Although it be controverted by some, whether love-melancholy may be cured, because it is so irresistible and violent a passion; for as you know,
--"facilis descensus Averni;
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras;
Hic labor, hoc opus est." --
"It is an easy passage down to hell,
But to come back, once there, you cannot well."
Yet without question, if it be taken in time, it may be helped, and by many good remedies amended. Avicenna, lib. 3. Fen. cap. 23. et 24. sets down seven compendious ways how this malady may be eased, altered, and expelled. Savanarola 9. principal observations, Jason Pratensis prescribes eight rules besides physic, how this passion may be tamed, Laurentius 2. main precepts, Arnoldus, Valleriola, Montaltus, Hildesheim, Langius, and others inform us otherwise, and yet all tending to, the same purpose. The sum of which I will briefly epitomise, (for I light my candle from their torches) and enlarge again upon occasion, as shall seem best to me, and that after mine own method. The first rule to be observed in this stubborn and unbridled passion, is exercise and diet. It is an old and well-known, sentence, Sine Cerere et Saccho friget Venus (love grows cool without bread and wine) . As an idle sedentary life, liberal feeding, are great causes of it, so the opposite, labour, slender and sparing diet, with continual business, are the best and most ordinary means to prevent it.
"Otio si tollas, periere Cupidinis artes,
Contemptæque jacent, et sine luce faces."
"Take idleness away, and put to flight
Are Cupid's arts, his torches give no light."
Minerva, Diana, Vesta, and the nine Muses were not enamoured at all, because they never were idle.
"Frustra blanditæ appulistis ad has,
Frustra nequitiæ venistis ad has,
Frustra delitiæ obsidebitis has,
Frustra has illecebræ, et procacitates,
Et suspiria, et oscula, et susurri,
Et quisquis male sana corda amantum
Blandis ebria fascinat venenis."
"In vain are all your flatteries,
In vain are all your knaveries,
Delights, deceits, procacities,
Sighs, kisses, and conspiracies,
And whate'er is done by art,
To bewitch a lover's heart."
'Tis in vain to set upon those that are busy. 'Tis Savanarola's third rule, Occupari in multis et magnis negotiis, and Avicenna's precept, cap. 24. Cedit amor rebus; res, age tutus eris. (Ovid lib. 1. remed. "Love yields to business; be employed, and you'll be safe.") To be busy still, and as Guianerius enjoins, about matters of great moment, if it may be. Magninus adds, "Never to be idle but at the hours of sleep."
Poscas ante diem librum cum lumine, si non
Intendas animum studiis, et rebus honestis,
Invidia vel amore miser torquebere." --
"For if thou dost not ply thy book,
By candlelight to study bent,
Employ'd about some honest thing,
Envy or love shall thee torment."
No better physic than to be always occupied, seriously intent.
"Cur in penates rarius tenues subit,
Hæc delicatas eligens pestis domus,
Mediumque sanos vulgus affectuss tenet?" &c.
"Why dost thou ask, poor folks are often free,
And dainty places still molested be?"
