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´╗┐Title: Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life - Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method - of Preserving Health to Extreme Old Age
Author: Cornaro, Luigi, 1475-1566
Language: English
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Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example,


Translated from the Italian Original.


Printed for Benjamin White, at Horace's
Head, in Fleet-Street.


The author of the following discourses, Lewis Cornaro, was descended
from one of the most illustrious families in Venice, but by the ill
conduct of some of his relations, had the misfortune to be deprived
of the dignity of a nobleman, and excluded from all honours and
public employments in the state.  Chagrined at this unmerited
disgrace, he retired to Padua, and married a lady of the family
of Spiltemberg, whose name was Veronica.  Being in possession of
a good estate, he was very desirous of having children; and after
a long expectation of this happiness, his wife was delivered of a
daughter, to whom he gave the name of Clara.  This was his only
child, who afterwards was married to John, the son of Fantini
Cornaro, of a rich family in Cyprus, while that island belonged to
the republic of Venice.  Though he was far advanced in life when
his daughter Clara came into the world, yet he lived to see her
very old, and the mother of eight sons and three daughters.  He was
a man of sound understanding, determined courage and resolution.
In his younger days, he had contracted infirmities by intemperance,
and by indulging his too great propensity to anger; but when he
perceived the ill consequence of his irregularities, he had
command enough of himself to subdue his passion and inordinate
appetites.  By means of great sobriety, and a strict regimen in his
diet, he recovered his health and vigour, which he preserved to an
extreme old age.  At a very advanced stage of life he wrote the
following discourses, wherein he acquaints us with the irregularity
of his youth, his reformation of manners, and the hopes he
entertained of living a long time.  Nor was he mistaken in his
expectation, for he resigned his last breath without any agony,
sitting in an elbow chair, being above an hundred years old.  This
happened at Padua, the 26th of April, 1566.  His lady, almost as
old as himself, survived him but a short time, and died an early
death.  They were both interred in St. Anthony's church, without
pomp, pursuant to their testamentary directions.

These discourses, though written in Cornaro's old age, were penned
at different times, and published separately: The first, which he
wrote at the age of eighty-three, is intitled, A Treatise on a
Sober Life, in which he declares war against every kind of
intemperance; and his vigorous old age speaks in favour of his
precepts.  The second treatise he composed at the age of eighty-six:
it contains farther encomiums on sobriety, and points out the means
of mending a bad constitution.  He says, that he came into the
world with a choleric disposition, but that his temperate way of
life had enabled him to subdue it.  The third, which he wrote at
the age of ninety-one, is intitled, An Earnest Exhortation to a
Sober Life; here he uses the strongest arguments to persuade
mankind to embrace a temperate life, as the means of attaining a
healthy and vigorous old age.  The fourth and last, is a letter to
Barbaro, Patriarch of Aquileia, written at the age of ninety-five;
it contains a lively description of the healthy, vigour, and
perfect use of all his faculties, which he had the happiness of
enjoying at that advanced period of life.

This useful work was translated some years ago into English, under
the title of _Sure and certain methods of attaining a long and
healthy life_. The translator seems rather to have made use of a
French version than of the Italian original; he has likewise
omitted several passages of the Italian, and the whole is rather a
paraphrase than a translation.  This has induced us to give the
public an exact and faithful version of that excellent performance,
from the Venice edition in 8vo, in the year 1620 [1]: and as a proof
of the merit and authenticity of the work, we beg leave to quote
Mr. Addison's recommendation of it, SPECTATOR, Vol. iii, No 195.

"The most remarkable instance of the efficacy of temperance,
towards the procuring long life, is what we meet with in a little
book published by _Lewis Cornaro,_ the _Venetian;_ which I rather
mention, because it is of undoubted credit, as the late _Venetian_
ambassador, who was of the same family, attested more than once in
conversation, when he resided in _England_.  _Cornaro,_ who was
the author of the little treatise I am mentioning, was of an
infirm constitution, till about forty, when, by obstinately
persisting in an exact course of temperance, he recovered a perfect
state of health; insomuch that at fourscore he published his book,
which has been translated into _English_ under the title of, _Sure
and certain methods of attaining a long and healthy life_.  He
lived to give a third or fourth edition of it, and after having
passed his hundredth year, died without pain or agony, and like
one who falls asleep.  The treatise I mention has been taken
notice of by several eminent authors, and is written with such
spirit of chearfulness, religion, and good sense, as are the
natural concomitants of temperance and sobriety.  The mixture of
the old man in it, is rather a recommendation than a discredit
to it."

[1] The first edition was published by the author at Padua, in
4to, A.D. 1558.


It is a thing past all doubt, that custom, by time, becomes a
second nature, forcing men to use that, whether good or bad, to
which they have been habituated: nay, we see habit, in many things,
get the better of reason.  This is so undeniably true, that
virtuous men, by conversing with the wicked, very often fall into
the same vicious course of life.  The contrary, likewise, we see
sometimes happen; viz. that, as good morals easily change to bad,
so bad morals change again to good.  For instance: let a wicked
man, who was once virtuous, keep company with a virtuous man, and
he will again become virtuous; and this alteration can be
attributed to nothing but the force of habit, which is, indeed,
very great.  Seeing many examples of this; and besides,
considering that, in consequence of this great force of habit,
three bad customs have got footing in Italy within a few years,
even within my own memory; the first flattery and ceremoniousness:
the second Lutheranism [2], which some have most preposterously
embraced; the third intemperance; and that these three vices,
like so many cruel monsters, leagued, as indeed they are, against
mankind, have gradually prevailed so far, as to rob civil life of
its sincerity, the soul of its piety, and the body of its health;
I have resolved to treat of the last of these vices, and prove
that it is an abuse, in order to extirpate it, if possible.  As
to the second, Lutheranism, and the first, flattery, I am certain,
that some great genius or another will soon undertake the task of
exposing their deformity, and effectually suppressing them.
Therefore, I firmly hope, that, before I die, I shall see these
three abuses conquered and driven out of Italy; and this country
of course restored to its former laudable and virtuous customs.

[2] The author writes with the prejudice of a zealous Roman
Catholic against the doctrine of the Reformation, which he here
distinguishes by the name of Lutheranism.  This was owing to the
artifices of the Romish clergy in those days, by whom the
reformed religion was misinterpreted, as introductive of
licentiousness and debauchery.

To come then to that abuse, of which I am proposed to speak,
namely, intemperance; I say, that it is a great pity it should have
prevailed so much, as entirely to banish sobriety.  Though all are
agreed, that intemperance is the offspring of gluttony, and sober
living of abstemiousness; the former, nevertheless, is considered
a virtue and a mark of distinction, and the latter, as dishonourable
and the badge of avarice.  Such mistaken notions are entirely
owing to the power of custom, established by our senses and
irregular appetites; these have blinded and besotted men to such
a degree, that, leaving the paths of virtue, they have followed
those of vice, which lead them before their time to an old age,
burthened with strange and mortal infirmities, so as to render
them quite decrepid before forty, contrary to the effects of
sobriety, which, before it was banished by this destructive
intemperance, used to keep men sound and hearty to the age of
eighty and upwards.  O wretched and unhappy Italy! do you not
see, that intemperance murders every year more of your subjects,
than you could lose by the most cruel plague, or by fire and
sword in many battles?  Those truly shameful feasts, no so much
in fashion, and so intolerably profuse, that no tables are large
enough to hold the dishes, which renders it necessary to heap them
one upon another; those feasts, I say, are so many battles; and
how is it possible to support nature by such a variety of contrary
and unwholesome foods?  Put a stop to this abuse, for God's sake,
for there is not, I am certain of it, a vice more abominable than
this in the eyes of the Divine Majesty.  Drive away this new kind
of death, and you have banished the plague, which, though it
formerly used to make such havock, now does little or no mischief,
owing to the laudable practice of attending more to the goodness
of the provisions brought to our markets.  There are means still
left to banish intemperance, and such means too, that every man
may have recourse to them without any assistance.  Nothing more is
requisite for this purpose, than to live up to the simplicity
dictated by nature, which teaches us to be content with little,
to pursue the medium of holy abstemiousness and divine reason,
and to accustom ourselves to eat no more than is absolutely
necessary to support life; considering, that what exceeds this,
is disease and death, and merely gives the palate satisfaction,
which, though but momentary, brings on the body a long and lasting
train of disagreeable sensations and diseases, and at length
destroys it along with the soul.  How many friends of mine, men
of the finest understanding and most amiable disposition, have I
seen carried off by this plague in the flower of their youth? who,
where they now living, would be an ornament to the public, whose
company I should enjoy with as much pleasure, as I now feel
concern at their loss.

In order, therefore, to put a stop to so great an evil, I have
resolved by this short discourse to demonstrate, that
intemperance is an abuse which may be easily removed, and that
the good old sober living may be substituted in its stead; and
this I undertake more readily, as many young men of the best
understanding, knowing that it is a vice, have requested it of
me, moved thereto by seeing their fathers drop off in the flower
of their youth, and me so sound and hearty at the age of
eighty-one.  They expressed a desire to reach the same term,
nature not forbidding us to wish for longevity; and old-age being,
in fact, that time of life in which prudence can be best
exercised, and the fruits of all the other virtues enjoyed with
less opposition, the passions being then so subdued, that man gives
himself up entirely to reason.  They beseeched me to let them
know the method pursued by me to attain it; and then finding them
intent on so laudable a pursuit, I have resolved to treat of that
method, in order to be of service not only to them, but to all
those who may be willing to peruse this discourse.  I shall,
therefore, give my reasons for renouncing intemperance, and
betaking myself to a sober course of life; declare freely the
method pursued by me for that purpose; and then set forth the
effects of so good an habit upon me; whence it may be clearly
gathered, how easy it is to remove the abuse of intemperance.
I shall conclude, by shewing how many conveniencies and
blessings are the consequences of a sober life.

I say then, that the heavy train of infirmities, which had not
only invaded, but even made great inroads in my constitution,
were my motives for renouncing intemperance, to which I had been
greatly addicted; so that, in consequence of it, and the badness
of my constitution, my stomach being exceedingly cold and moist,
I was fallen into different kinds of disorders, such as pains in
my stomach, and often stitches, and spices of the gout; attended
by, what was still worse, an almost continual slow fever, a
stomach generally out of order, and a perpetual thirst.  From
these natural and acquired disorders the best delivery I had to
hope for, was death, to put an end to the pains and miseries of
life; a period very remote in the regular course of nature,
though I had hastened it by my irregular manner of living.
Finding myself, therefore, in such unhappy circumstances between
my thirty-fifth and fortieth year, every thing that could be
thought of having been tried to no purpose to relieve me, the
physicians gave me to understand, that there was but one method
left to get the better of my complaints, provided I would resolve
to use it, and patiently persevere in it.  This was a sober and
regular life, which the assured me would be still of the greatest
service to me, and would be as powerful in its effects, as the
intemperance and irregular one had been, in reducing me to the
present low condition: and that I might be fully satisfied of its
salutary effects, for though by my irregularities I was become
infirm, I was not reduced so low, but that a temperate life, the
opposite in every respect to an intemperate one, might still
entirely recover me.  And besides, it in fact appears, such a
regular life, whilst observed, preserves men of a bad constitution,
and far gone in years, just as a contrary course has the power
to destroy those of the best constitution, and in their prime;
for this plain reason, that different modes of life are
attended by different effects; art following, even herein, the
steps of nature, with equal power to correct natural vices and
imperfections.  This is obvious in husbandry and the like.  They
added, that if I did not immediately have recourse to such a
regimen, I could receive no benefit from it in a few months, and
that in a few more I must resign myself to death.

