title: so likewise in physicke, I know her glorious name, her proposition, and her promise, so profitable to mankinde: but what it desseigneth amongst us, I neither honour nor respect. First, experience makes me fear it, for of all I know, I see no kinde of men so soone sicke, nor so late cured, as those who are under the jurisdiction of physicke: Their very health is distempered and corrupted by the constraint of their prescriptions. Physitians are not contented to have the government over sicknesses, but they make health to be sicke, lest a man should at any time escape their authority. Of a constant and perfect health, doe they not frame an argument of some future daungerous sickenesse? I have often beene sicke, and without any their helpe, I have found my sicknesses (though I never medled with the bitterness of their prescriptions) as easie to be tollerated and as short as any mans else, and yet I have felt diverse. My health is free and sound, without any rules or discipline) except of my owne custome and pleasure. I finde no difference in places, al are alike to me to dwell in: for being sicke, I neede no other commodities then those I must have when I am in health. I am nothing passionated, though I be without physitian, without apothecary, or without physical helpe; whereat I see some as much troubled in minde as they are with their disease. What, doth the best physitian of them all make us perceive any happinesse or continuance in his life, as may witnesse some manifest effect of his skill and learning? There is no nation but hath continued many ages without physicke: yea the first ages, which is as much to say, the best and most happy: and the tenth part of the world hath as yet no use of it. Infinite nations know it not; where they live both more healthie and much longer than we doe: yea and amongst us the common sort live happily without it. The Romanes had beene sixe hundred yeares before ever they received it: by meanes of interposition of Cato the censor, they banisht it their citie, who declared how easily man might live without it, having lived himselfe foure score and five yeeres, and his wife untill she was extreamely old, not without physicke, but indeed without any physitian. For whatsoever is by experience found healthy for our body and health may be termed physicke. He entertained (as Plutarke saith) his familie in health by the use (as farre as I remember) of hares milk: as the Arcadians (saith Plinie) cure all maladies with cowes milke. And the Lybians (saith Herodotus) doe generally enjoy a perfect health by observing this custome, which is, so soone as their children are about foure yeeres old, to cautherize and seare the veines of their head and temples, whereby they cut off the way to all rumes and defluxions. And the countrie-people where I dwell use nothing against all diseases but some of the strongest wine they can get, with store of saffron and spice in it; and all with one like fortune. And to say true, of all this diversitie of rules and confusion of prescriptions, what other end or effect workes it but to evacuate the belly? which a thousand home-simples will doe as well. And I know not whether it be as profitable (as they say) and whether our nature require the residents of her excrements, untill a certaine measure, as wine doth his lees for his preservation. You see often men very healthy, by some strange accidents, to fall into violent vomites and fluxies, and voyd great store of excrements, without any precedent need or succeeding benefite: yea, with some empairing and prejudice. I learnt of Plato not long since, that of three motions which belong to us, the last and worst is that of purgations, and that no man, except he be a foole, ought to undertake it, unlesse it be in great extremity. The evill is troubled and stirred up by contrary oppositions. It is the forme of life that gently must diminish, consume and bring it to an end. Since the violent twinges of the drug and maladie are ever to our losse, since the quarrell is cleared in us, and the drug a trustlesse helpe; by its own nature an enemie to our health, and but by trouble hath no accesse in our state. Let's give them leave to go on. That order which provideth for fleas and moles, doth also provide for men, who have the same patience to suffer themselves to be governed that fleas and moles have. We may fairely cry Bo-bo-boe; it may well make us hoarse, but will nothing advaunce it. It is a proud and impetuous order. Our feare and our despaire, in liew of enviting help from it, doth distaste and delay it out of our helpe: it oweth his course to sickness as well as to health. To suffer itselfe to be corrupted in favour of one, to the prejudice of the others rights, it will not doe it, so should they fall into disorder. Let us goe on in the name of God; let us follow. That order leadeth on such as follow it: those that follow it not, it haleth on, both with their rage and physicke together. Cause a purgation to be prepared for your braine; it will be better emploied unto it then to your stomacke. A Lacedemonian being asked, what had made him live so long in health, answered, 'The ignorance of physicke.' And Adrian the Emperour, as he was dying, ceased not to crie out that the number of physitians had killed him. A bad wrestler became a physitian. 'Courage,' said Diogenes to him, 'thou hast reason to doe so, for now shalt thou helpe to put them into the ground who have heeretofore ayded to lay thee on it.' But according to Nicocles, they have this happe, that the sunne doth manifest their successe, and the earth doth cover their fault. And besides, they have a very advantageous fashion among themselves, to make use of all manner of events; for whatsoever either Fortune or Nature, or any other strange cause (whereof the number is infinite) produceth in us or good or healthfull, it is the priviledge of physicke to ascribe it unto herselfe. All the fortunate successes that come to the patient which is under their government, it is from nature he hath them. The occasions that have cured me, and which heale a thousand others who never send or call for physitians to helpe them, they usurpe them in their subjects. And touching ill accidents, either they utterly disavow them, in imputing the blame of them to the patient, by some vaine reasons, whereof they never misse to finde a great number; as he lay with his armes out of the bed, he hath heard the noyse of a coach.
Nulla mihi nov a nunc facies inopinaque surgit,
Omnia præcepi, atque animo mecum ante peregi. --VIRG. Æn. 1. vi. 103.
