Bad Air, a Cause of Melancholy.

Bad Air, a Cause of Melancholy.

AIR is a cause of great moment, in producing this, or any other disease, being that it is still taken into our bodies by respiration, and our more inner parts. "If it be impure and foggy, it dejects the spirits, and causeth diseases by infection of the heart," as Paulus hath it, lib. 1. c. 49. Avicenna lib. 1. Gal. de. san. tuenda. Mercurialis, Montaltus, &c. Fernelius saith, "A thick air thickeneth the blood and humours." Lemnius reckons up two main things most profitable, and most pernicious to our bodies; air and diet: and this peculiar disease, nothing sooner causeth (Jobertus holds) "than the air wherein we breathe and live." Such as is the air, such be our spirits; and as our spirits, such are our humours. It offends commonly if it be too hot and dry. thick, fuliginous, cloudy, blustering, or a tempestuous air., Bodine in his fifth Book, De repub. cap. 1,5. of his Method of History, proves that hot countries are most troubled with melancholy, and that there are therefore in Spain, Africa, and Asia Minor, great numbers of mad men, insomuch that they are compelled in all cities of note, to build hospitals for them. Leo Afer, lib. 3. de Fessa urbe, Ortelius and Zuniger, confirm as much: they are ordinarily so choleric in their speeches, that scarce two words pass without railing or chiding in common talk, and often quarrelling in the streets. Gordonius will have every man take notice of it: "Note this (saith he) that in hot countries it is far more familiar than in cold." Although this we have now said be not continually so, for as Acosta truly saith, under the Equator itself, is a most temperate habitation, wholesome air, a paradise of pleasure: the leaves ever green, cooling showers. But it holds in such as are intemperately hot, as Johannes a Meggen found in Cyprus, others in Malta, Apulia, and the Holy Land, where at some seasons of the year is nothing but dust, their rivers dried up, the air scorching hot, and earth inflamed; insomuch that many pilgrims going barefoot for devotion sake, from Joppa to Jerusalem upon the hot sands, often run mad, or else quite overwhelmed with sand, profundis arenis, as in many parts of Africa, Arabia Deserta, Bactriana, now Charassan, when the west wind blows Involuti arenis transeunta necantur (They perish in clouds of sand). Hercules de Saxonia, a professor in Venice, gives this cause why so nany Venetiaa women are melancholy, Quod diu sub sole degant, they tarry too long in the sun. Montanus, consil. 21. amongst other causes assigns this; Why that Jew his patient was mad, Quod tam multum exposuit se calori et frigori: he exposed himself so much to heat and cold, and for that reason in Venice, there is little stirring in those brick paved streets in summer about noon, they are most part then asleep: as they are likewise in the great Mogol's countries, and all over the East Indies. At Aden in Arabia, as Lodovicus Vertomannus relates in. his travels, they keep their markets in the night, to avoid extremity of heat; and in Ormus, like cattle in a pasture, people of all sorts lie up to the chin in water all day long. At Braga in Portugal; Burgos in Castile; Messina in Sicily, all over Spain and Italy, their streets are most part narrow, to avoid the sunbeams. The Turks wear great turbans ad fugandos solis radios, to refract the sunbeams; and much inconvenience that hot air of Bantam in Java yields to our men, that sojourn there for traffic; where it is so hot, "that they that are sick of the pox, lie commonly bleaching in the sun to dry up their sores." Such a complaint I read of those isles of Cape Verde, fourteen degrees from the Equator, they do male audire: One calls them the unhealthiest clime of the world, for fluxes, fevers, frenzies, calentures, which commonly seize on seafaring men that touch at them, and all by reason of a hot distemperature of the air. The hardiest men are offended with this heat, and stiffest clowns cannot resist it, as Constantine affirms, Agricult. l. 2. c. 45. They that are naturally born in such air, may not endure it, as Niger records of some part of Mesopotamia, now called Diarbecha: Quibusdam in locis sævienti æstui adeo subjecta est, ut pleraque animalia fervore solis et cúli extinguantur, 'tis so hot there in some places, that men of the country and cattle are killed with it; and Adricomius of Arabia Felix, by reason of myrrh, frankincense, and hot spices there growing, the air is so obnoxious to their brains, that the very inhabitants at some times cannot avoid it, much less weaklings and strangers. Arnatus Lusitanus, cent. 1. curat. 45, reports of a young maid, that was one Vincent a currier's daughter, some thirteen years of age, that would wash her hair in the heat of the day (in July) and so let it dry in the sun, "to make it yellow, but by that means tarrying too long in the heat, she inflamed her head, and made herself mad."