These solid and convincing arguments made such an impression on
me, that, mortified as I was besides, by the thoughts of dying
in the prime of life, and at the same time perpetually tormented
by various diseases, I immediately concluded, that the foregoing
contrary effects could not be produced but by contrary modes of
living; and, therefore, full of hopes, resolved, in order to
avoid at once both death and disease, to betake myself to a regular
course of life.  Having, upon this, enquired of them what rules I
should follow, they told me, that I must not use any food, solid
or liquid, but such as, being generally prescribed to sick persons,
is, for that reason, called diet, and both very sparingly.  These
directions, to say the truth, they had before given me; but it
was at a time of life when, impatient of such restraint, and
finding myself satiated, as it were, with such food, I could not
put up with it, and therefore eat freely of every thing I liked
best; and likewise, feeling myself in a manner parched up by the
heat of my disease, made no scruple of drinking, and in large
quantities, the wines that best pleased my palate.  This indeed,
like all other patients, I kept a secret from my physicians.  But,
when I had once resolved to live sparingly, and according to the
dictates of reason, seeing that is was no difficult matter, nay,
that it was my duty as a man so to do, I entered with so much
resolution upon this new course of life, that nothing has been
since able to divert me from it.  The consequence was, that in a
few days I began to perceive, that such a course agreed with me
very well; and by pursuing it, in less than a year, I found
myself (some persons, perhaps, will not believe it) entirely
freed from all my complaints.

Having thus recovered my health, I began seriously to consider
the power of temperance, and say to myself, that if this virtue
had efficacy enough to subdue such grievous disorders as mine, it
must have still greater to preserve me in health, to help my bad
constitution, and comfort my very weak stomach.  I therefore
applied myself diligently to discover what kinds of food suited
me best.  But, first, I resolved to try, whether those, which
pleased my palate, agreed or disagreed with my stomach, in order
to judge for myself of the truth of that proverb, which I once held
true, and is universally held as such in the highest degree,
insomuch that epicures, who give a loose to their appetites, lay
it down as a fundamental maxim.  This proverb is, that whatever
pleases the palate, must agree with the stomach, and nourish the
body; or whatever is palatable must be equally wholesome and
nourishing.  The issue was, that I found it to be false: for,
though rough and very cold wines, as likewise melons and other
fruits, sallad, fish and pork, tarts, garden-stuff, pastry, and
the like, were very pleasing to my palate, the disagreed with me
notwithstanding.  Having convinced myself, that the proverb in
question was false, I look'd upon it as such; and, taught by
experience, I gave over the use of such meats and wines, and
likewise of ice; chose wine suited to my stomach, drinking of it
but the quantity I knew I could digest.  I did the same by my
meat, as well in regard to quantity as to quality, accustoming
myself never to cloy my stomach with eating or drinking; but
constantly rise from table with a disposition to eat and drink
still more.  In this I conformed to the proverb, which says, that
a man, to consult his health, must check his appetite.  Having in
this manner, and for these reasons, conquered intemperance and
irregularity, I betook myself intirely to a temperate and regular
life: which effected in me the alteration already mentioned, that
is, in less than a year it rid me of all those disorders, which
had taken so deep a root in me; nay, as I have already observed,
had made such a progress, as to be in a manner incurable.  It had
likewise this other good effect, that I no longer experienced
those annual fits of sickness, with which I used to be afflicted,
while I followed a different, that is a sensual, course of life;
for then I used to be attacked every year with a strange kind of
fever, which sometimes brought me to death's door.  From this
disease, then, I also freed myself, and became exceeding healthy,
as I have continued from that time forward to this very day; and
for no other reason than that I never trespassed against
regularity, which by its infinite efficacy has been the cause,
that the meat I constantly eat, and the wine I constantly drink,
being such as agreed with my constitution, and taken in proper
quantities, imparted all their virtue to my body, and then left
it without difficulty, and without engendering in it any bad

In consequence therfore of my taking such methods, I have
always enjoyed, and (God be praised) actually enjoy, the
best of healths.  It is true, indeed, that, besides the two
forgoing most important rules relative to eating and drinking,
which I have ever been very scrupulous to observe; that is,
not to take of any thing, but as much as my stomach can easily
digest, and to use those things only, which agree with me; I
have carefully avoided heat, cold, and extraordinary fatigue,
interruption of my usual hours of rest, excessive venery, making
any stay in bad air, and exposing myself to the wind and sun; for
these, too, are great disorders.  But then, fortunately, there is
no great difficulty in avoiding them, the love of life and health
having more sway over men of understanding, than any satisfaction
they could find in doing what must be extremely hurtful to their
constitution.  I have likewise done all that lay in my power to
avoid those evils, which we do not find so easy to remove; these
are melancholy, hatred, and other violent passions, which appear
to have the greatest influence over our bodies.  However, I have
not been able to guard so well against either one or the other
kind of these disorders, as not to suffer myself now and then to
be hurried away by many, not to say, all of them; but I have
reaped the benefit of knowing by experience that these passions
have, in the main, no great influence over bodies governed by the
two foregoing rules of eating and drinking, and therefore can do
them but very little harm; so that it may with great truth be
affirmed, that whoever observes these two capital rules, is
liable to very little inconveniency from any other excesses.
This, Galen, who was an eminent physician, observed before me.
He affirms, that so long as he followed these rules relative to
eating and drinking, he suffered but little from other disorders,
so little, that they never gave him above a day's uneasiness.
That what he says is true, I am a living witness, and so are many
others, who know me, and have seen, how often I have been exposed
to heats and colds, and such other disagreeable changes of weather;
and have, likewise, seen me (owing to various misfortunes, which
have more than once befallen me) greatly disturbed my mind.  For
they can not only say of me, that such disturbance of mind has done
me very little harm, but they can aver of many others, who did not
lead a sober and regular life, that it proved very prejudicial to
them, amongst whom was a brother of my own, and others of my family,
who trusting to the goodness of their constitution, did not follow
my way of living.  The consequence hereof was a great misfortune to
them, the perturbations of the mind having thereby acquired an
extraordinary influence over their bodies.  Such, in a word, was
their grief and dejection at seeing me involved in expensive
law-suits, commenced against my by great and powerful men, that,
fearing I should be cast, they were seized with that melancholy
humour, with which intemperate bodies always abound; and these
humours had such an influence over them, and increased to such
a degree, as to carry them off before their time; whereas I
suffered nothing on the occasion, as I had in me no superfluous
humours of that kind.  Nay, in order to keep up my spirits, I
brought myself to think, that God had raised up these suits
against me, in order to make me more sensible of my strength of
body and mind; and that I should get the better of them with
honour and advantage, as it, in fact, came to pass: for, at
last, I obtained a decree exceeding favourable to my fortune and
my character, which, though it gave me the highest pleasure, had
not the power to do me any harm in other respects.  Thus it is
plain, that neither melancholy nor any other affection of the
mind can hurt bodies governed with temperance and regularity.

But I must go a step further, and say, that even misfortunes
themselves can do but very little mischief, or cause but very
little pain, to such bodies; and that this is true, I have myself
experienced at the age of seventy.  I happened, as is often the
case, to be in a coach, which going at a pretty smart rate, was
overset, and in that condition drawn a considerable way by the
horses, before means could be found to stop them; whence I
received so many shocks and bruises, that I was taken out with
my head and all the rest of my body terribly battered, and a
dislocated leg and arm.  When I was brought home, the family
immediately sent for the physicians, who, on their arrival, seeing
me in so bad a plight, concluded, that within three days I should
die; nevertheless, they would try what good two things would do
me; one was to bleed me, the other to purge me; and thereby
prevent my humours altering, as they every moment expected, to
such a degree, as to ferment greatly, and bring on a high fever.
But I, on the contrary, who knew, that the sober life I had led
for many years past, had so well united, harmonized, and disposed
my humours, as not to leave it in their power to ferment to such
a degree, refused to be either bled, or purged.  I just caused my
leg and arm to be set, an suffered myself to be rubbed with some
oils, which they said were proper on the occasion.  Thus, without
using any other kind of remedy, I recovered, as I thought I should,
without feeling the least alteration in myself, or any other bad
effects from the accident; a thing, which appeared miraculous even
in the eyes of the physicians.  Hence we are to infer, that whoever
leads a sober and regular life, and commits no excess in his diet,
can suffer but very little from disorders of any other kind, or
external accidents.  On the contrary, I conclude, especially from
the late trial I have had, that excesses in eating and drinking are
fatal.  Of this I convinced myself four years ago, when by the
advice of my physicians, the instigation of my friends, and the
importunity of my own family, I consented to such an excess, which,
as it will appear hereafter, was attended with far worse
consequences, than could naturally be expected.  This excess
consisted in increasing the quantity of food I generally made use
of; which increase alone brought me to a most cruel fit of sickness.
And as it is a case so much in point to the subject in hand, and the
knowledge of it may be useful to some of my readers, I shall take
the trouble to relate it.

I say, then, that my dearest friends and relations, actuated by the
warm and laudable affection and regard they have for me, seeing how
little I eat, represented to me, in conjunction with my physicians,
that the sustenance I took could not be sufficient to support one
so far advanced in years, when it was become necessary not only to
preserve nature, but to increase its vigour.  That, as this could
not be done without food, it was absolutely incumbent upon me to
eat a little more plentifully.  I, on the other hand, produced my
reasons for not complying with their desires.  These were, that
nature is content with little, and that with this little I had
preserved myself so many years; and that, to me, the habit of it
was become a second nature; and that it was more agreeable to
reason, that, as I advanced in years and lost my strength, I
should rather lessen than increase the quantity of my food:
Farther, that it was but natural to think, that the powers of
the stomach grew weaker from day to day; on which account I
could see no reason to make such an addition.  To corroborate
my arguments, I alleged that those two natural and very true
proverbs; one, that he, who has a mind to eat a great deal, must
eat but little; which is said for no other reason than this, that
eating little makes a man live very long, and living very long he
must eat a great deal.  The other proverb was, that what we leave
after making a hearty meal, does us more good than what we have
eat.  But neither these proverbs, nor any other arguments I could
think of, were able to prevent their teazing me more than ever.
Wherefore, not to appear obstinate, or affect to know more than
the physicians themselves; but, above all, to please my family,
who very earnestly desired it, from a persuasion that such an
addition to my usual allowance would preserve my strength, I
consented to increase the quantity of food, but with two ounces
only.  So that, as before, what with bread, meat, the yolk of
an egg, and soup, I eat as much, as weighed in all twelve ounces,
neither more nor less, I now increased it to fourteen; and as
before I drank but fourteen ounces of wine, I now increased it to
sixteen.  This increase and irregularity, had, in eight days time,
such an effect upon me, that, from being chearful and brisk, I
began to be peevish and melancholy, so that nothing could please
me; and was constantly so strangely disposed, that I neither knew
what to say to others, nor what to do with myself.  On the twelfth
day, I was attacked with a most violent pain in my side, which held
me twenty-two hours, and was succeeded by a terrible fever, which
continued thirty-five days and as many nights, without giving me
a moment's respite; though, to say the truth, it began to abate
gradually on the fifteenth.  But notwithstanding such abatement,
I could not, during the whole time, sleep half a quarter of an
hour together, insomuch that every one looked upon me as a dead
man.  But, God be praised, I recovered merely by my former regular
course of life, though then in my seventy-eighth year, and in the
coldest season of a very cold year, and reduced to a mere skeleton;
and I am positive that it was the great regularity I had observed
for so many years, and that only, which rescued me from the jaws
of death.  In all that time I never knew what sickness was, unless
I may call by that same name some slight indispositions of a day
or two's continuance; the regular life I had led, as I have
already taken notice, for so many years, not having permitted any
superfluous or bad humours to breed in me; or if they did, to
acquire such strength and malignity, a they generally acquire in
the superannuated bodies of those, who live without rule.  And as
there was not any old malignity in my humours (which is the thing
that kills people) but only that, which my new irregularity had
occasioned, this fit of sickness, though exceeding violent, had
not the strength to destroy me.  This it was, and nothing else,
that saved my life; whence may be gathered, how great is the
power and efficacy of regularity; and how great, likewise, is
that of irregularity, which in a few days could bring on me so
terrible a fit of sickness, just as regularity had preserved me
in health for so many years.