No new or unexpected forme is cast,
Of travels in my breast: all I forecast,
In my minde with my selfe I all forepast.------rhedarum transitus arctoHis window was left open all night: hee hath laine upon the left side, or troubled his head with some heavie thought. In some, a word, a dreame, or a looke, is of them deemed a sufficient excuse to free themselves from all imputation: or if they please, they will also make use of this emparing, and thereby make up their businesse, and as a meane which can never faile them, when by their applications the disease is growne desperate, to pay us with the assurance that, if their remedies had not beene, it would have beene much worse. He whom but from a cold they have brought to a quotidian ague, without them should have had a continuall feaver. They must needes thrive in their businesses since all ills redownd to their profit. Truely they have reason to require of the pacient an application of favourable confidence in them: which must necessarily be in good earnest and yeelding to apply it selfe unto imaginations, over-hardly to be believed, Plato said very well and to the purpose, that freely to lie belonged onely to physitians, since our health dependeth on their vanitie and falsehood of promises. Æsope, an author of exceeding rare excellence, and whose graces few discover, is very pleasant in representing this kinde of tyrannicall authority unto us, which they usurpe upon poore soules, weakned by sickenes and overwhelmed through feare: for he reporteth how a sicke man, being demaunded by his physitian what operation he felt by the physicke he had given him: 'I have sweate much,' answered he. 'That is good,' replied the physitian. Another time he asked him againe how he had done since: 'I have had a great cold and quivered much,' said he. 'That is very well,' quoth the physitian againe. The third time he demaunded of him how he felt himselfe, he answered: 'I swell and puffe up as it were with the dropsie.' 'That's not amisse,' said the physitian. A familiar friend of his comming afterward to visite him, and to know how hee did. 'Verily,' said be, 'my friend, I die with being too too well.' There was a more equall law in Ægypt by which for the first three dayes the physitian tooke the patient in hand upon the patients perill and fortune; but the three dayes expired, it was at his owne. For, what reason is there that Æsculapius their patrone must have beene strucken with thunder, forsomuch as he recovered Hippolitus from death to life?
Vicorum inflexu. -- JUV. Sat. iii. 236.
Coaches could hardly passe,
The lane so crooked was.Nam pater omnipotens aliquem indignatus ab umbris,and his followers must be absolved that send so many soules from life to death? A physitian boasted unto Nicocles that his arte was of exceeding great authority. It is true (quoth Nicocles) for it may kill so many people without feare of punishment by law. As for the rest, had I beene of their counsell, I would surely have made my discipline more sacred and mysterious. They had begunne very well, but the end hath not answered the beginning. It was a good ground to have made Gods and Dæmons authors of their science, to have assumed a peculiar language and writing to themselves. Howbeit, philosophy supposeth it to be folly to perswade a man to his profit by wayes not understood: Ut si quis medicus imperet vt sumat. 'As if a physitian should bid a man take.
Mortalem infernis ad lumina surgere vitæ,
Ipse repertorem medicinæ talis, et artis
Fulmine Phoebigenam Stygias detrusit ad undas. -- VIRG. Æn. 1. vii. 770.
Jove, scorning that from shades infernall night,
A mortall man should rise to lifes new light,
Apolloes sonne to hell he thunder-threw,
Who such an arte found out, such medicine knew,Terrigenam, herbigradam, domiportam, sanguine cassam. -- Cic. Divin. ii.It was a good rule in their arte, and which accompanieth all fanaticall, vaine, and supernaturall artes, that the patients beliefe must by good hope and assurance preoccupate their effect and operation. Which rule they hold so farre forth, that the most ignorant and bungling horse-leach is fitter for a man that hath confidence in him, than the skilfullest and learnedst physitian. The very choyce of most of their drugges is somewhat mysterious and divine. The left foot of a tortoyze, the stale of a lizard; the dongue of an elephant, the liver of a mole, blood drawne from under the right wing of a white pigeon, and for us who are troubled with the stone-cholike (so disdainfully abuse they our misery) some rattes pounded to small powder, and such other foolish trash, which rather seeme to be magike spells or charmes than effects of any solide science. I omit to speake of the odde number of their pilles, the destination of certaine dayes and feastes of the yeare, the distinction of houres to gather the simples of their ingredients, and the same rewbarbative and severely-grave looke of theirs, and of their port and countenance, which Plinie himselfe mocketh at. But, as I was about to say they have failed, forsomuch as they have not added this to their faire beginning, to make their assemblies more religious, and their consultations more secret. No profane man should have access unto them, no more than to the secret ceremonies of Æsculapius. By which meanes it commeth to passe that their irresolution; the weaknesse of their arguments, divinations and grounds; the sharpenesse of their contestations, full of hatred, of jealousie and particular considerations, being apparant to all men; a man must needes be starke blinde if he who falleth into their hands see not himselfe greatly endangered. Who ever saw physitian use his fellowes receipt without dimishing or adding somewhat unto it; whereby they greatly betraie their arte and make us perceive they rather respect their reputation, and consequently their profit, than the well-fare or interests of their patients. He is the wisest amongst their doctors who hath long since prescribed them that one alone should meddle to cure a sicke man; for, if it prosper not with him, and he do no good, the reproach will not be great to the arte of physicke through the fault of one man alone; and on the other side, if it thrive well with him, the glorie shall be the greater; where as if they be many, on every hand will they discredit their mysterie, because they oftner happen to doe ill than well. They should have been content with the perpetuall disagreeing which is ever found in the opinions of the principall masters and chiefe authors of their science, knowne but by such as are conversant in bookes, without making apparent shew of the controversies, and inconstancies of their judgement, which they foster and continue amongst themselves. Will wee have an example of the ancient debate of physicke? Herophilus placeth the originall cause of sickenesse in the humours: Erasistratus, in the blood of