Imágenes de página

oiliness, and a subtile heat, without acrimony. And I knew an Englishman, who carried a bag of saffron about his stomach in a voyage, to conceal it and prevent paying the duty; and though at other times he used to be exceedingly sea-sick, he now continued perfectly well without the least retching.

Hippocrates advises to wear clean linen next the skin in the winter, but foul and besmeared with oil in the summer; the reason whereof seems to be this, that the spirits greatly exhale in the sumner; and therefore the pores of the skin are then to be filled up.

We therefore judge that anointing the skin with oil, either that of olives or sweet almonds, greatly conduces to long life. And this should be done every morning upon rising; and with oil wherein a little bay-salt and saffron is mixed; but it ought to be laid on light, with wool, or a soft sponge, not so as to run, but barely to bedew and moisten the skin.

It is certain that liquors, even such as are oily, used in a large quantity, draw somewhat from the body : but on the contrary are imbibed by it in a small one: and therefore, as we said, the unction must be but slight and superficial; or else let only the shirt itself be a little rubbed with the oil.

It may here be objected, that this anointing

with oil, though not used among ourselves, has however been experienced, and left off by the Italians; and was anciently familiar, and a part of regimen among the Greeks and Romans; yet mankind in those ages were no longer lived than at present. To which it may be justly answered, that they used their oil only after warm bathing; unless we except their gladiators and wrestlers; but warm bathing is as contrary to this intention of ours, as anointing is congruous; the former opening, but the latter blocking up the pores : and therefore warm bathing without subsequent anointing is extremely bad for our purpose ; but anointing without bathing excellent. Their anointing also was used in the way of delicacy, or at best to preserve health ; but in no respect to procure long life : whence they employed at the same time precious unguents, which though grateful and pleasing in themselves, are prejudicial in our intention by reason of the heat. Whence Virgil seems to have well observed, that the use of oil was corrupted with spices.*

Anointing with oil contributes to health in the winter, by the excluding cold; and in summer by keeping in the spirits, and preventing their dissolution; as also by fencing against the force of the air, which is then most predatory.

+ Nec Casia liquidi corrumpitur usus olivi,


As anointing with oil is one of the most powe erful remedies for prolonging of life, we shall here add a few cautions about its use, to prevent endangering the health : and these cautions are principally four, with regard to the four inconveniencies that may follow upon it.

The first inconvenience is, that by suppressing the sweat, it may produce distempers from excrementitious humours; but this may be remedied by the use of purges and glysters, so as to procure a proper discharge; for it is certain, that evacuation by sweat has a general tendency to health, but shortens life; whilst moderate purgatives operate upon the humours, and not, as sweat does, upon the spirits.

The second inconvenience is, that our anointing may sometimes heat and inflame the body; because the spirits when shut up, and not suffered to perspire grow warm: but this is prevented by a cooling diet, and the use of some proper refrigerants at due intervals; of which more in our next enquiry into the operation upon the blood.

The third inconvenience is, that it may oppress the head; as all external obstruction strikes back the vapours, and turns them upon that part: but this is entirely prevented by catharticks; especially by glysters, and strongly closing the mouth of the stomach with astringents: again also by combing and rubbing the head, along with the use of proper perspirative lixiviums; not omiting suitable exercise, that some perspiration by the skin may likewise be procured.

The fourth inconvenience is more subtile; viz. that the spirits detained by closing up the pores may seem to multiply too fast; because, as little exhales, and new spirit is constantly produced, the quantity may increase too much ; and so that body come to be preyed upon; but this is not entirely the case; for all spirit shut up and not fanned, becomes languid, like flame unanimated by air; whence it becomes less active, and less productive of new: but doubtless its heat is thus increased, though its motion be retarded; which is likewise the case of flame. But this danger may be prevented, by sometimes mixing refrigerant ingredients along with the oil, such as roses, and myrtle; for no hot things are here to be used.

It may be likewise serviceable to wear such garments as are somewhat unctuous or oily, and not aqueous; because these exhaust the body less : such as those of callico rather than linen; and it is manifest that the spirits of odorous bodies hang much longer in woollen than linen; and therefore though linen is more elegant and grateful to the touch, yet we suspect it for this intention. It is a practice among the wild Irish, when

first taken sick, immediately to unsheet their bed, and roll themselves in the blankets.

And some declare themselves to have with great advantage to their health, wore flannel waistcoats and drawers next their skins.

It must also be observed that the air, whereto the body is accustomed, consumes less than new, or a frequent change of air; whence poor people that never remove from their own roof, are generally long lived: in other respects, we judge a change of air to be useful, especially to those of brisk spirits; but a moderation herein may prove best on all accounts. The way would be to change the place of abode, and at stated times remove to proper seats, suited to the four seasons of the year; whereby the body might have neither too much fatigue in travelling, nor too much rest at home. And this for the operation of excluding the air, to avoid its predatory or consuming force.




The present and the following operation are the converse of the two foregoing; and answer to them as passives to actives : for as those prevent the spirits and air from being too preda

« AnteriorContinuar »