THERE is not so much harm proceeding from the substance itself of meat, and quality of it, in ill-dressing and preparing, as there is from the quantity, disorder of time and place, unseasonable use of it, inntemperance, overmuch, or overlittle taking of it. A true saying it is, Plures crapula quam gladius, This gluttony kills more than the sword, this omnivorantia et homicida gula, this all devouring and murdering gut. And that of Pliny is truer, "Simple diet is the best; heaping up of several meats is pernicious, and sauces worse; many dishes bring many diseases." Avicen cries out, "That nothing is worse than to feed on many dishes, or to protract the time of meats longer than ordinary; from thence proceed our infirmities, and 'tis the fountain of all diseases, which arise out of the repugnancy of gross humours." Thence, saith Fernelius, come crudities, wind, oppilations, cacochymia, plethora, cachexia, bradiopepsia, Hinc subite mortes, atque intestata senectus, sudden death, &c., and what not.
As a lamp is choked with a multitude of oil, or a little fire with overmuch wood quite extinguished, so is the natural heat with immoderate eating, strangled in the body. Pernitiosa sentina est abdomen insaturabile: one saith, An insatiable paunch is a pernicious sink, and the fountain of all diseases, both of body and mind. Mercurialis will have it a peculiar cause of this private disease; Solenander, consil. 5. sect. 3, illustrates this of Mercurialis, with an example of one so melancholy, ab intempestivis commessationibus, unseasonable feasting. Crato confirms as much, in that often cited Counsel, 21, lib. 2. putting superfluous eating for a main cause. But what need I seek farther for proofs? Hear Hippocrates himself; Lib. 2, Aphor. 10, "Impure bodies the more they are nourished, the more they are hurt, for the nourishment is putrefied with vicious humours."
And yet for all this harm, which apparently follows surfeiting and drunkenness, see how we luxuriate and rage in this kind; read what Johannes Stuckius hath written lately of this subject, in his great volume De Antiquorum Conviviis, and of our present age; Quam portentosæ cúnæ, prodigious suppers, Qui dum invitant ad cúnam efferunt ad sepulchrum (they who invite us to supper, only conduct us to our tomb), what Fagos, Epicures, Apetios, Heliogables, our times afford? Lucullus' ghost walks still and every man desires to sup in Apollo; Æsop's costly dish is ordinarily served up. Magis illa juvant, quæ pluris emuntur (The highest-priced dishes afford the most gratification). The dearest cates are best, and 'tis an ordinary thing to bestow twenty or thirty pounds upon a dish, some thousand crowns upon a dinner: Mully-Hamet, king of Fez and Morocco, spent three pounds on the sauce of a capon: it is nothing in our times, we scorn all that is cheap. "We loathe the very light (some of us, as Seneca notes) because it comes free, and we are offended with the sun's heat, and those cool blasts, because we buy them not." This air we breathe is so common, we care not for it; nothing pleaseth but what is dear. And if we be witty in anything, it is ad gulam: If we study at all, it is erudite luxu, to please the palate, and to satisfy the gut. "A cook of old was a base knave (as Livy complains), but now a great man in request; cookery is become an art, a noble science: cooks are gentlemen:" Venter Deus: They wear "their brains in their bellies, and their guts in their heads," as Agrippa taxed some parasites of his time, rushing on their own destruction, as if a man should run upon the point of a sword, usque dum rumpantur comedunt, "They eat till they burst:" All day, all night, let the physician say what he will, imminent danger, and feral diseases are now ready to seize upon them, that will eat till they vomit, Edunt ut vomant, vomunt ut edant; saith Seneca; which Dion relates of Vitellius, Solo transitu ciborum, nutiri judicatus: His meat did pass through and away, or till they burst again. Strage animantium ventrem onerant, and rake over all the world, as so many slaves, belly-gods, and land-serpents, Et totus orbis ventri nimis angustus, the whole world cannot satisfy their appetite. "Sea, land, rivers, lakes, &c., may not give content to their raging guts." To make up the mess, what immoderate drinking in every place? Senem potum pota trahebat anus, how they flock to the tavern: as if they were fruges consumere nati, born to no other end but to eat and drink, like Offellius Bibulus, that famous Roman parasite, Qui dum vixit, aut bibit aut mixit; as so many casks to hold wine, yea worse than a cask, that mars wine, and itself is not marred by it, yet these are brave men, Silenus Ebrius was no braver. Et quæ fuerunt vitia, mores sunt: 'tis now the fashion of our times, an honour: Nunc vero res ista eo rediit (as Chrysost. serm. 30, in v. Ephes. comments) Ut effeminatæ ridendæque ignaviæ loco habeatur, nolle inebriari; 'tis now come to that pass that he is no gentleman, a very milk-sop, a clown of no bringing up, that will not drink; fit for no company; he is your only gallant that plays it off finest, no disparagement now to stagger in the streets, reel, rave, &c., but much to his fame and renown; as in like case Epidicus told Thesprio his fellow-servant, in the Poet. Ædipol facinus improbum, one urged, the other replied, At jam alii fecere idem, erit illi illa res honori, 'tis now no fault, there be so many brave examples to bear one out; 'tis a credit to have a strong brain, and carry his liquor well; the sole contention who can drink most, and fox his fellow the soonest. 'Tis the summum bonum of our tradesmen, their felicity, life, and soul, Tanta dulcedine effectant, saith Pliny, lib. 14. cap. 12. ut magna pars non aliud vitæ præmium intelligat, their chief comfort, to be merry together in an alehouse or tavern, as our modern Muscovites do in their mede-inns, and Turks in their coffee-houses which much resemble our taverns; they will labour hard all day, long to be drunk at night, and spend totius anni labores, as St. Ambrose adds, in a tippling feast; convert day into night, as Seneca taxes some in his times, Pervertunt officia noctis et lucis; when we rise, they commonly go to bed, like our antipodes,
"Nosque ubi primus equis oriens afflavit anhelis,
Illis sera rubens accendit lumina vesper."