the arteries: Asclepiades, in the invisible atomes that passe into our pores; Alcmeon, in the abundance or defence of corporall forces: Diocles, in the inequality of the bodies elements, and in the quality of the aire wee breathe: Strabo, in the abundance, cruditie, and corruption of the nourishment wee take: Hipocrates doth place it in the spirits. There is a friend of theirs, whom they know better than I, who to his purpose crieth out that the most important science in use amongst us (as that which hath charge of our health and preservation) is by il hap the most uncertaine, the most confused, and most agitated with infinite changes. There is no great danger to mistake the height of the sunne, or missereckon the fraction of some astronomical suppuration; but herein, whereon our being and chiefe freehold doth wholly depend, it is no wisedome to abandon ourselves to the mercy of the agitation of so manifold contrary windes. Before the Peloponnesian war there was no great newes of this science. Hipocrates brought it into credite. Whatsoever he established, Chrisippus overthrew. Afterward Erasistratus, grande-childe to Aristotle, re-enverst what ever Chrysippus had written of it. After these, start up the Emperikes, who concerning the managing of this arte, tooke a new course altogether different from those ancient fathers. And when their credit began to growe stale, Herophilus brought another kind of physicke into use, which Asclepiades, when his turne came, impugned, and in the end subverted. Then came the opinions of Themison to bee in great authority, then those of Musa, and afterward those of Vectius Valens, a famous physitian, by reason of the acquaintance he had with Messalina. During the time of Nero, the soveraigntitie of physick fel to the hands of Thessalus, who abolished and condemned whatsoever had been held of it before his time. This mans doctrine was afterward wholly overthrowne by Crinas of Marseilles, who anew revived and framed that all men should direct and rule medicinable operations to the Ephemerides and motions of the starres, to eate, to drinke, to sleepe at what houre it should please Luna and Mercurie. His authority was soone after supplanted by Charinus, a physitian of the same towne of Marseilles, who not onely impugned ancient physicke, but also the use of warme and publike bathes, which had beene accustomed to many ages before. Hee caused men to bee bathed in cold water; yea, were it in the deepe of winter he plunged and dived sicke men into the running streame of rivers. Untill Plinies time no Romane had ever dained to exercise the arte of physicke, but was ever used by strangers and Græcians as at this daie it is used in France by Latinizers. For as a famous physitian saith, we doe not easily admit and allow that physicke, which wee understand, nor those drugs we gather our selves. If those nations from whom wee have the wood guiacum, the sarsapareille, and the wood esquine, have any physitian amongst them, how much thinke we by the same commendation of the strangenesse, rarenesse and dearth, they will rejoyce at our coleworts and parsly? For, who dareth contemne things sought and fetcht so farre-off with the hazard of so long and dangerous a peregrination? since these auncient mutations of physicke, there have beene infinite others, that have continued unto our dayes, and most often entire and universal mutations; as are those which Paracelsus, Fioravanti and Argenterius have produced: for (as it is told me) they do not only change a receipt, but also the whole contexture and policie of physickes whole body, accusing such as hitherto have made profession thereof, of ignorance and cosinage. Now I leave to your imagination in what plight the poore patient findeth himselfe. If we could but he assured, when they mistake themselves, their physicke would do us no harme, although not profit us, it were a reasonable composition for a man to hazard himselfe to get some good, so he endangered not himselfe to lose by it. Æsope reporteth this storie, that one who had sought a Moore-slave, supposing his blacke hew had come unto him by some strange accident, or ill usage of his former master, with great diligence caused him to be medicined with divers ba thes and sundry potions; it fortuned the Moore did no whit mend or change his swarthy complexion, but lost his former health. How often commeth it to passe, and how many times see we physitians charge one another with their patients death. I remember a popular sickenesse which some yeares since greatly troubled the townes about mee, very mortall and dangerous the rage whereof being overpast, which had carried away an infinite number of persons; one of the most famous physitians in all the country published a booke concerning that disease, wherein he adviseth himselfe that they had done amisse to use phlebotomy, and confesseth it had beene one of the principall causes of so great an inconvenience. Moreover, their authors hold that there is no kinde of physicke, but hath some hurtfull part in it. And if those that fit our turne doe in some sort harm us, what must those doe which are given us to no purpose, and out of season? As for me, if nothing else belonged thereunto, I deeme it a matter very dangerous, and of great prejudice for him who loathes the taste or abborres the smell of a potion, to swallow it at so unconvenient houres, and so much against his heart. And I thinke it much distempereth a sicke man, namely, in a season he hath so much neede of rest. Besides, consider but the occasions on which they ordinarily ground the cause of our sickenesses; they are so light and delicate, as thence I argue that a very small error in compounding of their drugges may occasion as much detriment. Now if the mistaking in a physitian be dangerous, it is very ill for us ; for it is hard if he fall not often into it. He hath needs of many parts, divers considerations, and severall circumstances to proportion his desseigne justly. He ought to know the sicke man's complexion, his temper, his humours, his inclinations, and his imaginations. He must be assured of external circumstances; of the nature of the place; the condition of the aire; the quality of the weather; the situation of the planets, and their influences. In sickenes, be ought to be acquainted with the causes, with the signes, with the affections and criticall daies; in drugges, he should understand their weight, their vertue, and their operation, the country, the figure, the age, the dispensation. In all these parts be must know how to proportion and referre them one unto another, thereby to beget a perfect symmetric or due proportion of each part; wherein if he misse never so little, or if amongst so many wheeles and several motions, the least be out of tune or temper, it is enough to marre all.
One, earth-borne, goe-by-grasse, house-bearing, slimie, blood-lesse.'