And it appears to me a no weak argument, that, since the world,
consisting of the four elements, is upheld by order; and our
life, as to the body, is no other than a harmonious combination
of the same four elements, so it should be preserved and maintained
by the very same order; and, on the other hand, it must be worn
out by sickness, or destroyed by death, which are produced by the
contrary effects.  By order the arts are more easily learned; by
order armies are rendered victorious; by order, in a word,
families, cities, and even states are maintained.  Hence I
concluded, that orderly living is no other than a most certain
cause and foundation of health and long life; nay I cannot help
saying, that it is the only and true medicine; and whoever weighs
the matter well, must also conclude, that this is really the case.
Hence it is, that when a physician comes to visit a patient, the
first thing he prescribes, is to live regularly.  In like manner,
when a physician takes leave of a patient, on his being recovered,
he advises him, as he tenders his health, to lead a regular life.
And it is not to be doubted, that, were a patient so recovered
to live in that manner, he could never be sick again, as it
removes every cause of illness; and so, for the future, would
never want either physician or physic.  Nay, by attending duly
to what I have said, he would become his own physician, and,
indeed, the best he could have; since, in fact, no many can be a
perfect physician to any one but himself.  The reason of which is,
that any man may, by repeated trials, acquire a perfect knowledge
of his own constitution, and the most hidden qualities of his
body; and what wine and food agree with his stomach.  Now, it
is so far from being an easy matter to know these things perfectly
of another, that we cannot without much trouble discover them in
ourselves, since a great deal of time and repeated trials are
requisite for the purpose.

These trials are, indeed, (if I may say it) more than necessary,
as there is a greater variety in the natures and constitutions of
different men, than in their persons.  Who could believe, that
old wine, wine that had passed its first year, should disagree
with my stomach, and new wine agree with it? and that pepper,
which is looked upon as a warm spice, should not have a warm
effect upon me, insomuch that I find myself more warmed and
comforted by cinnamon?  Where is the physician, that could have
informed me of these two latent qualities, since I myself, even
by a long course of observation, could scarce discover them?
From all these reasons it follows, that it is impossible to be
a perfect physician to another.  Since, therefore, a man cannot
have a better physician than himself, nor any physic better than
a regular life, a regular life he ought to embrace.

I do not, however, mean, that, for the knowledge and cure of
such disorders, as often befall those who do not live regularly,
there is no occasion for a physician, and that his assistance
ought to be slighted.  For, if we are apt to receive such great
comfort from friends, who come to visit us in our illness, though
they do no more than testify their concern for us, and bid us be
of good cheer; how much more regard ought we to have for the
physician, who is a friend that comes to see us in order to
relieve us, and promises us a cure?  But for the bare purpose of
keeping ourselves in good health, I am of the opinion, that we
should consider as a physician this regular life, which, as we
have seen, is our natural and proper physic, since it preserves
men, even those of a bad constitution, in health; makes them live
sound and hearty to the age of one hundred and upwards; and
prevents their dying of sickness, or through a corruption of their
humours, but merely by a dissolution of their radical moisture,
when quite exhausted; all which effects several wise men have
attributed to potable gold, and the elixir, sought for by many,
but discovered by few.  However to confess the truth, men, for
the most part, are very sensual and intemperate, and love to
satisfy their appetites, and to commit every excess; therefore,
seeing that they cannot avoid being greatly injured by such
excess, as often as they are guilty of it, they, by way of
apologizing for their conduct, say, that it is better to live ten
years less, and enjoy themselves; not considering, of what
importance are ten years more of life, especially a healthy life,
and at a maturer age; when men become sensible of their progress
in knowledge and virtue, which cannot attain to any degree of
perfection before this period of life.

Not to speak, at present, of many other advantages, I shall
barely mention that in regard to letters and the sciences; far
the greatest number of the best and most celebrated books extant,
were written during that period of life, and those ten years, which
some make it their business to undervalue, in order to give a loose
to their appetites.  Be that as it will, I would not act like them.
I rather coveted to live these ten years, and, had I not done so,
I should never have finished those tracts, which I have composed
in consequence of my having been sound and hearty these ten years
past; and which I have the pleasure to think will be of service to
others.  These sensualists add, that a regular life is such as no
man can lead.  To this I answer, Galen, who was so great a
physician, led such a life, and chose it as the best physic.  The
same did Plato, Cicero, Isocrates, and many other great men of
former times; whom, not to tire the reader, I shall forbear naming:
and, in our own days, pope Paul Farnese led it, and cardinal Bembo;
and it was for that reason they lived so long; likewise our two
doges, Lando and Donato; besides many others of meaner condition,
and those who live not only in cities, but also in different parts
of the country, who all found great benefit by conforming to this
regularity.  Therefore, since many have led this life, and many
actually lead it, it is not such a life but that every one may
conform to it; and the more so, as no great difficulty attends it;
nothing, indeed, being requisite but to begin in good earnest, as
the above-mentioned Cicero affirms, and all those who now live
in this manner.  Plato, you will say, though he himself lived very
regularly, affirms, notwithstanding, that, in republics, men
cannot do so, being often obligated to expose themselves to heat,
cold, and several other kinds of hardship, and other things,
which are all so many disorders, and incompatable with a regular
life.  I answer, as I have already observed, that these are not
disorders attended with any bad consequence, or which affect
either health or life, when the man, who undergoes them, observes
the rules of sobriety, and commits no excess in the two points
concerning diet, which a republican may very well avoid, nay it
is requisite he should avoid; because, by so doing, he may be
sure either to escape those disorders, which, otherwise, it
would be no easy matter for him to escape while exposed to these
hardships; or, in case he could not escape them, he may more
easily and speedily prevent their bad effects.

Here it may be objected, and some actually object, that he,
who leads a regular life, having constantly, when well, made
use of food fit for the sick, and in small quantities, has no
resource left in case of illness.  To this I might, in the
first place, answer, that nature, desirous to preserve man
in good health as long as possible, informs him, herself, how
he is to act in time of illness; for she immediately deprives
him, when sick, of his appetite, in order that he may eat but
little; because nature (as I have said already) is satisfied
with little; wherefore, it is requisite, that a man, when
sick, whether he has been  a regular or irregular liver, should
use no meats, but such as are suited to his disorder; and of
these even in a much smaller quantity than he was wont to do,
when in health.  For were he to eat as much as he used to do, he
would die by it; because it would be only adding to the burden,
with which nature was already oppressed, by giving her a greater
quantity of food, than she can in such circumstances support; and
this, I imagine, would be a sufficient caution to any sick
person.  But, independent of all this, I might answer some others,
and still better, that whoever leads a regular life, cannot be
sick; or, at least, but seldom, and for a short time; because,
by living regularly, he extirpates every seed of sickness; and
thus, by removing the cause, prevents the effect; so that he,
who pursues a regular course of life, need not be apprehensive
of illness, as he need not be afraid of the effect, who has
guarded against the cause.

Since it therefore appears that a regular life is so
profitable and virtuous, so lovely and so holy, it ought to be
universally followed and embraced; and more so, as it does not
clash with the means or duties of any station, but is easy to
all; because, to lead it, a man need not tie himself down to
eat so little as I do, or not to eat fruit, fish, and other
things of that kind, from which I abstain, who eat little,
because it is sufficient for my puny and weak stomach; and fruit,
fish, and other things of that kind, disagree with me, which is
my reason for not touching them.  Those, however, with whom such
things agree, may, and ought to eat of them; since they are not by
any means forbid the use use of such sustinance.  But, then, both
they, and all others, are forbid to eat a greater quantity of any
kind of food, even of that which agrees with them, than what their
stomachs can easily digest; the same is to be understood of drink.
Hence it is that those, with whom nothing disagrees, are not
bound to observe any rule but that relating to the quantity, and
not to the quality, of their food; a rule which they may, without
the least difficulty in the world, comply with.

Let nobody tell me, that there are numbers, who, though they live
most irregularly, live in health and spirits, to those remote
periods of life, attained by the most sober; for, this argument
being grounded on a case full of uncertainty and hazard, and
which, besides, so seldom occurs, as to look more like a miracle
than the work of nature, men should not suffer themselves to be
thereby persuaded to live irregularly, nature having been too
liberal to those, who did so without suffering by it; a favour,
which very few have any right to expect.  Whoever, trusting to
his youth, or the strength of his constitution, or the goodness of
his stomach, slights these observations, must expect to suffer
greatly by so doing, and live in constant danger of disease and
death.  I therefore affirm, that an old man, even of a bad
constitution, who leads a regular and sober life, is surer of a
long one, than a young man of the best constitution, who leads a
disorderly life.  It is not to be doubted, however, that a man
blessed with a good constitution may, by living temperately,
expect to live longer than one, whose constitution is not so
good; and that God and nature can dispose matters so, that a man
shall bring into the world with him so sound a constitution, as
to live long and healthy, without observing such strick rules;
and then die in a very advanced age through a mere dissolution
of his elementary parts; as was the case, in Venice, of the
procurator Thomas Contarini; and in Padua, of the cavalier
Antonio Capo di Vacca.  But it is not one man in a hundred
thousand, that so much can be said of.  If others have a mind
to live long and healthy, and die without sickness of body or
mind, but by mere dissolution, they must submit to live regularly,
since the cannot otherwise expect to enjoy the fruits of such a
life, which are almost infinite in number, and each of them, in
particular, of infinite value.  For, as such regularity keeps the
humours of the body cleansed and purified; it suffers no vapors to
ascend from the stomach to the head; hence the brain of him, who
lives in that manner, enjoys such a constant serenity, that he is
always perfectly master of himself.  He, therefore, easily soars
above the low and groveling concerns of this life, to the exalted
and beautiful contemplation of heavenly things, to his exceeding
great comfort and satisfaction; because he, by this means, comes
to consider, know, and understand that, which otherwise he would
never have considered, known, or understood; that is, how great
is the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Deity.  He then
descends into nature, and acknowledges her for the daughter of God;
and sees, and even feels with his hands, that, which in any other
age, or with a perception less clear, he could never have seen
or felt.  He then truly discerns the brutality of that vice into
which they fall, who know not how to subdue their passions, and
those three importunate lusts, which, one would imagine, came
all together into the world with us, in order to keep us in
perpetual anxiety and disturbance.  These are, the lust of the
flesh, the lust of honours, and the lust of riches; which are apt
to increase with years in such old persons as do not lead a regular
life; because, in their passage through the stage of manhood,
they did not, as they ought, renounce sensuality and their passions;
and take up with sobriety and reason; virtues which men of a regular
life, did not neglect when they passed through the above-mentioned
stage.  For, knowing such passions are such lusts to be inconsistent
with reason, by which they are entirely governed; they, at once,
broke loose from all temptations to vice; and, instead of being
slaves to their inordinate appetites, they applied themselves to
virtue and good works; and by these means, they altered their
conduct, and became men of good and sober lives.  When, therefore,
in process of time, they see themselves brought by a long series of
years to their dissolution, conscious that, through the singular
mercy of God, they had so sincerely relinquished the paths of vice,
as never afterwards to enter them; and moreover hoping, through the
merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to die in his favour, they do
not suffer themselves to be cast down at the thoughts of death,
knowing that they must die.  This is particularly the case, when,
loaded with honour, and sated with life, they see themselves arrived
at that age, which not one in many thousands of those, who live
otherwise, ever attains.  They have still the greater reason not to
be dejected at the thoughts of death, as it does not attack them
violently and by surprize, with a bitter and painful turn of their
humours, with feverish sensations, and sharp pains, but steals
upon them insensibly and with the greatest ease and gentleness;
such an end, proceeding intirely from an exhaustion of the radical
moisture, which decays by degrees like the oil of a lamp; so that
they pass gently, without any sickness, from this terrestrial and
mortal to a celestial and eternal life.

