Diet rectified in substance.

Diet rectified in substance.

     Diet, Διαιτητιχη [Diaitaetike], victus, or living, according to Fuchsius and others, comprehends those six non-natural things, which I have before specified, are especial causes, and being rectified, a sole or chief part of the cure. Johannes Arculanus, cap. 16. in 9. Rhasis, accounts the rectifying of these six a sufficient cure. Guianerius, tract. 15, cap. 9. calls them, propriam et primam curam, the principal cure: so doth Montanus, Crato, Mercurialis, Altomarus, &c., first to be tried, Lemnius, instit. cap. 22, names them the hinges of our health, no hope of recovery without them. Reinerus Solenander, in his seventh consultation for a Spanish young gentlewoman, that was so melancholy she abhorred all company, and would not sit at table with her familiar friends, prescribes this physic above the rest, no good to be done without it. Aretus, lib. 1. cap. 7. an old physician, is of opinion, that this is enough of itself, if the party be not too far gone in sickness. Crato, in a consultation of his for a noble patient, tells him plainly, that if his highness will keep but a good diet, he will warrant him his former health. Montanus, consil. 27. for a nobleman of France, admonisheth his lordship to be most circumspect in his diet, or else all his other physic will be to small purpose. The same injunction I find verbatim in J. Caesar Claudinus, Respon. 34. Scoltzii, consil. 183. Trallianus, cap. 16. lib. 1. Lælius a Fonte Æugubinus often brags, that he hath done more cures in this kind by rectification of diet, than all other physic besides. So that in a word I may say to most melancholy men, as the fox said to the weasel, that could not get out of the garner, Macra cavum repetes, quem macra subisti, ("When you are again lean, seek an exit through that hole by which lean you entered.") the six non-natural things caused it, and they must cure it. Which howsoever I treat of, as proper to the meridian of melancholy, yet nevertheless, that which is here said with him in Tully, though writ especially for the good of his friends at Tarentum and Sicily, yet it will generally serve most other diseases, and help them likewise, if it be observed.

     Of these six non-natural things, the first is diet, properly so called, which consists in meat and drink, in which we must consider substance, quantity, quality, and that opposite to the precedent. In substance, such meats are generally commended, which are "moist, easy of digestion, and not apt to engender wind, not fried, nor roasted, but sod" (saith Valescus, Altomarus, Piso, &c.) "hot and moist, and of good nourishment;" Crato, consil. 21. lib. 2. admits roast meat, if the burned and scorched superficies, the brown we call it, be pared off. Salvianus, lib. 2. cap. 1. cries out on cold and dry meats; young flesh and tender is approved, as of kid, rabbits, chickens, veal, mutton, capons, hens, partridge, pheasant, quails, and all mountain birds, which are so familiar in some parts of Africa, and in Italy, and as Dublinius reports, the common food of boors and clowns in Palestine. Galen takes exception at mutton, but without question he means that rammy mutton, which is in Turkey and Asia Minor, which have those great fleshy tails, of forty-eight pounds weight, as Vertomannus witnesseth, navig. lib. 2. cap. 5. The lean of fat meat is best, and all manner of broths, and pottage, with borage, lettuce, and such wholesome herbs are excellent good, especially of a cock boiled; all spoon meat. Arabians commend brains, but Laurentius, c. 8. excepts against them, and so do many others; eggs are justified as a nutritive wholesome meat, butter and oil may pass, but with some limitation; so Crato confines it, and "to some men sparingly at set times, or in sauce," and so sugar and honey are approved. All sharp and sour sauces must be avoided, and spices, or at least seldom used: and so saffron sometimes in broth may be tolerated; but these things may be more freely used, as the temperature of the party is hot or cold, or as he shall find inconvenience by them. The thinnest, whitest, smallest wine is best, not thick, nor strong; and so of beer, the middling is fittest. Bread of good wheat, pure, well purged from the bran is preferred; Laurentius, cap. 8. would have it kneaded with rain water, if it may be gotten.

     Water.] Pure, thin, light water by all means use, of good smell and taste, like to the air in sight, such as is soon hot, soon cold, and which Hippocrates so much approves, if at least it may be had. Rain water is purest, so that it fall not down in great drops, and be used forthwith, for it quickly putrefies. Next to it fountain water that riseth in the east, and runneth eastward, from a quick running spring, from flinty, chalky, gravelly grounds: and the longer a river runneth, it is commonly the purest, though many springs do yield the best water at their fountains. The waters in hotter countries, as in Turkey, Persia, India, within the tropics, are frequently purer than ours in the north, more subtile, thin, and lighter, as our merchants observe, by four ounces in a pound, pleasanter to drink, as good as our beer, and some of them, as Choaspis in Persia, preferred by the Persian kings, before wine itself.

"Clitorio quicunque sitim de fonte levarit
Vina fugit gaudetque meris abstemius undis."

(Ovid. Met. lib. 15. "Whoever has allayed his thirst with the water of the Clitorius, avoids wine, and abstemious delights in pure water only.")