God knowes how hard the knowledge of most of these parts is: for example, how shall he finde out the proper signe of the disease, every malady being capable of an infinite number of signes. How many debates, ad controversies have they amongst themselves about the interpretations of urine. Otherwise, whence should that continuall altercation come we see amongst them about the knowledge of the disease? How should we excuse this fault, wherein they fall so often, to take a martin for a fox? In those diseases I have had (so they admitted any difficulty) I could never yet finde three agreeing in one opinion. I more willingly note examples that concerne my selfe. A gentleman in Paris was not long since cut for the stone by the appointment of physitians, in whose bladder they found no more stone then in his hand: where also a Bishop, who was my very good friend, had by his physitians been earnestly solicited to be cut; and my selfe, because they were of his counsell, upon their words, aided to perswade him to it; who being deceased and opened, it was found he had no infirmity but in his reines. They are lesse excusable in this disease, for so much as it is in some sort palpable. Whereby I judge the arte of chirurgery much more certaine; for it seeth and handleth what it doth, and therein is lesse conjecture and divination. Whereas phisitians have no speculum matrices to discover our braine, our lungs, and our liver unto them. The very promises of physicke are incredible. For being to provide for divers and contrary accidents, which often trouble us together, and with a kinde of necessary relation one unto another, as the heate of the liver and the cold of the stomacke, they will perswade us that with their ingredients this one shall warme the stomacke, and this other coole the liver; the one hath charge to goe directly to the reynes, yea even to the bladder, without enstalling his operation anywhere else, and by reason of its secret propriety, keeping his force and vertue all that long way, and so full of stops or lets untill it come to the place to whose service it is destinated. Another shall drie the braine, and another moisten the lungs. Of all this hotch-pot having composed a mixture or potion, is it not a kinde of raving to hope their several virtues shall divide and separate themselves from out such a confusion or commixture, to run to so divers charges? I should greatly feare they would loose or change their tickets and trouble their quarters. And who can imagine, that in this liquid confusion these faculties be not corrupted, confounded, and alter one another? For that the execution of this ordinance depends on another officer, to whose trust and mercy we must once more commit our lives? As we have doublet and hose-makers to make our cloths, and are so much the better fitted, inasmuch as each medleth with his owne trade, and such have their occupation more strictly limited then a tailer that will make all; and as for our necessary foode, some of our great lords, for their more commodity and ease, have severall cookes, as some only to dresse boyled meates, and some to roste, others to bake; whereas if one cooke alone would supply all three in generall he could never doe it so exactly: In like sort for the curing of all diseases, the Ægyptians had reason to reject this generall mysterie of physitians, and to sunder this profession for every malady, allotting each part of the body his distinct workman. For every particular part was thereby more properly attended, and lesse confusedly governed, and for so much as they regarded but the same especially. Our physitians never remember that he who will provide for all provideth for nothing; and that the totall and summarie policy of this little world is unto them undigestible. Whilst they feared to stop the course of a bloody flux because he should not fal into an ague, they killed a friend of mine who was more worth then all the rabble of them, yea, were they as many more. They ballance their divinations of future things with present evils, and because they will not cure the braine in prejudice of the stomacke, they offend the stomacke and empaire the braine, and all by their seditious and tumultuary drugs. Concerning the variety and weaknes of the reasons of this Art, it is more apparent then in any other Art. Aperitive things are good for a man that's troubled with the collike, because that opening and dilating the passages, they addresse this slimy matter whereof the gravel and stone is engendred, and so convay downeward whatsoever beginneth to harden and petrifie in the reines: aperitive things are dangerous for a man thats troubled with the collick, because that opening and dilating the passages, they addresse towards the reines the matter enger idring gravell, which by reason of the propensions they have with it, easily seizing on the same, must by consequence stay great store of that which is convaied unto them. Moreover, if by chance it fortune to meet with a body somewhat more grosse then it ought to be, to passe all those strait turnings, which to expel the same they must glide thorow; that body being moved by those soluble things, and cast in those strait chanels, and comming to stop them, it will doubtlesse hasten a certain and most dolorous death. They have a like constancy about the counsels they give us, touching the regiment of our life. It is good to make water often; for by experience we see that permitting the same idlely to ly still, we give it leisure to discharge it selfe of her lees and excrements, which may serve to breed the stone in the bladder. It is good to make water but seldome, for the weighty dregs it drawes with it are not easily carried away except by violence: as by experience is seene in a torrent that runneth very swift, which sweepeth and clenseth the place through which he passeth, much more than doth a slow-gliding streame. Likewise it is good to have often copulation with women, for that openeth the passages, and convaieth the gravell away: it is also hurtfull, for it heateth, wearieth, and weakneth the reines. It is good for one to bathe himselfe in warme water, forsomuch as that looseth and moistneth the places where the gravel and stone lurketh: it is also bad, because this application of externall heat helpeth the reines to concoct, to harden and petrifie the matter disposed unto it. To such as are at the bathes, it is more healthful to eat but little at night, that the water they are to drink the next morning, finding the stomacke empty, and without any obstacle, it may worke the greater operation: on the other side, it is better to eat but a little at dinner, lest a man might hinder the operation of the water, which is not yet perfect, and not to charge the stomacke so suddenly, after this other travell, and leave the office of digesting unto the night, which can better do it then the day; the body and spirit being then in continual motion and action. Loe heere how they in all their discourses juggle, daily, and trifle at our charge, and are never able to bring mee a proposition, but I can presently frame another to the contrary of like force and consequence. Let them then no longer raile against those who in any sicknes suffer themselves