O holy and truly happy regularity!  How holy and happy should men,
in fact, deem thee, since the opposite habit is the cause of such
guilt and misery, as evidently appears to those who consider the
opposite effects of both! so that men should know thee by thy voice
alone, and thy lovely name; for what a glorious name, what a noble
thing, is an orderly and sober life! as, on the contrary, the bare
mention of disorder and intemperance is offensive to our ears.
Nay, there is the same difference between the mentioning these two
things, as between the uttering of the words angel and devil.

Thus I have assigned my reasons for abandoning intemperance, and
betaking myself intirely to a sober life; with the method I
pursued in doing so, and what was the consequence of it; and,
finally, the advantages an blessings, which a sober life confers
upon those who embrace it.  Some sensual, inconsiderate persons
affirm, that a long life is no blessing; and that the state of a
man, who has passed his seventy-fifth year, cannot really be called
life, but death: but this is a great mistake, as I shall fully
prove; and it is my sincere wish, that all men would endeavour to
attain my old age, in order that they too may enjoy that period of
life, which of all others is the most desirable.

I will therefore give an account of my recreations, and the relish
which I find at this stage of life, in order to convince the public
(which may likewise be done by all those who know me) that the state
I have now attained to is by no means death, but real life; such a
life, as by many is deemed happy, since it abounds with all the
felicity that can be enjoyed in this world.  And this testimony
they will give, in the first place, because they see, and not
without the greatest amazement, the good state of health and
spirits I enjoy; how I mount my horse without any assistance, or
advantage of situation; and how I not only ascend a single flight
of stairs, but climb up an hill from bottom to top, afoot, and
with the greatest of ease and unconcern; then how gay, pleasant,
and good-humoured I am; how free from every perturbation of mind,
and every disagreeable thought; in lieu of which, joy and peace
have so firmly fixed their residence in my bosom, as never to
depart from it.  Moreover, they know in what manner I pass my
time, so as not to find life a burden; seeing I can contrive to
spend every hour of it with the greatest delight and pleasure,
having frequent opportunities of conversing with many honourable
gentlemen, men valuable for their good sense and manners, their
acquaintance with letters, and every other good quality.  Then,
when I cannot enjoy their conversation, I betake myself to the
reading of some good book.  When I have read as much as I like,
I write; endeavouring, in this as in everything else, to be of
service to others, to the utmost of my power.  And all these
things I do with the greatest ease to myself, at their proper
seasons, and in my own house; which, besides being situated in
the most beautiful quarter of this noble and learned city of
Padua, is, in itself, really convenient and handsome, such, in a
word, as it is no longer the fashion to build; for, in one part
of it, I can shelter myself from extreme heat; and, in the other,
from extreme cold, having contrived the apartments according to
the rules of architecture, which teach us what is to be observed
in practice.  Besides this house, I have my several gardens,
supplied with running waters; and in which I always find something
to do, that amuses me.  I have another way of diverting myself,
which is going every April and May; and, likewise, every September
and October, for some days, to enjoy an eminence belonging to me
in the Euganean mountains, and in the most beautiful part of them,
adorned with fountains and gardens; and, above all, a convenient
and handsome lodge; in which place I likewise now and then make
one in some hunting party suitable to my taste and age.  Then I
enjoy for as many days my villa in the plain, which is laid out
in regular streets, all terminating in a large square, in the
middle of which stands a church, suited to the condition of the
place.  This villa is divided by a wide and rapid branch of the
river Brenta, on both sides of which there is a considerable
extent of country, consisting intirely of fertile and
well-cultivated fields.  Besides, this district is now, God be
praised, exceedingly well inhabited, which it was not at first,
but rather the reverse; for it was marshy; and the air so
unwholesome, as to make it a residence fitter for snakes than men.
But, on my draining off the waters, the air mended, and people
resorted to it so fast, and increased to such a degree, that it
soon acquired the perfection in which it now appears: hence, I may
say with truth, that I have offered this place, an alter and a
temple to God, with souls to adore him: these are things which
afford me infinite pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction, as often
as I go to see and enjoy them.

At the same seasons every year, I revisit some of the neighbouring
cities, and enjoy such of my friends as live there, taking the
greatest pleasure in their company and conversation; and by their
means I also enjoy the conversation of other men of parts, who
live in the same places; such as architects, painters, sculptors,
musicians, and husbandmen, with whom this age certainly abounds.
I visit their new works; I revisit their former ones; and I always
learn something, which gives me satisfaction.  I see palaces,
gardens, antiquities; and with these, the squares and other public
places, the churches, the fortifications, leaving nothing
unobserved, from whence I may reap either entertainment or
instruction.  But what delights me most, is, in my journies
backwards and forwards, to contemplate the situation and other
beauties of the places I pass through; some in the plain, others
on hills, adjoining to rivers or fountains; with a great many fine
houses and gardens.  Nor are my recreations rendered less agreeable
and entertaining by my not feeling well, or not hearing readily
every thing that is said to me; or by any other of my faculties not
being perfect; for they are all, thank God, in the highest
perfection; particularly my palate, which now relishes better the
simple fare I eat, wherever I happen to be, than it formerly did
with the most delicate dishes, when I led an irregular life.  Nor
does the change of beds give me any uneasiness, so that I sleep
every where soundly and quietly, without experiencing the least
disturbance; and all my dreams are pleasant and delightful.

It is likewise with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction I behold
the success of an undertaking so important to this state, I mean
that of draining and improving so many uncultivated pieces of
ground, an undertaking begun within my memory; and which I never
thought I should live to see compleated; knowing how slow republics
are apt to proceed in enterprises of great importance.
Nevertheless, I have lived to see it; and was even in person, in
the marshy places, along with those appointed to superintend the
draining of them, for two months together, during the greatest
heats of summer, without ever finding myself the worse for the
fatigues of inconveniences I suffered; of so much efficacy is that
orderly life, which I every where constantly lead.

What is more, I am in the greatest hopes, or rather sure, to see the
beginning and completion of another undertaking of no less
importance, which is that of preserving our estuary or port, that
last and wonderful bulwark of my dear country, the preservation of
which (it is not to flatter my vanity to say it, but merely to do
justice to the truth) has been more than once recommended by me to
this republic, by word of mouth, and in writings which cost me many
nights study.  And to this dear country of mine, as I am bound by
the laws of nature to do every thing, from which it may reap any
benefit, so I most ardently wish perpetual duration, and a long
succession of every kind of prosperity.  Such are my genuine and
no trifling satisfactions; such are the recreations and diversions
of my old age, which is so much the more to be valued than the old
age, or even youth, of other men, because being freed, by God's
grace, from the perturbations of the mind, and the infirmities of
the body, it no longer experiences any of those contrary emotions,
which torment a number of young men, and many old ones destitute of
strength and health, and every other blessing.

And if it be lawful to compare little matters, and such as are
esteemed trifling, to affairs of importance, I will further
venture to say, that such are the effects of this sober life,
that at my present age of eighty-three, I have been able to write
a very entertaining comedy, abounding with innocent mirth and
pleasant jests. This species of composition is generally the child
and offspring of youth, as tragedy is that of old age; the former
being by its facetious and sprightly turn suited to the bloom of
life, and the latter by its gravity adapted to riper years.  Now,
if that good old man [Sophocles], a Grecian by birth, and a poet,
was so much extolled for having written a tragedy at the age of
seventy-three, and, on that account alone, reputed of sound memory
and understanding, though tragedy be a grave and melancholy poem;
why should I be deemed less happy, and to have a smaller share of
memory and understanding, who have, at an age, ten years more
advanced than his, written a comedy, which, as every one knows,
is a merry and pleasant kind of composition?  And, indeed, if I may
be allowed to be an impartial judge in my own cause, I cannot help
thinking, that I am now of sounder memory and understanding, and
heartier, than hew was when ten years younger.

And, that no comfort might be wanting to the fulness of my years,
whereby my great age may be rendered less irksome, or rather the
number of my enjoyments increased, I have the additional comfort
of seeing a kind of immortality in a succession of descendants.
For, as often as I return home, I find there, before me, not one
or two, but eleven grandchildren, the oldest of them eighteen,
and the youngest two; all the offspring of one father and one
mother; all blessed with the best health; and, by what as yet
appears, fond of learning, and of good parts and morals.  Some of
the youngest I always play with; and, indeed, children from three
to five are only fit for play.  Those above that age I make
companions of; and, as nature has bestowed very fine voices upon
them, I amuse myself, besides, with seeing and hearing them sing,
and play on various instruments.  Nay, I sing myself, as I have a
better voice now, and a clearer and louder pipe, than at any other
period of life.  Such are the recreations of my old age.

Whence it appears, that the life I lead is chearful, and not
gloomy, as some persons pretend, who know no better; to whom, in
order that it may appear what value I set on every other kind of
life, I must declare, that I would not exchange my manner of
living or my grey hairs with any of those young men, even of the
best constitution, who give way to their appetites; knowing, as I
do, that such are daily, nay hourly, subject, as I have observed,
to a thousand kind of ailments and deaths.  This is, in fact, so
obvious, as to require no proof.  Nay, I remember perfectly well,
how I used to behave at that time of life.  I know how
inconsiderately that age is apt to act, and how foolhardy young men,
hurried on by the heat of their blood, are wont to be; how apt they
are to presume too much on their own strength in all their actions;
and how sanguine they are in their expectations; as well on account
of the little experience they have had for the the time past, as
by reason of the power they enjoy in their own imaginations over
the time to come.  Hence they expose themselves rashly to every
kind of danger; and, banishing reason, and bowing their necks to
the yoke of concupiscence, endeavour to gratify all their appetites,
not minding, fools as they are, that they thereby hasten, as I have
several times observed, the approach of what they would most
willingly avoid, I mean sickness, and death.  Of these two evils,
one is troublesome and painful, the other, above all things,
dreadful and insupportable; insupportable to every man, who has
given himself up to his sensual appetites, and to young men in
particular, to whom it appears a hardship to die an early death;
dreadful to those, who reflect on the errors, to which this mortal
life is subject, and on the vengeance, which the justice of God is
wont to take on sinners, by condemning them to everlasting
punishment.  On the other hand, I, in my old age (praise to the
Almighty) am exempt from both these apprehensions; from the one,
because I am sure and certain, that I cannot fall sick, having
removed all the causes of illness by my divine medicine; from the
other, that of death, because from so many years experience I have
learned to obey reason; whence I not only think it a great piece
of folly to fear that, which cannot be avoided, but likewise
firmly expect some consolation, from the grace of Jesus Christ,
when I shall arrive at that period.