Because poor people fare coarsely, work hard, go wolward and bare. Non habet unde suum paupertas pascat amorem. ("Poverty has not the means of feeding her passion.") Guianerius therefore prescribes his patient "to go with hair-cloth next his skin, to go barefooted, and barelegged in cold weather, to whip himself now and then, as monks do, but above all to fast." Not with sweet wine, mutton and pottage, as many of those tender-bellies do, howsoever they put on Lenten faces, and whatsoever they pretend, but from all manner of meat. Fasting is an all-sufficient remedy of itself; for, as Jason Pratensis holds, the bodies of such persons that feed liberally, and live at ease, "are full of bad spirits and devils, devilish thoughts; no better physic for such parties, than to fast." Hildesheim, spicel. 2. to this of hunger, adds, "often baths, much exercise and sweat," but hunger and fasting he prescribes before the rest. And 'tis indeed our Saviour's oracle, "This kind of devil is not cast out but by fasting and prayer," which makes the fathers so immoderate in commendation of fasting. As "hunger," saith Ambrose, "is a friend of virginity, so is it an enemy to lasciviousness, but fullness overthrows chastity, and fostereth all manner of provocations." If thine horse be too lusty, Hierome adviseth thee to take away some of his provender; by this means those Pauls, Hilaries, Anthonies, and famous anchorites, subdued the lusts of the flesh; by this means Hilarion "made his ass, as he called his own body, leave kicking," (so Hierome relates of him in his life) "when the devil tempted him to any such foul offence." By this means those Indian Brahmins kept themselves continent: they lay upon the ground covered with skins, as the red-shanks do on heather, and dieted themselves sparingly on one dish, which Guianerius would have all young men put in practice, and if that will not serve, Gordonius "would have them soundly whipped, or, to cool their courage, kept in prison," and there fed with bread and water till they acknowledge their error, and become of another mind. If imprisonment and hunger will not take them down, according to the directions of that Theban Crates, "time must wear it out; if time will not, the last refuge is a halter." But this, you will say, is comically spoken. Howsoever, fasting, by all means, must be still used; and as they must refrain from such meats formerly mentioned, which cause venery, or provoke lust, so they must use an opposite diet. Wine must be altogether avoided of the younger sort. So Plato prescribes, and would have the magistrates themselves abstain from it, for example's sake, highly commending the Carthaginians for their temperance in this kind. And 'twas a good edict, a commendable thing, so that it were not done for some sinister respect, as those old Egyptians abstained from wine, because some fabulous poets had given out, wine sprang first from the blood of the giants, or out of superstition, as our modern Turks, but for temperance, it being animæ virus et vitiorum fomes, a plague itself, if immoderately taken. Women of old for that cause, in hot countries, were forbid the use of it; as severely punished for drinking of wine as for adultery; and young folks, as Leonicus hath recorded, Var. hist. l. 3. cap. 87, 88. out of Athenæus and others, and is still practised in Italy, and some other countries of Europe and Asia, as Claudius Minoes hath well illustrated in his Comment on the 23. Emblem of Alciat. So choice is to be made of other diet.
"Nec minus erucas aptum est vitare salaces,
Et quicquid veneri corpora nostra parat."
"Eringos are not good for to be taken,
And all lascivious meats must be forsaken."
Those opposite meats which ought to be used are cucumbers, melons, purslane, water-lilies, rue, woodbine, ammi, lettuce, which Lemnius so much commends, lib. 2, cap. 42. and Mizaldus hort. med. to this purpose; vitex, or agnus castus before the rest, which, saith Magninus, hath a wonderful virtue in it. Those Athenian women, in their solemn feasts called Thesmopheries, were to abstain nine days from the company of men, during which time, saith Ælian, they laid a certain herb, named hanea, in their beds, which assuaged those ardent flames of love, and freed them from the torments of that violent passion. See more in Porta, Matthiolus, Crescentius lib. 5. &c., and what every herbalist almost and physician hath written, cap. de Satyriasi et Priapismo; Rhasis amongst the rest. In some cases again, if they be much dejected, and brought low in body, and now ready to despair through anguish, grief, and too sensible a feeling of their misery, a cup of wine and full diet is not amiss, and as Valescus adviseth, cum alia honesta venerem sæpe exercendo, which Langius epist. med. lib. 1. epist. 24. approves out of Rhasis (ad assiduationem coitus invitat] and Guianerius seconds it, cap. 16. tract. 16. as a very profitable remedy.
--"tument tibi quum inguina, cum si
Ancilla, aut verna præsto est, tentigine rumpi
Malis? non ego namque," &c.--
Jason Pratensis subscribes to this counsel of the poet, Excretio enim aut tollet prorsus aut lenit ægritudinem. As it did the raging lust of Ahasuerus, qui ad impatientiam amoris leniendam, per singulas fere noctes novas puellas devirginavit. And to be drunk too by fits; but this is mad physic, if it be at all to be permitted. If not, yet some pleasure is to be allowed, as that which Vives speaks of, lib. 3. de anima., "A lover that hath as it were lost himself through impotency, impatience, must be called home as a traveller, by music, feasting, good wine, if need be to drunkenness itself, which many so much commend for the easing of the mind, all kinds of sports and merriments, to see fair pictures, hangings, buildings, pleasant fields, orchards, gardens, groves, ponds, pools, rivers, fishing, fowling, hawking, hunting, to hear merry tales, and pleasant discourse, reading, to use exercise till he sweat, that new spirits may succeed, or by some vehement affection or contrary passion to be diverted till he be fully weaned from anger, suspicion, cares, fears, &c., and habituated into another course." Semper tecum sit, (as Sempronius adviseth Calisto his lovesick master) qui sermones joculares moveat, conciones ridiculas, dicteria falsa, suaves historias, fabulas venustas recenseat, coram ludat, &c., still have a pleasant companion to sing and tell merry tales, songs and facete histories, sweet discourse, &c. And as the melody of music, merriment, singing, dancing, doth augment the passion of some lovers, as Avicenna notes, so it expelleth it in others, and doth very much good. These things must be warily applied, as the parties' symptoms vary, and as they shall stand variously affected.