gently to be directed by their owne appetite, and by the counsell of nature, and who remit themselves to common fortune. I have by occasion of my travels seene almost all the famous bathes of Christendome, and some years since have begun to use them: for in generall I deeme bathing to be very good and healthy, and I am perswaded we incurre no small incommodities in our health by having neglected and lost this custome, which in former times were generally observed very neere amongst all nations, and is yet with divers at this time to wash their bodies every day. And I cannot imagine but that we are much the worse with keeping our bodies all over-crusted, and our pores stopt with grease and filth. And touching the drinking of them, fortune hath first made it to agree very well with in taste; secondly, it is naturall and simple, and though vaine, nothing dangerous; whereof this infinity of people of al sorts and complexions, and of all nations that come to them, doth warrant mee. And although I have as yet found no extraordinary good or wondrous effect in them, but rather having somewhat curiously examined the matter, I finde all the reports of such operations, which in such places are reported, and of many believed, to be false and fabulous. So easily doth the world deceive itselfe, namely, in things it desireth or faine would have come to passe. Yet have I seen but few or none at al whom these waters have made worse; and no man can without malice denie but that they stirre up a mans appetite, make easie digestion, and except a man goe to them overweake and faint (which I would have none doe) they will adde a kinde of new mirth unto him. They have not the power to raise men from desperate diseases. They may stay some light accident, or prevent the threats of some alteration. Whosoever goeth to them and resolveth not to be merry, that so he may enjoy the pleasure of the good company resorts to them, and of the pleasant walks or exercises which the beauty of those places, where bathes are commonly seated, doth affoord and delight men withall; he without doubt loseth the better part and most assured of their effect. And therefore have I hitherto chosen to stay my self and make use of those, where I found the pleasure of the situation most delightsome, most conveniencie of lodging, of victuals and company, as are in France the bathes of Banieres; those of Plombieres, on the frontiers of Germany and Loraine: those of Baden in Switzerland; those of Luca in Tuscanie; and especially those of della Villa, which I have used most often and at divers seasons of the yeare. Every nation hath some particular opinion concerning their use, and severall lawes and formes how to use them, and all different: and as I have found by experience the effect in a manner all one. In Germanie they never use to drinke of the waters, but bathe themselves for all diseases, and will lie paddling in them almost from sunne to sunne. In Italie, if they drinke nine dayes of the water, they wash themselves other thirtie dayes with it. And commonly they drinke it mixt with other drugges, thereby to helpe the operation. Here, our physitians appoint us when wee have drunke to walk upon it that so wee may helpe to digest it: there, so soone as they have drunke, they make them lie a bed until they have voyded the same out againe, continually warming their stomack and feete with warme clothes. All the Germanes whilest they lie in the water doe particularly use cupping glasses and scarifications; and the Italians use their doccie, which are certaine spouts running with warme waters convayed from the bathes-spring in leaden pipes, where, for the space of a month, they let it spout upon their heads, upon their stomacke, or upon any other part of the bodie, according as neede requireth, one houre in the forenoone and as long in the afternoone. There are infinit other differences of customes in every countrey, or, to say better, there is almost no resemblances betweene one and the other. See how this part of physicke by which alone I have suffered myselfe to be carried away, which, though it be least artificiall, yet hath she the share of the confusion and uncertainty seene in all other parts and every where of this arte. Poets may say what they list, and with more emphasis and grace witnesse these two epigrammes:Alcon hesterno signum lovis attiqit.And the other:
Ille Quamvis marmoreus, vim patitur medici.
Ecce hodie jussus transferri ex æde vetusta,
Efertur, quamvis sit Deus atque lapis.' --LUCIL. Auson. Epig. 73.
Alcon look't yesterday on carved Iove.
Iove, though of marble, feeles the leeches force,
From his old church to day made to remoove,
Though god and stone, hee's carried like a corse.Lotus nobiscu m est hilaris, cænavit et idem,Upon which I will tell you two pretty stories. The Baron of Caupene in Chalosse and I have both in common the right of the patronage of a benefice, which is of a very large precinct, situated at the feet of our mountaines named Lahontan. It is with the inhabitants of that corner as it is said to be with those of the valley of Angrougne. They lead a kind of peculiar life; their attire and their customes apart and severall. They were directed and governed by certaine particular policies and customes, received by tradition from father to child: whereto, without other lawes or compulsion except the reverence and awe of their custome and use, they awefully tied and bound themselves. This petty state had from all antiquity continued in so happy a condition that no neighbouring severe judge had ever beene troubled to enquire of their life and affaires, nor was ever atturny or petty-fogging lawyer called for to give them advice or counsel; nor stranger sought unto to determine their quarrels or decide contentions; neither were ever beggars seen among them. They alwaies avoyded commerce and shunned alliances with the other world, lest they should alter the purity of their orders and policy, until such time (as they say) that one amongst them in their fathers daies, having a mind puft up with a noble ambition to bring his name and credit in reputation, devised to make one of his children Sir John Lacke-latine or Master Peter-an-oake: and having made him learne to write in some neigbbour towne not far off, at last procured him to be a country Notary or petty-fogging clark. This fellow having gotten some pelfe and become great, began to disdaine their ancient customes and put the pompe and statelines of our higher regions into their heads. It fortuned that a chiefe gossip of his had a goate dis-horned, whom he so importunately solicited to sue the trespasser and demand law and right at the justices hands that dwelt thereabouts; and so never ceasing to sow sedition and breed suites amongst his neighbours, he never left till he had confounded and marred all. After this corruption or intrusion of law (they say) there ensued presently another mischiefe of worse consequence by means of a quacke-salver or empirike physitian that dwelt amongst them who would needes be married to one of their daughters, and so endenizon and settle himself amongst them. This gallant began first to teach and instruct them in the names of agues, rheumes, and impostumes; then the situation