Besides, though I am sensible that I must, like others, reach
that term, it is yet at so great a distance, that I cannot
discern it, because I know I shall not die except by mere
dissolution, having already, by my regular course of life, shut
up all the other avenues of death, and thereby prevented the humours
of my body from making any other war upon me, than that which I must
expect from the elements employed in the composition of this mortal
frame.  I am not so simple as not to know, that, as I was born,
so I must die.  But that is a desirable death, which nature brings
on us by way of dissolution.  For nature, having herself formed
the union between our body and soul, knows best in what manner it
may be most easily dissolved, and grants us a longer day to do it,
than we could expect from sickness, which is violent.  This is the
death, which, without speaking like a poet, I may call, not death,
but life.  Nor can it be otherwise.  Such a death does not overtake
one till after a very long course of years, and in consequence of
an extreme weakness; it being only by slow degrees, that men grow
too feeble to walk, and unable to reason, becoming blind, and
deaf, decrepid, and full of every other kind of infirmity.  Now I
(by God's blessing) may be quite sure that I am at a very great
distance from such a period.  Nay, I have reason to think, that
my soul, having so agreeable a dwelling in my body, as not to meet
with any thing in it but peace, love, and harmony, not only between
its humours, but between my reason and my senses, is exceedingly
content and well pleased with her present situation: and of course,
that a great length of time and many years must be requisite to
dislodge her.  Whence it must be concluded for certain, that I have
still a series of years to live in health and spirits, and enjoy
this beautiful world, which is, indeed, beautiful to those, who
know how to make it so, as I have done, and likewise expect to be
able to do, with God's assistance, in the next; and all by the
means of virtue, and that divine regularity of life, which I have
adopted, concluding an alliance with my reason, and declaring war
against my sensual appetites; a thing which every man may do,
who desired to live as he ought.

Now, if this sober life be so happy; if its name be so desirable
and delightful; if the possession of the blessings which attend
it, be so stable and permanent, all I have still left to do, is
to beseech (since I cannot compass my desires by the powers of
oratory) every man of a liberal disposition, and sound
understanding, to embrace with open arms this most valuable
treasure of a long and healthy life; a treasure, which as it
exceeds all the other riches and blessings of this world, so it
deserves above all things to be cherished, sought after, and
carefully preserved.  This is that divine sobriety, agreeable to
the Deity, the friend of nature, the daughter of reason, the sister
of all the virtues, the companion of temperate living, modest,
courteous, content with little, regular, and perfect mistress of
all her operations.  From her, as from their proper root, spring
life, health, chearfulness, industry, learning, and all those
actions and employments worth of noble and generous minds.  The
laws of God and man are all in her favour.  Repletion, excess,
intemperance, superfluous humours, diseases, fevers, pains, and
the dangers of death, vanish, in her presence, like clouds before
the sun.  Her comeliness ravishes every well-disposed mind.  Her
influence is so sure, as to promise to all a very long and
agreeable existence; the facility of acquiring her is such, as
ought to induce every one to look for her, and share in her
victories.  And, lastly, she promises to be a mild and agreeable
guardian of life; as well of the rich as of the poor; of the male
as of the female sex; the old as of the young; being that, which
teaches the rich modesty; the poor frugality; men, continence;
women, chastity; the old, how to ward off the attacks of death;
and bestows on youth firmer and securer hopes of life.  Sobriety
renders the senses clear, the body light, the understanding lively,
the soul brisk, the memory tenacious, our motions free, and all
our actions regular and easy.  By means of sobriety, the soul
delivered, as it were, of her earthly burthen, experiences a great
deal of her natural liberty: the spirits circulate gently through
the arteries; the blood runs freely through the veins; the heat of
the body, kept mild and temperate, has mild and temperate effects:
and, lastly, our faculties, being under a perfect regulation,
preserves a pleasing and agreeable harmony.

O most innocent and holy sobriety, the sole refreshment of nature,
the nursing mother of human life, the true physic of soul as well
as of body.  How ought men to praise thee, and thank thee for thy
princely gifts! since thou bestowest on them the means of
preserving this blessing, I mean life and health, than which it has
not pleased God we should enjoy a greater on this side of the grave,
life and existence being a thing so naturally coveted, and
willingly preserved, by every living creature.  But, as I do not
intend to write a panegyric on this rare and excellent virtue, I
shall put an end to this discourse, lest I should be guilty of
excess, in dwelling so long on so pleasing a subject.  Yet as
numberless things may still be said of it, I leave off, with an
intention of setting forth the rest of its praises at a more
convenient opportunity.


My treatise on a sober life has begun to answer my desire, in
being of service to many persons born with a weak constitution,
who every time they committed the least excess, found themselves
greatly indisposed, a thing which it must be allowed does not
happen to robust people: several of these persons of weak
constitutions, on seeing the foregoing treatise, have betaken
themselves to a regular course of life, convinced by experience
of its utility.  In like manner, I should be glad to be of service
to those, who are born with a good constitution, and presuming
upon it, lead a disorderly life; whence it comes to pass, that, on
their attaining the age of sixty or thereabouts, they are attacked
with various pains and diseases; some with the gout, some with
pains in the side, and others with pains in the stomach, and the
like, to which they would not be subject, were they to embrace a
sober life; and as most of them die before they attain their
eightieth year, they would live to a hundred, the time allowed to
man by God and nature.  And, it is but reasonable to believe, that
the intention of this our mother is, that we should all attain that
term, in order that we might all taste the sweets of every state of
life.  But, as our birth is subject to the revolution of the
heavens, these have great influence over it, especially in rendering
our constitutions robust or infirm; a thing, which nature cannot
ward against; for, if she could, we should all bring a good
constitution with us into the world.  But then she hopes, that man,
being endowed with reason and understanding, may of himself
compensate, by dint of art, the want of that, which the heavens
have denied him; and, by means of a sober life, contrive to mend
his infirm constitution, live to a great age, and always enjoy
good health.

For man, it is not to be doubted, may by art exempt himself in
part from the influence of the heavens; it being common opinion,
that the heavens give an inclination, but do not impel us; for
which reason the learned say, that a wise man rules the stars.  I
was born with a very choleric disposition, insomuch that there was
no living with me; but I took notice of it, and considered, that a
person swayed by his passion, must at certain times be no better
than a madman; I mean at those times, when he suffers his passions
to predominate, because he then renounces his reason and
understanding.  I, therefore, resolved to make my choleric
disposition give way to reason; so that now, though born choleric, I
never suffer anger intirely to overcome me.  The man, who is
naturally of a bad constitution, may, in like manner, by dint of
reason, and a sober life, live to a great age and in good health,
as I have done, who had naturally the worst, so that it was
impossible I should live above forty years, whereas I now find
myself sound and hearty at the age of eighty-six; and were it not
for the long and violent fits of illness which I experienced in
my youth to such a degree, that the physicians gave me over, and
which robbed me of my radical moisture, a loss absolutely
irreparable, I might expect to attain the abovementioned term of
one hundred.  But I know for good reasons that it is impossible;
and, therefore, do not think of it.  It is enough for me, that I
have lived forty-six years beyond the term I had a right to expect;
and that, during this so long a respite, all my senses have
continued perfect; and even my teeth, my voice, my memory, and my
strength.  But what is still more, my brain is more itself now
than it ever was; nor do any of these powers abate as I advance in
years; and this because, as I grow older, I lessen the quantity of
my solid food.

This retrenchment is necessary, nor can it be avoided, since it is
impossible for a man to live for ever; and, as he draws near his
end, he is reduced so low as to be no longer able to take any
nourishment, unless it be to swallow, and that too with difficulty,
the yolk of an egg in the four and twenty hours, and thus end by
mere dissolution, without any pain or sickness, as I expect will
be my case.  This is a blessing of great importance; yet may be
expected by all those, who shall lead a sober life, of whatever
degree or condition, whether high, or middling, or low; for we
are all of the same species, and composed of the same four elements.
And, since a long and healthy life ought to be greatly coveted by
every man, as I shall presently shew, I conclude, that every man
is bound in duty to exert himself to obtain longevity, and that he
cannot promise himself such a blessing without temperance and

Some allege, that many, without leading such a life, have lived
to an hundred, and that in constant health, though they eat a
great deal, and used indiscriminately every kinds of viands and
wine; and, therefore, flatter themselves, that they shall be
equally fortunate.  But in this they are guilty of two mistakes;
the first is, that it is not one in an hundred thousand that
ever attains that happiness; the other mistake is, that such, in
the end, most assuredly contract some illness, which carries them
off: nor can they ever be sure of ending their days otherwise:
so that the safest way to obtain a long and healthy life is, at
least after forty, to embrace sobriety.  This is no such difficult
affair, since history informs us of so many who in former times
lived with the greatest temperance; and I know that the present
age furnishes us with many such instances, reckoning myself one of
the number: we are all human beings, and endowed with reason,
consequently we are masters of our actions.

This sobriety is reduced to two things, quality and quantity.  The
first, namely quality, consists in nothing, but not eating food, or
drinking wines, prejudicial to the stomach.  The second, which is
quantity, consists in not eating or drinking more than the stomach
can easily digest; which quantity and quality every man should be
a perfect judge of by the time he is forty, or fifty, or sixty; and,
whoever observes these two rules, may be said to live a regular and
sober life.  This is of so much virtue and efficacy, that the
humours of such a man's body become most homogeneous, harmonious,
and perfect; and, when thus improved, are no longer liable to be
corrupted or disturbed by any other disorders whatsoever, such as
suffering excessive heat or cold, too much fatigue, want of natural
rest, and the like, unless in the last degree of excess.  Wherefore,
since the humours of persons, who observe these two rules relative
to eating and drinking, cannot possibly be corrupted, and engender
acute diseases, the sources of an untimely death, every man is
bound to comply with them: for whoever acts otherwise, living a
disorderly instead of a regular life, is constantly exposed to
disease and mortality, as well in consequence of such disorders,
as of others without number, each of which is capable of producing
the same destructive effect.

It is, indeed, true, that even those, who observe the two rules
relating to diet, the observance of which constitutes a sober life,
may, by committing any one of the other irregularities, find
himself the worse for it, for a day or two; but not so as to breed
a fever.  He may, likewise, be affected by the revolutions of the
heavens; but neither the heavens, nor those irregularities, are
capable of corrupting the humours of a temperate person; and it is
but reasonable and natural it should be so, as the two
irregularities of diet are interior, and the others exterior.

But as there are some persons, stricken in years, who are,
notwithstanding, very gluttonous, and alledge that neither the
quantity or quality of their diet makes any impression upon
them, and therefore eat a great deal, and of every thing without
distinction, and indulge themselves equally in point of drinking,
because they do not know in what part of their bodies their
stomachs are situated; such, no doubt, are beyond all measure
sensual, and slaves to gluttony.  To these I answer, that what
they say is impossible in the nature of things, because it is
impossible that every man, who comes into the world, should not
bring with him a hot, a cold, or a temperate constitution; and
that hot foods should agree with hot constitutions, cold with
cold ones, and things that are not of a temperate nature, with
temperate ones, is likewise impossible in nature.  After all,
these epicures must allow, that they are now and then out of
order; and that they cure themselves by taking evacuating
medicines and observing a strict diet.  Whence it appears, that
their being out of order is owing to their eating too much, and
of things disagreeing with their stomachs.