Cold air in the other extreme is almost as bad as hot, and so doth Montaltus esteem of it, c. 11. if it be dry withal. In those northern countries, the people are therefore generally dull, heavy, and many witches, which (as I have before quoted) Saxo Grammaticus, Olaus, Baptista Porta ascribe to melancholy. But these cold climes are more subject to natural melancholy (not this artificial) which is cold and dry: for which cause Mercurius Britannicus belike puts melancholy men to inhabit just under the Pole. The worst of the three is a thick, cloudy, misty, foggy air, or such as come from fens, moorish grounds, lakes, muckhills, draughts, sinks, where any carcasses or carrion lies, or from whence any stinking fulsome smell comes: Galen, Avicenna, Mercurialis, new and old physicians, hold that such air is unwholesome, and engenders melancholy, plagues, and what not? Alexandretta an haven-town in the Mediterranean Sea, Saint John do Ulloa, an haven in Nova-Hispania, are much condemned for a bad air, so are Durazzo in Albania, Lithuania, Ditmarsh, Pomptinæ Paludes in Italy, the territories about Pisa, Ferrara, &c., Romney Marsh with us; the Hundreds in Essex, the fens in Lincolnshire. Cardan, de rerum varietate, l. 17. c. 96. finds fault with the sight of those rich, and most populous cities in the Law Countries, as Bruges, Ghent, Amsterdam, Leyden, Utrecht, &c., the air is bad; and so at Stockholm in Sweden; Rezium in Italy, Salisbury with us, Hull and Lynn: they may be commodious for navigation, this new kind of fortification, and many other good necessary uses; but are they so wholesome? Old Rome hath descended from the hills to the valley, 'tis the site of most of our new cities, and held best to build in plains, to take the opportunity of rivers. Leander Albertus pleads hard for the air and site of Venice, though the black Moorish lands appear at every low water: the sea, fire, and smoke (as he thinks) qualify the air; and some suppose, that a thick foggy air helps the memory, as in them of Pisa in Italy; and our Cambden, out of Plato, commends the site of Cambridge, because it is so near the fens. But let the site of such places be as it may, how can they be excused that have a delicious seat, a pleasant air, and all that nature can afford, and yet through their own nastiness, and sluttishness, immund and sordid manner of life, suffer their air to putrefy, and themselves to be choked up? Many cities in Turkey do male audire in this kind: Constantinople itself where commonly carrion lies in the street. Some find the same fault in Spain, even in Madrid, the king's seat, a most excellent air, a pleasant site; but the inhabitants are sloven; and the streets uncleanly kept.

A troublesome tempestuous air is as bad as impure, rough and foul weather, impetuous winds, cloudy dark days, as it is commonly with us, Cúlum visu fúdum, Polydore calls it a filthy sky, et in quo facilæ generantur nubes; as Tully's brother Quintus wrote to him in Rome, being then Quæstor in Britain. "In a thick and cloudy air (saith Lemaius) men are tetric, sad, and peevish: And if the western winds blow, and that there be a calm, or a fair sunshine day, there is a kind of alacrity in men's minds; it cheers up men and beasts: but if it be a turbulent, rough, cloudy, stormy weather, men are sad, lumpish, and much dejected, angry, waspish, dulll, and melancholy." This was Virgil's experiment of old,

"Verum ubi tempestas, et cúli mobilis humor
Mutavere vices, et Jupiter humidus Astro,
Vertuntur species animorum, et pectore motus
Concipiunt alios"--

"But when the face of heaven changed is
To tempests, rain, from season fair:
Our minds are altered, and in our breasts
Fortwith some new conceits appear."

And who is not weather-wise against such and such conjunctions of planets, moved in foul weather, dull and heavy in such tempestuous seasons? Gelidum contristat Aquarius annum: the time requires, and the autumn breeds it; winter is like unto it, ugly, foul, squalid, the air works on all men, more or less, but especially on such as are melancholy, or inclined to it, as Lemnius holds, "They are most moved with it, and those which are already mad, rave downright, either in, or against a tempest. Besides, the devil many times takes his opportunity of such storms, and when the humours by the air be stirred, he goes in with them, exagitates our spirits, and vexeth our souls; as the sea waves, so are the spirits and humours in our bodies tossed with tempestuous winds and storms." To such as are melancholy therefore, Montanus, consil. 24, will have tempestuous and rough air to be avoided, and consil. 27, all night air, and would not have them to walk abroad, but in a pleasant day. Lemnius, l. 3. c. 3. discommends the south and eastern winds, commends the north. Montanus, consil. 31, "wills not any windows to be opened in the night." Consil. 229. et consil. 230, he discommends especially the south wind, and nocturnal air: So doth Plutarch. The night and darkness makes men sad, the like do all subterranean vaults, dark houses in caves and rocks, desert places cause melancholy in an instant, especially such as have not been used to it, or otherwise accustomed. Read more of air in Hippocrates Ætius, l. 3. a c. 171. ad 175. Oribasius, a c. 1. ad 21. Avicen. l. 1. can. Fen. 2, doc. 2, Fen. 1. c. 123. to the 12, &c.

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