of the heart, of the liver and other intrailes: a science untill then never known or heard of among them. And in stead of garlike, wherewith they had learned to expell and were wont to cure all diseases of what qualitie and how dangerous soever they were, he induced and inured them, were it but for a cough or cold, to take strange compositions and potions: and thus beganne to trafficke not only their health but also their deaths. They sweare that even from that time they apparently perceived that the evening sereine or night-calme bred the head-ache and blasted them; that to drinke being hot or in a sweat empaired their healths; that autumne windes were more unwholesome and dangerous than those of the spring-time: and that since his slibber-sawces, potions, and physicke came first in use, they find themselves molested and distempered with legions of unaccustomed maladies and unknowne diseases, and plainly feele and sensibly perceive a generall weaknesse and declination in their ancient vigor, and that their lives are nothing so long as before they were. Loe here the first of my tales. The other is that before I was troubled with the stone-chollicke and gravell in the bladder, hearing divers make especiall account of a hee-goates blood as a heavenly manna sent in these latter ages for the good and preservation of mans life and hearing men of good understanding speake of it as of an admirable and much-good-working drugge and of an infallible operation: I, who have ever thought my selfe subject to all accidents that may in any sort fall on man, being yet in perfect health, began to take pleasure to provide my selfe of this myracle, and forthwith gave order (according to the receipt) to have a buck-goate gotten and carefully fed in my own house. For the blood must be drawne from him in the hottest month of summer, and he must only be fed with soluble hearbes, and drincke nothing but white-wine. It was my fortune to come to mine owne house the very same day the Goate should be killed; where some of my people came in haste to tell me that my cooke found two or three great bowles in his pauncb, which in his maw amongst his meat shocked one against another. I was so curious as I would needes have all his garbage brought before me; the thicke and large skinne whereof I caused to be opened, out of which came three great lumps or bodies, as light as any spunge, so framed as they seemed to be hollow, yet outwardly hard and very firme, bemotled with divers dead and wannish colours; the one perfectly as round as any bowle, the other two somewhat lesser, and not so round, yet seemed to grow towards it. I have found (after I had made diligent inquiry among such as were wont to open such beasts) that it was a seld-seene and unheard of accident. It is very likely they were such stones as ours be, and cozen-germanes to them; which if it be, it is but vaine for such as be troubled with the stone or gravell to hope to be cured by meanes of a beasts blood, that was drawing neere unto death, and suffered the same disease. For, to aleadge the blood cannot participate of that contagion, and doth no whit thereby alter his accustomed vertue, it may rather be inferred that nothing engendreth in a body but by consent and communication of all the parts. The whole masse doth worke, and the whole frame agitate altogether, although one part, according to the diversitie of operations, doth contribute more or lesse than another; whereby it manifestly appeareth that, in all parts of this bucke-goate, there was some grettie or petrificant qualitie. It was not so much for feare of any future chaunce, or in regard of my selfe, that I was so curious of this experiment; as in respect, that as well in mine owne house as elsewere in sundry other places, it commeth to passe that many women do often gather and lay up in store divers such kindes of slight druggs to help their neighbours and other people with them in time of necessitie; applying one same remedie to an hundred severall diseases: yea many times such as they would be very loath to take themselves; with which they often have good lucke, and well thrives it with them. As for me, I honour physitians, not according to the common-received rule, for necessitie sake (for to this passage another of the prophets may be alleaged who reprooved King Asa, because he had recourse unto physitians) but rather for love I beare unto themselves; having seene some, and knowne diverse honest men amongst them, and worthy all love and esteeme. It is not them I blame, but their Arte; yet doe I not greatly condemne them for seeking to profit by our foolishnesse (for most men do so) and it is a thing common to all worldlings. Diverse possessions and many vocations, both more and lesse worthie than theirs, subsist and are grounded onely upon publike abuses and popular errours. I send for them when I am sicke, if they may conveniently be found, and love to be entertained by them, rewarding them as other men doe. I give them authority to enjoyne me, to keepe my selfe warme if I love it better so than otherwise. They may chuse, be it either leekes or lettuce, what my broth shall be made withall, and appoint me either white or claret to drink: and so of other things else, indifferent to my taste, humour or custome. I know well it is nothing to them, forsomuch as sharpnesse and strangenesse are accidents of physickes proper essence. Lycurgus allowed and appoynted the sicke men of Sparta to drinke wine. Why did he so? Because being in health they hated the use of it. Even as a gentleman who dwelleth not farre from me useth wine as a sovereigns remedie against agews, because being in perfect health, he hateth the taste thereof as death. How many of them see we to be of my humour? That is, to disdaine all physicke for their owne behoofe, and live a kinde of formall free life, and altogether contrary to that which they prescribe to other? And what is that but a manifest abusing of our simplicitie. For, they hold their life as deare and esteeme their health as pretious as wee do ours, and would apply their effects to their skill if themselves knew not the uncertainty and falsehood of it. It is the feare of paine and death; the impatience of the disease and griefe: and indiscreet desire and headlong thirst of health, that so blindeth them and us. It is meere faintnes that makes our conceit: and pusillanimitie forceth our credulitie to be so yeelding, and pliable.. The greater part of whom doe notwithstanding not beleeve so much as they endure and suffer of others; For I heare them complaine, and speake of it no otherwise than we doe. Yet in the end are they resolved. What should I doe then? As if impatience were in it selfe a better remedie than patience. Is there any of them that hath yeelded to this miserable subjection, that doth not likewise yeelde to all maner of impostures? or dooth not subject himselfe to the mercie of whomsoever hath the impudencie to promise him recoverie and warrant him health?
Inventus mane est mortuus Androgoras.
Tam subitæ mortis causam Faustine requiris?
Insomnis medicum viderat Hermocratem. -- Mart. vi. Epig. liii.
Androgoras in health bath'd over night with us,
And merry supt, but in the morne starke dead was found.