There are other old gluttons, who say, that it is necessary they
should eat and drink a great deal, to keep up their natural heat,
which is constantly diminishing, as they advance in years; and that
it is, therefore, necessary to eat heartily, and of such things as
please their palate, be they hot, cold, or temperate; and that, were
they to lead a sober life, it would be a short one.  To these I
answer, that our kind mother, nature, in order that old men may live
still to a greater age, has contrived matters so, that they should
be able to subsist on little, as I do; for, large quantities of
food cannot be digested by old and feeble stomachs.  Nor should
such persons be afraid of shortening their days by eating too
little, since when they happen to be indisposed, they recover by
lessening the quantity of their food; for it is a trifle they eat,
when confined to a regimen, by observing which they get rid of their
disorder.  Now, if by reducing themselves to a very small quantity
of food, they recover from the jaws of death, how can they doubt
but that with an increase of diet, still consistent however with
sobriety, they will be able to support nature when in perfect

Others say, that it is better for a man to suffer every year three
or four returns of his usual disorders, such as the gout, pain in
the side, and the like, than be tormented the whole year by not
indulging his appetite, and eating every thing his palate likes
best; since, by a good regimen alone, he is sure to get the better
of such attacks.  To this I answer, that our natural heat growing
less and less, as we advance in years, no regimen can retain
virtue sufficient to conquer the malignity, with which disorders
of repletion are ever attended; so that he must die, at last, of
these periodical disorders, because they abridge life, as health
prolongs it.

Others pretend, that it is much better to live ten years less,
than not indulge one's appetite.  To this I answer, that
longevity ought to be highly valued by men of parts; as to others,
it is no great matter if it is not duly prized by them, since they
are a disgrace to mankind, so that their death is rather of service
to the public.  But it is a great misfortune, that men of bright
parts should be cut off in that manner, since he, who is already a
cardinal, might, perhaps, by living to eighty, attain the papal
crown; and in the state, many, by living some years extraordinary,
may acquire the ducal dignity; and so in regard to letters, by
which a man may rise so as to be considered as a god upon earth;
and the like in every other profession.

There are others, who, though their stomachs become weaker and
weaker with respect to digestion, as they advance in years, cannot,
however, be brought to retrench the quantity of their food, nay
they rather increase it.  And, because they find themselves
unable to digest the great quantity of food, with which they must
load their stomachs, by eating twice in the four and twenty hours,
they make a resolution to eat but once, that the long interval
between one meal and the other may enable them to eat at one sitting
as much as they used to do in two: thus they eat till their
stomachs, overburthened with much food, pall, and sicken, and change
the superfluous food into bad humours, which kill a man before his
time.  I never knew any person, who led that kind of life, live to
be very old.  All these old men I have been speaking of would live
long, if, as they advanced in years, they lessened the quantity of
their food, and eat oftener, but little at a time; for old
stomachs cannot digest large quantities of food; old men changing,
in that respect, to children, who eat several times in the four and
twenty hours.

Others say, that temperance may, indeed, keep a man in health, but
that it cannot prolong his life.  To this I answer, that experience
proves the contrary; and that I myself am a living instance of it.
It cannot be said, that sobriety is apt to shorten one's days, as
sickness does; and that the latter abbreviates life, is most
certain.  Moreover, a constant succession of good health is
preferable to frequent sickness, as the radical moisture is
thereby preserved.  Hence it may be fairly concluded, that holy
sobriety is the true parent of health and longevity.

O thrice holy sobriety, so useful to man, by the services thou
renderest him! thou prolongest his days, by which means he greatly
improves his understanding, and by such improvement he avoids the
bitter fruits of sensuality, which are an enemy to reason, man's
peculiar privilege: those bitter fruits are the passions and
perturbations of the mind.  Thou, moreover, freest him from the
dreadful thoughts of death.  How greatly is thy faithful disciple
indebted to thee, since by thy assistance he enjoys this beautiful
expanse of the visible world, which is really beautiful to such as
know how to view it with the philosophic eye, as thou has enabled
me to do.  Nor could I, at any other time of life, even when I was
young, but altogether debauched by an irregular life, perceive its
beauties, though I spared no pains or expence to enjoy every
season of life.  But I found that all the pleasures of that age had
their alloy; so that I never knew, till I grew old, that the world
was beautiful.  O truly happy life, which, over and above all these
favours conferred on thine old man, hast so improved and perfected
his stomach, that he has now a better relish for his dry bread, than
he had formerly and in his youth, for the most exquisite dainties:
and all this he has compassed by acting rationally, knowing, that
bread is, above all things, man's proper food, when seasoned by a
good appetite; and, whilst a man leads a sober life, he may be sure
of never wanting that natural sauce; because, by always eating
little, the stomach, not being much burthened, need not wait long
to have an appetite.  It is for this reason, that dry bread relishes
so well with me; and I know it from experience, and can with truth
affirm, I find such sweetness in it, that I should be afraid of
sinning against temperance, were it not for my being convinced of
the absolute necessity of eating it, and that we cannot make use of
a more natural food.  And thou, kind parent Nature, who actest so
lovingly by thy aged offspring, in order to prolong his days, hast
contrived matters so in his favour, that he can live upon very
little; and, in order to add to the favour, and do him still greater
service, hast made him sensible, that, as in his youth he used to
eat twice a day, when he arrived at old age, he ought to divide
that food, of which he was accustomed before to make but two meals,
into four; because, thus divided, it will be more easily digested;
and, as in his youth he made but two meals in the day, he should,
in his old age, make four, provided however he lessens the quantity,
as his years increase.  And this is what I do, agreeably to my own
experience; and, therefore, my spirits, not oppressed by much food,
but barely kept up, are always brisk; especially after eating, so
that I am accustomed then to sing a song, and afterwards to write.

Nor do I ever find myself the worse for writing immediately after
meals; nor is my understanding ever clearer; nor am I apt to be
drowsy; the food I take being too small a quantity to send up any
fumes to the brain.  O, how advantageous it is to an old man to
eat but little!  Accordingly, I, who know it, eat but just enough
to keep body and soul together; and the things I eat are as follow.
First, bread, panado, some broth with an egg in it, or such other
good kinds of soup or spoon-meat.  Of flesh meat, I eat veal, kid,
and mutton.  I eat poultry of every kind.  I eat partridges, and
other birds, such as thrushes.  I likewise eat fish; for instance,
the goldney and the like, amongst sea fish; and the pike, and such
like, amongst the fresh-water fish.  All these things are fit for
an old man; and, therefore, he ought to be content with them, and,
considering their number and variety, not hanker after others.
Such old men, as are too poor to allow themselves provisions of
this kind, may do very well with bread, panado, and eggs; things,
which no poor man can want, unless it be common beggars, and, as
we call them, vagabonds, about whom we are not bound to make
ourselves uneasy, since they have brought themselves to that pass
by their indolence; and had better be dead than alive; for they
are a disgrace to human nature.  But, though a poor man should eat
nothing but bread, panado, and eggs, there is no necessity for his
eating more than his stomach can digest.  And, whoever does not
trespass in point of either quantity or quality, cannot die but by
mere dissolution.  O, what a difference there is between a regular
and an irregular life!  One gives longevity and health, the other
produces diseases and untimely deaths.

O unhappy, wretched life, my sworn enemy, who art good for nothing
but to murder those, who follow thee!  How many of my dearest
relations and friends hast thou robbed me of, in consequence of
their not giving credit to me; relations and friends, whom I should
now enjoy.  But thou hast not been able to destroy me, according to
thy wicked intent and purpose.  I am still alive in spite of thee,
and have attained to such an age, as to see around me eleven
grandchildren, all of fine understanding, and amiable disposition;
all given to learning and virtue; all beautiful in their persons
and lovely in their manners; whom, had I obeyed thy dictates, I
should never have beheld.  Nor should I enjoy those beautiful and
convenient apartments which I have built from the ground, with such
a variety of gardens, as required no small time to attain their
present degree of perfection.  No! thy nature is to destroy those
who follow thee, before they can see their houses or gardens so
much as finished; whereas, I, to thy no small confusion, have
already enjoyed mine for a great number of years.  But, since thou
art so pestilential a vice, as to poison and destroy the whole
world; and I am determined to use my utmost endeavours to extirpate
thee, at least in part; I have resolved to counteract thee so, that
my eleven grandchildren shall take pattern after me; and thereby
expose thee, for what thou really art, a most wicked, desperate, and
mortal enemy of the children of men.

I, really, cannot help admiring, that men of fine parts, and such
there are, who have attained a superior rank in letters or any
other profession, should not betake themselves to a regular life,
when they are arrived at the age of fifty or sixty; or as soon as
they find themselves attacked by any of the foregoing disorders,
of which they might easily recover; whereas, by being permitted to
get a head, they become incurable.  As to young men, I am no way
surprised by them, since, the passions being strong at that age,
they are of course the more easily overpowered by their baleful
influence.  But after fifty, our lives should, in every thing, be
governed by reason, which teaches us, that the consequences of
gratifying our palate and our appetite are disease and death.
Were this pleasure of the palate lasting, it would be some excuse;
but it is so momentary, that there is scarce any distinguishing
between the beginning and the end of it; whereas the diseases it
produces are very durable.  But it must be a great contentment to a
man of sober life, to be able to reflect that, in the manner he
lives, he is sure, that what he eats, will keep him in good health,
and be productive of no disease or infirmity.

Now I was willing to make this short addition to my treatise,
founded on new reasons; few persons caring to peruse long-winded
discourses; whereas short tracts have a chance of being read by
many; and I wish that many may see this addition, to the end that
its utility may be more extensive.

The author uses the strongest arguments to persuade all men to
embrace a regular and sober life, in order to attain old age,
in which they may enjoy all the favours and blessings, that God,
in his goodness, vouchsafes to bestow upon mortals.

Not to be wanting to my duty, that duty incumbent upon every man;
and not to lose at the same time the satisfaction I feel in being
useful to others, I have resolved to take up my pen, and inform
those, who, for want of conversing with me, are strangers to what
those know and see, with whom I have the pleasure of being
acquainted.  But, as certain things may appear, to some persons,
scarce credible, nay impossible, though actually fact, I shall not
fail to relate them for the benefit of the public.  Wherefore, I
say, being (God be praised) arrived at my ninety-fifth year, and
still finding myself sound and hearty, content and chearful, I
never cease thanking the Divine Majesty for so great a blessing;
considering the usual fate of other old men.  These scarce attain
the age of seventy, without losing their health and spirits;
growing melancholy and peevish; and continually haunted by the
thoughts of death; apprehending their last hour from one day to
another, so that it is impossible to drive such thoughts out of
their mind; whereas such things give me not the least uneasiness;
for, indeed, I cannot, at all, make them the object of my
attention, as I shall hereafter more plainly relate.  I shall,
besides, demonstrate the certainty I have of living to an hundred.
But, to render this dissertation more methodical, I shall begin by
considering man at his birth; and from thence accompany him through
every stage of life to his grave.

I, therefore, say, that some come into the world with the stamina
of life so weak, that they live but a few days, or months, or
years; and it cannot be clearly known, to what such shortness of
life is owing; whether to some defect in the father or the mother,
in begetting them; or to the revolutions of the heavens; or to the
defect of nature, subject, as she is, to the celestial influence.
For, I could never bring myself to believe, that nature, common
parent of all, should be partial to any of her children.
Therefore, as we cannot assign causes, we must be content with
reasoning from the effects, such as they daily appear to our view.