So did Petronius in Tacitus, Heiogabalus in Lampridius.
"-- Noctes vigilabat ad ipsem
Mane, diem totum stertebat.--"
"-- He drank the night away
Till rising dawn, then snored out all the day."
Snymdiris the Sybarite never saw the sun rise or set so much as once in twenty years. Verres, against whom Tully so much inveighs, in winter he never was extra tectum vix extra lectum, never almost out of bed, still wenching and drinking; so did he spend his time, and so do myriads in our days. They have gymnasia bibonum, schools and rendezvous; these centaurs and Lapithæ toss pots and bowls as so many balls; invent new tricks, as sausages, anchovies, tobacco, caviare, pickled oysters, herrings, fumadoes, &c.: innumerable salt meats to increase their appetite, and study how to hurt themselves by taking antidotes "to carry their drink the better; and when nought else serves, they will go forth, or be conveyed out, to empty their gorge, that they may return to drink afresh." They make laws, insanas leges, contra bibendi fallacias, and brag of it when they have done, crowning that man that is soonest gone, as their drunken predecessors have done,-- quid ego video? Ps. Cum corona Pseudolum ebrium tuum --. And when they are dead, will have a can of wine with Maron's old woman to be engraven on their tombs. So they triumph in villainy, and justify their wickedness; with Rabelais, that French Lucian, drunkenness is better for the body than physic, because there be more old drunkards than old physicians. Many such frothy arguments they have, inviting and encouraging others to do as they do, and love them dearly for it (no glue like to that of good fellowship). So did Alcibiades in Greece; Nero, Bonosus, Heliogabalus in Rome, or Alegabalus rather, as he was styled of old (as Ignatius proves out of some old Coins). So do many great men still, as Heresbachius observes. When a prince drinks till his eyes stare, like Bitias in the Poet,
-- "(ille impiger hausit
Spumantem vino pateram)."
-- "a thirsty soul;
He took challenge and embraced the bowl:
With pleasure swill'd the gold, nor ceased to draw
Till he the bottom of the brimmer saw."
and comes off clearly, sound trumpets, fife and drums, the spectators will applaud him, "the bishop himself (if he belie them not) with his chaplain, will stand by and do as much," O dignum principe haustum, 'twas done like a prince. "Our Dutchmen invite all comers with a pail and a dish," Velut infundibula integras obbas exhauriunt, et in monstrosis poculis, ipsi monstrosi monstrosius epotant, aking barrels of their bellies." Incredibile dictu, as one of their own countrymen complains: Quantum liquoris immodestissima gens capiat, &c. "How they love a man that will be drunk, crown him and honour him for it," hate him that will not pledge him, stab him, kill him; a most intolerable offence, and not to be forgiven. "He is a mortal enemy that will not drink with him," as Munster relates of the Saxons. So in Poland, he is the best servitor, and the honestest fellow, saith Alexander Gaguinus, "that drinketh most healths to the honour of his master, he shall be rewarded as a good servant, and held the bravest fellow that carries his liquor best," when a brewer's horse will bear much more than any sturdy drinker, yet for his noble exploits in this kind, he shall be accounted a most valiant man, for Tam inter epulas fortis vir esse potest ac in bello, as much valour is to be found in feasting as in fighting, and some of our city captains, and carpet knights will make this good, and prove it. Thus they many times wilfully pervert the good temperature of their bodies, stifle their wits, strangle nature, and degenerate into beasts.
Some again are in the other extreme, and draw this mischief on their heads by too ceremonious and strict diet, being over-precise, cockney-like,and curious in their observation of meats, times, as that Medicina statica prescribes, just so many ounces at dinner, which Lessius enjoins, so much at supper, not a little more, nor a little less, of such meat, and at such hours, a diet-drink in the morning, cock-broth, China-broth, at dinner, plum-broth, a chicken, a rabbit, rib of a rack of mutton, wing of a capon, the merry-thought of a hen, &c.; to sounder bodies this is too nice and most absurd. Others offend in over-much fasting: pining adays, saith Guianerius, and waking anights, as many Moors and Turks in these our times do. "Anchorites, monks, and the rest of that superstitious rank (as the same Guianerius witnesseth, that he hath often seen to have happened in his time) through immoderate fasting, have been frequently mad." Of such men belike Hippocrates speaks, 1 Aphor. 5, when as he saith, "They more offend in too sparing diet, and are worse damnified than they that feed liberally, and are ready to surfeit.