Of his so sudden death the cause shall I discusse?
Hermocrates the leech he saw in sleepe unsound.
The Babilonians were wont to carry their sicke people into the open streetes: the common sort were there physitians: where all such as passed by were by humanitie and civilitie to enquire of their state and maladie, and according to their skill or experience give them some sound advise and good counsell. We differ not greatly from them: there is no poore woman so simple whose mumbling and muttering, whose slibber-slabbes and drenches we doe not employ. And as for mee, were I to buy any medicine, I would rather spend my money in this kinde of physicke than in any other, because therein is no danger or hurt to be feared. What Homer and Plato said of the Ægyptians, that they were all physitians, may well be said of all people. There is neither man nor woman that vanteth not himselfe to have some receipt or other, and doth not hazard the same upon his neighbour, if he will but give credite unto him. I was not long since in a company where I wot not who of my fraternity brought newes of a kinde of pilles, by true accompt, composed of a hundred and odde severall ingredients; whereat we laughed very heartily, and made our selves good sport; for what rocke so hard were able to resist the shocke or withstand the force of so thicke and numerous a battery? I understand, neverthelesse , of such as tooke of them, that the least graine of gravell dained not to stirre at all. I cannot so soone give over writing of this subject, but I must needs say a word or two concerning the experience they have made of their prescriptions, which they would have us take as a warantice or assurance of the certainty of their drugges and potions. The greatest number, and, as I deeme, more than the two thirds of medicinable vertues, consist in the quintessence or secret propriety of simples, whereof wee can have no other instruction but use and custome. For quintessence is no other thing than a quality, whereof wee cannot with our reason finde out the cause. In such trials or experiments, those which they affirme to have acquired by the inspiration of some dæmon, I am contented to receive and allow of them (for touching myracles, I meddle not with them) or be it the experiments drawne from things, which for other respects fall often in use with us: as if in wooll, wherewith we wont to cloth our selves, some secret exsiccating or drying quality have by accident beene found, that cureth kibes and chilblaines in the heeles and if in reddishes, we eat for nourishment, some opening or atentive operation have beene discovered. Galen reporteth that a leprous man chanced to be cured by meanes of a cuppe of wine he had drunken forsomuch as a viper was by fortune fallen into the wine caske. In which example we finde the meane and a very likely director to this experience. As also in those to which physitians affirme to have beene addressed by the examples of some beasts. But in most of other experiences to which they say they came by fortune, and had no other guide but hazard, I finde the progresse of this information incredible. I imagine man heedfully viewing about him the infinite number of things, creatures, plants and mettals. I wot not where to make him beginne his essay; and suppose he cast his first fantasie upon an elkes-horne, to which an easie and gentle credulity must be given; he will be as farre to seeke, and as much troubled in his second operation: so, many diseases and severall circumstances are proposed unto him, that before he come to the certainty of this point, unto which the perfection of his experience should arrive, mans wit shall be to seeke, and not know where to turne himselfe; and before (amiddest this infinity of things) he finde out what this horne is: amongst the numberlesse diseases that are, what an epilepsie is; the sundry and manifolde complexions in a melancholy man; so many seasons in winter: so diverse nations amongst Frenchmen; so many ages in age; so diverse celestiall changes and alterations in the conjunction of Venus and Saturne: so severall and many partes in a mans body, nay in one of his fingers. To all which being neither guided by Argument, nor by conjecture, nor by example or divine inspiration, but by the onely motion of fortune, it were most necessary it should be by a perfectly artificiall, well-ordred, and methodicall fortune. Moreover, suppose the disease thorowly cured, how shall he rest assured but that either the evill was come to his utmost period, or that an effect of the hazard caused the same health? Or the operation of some other thing, which that day he had either eaten, drunke or touched? or whether it were by the merite of his grandmothers prayers? Besides, suppose this experiment to have beene perfect, how many times was it applied and begun anew; and how often was this long and tedious web of fortunes and encounters woven over againe, before a certaine rule might be concluded? And being concluded, by whom is it I pray you I? Amongst so many millions of men you shall scarce meet with three or foure that will duely observe and carefully keepe a register of their experiments: shall it be your or his happe to light truely or hit just with one of them three or foure? What if another man, nay, What if a hundred other men, have had and made contrary experiments, and yet have sorted well? We should peradventure discerne some shew of light if all the judgements and consultations of men were knowne unto us. But that three witnesses and three doctors shall sway all mankind, there is no reason. It were requisite humane nature had appointed and made speciall choise of them, and that by expresse procuration and letter of atturny they were by her declared our judges and deputed our atturnies.
TO MY LADY OF DURAS
MADAME, the last time it pleased you to come and visite me, you found me upon this point. And because it may be these toyes of mine may happily come to your hands, I would have them witnesse their author reputeth himselfe highly honoured for the favours it shall please you to shew them. Wherein you shall discerne the very same demeanor and selfe-countenance you have seene in his conversation. And could I have assumed unto my selfe any other fashion than mine own e accustomed, or more honourable and better forme, I would not have done it: for al I seeke to reape by my writings is, they will naturally represent and to the life pourtray me to your remembrance. The very same condition and faculties it pleased your Ladyship to frequent and receive with much more honor and curtesie than they any way deserve, I will place and reduce (but without alteration and change) into a solide body, which may happily continue some dayes and yeares after mee: where, when soever it shall please you to refresh your memory with them, you may easily finde them, without calling them to remembrance, which they scarcely deserve. I would entreate you to continue the favour of your friend-ship towards me, by the same qualities through whose meanes it was produced. I labour not to be beloved more and esteemed better being dead that alive. The humour of Tiberius is ridiculous and common, who endevoured more to extinguish his glory in future ages, than yeelde himself regardful l and pleasing to men of his times. If I were one of those to whom the world may be indebted for praise, I would quit it for the one moytie, on condition it would pay me beforehand: and that the same would hasten and in great heapes environ me about, more thicke than long, and more full than lasting. And let it hardly vanish with my knowledge, and when this sweet alluring sound shall no more tickle mine eares. It were a fond conceit, now I am ready to leave the commerce of men, by new commendations, to goe about anew to beget my selfe unto them.