Others are born sound, indeed, and full of spirits; but,
notwithstanding, with a poor weakly constitution; and of these some
live to the age of ten; others to twenty; others to thirty or
forty; yet they do not live to extreme old age.  Others, again,
bring into the world a perfect constitution, and live to old age;
but it is generally, as I have already said, an old age full of
sickness and sorrow; for which they are to thank themselves; because
they most unreasonably presume on the goodness of their
constitution;  and cannot by any means be brought to depart, when
brought to depart, when grown old, from the mode of life they
pursued in their younger days; as if they still retained all their
primitive vigour.  Nay, they intend to live as irregularly when past
the meridian of life, as they did all the time of their youth;
thinking they shall never grow old, nor their constitution ever be
impaired.  Neither do they consider, that their stomach has lost its
natural heat; and that they should, on that account, pay a greater
regard to the quality of what they eat, and what wines they drink;
and likewise to the quantity of each, which they ought to lessen;
whereas, on the contrary, they are for increasing it; saying, that,
as we lose our health and vigour by growing old, we should endeavour
to repair the loss by increasing the quantity of our food, since it
is by sustenance that man is preserved.

In this, nevertheless, they are greatly mistaken, since, as the
natural heat lessens as a man grows in years, he should diminish the
quantity of his meat and drink; nature, especially at that period,
being content with little.  Nay, though they have all the reason to
believe this to be the case, they are so obstinate as to think
otherwise, and still follow their usual disorderly life.  But
were they to relinquish it in due time, and betake themselves to
a regular and sober course, they would not grow infirm in their
old age, but would continue, as I am, strong and hearty, considering
how good and perfect a constitution it has pleased the Almighty to
bestow upon them; and would live to the age of one hundred and
twenty.  This has been the case of others, who, as we read in many
authors, have lived a sober life, and, of course, were born with
this perfect constitution; and had it been my lot to enjoy such
a constitution, I should make no doubt of attaining the same age.
But, as I was born with feeble stamina, I am afraid I shall not
outlive an hundred.  Were others, too, who are also born with an
infirm constitution, to betake themselves to a regular life, as I
have done, they would attain the age of one hundred and upwards,
as will be my case.

And this certainty of being able to live a great age is, in my
opinion, a great advantage, and highly to be valued; none being
sure to live even a single hour, except such as adhere to the
rules of temperance.  This security of life is built on good and
true natural reasons, which can never fail; it being impossible in
the nature of things, that he, who leads a sober and regular life,
should breed any sickness, or die of an unnatural death, before
the time, at which it is absolutely impossible he should live.  But
sooner he cannot die, as a sober life has the virtue to remove all
the usual causes of sickness, and sickness cannot happen without a
cause; which cause being removed, sickness is, likewise, removed; and
sickness being removed, an untimely and violent death must be

And there is no doubt, that temperance has the virtue and efficacy
to remove such causes; for since health and sickness, life and
death, depend on the good or bad quality of the humours, temperance
corrects their vicious tendencies, and renders them perfect, being
possessed of the natural power of making them unite and hold
together, so as to render them inseperable, and incapable of
alteration and fermenting; circumstances, which engender cruel
fevers, and end in death.  It is true, indeed, and it would be a
folly to deny it, that, let our humours be originally ever so good,
time, which consumes every thing, cannot fail to consume and exhaust
them; and that man, as soon as that happens, must die of a natural
death; but yet without sickness, as will be my case, who shall die
at my appointed time, when these humours shall be consumed, which
they are not at present. Nay, they are still perfect; nor is it
possible they should be otherwise in my present condition, when I
find myself hearty and content, eating with a good appetite, and
sleeping soundly.  Moreover, all my faculties are as good as ever,
and in the highest perfection; my understanding clearer and brighter
than ever; my judgment sound; my memory tenacious; my spirits good;
and my voice, the first thing which is apt to fail in others, grown
so strong and sonorous, that I cannot help chanting out loud my
prayers morning and night, instead of whispering and muttering them
to myself, as was formerly my custom.

And these are all so many true and sure signs and tokens, that
my humours are good, and cannot waste but with time, as all those,
who converse with me, conclude.  O, how glorious this life of mine
is like to be, replete with all the felicities which man can enjoy
on this side of the grave; and even exempt from that sensual
brutality which age has enabled my better reason to banish; because
where reason resides, there is no room for sensuality, nor for its
bitter fruits, the passions, and perturbations of the mind, with a
train of disagreeable apprehensions.  Nor yet can the thoughts of
death find room in my mind, as I have no sensuality to nourish such
thoughts.  Neither can the death of grandchildren and other relations
and friends make any impression on me, but for a moment or two; and
then it is over.  Sill less am I liable to be cast down by losses in
point of fortune (as many have seen to their no small surprise.)
And this is a happiness not to be expected by any but such as attain
old age by sobriety, and not in consequence of a strong
constitution; and such may moreover expect to spend their days
happily, as I do mine, in a perpetual round of amusement and
pleasure.  And how is it possible a man should not enjoy himself,
who meets with no crosses or disappointments in his old age, such
as youth is constantly plagued with, and from which, I shall
presently shew, I have the happiness of being exempt?

The first of these is to do service to my country.  O! what a
glorious amusement, in which I find infinite delight, as I
thereby shew her the means of improving her important estuary or
harbour beyond the possibility of its filling for thousands of years
to come; so as to secure to Venice her surprising and miraculous
title of a maiden city, as she really is; and the only one in the
whole world: she will, moreover, thereby, add to the lustre of her
great and excellent surname of queen of the sea: such is my
amusement; and nothing is wanting to make it complete.  Another
amusement of mine, is that of shewing this maid and queen, in what
manner she may abound with provisions, by improving large tracts of
land, as well marshes, as barren sands, to great profit.  A third
amusement, and an amusement too, without any alloy, is the shewing
how Venice, though already so strong as to be in a manner
impregnable, may be rendered still stronger; and, though extremely
beautiful, may still increase in beauty; though rich, may acquire
more wealth, and may be made to enjoy better air, though her air is
excellent.  These three amusements, all arising from the idea of
public utility, I enjoy in the highest degree.  And who can say,
that they admit of any alloy, as in fact they do not?  Another
comfort I enjoy, is, that having lost a considerable part of my
income, of which my grandchildren had been unfortunately robbed, I
by mere dint of thought, which never sleeps, and without any fatigue
of body, and very little of mind, have found a true and infallable
method of repairing such loss more than double, by the means of that
most commendable of arts, agriculture.  Another comfort I still
enjoy is to think, that my treatise on temperance, which I wrote in
order to be useful to others, is really so, as many assure me by
word of mouth, mentioning that it has proved extremely useful to
them, as it in fact appears to have been, whilst others inform me by
letter, that, under God, they are indebted to me for life.  Still
another comfort I enjoy, is that of being able to write with my own
hand; for, I write enough to be of service to others, both on
architecture, and agriculture.  I, likewise, enjoy another
satisfaction, which is that of conversing with men of bright parts
and superior understanding, from whom, even at this advanced period
of life, I learn something.  What a comfort is this, that, old as I
am, I should be able, without the least fatigue, to study the most
important, sublime, and difficult subjects!

I must farther add, though it may appear impossible to some, and may
be so in some measure, that at this age I enjoy, at once, two lives;
one terrestrial, which I possess in fact; the other celestial, which
I possess in thought; and this thought is equal to actual enjoyment,
when founded upon things we are sure to attain, as I ams sure to
attain that celestial life, through the infinite goodness and mercy
of God.  Thus, I enjoy this terrestrial life, in consequence of my
sobriety and temperance, virtues so agreeable to the Deity; and I
enjoy, by the grace of the same Divine Majesty, the celestial, which
he makes me anticipate in thought; a thought so lovely, as to fix me
entirely on this object, the enjoyment of which I hold and affirm to
be of the utmost certainty.  And I hold that dying, in the manner I
expect, is not really death, but a passage of the soul from this
earthly life to a celestial, immortal, and infinitely perfect
existence.  Neither can it be otherwise: and this thought is so
superlatively sublime, that it can no longer stoop to low and worldly
objects, such as the death of this body, being intirely taken up with
the happiness of living a celestial and divine life; whence it is,
that I enjoy two lives.  Nor can the terminating of so high a
gratification, which I enjoy in this life, give me any concern; it
rather affords me infinite pleasure, as it will be only to make room
for another, glorious and immortal life.

Now, it is possible, that any one should grow tired of so great a
comfort and blessing, as this which I really enjoy; and which every
on else might enjoy by leading the life I have led? an example which
every one has it in his power to follow; for I am but a mere man,
and no saint; a servant of God, to whom so regular a life is
extremely agreeable.

And, whereas many embrace a spiritual and contemplative life, which
is holy and commendable, the chief employment of those who lead it
being to celebrate the praises of God; O, that the would likewise,
betake themselves intirely to a regular and sober life! how much
more agreeable would they render themselves in the sight of God!
What a much greater honour and ornament would the be to the world!
They would then be considered as saints, indeed, upon earth, as
those primitive Christians were led, who joined sobriety to so
recluse a life.  By living, like them, to the age of one hundred and
twenty, they might, like them, expect, by the power of God, to work
numberless miracles; and they would, besides, enjoy constant health
and spirits, and be always happy within themselves; whereas they are
now, for the most part, infirm, melancholy, and dissatisfied.  Now,
as some of these people think, that these are trials sent them by
God Almighty, with a view of promoting their salvation, that they
may do penance, in this life, for their past errors, I cannot help
saying, that, in my opinion, they are greatly mistaken.  For I can
by no means believe, that it is agreeable to the Deity, that man,
his favourite creature, should live infirm, melancholy, and
dissatisfied, but rather enjoy good health and spirits, and be
always content within himself.  In this manner did the holy
fathers live, and by such conduct did they daily render themselves
more acceptable to the Divine Majesty, so as to work the great and
surprising miracles we read in history.  How beautiful, how glorious
a scene should we then behold! far more beautiful than in those
antient times, because we now abound with so many religious orders
and monasteries, which did not then exist; and were the members of
these communities to lead a temperate life, we should then behold
such a number of venerable old men, as would create surprise.  Nor
would they trespass against their rules; they would rather improve
upon them; since every religious community allows its subjects
bread, wine, and sometimes eggs (some of them allow meat) besides
soups made with vegetables, sallets, fruit, and cakes, things which
often disagree with them, and even shorten their lives.  But, as
they are allowed such things by their rules, they freely make use of
them; thinking, perhaps, that it would be wrong to abstain from
them, whereas it would not.  It would rather be commendable, if,
after the age of thirty, they abstained from such food, confined
themselves to bread, wine, broths and eggs: for this is the true
method of preserving men of a bad constitution; and it is a life of
more indulgence than that led by the holy fathers of the desart,
who subsisted intirely on wild fruits and roots, and drank nothing
but pure water; and, nevertheless, lived, as I have already
mentioned, in good health and spirits, and always happy within
themselves.  Were those of our days to do the same, they would,
like them, find the road to heaven much easier; for it is always
open to every faithful Christian, as our Saviour Jesus Christ left
it, when he came down upon earth to shed his precious blood, in
order to deliver us from the tyrannical servitude of the devil; and
all through his immense goodness.