If there be any need of physic, that the humours be altered, or any new matter aggregated, they must be cured as melancholy men. Carolus a Lorme, amongst other questions discussed for his degree at Montpelier in France, hath this, An amantes et amantes iisdem remediis curentur? Whether lovers and madmen be cured by the same remedies? he affirms it; for love extended is mere madness. Such physic then as is prescribed, is either inward or outward, as hath been formerly handled in the precedent partition in the cure of melancholy. Consult with Valleriola observat. lib. 2. observ. 7. Lod. Mercatus lib. 2. cap. 4. de mulier. affect. Daniel Sennertus lib. 1. part. 2. cap. 10. Jacobus Ferrandus the Frenchman, in his Tract de amore Erotique, Forestus lib. 10. observ. 29 and 30, Jason Pratensis and others for peculiar receipts. Amatus Lusitanus cured a young Jew, that was almost mad for love, with the syrup of hellebore, and such other evacuations and purges which are usually prescribed to black choler: Avicenna confirms as much if need require, and "bloodletting above the rest," which makes amantes ne sint amentes, lovers to come to themselves, and keep in their right minds. 'Tis the same which Schola Salernitana, Jason Pratensis, Hildesheim, &c., prescribe bloodletting to be used as a principal remedy. Those old Scythians had a trick to cure all appetite of burning lust, by letting themselves blood under the ears, and to make both men and women barren, as Sabellicus in his Æneades relates of them. Which Salmuth. Tit. 10. de Herol. comment. in Pancirol. de nov. report. Mercurialis, var. lec. lib. 3. cap. 7. out of Hippocrates and Benzo say still is in use amongst the Indians, a reason of which Langius gives lib. 1. epist. 10.
Huc faciunt medicamenta venerem sopientia, ut camphora pudendis alligata, et in bracha gestata (quidam ait) membrum flaccidum reddit. Laboravit hoc morbo virgo nobilis, cui inter cætera præscripsit medicus, ut laminam plumbeam multis foraminibus pertusam ad dies viginti portaret in dorso; ad exiccandum vero sperma jussit eam quam parcissime cibari, et manducare frequentur coriandrum præparatum, et semen lactucæ, et acetosæ, et sic eam a morbo liberavit. Porro impediunt et remittunt coitum folia salicis trita et epota, et si frequentius usurpentur ipsa in totum auferunt. Idem præstat Topatius annulo gestatus, dexterum lupi testiculum attritum, et oleo vel aqua rosata exhibitum veneris tædium inducere scribit Alexander Benedictus: lac butyri commestum et semen canabis, et camphora exhibita idem præstant. Verbena herba gestata libidinem extinguit, pulvisquæ ranæ decollatæ et exiccatæ. Ad extinguendum coitum, ungantur membra genitalia, et renes et pecten aqua in qua opium Thebaicum sit dissolutum; libidini maxime contraria camphora est, et coriandrum siccum frangit coitum, et erectionem virgæ impedit; idem efficit synapium ebibitum. "Da verbenam in potu et non erigetur virga sex diebus; utere mentha sicca cum aceto, genitalia illinita succo hyoscyami aid cicutæ, coitus appelitum sedant, &c. [Symbol: Rx]. seminis lactuc. portulac. coriandri an. [Symbol: Dram]j. menthæ siccæ [Symbol: Dram]ß. sacchari albiss. [Symbol: Ounce]iiij. pulveriscentur omnia subtiliter, et post ea simul misce aqua nenupharis, f. confec. solida in morsulis. Ex his sumat mane unum quum surgat". Innumera fere his similia petas ab Hildishemo loco prædicto, Mizaldo, Porta, cæterisque.