     Many rivers I deny not are muddy still, white, thick, like those in China, Nile in Egypt, Tiber at Rome, but after they be settled two or three days, defecate and clear, very commodious, useful and good. Many make use of deep wells, as of old in the Holy Land, lakes, cisterns, when they cannot be better provided; to fetch it in carts or gondolas, as in Venice, or camels' backs, as at Cairo in Egypt, Radzivilius observed 8000 camels daily there, employed about that business; some keep it in trunks, as in the East Indies, made four square with descending steps, and 'tis not amiss, for I would not have any one so nice as that Grecian Calis, sister to Nicephorus, emperor of Constantinople, and married to Dominitus Silvius, duke of Venice, that out of incredible wantonness, communi aqua uti nolebat, would use no vulgar water; but she died tanta (saith mine author) fútidissimi puris copia, of so fulsome a disease, that no water could wash her clean. Plato would not have a traveller lodge in a city that is not governed by laws, or hath not a quick stream running by it; illud enim animum, hoc corrumpit valetudinem, one corrupts the body, the other the mind. But this is more than needs, too much curiosity is naught, in time of necessity any water is allowed. Howsoever, pure water is best, and which (as Pindarus holds) is better than gold; an especial ornament it is, and "very commodious to a city" (according to Vegetius) "when fresh springs are included within the walls," as at Corinth, in the midst of the town almost, there was arx altissima scatens fontibus, a goodly mount full of fresh water springs: "if nature afford them not they must be had by art." It is a wonder to read of those stupend aqueducts, and infinite cost hath been bestowed in Rome of old, Constantinople, Carthage, Alexandria, and such populous cities, to convey good and wholesome waters: read Frontinus, Lipsius de admir. Plinius, lib. 3. cap. 11, Strabo in his Geogr. That aqueduct of Claudius was most eminent, fetched upon arches fifteen miles, every arch 109 feet high: they had fourteen such other aqueducts, besides lakes and cisterns, 700 as I take it; every house had private pipes and channels to serve them for their use. Peter Gillius, in his accurate description of Constantinople, speaks of an old cistern which he went down to see, 336 feet long, 180 feet broad, built of marble, covered over with arch-work, and sustained by 336 pillars, 12 feet asunder, and in eleven rows, to contain sweet water. Infinite cost in channels and cisterns, from Nilus to Alexandria, hath been formerly bestowed, to the admiration of these times; their cisterns so curiously cemented and composed, that a beholder would take them to be all of one stone: when the foundation is laid, and cistern made, their house is half built. That Segovian aqueduct in Spain, is much wondered at in these days, upon three rows of pillars, one above another, conveying sweet water to every house: but each city almost is full of such aqueducts. Amongst the rest he is eternally to be commended, that brought that new stream to the north side of London at his own charge: and Mr. Otho Nicholson, founder of our waterworks and elegant conduit in Oxford. So much have all times attributed to this element, to be conveniently provided of it: although Galen hath taken exceptions at such waters, which run through leaden pipes, ob cerussam quæ in iis generatur, for that unctuous ceruse, which causeth dysenteries and fluxes; yet as Alsarius Crucius of Genna well answers, it is opposite to common experience. If that were true, most of our Italian cities, Montpelier in France, with infinite others, would find this inconvenience, but there is no such matter. For private families, in what sort they should furnish themselves, let them consult with P. Crescentius, de Agric. l. 1. c. 4, Pamphilius Hirelacus, and the rest.

     Amongst fishes, those are most allowed of, that live in gravelly or sandy waters, pikes, perch, trout, gudgeon, smelts, flounders, &c. Hippolitus Salvianus takes exception at carp; but I dare boldly say with Dubravius, it is an excellent meat, if it come not from muddy pools, that it retain not an unsavoury taste. Erinacius Marinus is much commended by Oribatius, Aetius, and most of our late writers.

      Crato, consil. 21. lib. 2. censures all manner of fruits, as subject to putrefaction, yet tolerable at sometimes, after meals, at second course, they keep down vapours, and have their use. Sweet fruits are best, as sweet cherries, plums, sweet apples, pearmains, and pippins, which Laurentius extols, as having a peculiar property against this disease, and Plater magnifies, omnibus modis appropriata conveniunt, but they must be corrected for their windiness: ripe grapes are good, and raisins of the sun, musk-melons well corrected, and sparingly used. Figs are allowed, and almonds blanched. Trallianus discommends figs, Salvianus olives and capers, which others especially like of, and so of pistick nuts. Montanus and Mercurialis out of Avenzoar, admit peaches, pears, and apples baked after meals, only corrected with sugar, and aniseed, or fennel-seed, and so they may be profitably taken, because they strengthen the stomach, and keep down vapours. The like may be said of preserved cherries, plums, marmalade of plums, quinces, &c., but not to drink after them. Pomegranates, lemons, oranges are tolerated, if they be not too sharp.

      Crato will admit of no herbs, but borage, bugloss, endive, fennel, aniseed, balm; Callenius and Arnoldus tolerate lettuce, spinach, beets, &c. The same Crato will allow no roots at all to be eaten. Some approve of potatoes, parsnips, but all corrected for wind. No raw salads; but as Laurentius prescribes, in broths; and so Crato commends many of them: or to use borage, hops, balm, steeped in their ordinary drink. Avenzoar magnifies the juice of a pomegranate, if it be sweet, and especially rose water, which he would have to be used in every dish, which they put in practice in those hot countries, about Damascus, where (if we may believe the relations of Vertomannus) many hogsheads of rose water are to be sold in the market at once, it is in so great request with them.


Previous Next