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rules; first attenuate, and then consume and waste the whole mass of juices; as plainly appears from hence, that they actually cure the venereal disease, even though grown so inveterate as to produce nodes in the bones; and corrupt and deprave the innermost fluids of the body: and again, because the persons who are rendered extremely lean, pale, and almost cadaverous by such kind of diet-drinks, presently afterwards grow fat, fresh coloured, and are manifestly renewed. And therefore we judge that such a course would be extremely serviceable to the present intention; being used once in two years, in the decline of age; and prove like casting the skin to the snake; or procure a kind of rejuvenescency.
And we are firmly persuaded, that repeated and familiar purging has a much greater power to prolong life, than exercise and sweating. This must be the case, if the former position be true; that anointing the body; blocking up the pores from without; excluding the air; and keeping the spirits from exhaling greatly conduce to longevity. For it is certain, that sweating and perspiration, not only evaporate and consume the superfluous and excrementitious humours and vapours; but with them also the good juices and spirits, which are not so easily repaired: wbereas the contrary happens in purging, unless very immoderate; as this operates principally upon the excrementitious humours. But the best purges for the intention, are those taken before meals; because they thus dry the body less : and therefore ought to be composed of such simples, as give little disorder to the stomach.
The intentions of the operations here proposed, we conceive to be just; and the remedies prescribed, very suitable to them. And though many of them may seem trifling and vulgar, yet a man would scarce believe with what degree of care and choice we have sat upon and examined: them; that they might be not only well adapted, but safe and effectual. Experience, however, is what must prove, and carry this matter still farther. In all cases, the results of deliberate and prudent consideration, though ever so admirable in their effects, and excellent in their order; constantly appear but vulgar and obvious things when discovered.
THE HISTORY OF THE AVENUES OR LAST APPROACHES OF DEATH ; IN PROSECUTION OF THE FIFTEENTH
ARTICLE OF THE TABLE OF ENQUIRY.
WE come next to enquire into the avenues of death; that is, into what happens a little before, a little after, and at the very instant a person dies: for as there are many ways which lead to death, we should understand in what common road they terminate; especially in such deaths as are occasioned by the impoverishment of nature, rather than by violence; though some regard must be had occasionally to the latter, by reason of the connection the one thing has with another.
There seem three requisites to the subsistence of a living spirit; viz. 1. A commodious mor tion. 2. A temperate coolness, or refreshment; and 3. A proper aliment. Flame appears to require but two of these: viz. motion and aliment; for flame is a simple, but spirit a compound substance; which is destroyed by approaching near to the nature of flame.*
* See Mr. Boyle's Works; Abridgm. vol. ii. p. 469, &e.
1. A less flame is deadened, extinguished, and destroyed by a greater and more powerful one, acting upon it; and the same hulds yet stronger of spirits.
Flame is extinguished by too great a compression: as we see by inverting a glass upon a candle : nor will fire burn in a grate, when the fuel is pressed too close; without leaving some space between its parts.
Ignited bodies are likewise extinguished by compression : thus a red bot coal is presently put out, by strongly compressing it with a fireshovel, or the foot.
But with regard to the spirits; if any blood or serious matter gets into the ventricles of the brain, it is sudden death.
So likewise, great contusions of the head cause sudden death; by compressing the spirits in the ventricles of the brain.
Opium, and other strong narcotics coagulate the spirits; and deprive them of motion. '
Poisonous vapours, which are utterly abominated by the spirits, also cause sudden death; as we see in those kinds of deadly poisons that operate by what they call a specific malignity: for these give such an abhorrence to the spirits as to deprive them of motion; or disable them from striving against a thing so contrary to their natyre.
So again, great fits of drunkenness, surfeiting and gluttony, sometimes cause sudden death; in which cases, the spirits are not so much oppressed by the density and malignity of the vapour, (as in opium, and malignant poisons) as by its quantity.
So likewise, extreme fear and sadness, especially when sudden; as upon hearing an unexpected disaster: sometimes occasion sudden death.
And not only too great a compression; but also too great a dilatation of the spirits proves mortal.
Great and sudden joys have frequently proved mortal.
Large evacuations, as upon tapping for the dropsy, when the water comes away in abundance; but more particularly great and sudden hemorrhages, are often followed by sudden death. And this seems to happen by the way of preventing a vacuity in the body; whilst all the fluids plentifully pour themselves out to fill up the emptied spaces ; and among the rest the spirits themselves. And thus inuch for the motion of the spirits, compressed or discharged, so far as to cause death.
2. We next proceed to the want of coolness. Stoppage of the breath proves suddenly mortal ; as in all suffocation and strangulation. And this