So that, to make an end of this discourse, I say, that since length
of days abounds with so many favours and blessings, and I happen to
be one of those who are arrived at that state, I cannot (as I would
not willingly want charity) but give testimony in favour of it,
and solemnly assure all mankind, that I really enjoy a great deal
more than what I now mention; and that I have no other reason for
writing, but that of demonstrating the great advantages which arise
from longevity, to the end that their own conviction may induce them
to observe those excellent rules of temperance and sobriety.  And
therefore I never cease to raise my voice, crying out to you, my
friends: may your days be long, that you may be the better servants
to the Almighty!


The human understanding must certainly have something of the divine
in its constitution and frame.  How divine the invention of
conversing with an absent friend by the help of writing!  How
divinely it is contrived by nature, that men, though at a great
distance, should see one another with the intellectual eye, as I now
see your lordship!  By means of this contrivance, I shall endeavour
to entertain you with with matters of the greatest moment.  It is
true, that I shall speak of nothing but what I have already
mentioned; but it was not at the age of ninety-one, to which I have
now attained; a thing I cannot help taking notice of, because as I
advance in years, the sounder and heartier I grow, to the amazement
of all the world.  I, who can account for it, am bound to shew, that
a many may enjoy a terrestrial paradise after eighty; which I enjoy;
but it is not to be obtained except by temperance and sobriety,
virtues so acceptable to the Almighty, because they are enemies to
sensuality, and friends to reason.

Now, my lord, to begin, I must tell you, that, within these few days
past, I have been visited by many of the learned doctors of this
university, as well physicians and philosophers, who were well
acquainted with my age, my life, and manners; knowing how stout,
hearty, and gay I was; and in what perfection all my faculties still
continued; likewise my memory, spirits, and understanding; and even
my voice and teeth.  They knew, besides, that I constantly employed
eight hours every day in writing treatises, with my own hand, on
subjects useful to mankind, and spent many hours in walking and
singing.  O, my lord, how melodious my voice is grown! were you to
hear me chant my prayers; and that to my lyre, after the example of
David, I am certain it would give you great pleasure, my voice is so
musical.  Now, when they told me that they had been already
acquainted with all these particulars, they added, that it was,
indeed, next to a miracle, how I could write so much, and upon
subjects that required both judgement and spirit.  And, indeed, my
lord, it is incredible, what satisfaction and pleasure I have in
these compositions.  But, as I write to be useful, your lordship may
easily conceive what pleasure I enjoy.  They concluded by telling me,
that I ought not to be looked upon as a person advanced in years,
since all my occupations were those of a young man; and, by no means,
like those of other aged persons, who, when they have reached eighty,
are reckoned decrepid.  Such, moreover, are subject, some to the
gout, some to the sciatica, and some to other complaints, to be
relieved from which they must undergo such a number of painful
operations, as cannot but render life extremely disagreeable.  And,
if, by chance, one of them happens to escape a long illness, his
faculties are impaired, and he cannot see or hear so well; or else
fails in some or other of the corporeal faculties, he cannot walk,
or his hands shake; and, supposing him exempt from these bodily
infirmities, his memory, his spirits, or his understanding fail him;
he is not chearful, pleasant, and happy within himself, as I am.

Besides all these blessings, I mentioned another, which I enjoyed;
and so great a blessing, that they were all amazed at it, since it
is altogether beside the usual course of nature.  This blessing is,
that I had already lived fifty years, in spite of a most powerful
and mortal enemy, which I can by no means conquer, because it is
natural, or an occult quality implanted in my body by nature; and
this is, that every year, from the beginning of July till the end
of August, I cannot drink any wine of whatever kind or country; for,
besides being during these two months quite disgustful to my palate,
it disagrees with my stomach.  Thus losing my milk, for wine is,
indeed, the milk of old age; and having nothing to drink, for no
change or preparation of waters can have the virtue of wine, nor of
course do me any good; having nothing, I say, to drink, and my
stomach being therefore disordered, I can eat but very little; and
this spare diet, with the want of wine, reduces me, by the middle of
August, extremely low; nor is the strongest capon broth, or any other
remedy, of service to me; so that I am ready, through mere weakness,
to sink into the grave.  Hence they inferred, that were not the new
wine, for I always take care to have some ready by the beginning of
September, to come in so soon, I should be a dead man.  But what
surprized them still more was, that this new wine should have power
sufficient to restore me, in two or three days, to that degree of
health and strength, of which the old wine had robbed me; a fact,
they themselves have been eye-witnesses of, within these few days;
and which a man must see to believe it; insomuch that they could not
help crying out; "Many of us, who are physicians, have visited him
annually for several years past; and ten years ago, judged it
impossible for him to live a year or two longer, considering what a
mortal enemy he carried about him, and his advanced age; yet we do
not find him so weak at present as he used to be."  This
singularity, and the many other blessings they see me enjoy, obliged
them to confess, that the joining of such a number of favours was,
with regard to me, a special grace conferred on me, at my birth, by
nature, or by the stars; and to prove this to be a good conclusion,
which it really is not (because not grounded on strong and
sufficient reasons, but merely on their own opinions) they found
themselves under a necessity to display their eloquence, and to say
a great many fine things.  Certain it is, my lord, that eloquence,
in men of bright parts, has great power; so great, as to induce
people to believe things which have neither actual nor possible
existence.  I had, however, great pleasure and satisfaction in
hearing them; for, it must, no doubt, be a high entertainment to
hear such men talk in that manner.

Another satisfaction, without the least mixture of alloy, I at the
same time enjoyed, was to think, that age and experience are
sufficient to make a man learned, who without them would know
nothing; nor is it surprizing they should, since length of days is
the foundation of true knowledge.  Accordingly, it was by means of
it alone I discovered their conclusion to be false.  Thus, you see,
my lord, how apt men are to deceive themselves in their judgement of
things, when such judgement is not built upon a solid foundation.
And, therefore, to undeceive them, and set them right, I made answer,
that their conclusion was false, as I should actually convince them
by proving, that the happiness I enjoyed was not confined to me, but
common to all mankind, and that every man might equally enjoy it;
since I was but a mere mortal, composed, like all others, of the
four elements; and endued, besides existence and life, with rational
and intellectual faculties, which are common to all men.  For it has
pleased the Almighty to bestow on his favourite creature man these
extraordinary blessings and favours above other animals, which
enjoy only the sensible perceptions; in order such blessings and
favours my be the means of keeping him long in good health; so that
length of days is a universal favour granted by the Deity, and not
by nature and the stars.

But man being in his youthful days more of the sensual, than of the
rational animal, is apt to yield to sensual impressions; and, when
he afterwards arrives at the age of forty or fifty, he ought to
consider, that he has attained the noon of life, by the vigour of
his youth, and a good tone of stomach; natural blessings, which
favoured him in ascending the hill; but that he must now think of
going down, and approaching the grave, with a heavy weight of years
on his back; and that old age is the reverse of youth, as much as
order is the reverse of disorder.  Hence it is requisite he should
alter his mode of life in regard to the articles of eating and
drinking, on which health and longevity depend.  And as the first
part of his life was sensual and irregular, the second should be
the reverse; since nothing can subsist without order, especially the
life of man, irregularity being without all doubt prejudicial, and
regularity advantageous to the human species.

Besides, it is impossible in the nature of things, that the man, who
is bent on indulging his palate and his appetite, should not be
guilty of irregularity.  Hence it was that to avoid this vice, as
soon as I found myself arrived at maturer years, I embraced a regular
and sober life.  It is, no doubt, true, that I found some difficulty
in compassing it; but, in order to conquer this difficulty, I
beseeched the Almighty to grant me the virtue of sobriety; well
knowing, that he would graciously hear my prayer.  Then, considering,
that when a man is about to undertake any thing of importance, which
he knows he can compass, though not without difficulty, he may make
it much easier to himself by being steady in his purpose; I pursued
the same course.  I endeavoured gradually to relinquish a disorderly
life, and to accustom myself insensibly to the rules of temperance:
and thus it came to pass that a sober and regular life no longer
proved uneasy or disagreeable; though, on account of the weakness of
my constitution, I tied myself down to such strict rules in regard
to the quantity and quality of what I eat and drink.

But others, who happen to be blessed with a stronger temperament,
may eat many other kinds of food, and in greater quantities; and so
of wines; whereas, though their lives may still be sober, they will
not be so confined as mine, but much more free.  Now, on hearing
these arguments, and examining the reasons on which they were
founded, they all agreed that I had advanced nothing but what was
true.  Indeed the youngest of them said, that though he could not
but allow the favour of advantages, I had been speaking of, to be
common to all mankind, yet I enjoyed the special grace of being
able to relinquish with ease one kind of life, and embrace another;
a think which he knew by experience to be feasible; but as difficult
to him as it had proved easy to me.

To this I replied, that, being a mortal like himself, I likewise
found it a difficult task; but it did not become a person to shrink
from a glorious but practicable undertaking, on account of the
difficulties attending it, because in proportion to these
difficulties, is the honour he acquires by it in the eye of man, and
the merit in the sight of God.  Our beneficent Creator is desirous,
that, as he originally favoured human nature with longevity, we
should all enjoy full advantage of his intentions; knowing, that,
when a man has passed eighty, he is intirely exempt from the bitter
fruits of sensual enjoyments, and is intirely governed by the
dictates of reason.  Vice and immorality must then leave him; hence
God is willing he should live to a full maturity of years; and has
ordained that whoever reaches his natural term, should end his days
without sickness by mere dissolution, the natural way of quitting
this mortal life to enter upon immortality, as will be my case.  For
I am sure to die chanting my prayers; nor do the dreadful thoughts
of death give me the least uneasiness, though, considering my great
age, it cannot be far distant, knowing, as I do, that I was born to
die, and reflecting that such numbers have departed my life without
reaching my age.

Nor does that other thought, inseperable from the former, namely the
fear of those torments, to which wicked men are hereafter liable,
give me any uneasiness; because I am a good Christian, and bound to
believe, that I shall be saved by the virtue of the most sacred
blood of Christ, which he has vouchsafed to shed, in order to free
us from those torments.  How beautiful is the life I lead! how happy
my end!  To this, the young gentleman, my antagonist, had nothing to
reply, but that he was resolved to embrace a sober life, in order to
follow my example; and that he had taken another, more important,
resolution, which was, that, as he had been always very desirous to
live to be old, so he was now equally impatient to reach that period,
the sooner to enjoy the felicity of old age.

The great desire I had, my lord, to converse with you at this
distance, has forced me to be prolix, and still obliges me to
proceed; though not much farther.  There are many sensualists, my
lord, who say, that I have thrown away my time and trouble in writing
a treatise on Temperance, and other discourses on the same subject,
to induce men to lead a regular life; alledging, that it is
impossible to conform to it, so that my treatise must answer as
little purpose as that of Plato on government, who took a great deal
of pains to recommend a thing impracticable; whence they inferred,
that as his treatise was of no use, mine will share the same fate.
Now this surprises me the more, as they may see by my treatise, that
I had led a sober life for many years before I had composed it; and
that I should never have composed it, had I not previously been
convinced, that it was such a life as a man might lead; and being
a virtuous life, would be of great service to him; so that I thought
myself under an obligation to represent it in a true light.  I have
the satisfaction now to hear, that numbers, on seeing my treatise,
have embraced such a life; and I have read, that many, in times past,
have actually led it; so that the objection, to which Plato's
treatise on government is liable, can be of no force against mine.
But such sensualists, enemies to reason, and slaves to their
passions, ought to think themselves well off, if, whilst they study
to indulge their palate and their appetite, they do not contract
long and painful diseases, and are not, many of them, overtaken by
an untimely death.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life - Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method - of Preserving Health to Extreme Old Age" ***

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