I make no account of goods which I could not employ to the use of my life. Such as I am, so would I be elsewhere then in paper. Mine art and industry have been employed to make my selfe of some worth. My study and endevour to doe, and not to write. I have applied all my skill and devoire to frame my life. Lo heere mine occupation and my worke. I am a lesse maker of bookes then of any thing else. I have desired and aimed at sufficiencie, rather for the benefite of my present and essentiall commodities then to make a store-house and hoard it up for mine heires. Whosoever hath any worth in him, let him shew it in his behaviour, maners and ordinary discourses; be it to treat of love or of quarrels; of sport and play or bed-matters, at board or elsewhere; or be it in the conduct of his owne affaires, or private household matters. Those whom I see make good bookes, having tattered hosen and ragged clothes on, had they believed me they should first have gotten themselves good clothes. Demand a Spartan, whether he would rather be a cunning rhetorician then an excellent souldier: nay, were I asked, I would say a good cooke, had I not some to serve me. Good Lord (Madame) how I would hate such a commendation, to be a sufficient man in writing, and a foolish-shallow-headed braine or coxcombe in all things else: yet had I rather be a foole, both here and there, then to have made so base a choice wherein to imploy my worth. So farre am I also from eexpecting by such trifles to gaine new honour to my self, as I shal think I make a good bargain if I loose not a part of that little I had already gained. For besides that this dumbe and dead picture shall derogate and steale from my naturall being, it fadgeth not and hath no reference unto my better state, but is much fallen from my first vigor and naturall jollity, enclining to a kind of drooping or mouldinesse. I am now come to the bottome of the vessel, which beginneth to taste of his dregs and lees. Otherwise (good Madame) I should not have dared so boldly to have ripped up the mysteries of physicke, considering the esteeme and credite of your selfe, and so many others, ascribe unto it, and hold it in; had I not beene directed thereunto by the authors of the same, I thinke they have but two ancient ones in Latine, to wit Pliny and Celsus. If you fortune at any time to looke unto them, you shall finde them to speake much more rudely of their art then I doe. I but pinch it gently; they cut the throate of it. Pliny, amongst other things, doth much scoffe at them, forsomuch as when they are at their wits end, and can go no further, they have found out this goodly shift to send their long-turmoiled, and to no end much tormented patient, with their drugs and diets, some to the helpe of their vowes and myracles, and some others to hot baths and waters. (Be not offended, noble Lady, he meaneth not those on this side, under the protection of your house, and all Gramontoises.) They have a third kinde of shift or evasion to shake off and discharge themselves of the amputations or aches wee may justly charge them with, for the amendment of our infirmities; whereof they have so long had the survay and government, as they have, no more inventions or devises left them to ammuse us with; that is, to send us to seeke and take the good aire of some other country. Madam, we have harped long enough upon one string; I hope you will give me leave to come to my former discourses againe, from which, for your better entertainment, I had somewhat disgressed. It was (as farre as I remember) Pericles, who being demanded how he did, 'you may,' said he, 'judge it by this,' shewing certaine scroules or briefes he had tied about his necke and armes. He would infer that he was very sicke, since he was forced to have recourse to such vanities, and had suffered himselfe to be so drest. I affirme not but I may one day be drawne to such fond opinions, and yeeld my life and health to the mercy, discretion, and regiment of physitians. I may haply fall into this fond madnesse; I dare not warrant my future constancy. And even then if any aske me how I doe, I may answer him as did Pericles: you may judge, by shewing my hand fraughted with six drammes of opium. It will be an evident token of a violent sicknesse. My judgement shall be exceedingly out of temper. If impacience or feare get that advantage upon me, you may thereby conclude some quelling fever hath seized upon my minde. I have taken the paines to plead this cause, whereof I have but small understanding, somewhat to strengthen and comfort naturall propension against the drugs and practice of our physicke, which is derived into me from mine ancestors: lest it might only be a stupid and rash inclination, and that it might have a little more forme. And that also those who see me so constant against the exhortations and threats which are made against me, when sicknesse commeth upon me, may not thinke it to be a meere conceit and simple wilfulnesse; and also, lest there be any so peevish as to judge it to be some motive of vaine glory. It were a strange desire to seeke to draw honour from an action common both to me, to my gardiner, or, to my groome. Surely my heart is not so pufft up, nor so windy, that a solide, fleshy and marrowy pleasure as health is, I should change it for an imaginary spiritual and airy delight. Renowne or glory (were it that of Aymons foure sons) is over deerely bought by a man of my humour, if it cost him but three violent fits of the chollike. Give me health a Gods name. Those that love our physicke may likewise have their considerations good, great and strong; I hate no fantasies contrary to mine. I am so far from vexing my selfe to see my judgement differ from other mens, or to grow incompatible of the society or c onversation of men, to be of any other faction or opinion then mine owne; that contrariwise (as variety is the most generall fashion that nature hath followed, and more in the mindes then in the bodies: forsomuch as they are of a more supple and yeelding substance, and susceptible or admitting of formes) I finde it more rare to see our humor or desseignes agree in one. And never were there two opinions in the world alike, no more than two haires or two graines. Diversity is the most universall quality.
END OF THE SECOND BOOKE