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turbed as to produce high fever. I, nevertheless, convinced that the regular life I had led for many years had united, equalized, and disposed all my humors so well that they could not possibly be subject to so great alteration, refused either to be bled or to take any medicine. I merely had my arm and leg straightened, and permitted my body to be rubbed with certain oils which were recommended by the physicians as appropriate under the circumstances. It followed that, without using any other kind of remedy and without suffering any further ill or change for the worse, I entirely recovered-a thing, which, while fulfilling my own expectations, seemed to my doctors nothing less than miraculous.
The unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from this is, that any man who leads the regular and temperate life, not swerving from it in the least degree where his nourishment is concerned, can be but little affected by other disorders or incidental mishaps. Whereas, on the other hand, I truly conclude that disorderly habits of living are those which are fatal.
By a recent experience of mine-that is, as late as four years ago-this was proved to me unmistakably. Having been induced by the advice of my physicians, the admonitions of my friends and their loving exhortations, to make a change in my manner of living, I found this change-consisting in an increase in the ordinary quantity of my food-to be, in reality, a disorder of much greater importance than might have been expected; since it brought on me a most severe illness. As the whole event is appropriate here, and because the knowledge of it may be of advantage to others, I shall now relate it in all its particulars.
My dearest relatives and friends, who love and cherish me devotedly and are inspired by warm and true
affection, observed how very little I ate, and, in unison with my physicians, told me that the food I took could not possibly be sufficient to sustain a man of an age so advanced as mine. They argued that I should not only preserve, but rather aim to increase, my strength and vigor. And as this could only be done by means of nourishment, it was absolutely necessary, they said, that I should eat rather more abundantly.
I, on the other hand, brought forward my reasons to the contrary; namely, that nature is satisfied with little; that my spare diet had been found sufficient to preserve me in health all these many years; and that, with me, this abstemious habit had long since become second nature. I maintained, furthermore, that it was in harmony with reason that, as my age increased and my strength lessened, I should diminish, rather than increase, the quantity of my food. This was true; since the digestive powers of the stomach were also growing weaker in the same proportion as my vigor became impaired. Wherefore I could see no reason why I should increase my diet.
To strengthen my argument, I quoted those two natural and obviously true proverbs: the one, that "Whosoever wishes to eat much must eat little❞—which means simply that the eating of little lengthens a man's life, and by living a long time he is enabled to eat a great deal; the other, that "The food from which a man abstains, after he has eaten heartily, is of more benefit to him than that which he has eaten.'
However, neither of these wise sayings, nor any other argument I could offer, proved effectual; for my friends only pressed me the harder. Now, I did not like to appear obstinate or as though I considered myself more of a doctor than the very doctors themselves;
moreover, I especially wished to please my family, who desired it very earnestly, believing, as they did, that such an increase in my ordinary allowance would be beneficial to my strength. So I at last yielded, and consented to add to the quantity of my food. This increase, however, was by only two ounces in weight; so that, while, with bread, the yolk of an egg, a little meat, and some soup, I had formerly eaten as much as would weigh in all exactly twelve ounces, I now went so far as to raise the amount to fourteen ounces; and, while I had formerly drunk but fourteen ounces of wine, I now began to take sixteen ounces.
The disorder of this increase had, at the end of ten days, begun to affect me so much, that, instead of being cheerful, as I had ever been, I became melancholy and choleric; everything annoyed me; and my mood was so wayward that I neither knew what to say to others nor what to do with myself. At the end of twelve days I was seized with a most violent pain in the side, which continued twenty-two hours. This was followed by a terrible fever, which lasted thirty-five days and as many nights without a moment's interruption; although, to tell the truth, it kept constantly diminishing after the fifteenth day. Notwithstanding such abatement, however, during all that period I was never able to sleep for even half of a quarter of an hour; hence, everybody believed that I would surely die. However, I recovered -God be praised!-solely by returning to my former rule of life; although I was then seventy-eight years of age, and it was just in the heart of the coldest season of a very cold year, and I as frail in body as could be.
I am firmly convinced that nothing rescued me from death but the orderly life which I had observed for so many years; in all of which time no kind of sickness had