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Medical Uses For Honey:
Cure Of Diesease With Honey
Medical Value Of Mead And Other Honey Drinks
Honey For Children
Honeys History In Healing
Health Benefits In Eucalyptus Honey
Honey And Diabetes
Honey As Medicine In The Middle Ages
Honey Internal And External Medical Agent
Honey And Longevity
Honey For Athletes And Soldiers
Honey And Longevity
"Father Time, though he tarries for none, often lays his hands lightly on those who have used him well." Charles Dickens
To prolong life has been at all times the chief desire and principal object of mankind. Man always has done his utmost to reach old age. The expediency and value of this tendency is, however, somewhat disputed. Philosophers, economists and students of eugenics are not in accord about its practicability. There is even an old charge against medicine and hygiene that by preserving life they often tend to weaken the human race. Unhealthy people give birth to weak offspring. Haeckel called it "medical selection," and thought that humanity degenerates because of the influence of medical science. Others oppose longevity from the psychological standpoint. Edmund Goldsmid (Introduction to Cohausen's Hermippus Redivivus) thought that it is not the length of the day which makes us love the summer but its brightness, the beauty of flowers and the singing of birds. "Ask the man whose sun of ambition has passed its zenith, who has gathered the flowers of love and friendship and found that they sometimes wither and die while he yet held them in his grasp, for whom voices he loved best have ceased to resound; ask such a man whether life is a blessing as the ignorants imagine it . . . and you will receive for reply the words so old and yet so true: Vanitas, omnia vanitas."
Yet innumerable attempts have been made before and after Ponce de Leon—to discover the secret of eternal youth and the deferment of old age. The Elixir Vitae was a problem of all times and still is today. If we scan ancient records we find an infinite list of tricks, schemes, suggestions, dietetic regimens and substances from the mineral, plant and animal worlds employed to preserve and regain youth or to stave off old age. Long life has been considered, in all ages, a blessing from Heaven. To cling to life is an inherent longing not only of man but of all living creatures.
Life, a physico-chemical phenomenon, has certain laws which must be understood. Accordingly, man, the last object of creation and likewise the most perfect, should be competent to comprehend and respect the rules which were enacted to make the "living engine" more durable and to extend the limit of its usefulness, respectively, its existence. If the organs do not function normally life is more a curse than a gratification. To understand the normal functioning of the body requires knowledge and experience. To enforce the laws of health is man's responsibility to Nature, be-cause he is supposed to be the acknowledged (by himself, at least) masterpiece of creation.
It is disappointing that this is not the case. Animals far excel man in obedience to moral and hygienic laws. So-called civilization has made us forget the experience which primitive man and our ancient or even medieval ancestors acquired. Our present-day civilization, often enough, prefers material possessions to the enjoyment of health and life and when man loses his gains, the sole object of his existence, in despair he destroys life, an act which other creatures never do.
The art of prolonging life, of course, does not entirely depend on our will and intelligence. Part of our existence, as a matter of fact an essential portion of it, is beyond our control. For our con-genital traits, for our conduct during infancy and childhood, and for our early environment we are not responsible; they are mere accidents which we may call luck or misfortune. Our intelligence regarding the physical and moral comportment of life, which we subsequently acquire through education or by our own efforts, can guide us only afterwards.
Spiritual and moral principles in the management of life, in its enjoyment and extension to the farthest possible limits, are just as essential as physiological laws. To discuss the value, benefits and the necessity of the first two mentioned requirements is much beyond the scope of our purpose. With regard to the rules which we must know and obey to secure physical and mental health, to preserve life and delay its termination, they are only the Laws of Nature. Science, in spite of all its wonderful achievements, is not as dependable, due to our limited faculties. It is difficult to intrude into the sancta sanctorum of Nature. Haller exclaimed:
"No mortal being, howe'er keen his eye,
What was considered a verity yesterday, is a fallacy today. Our present-day science will suffer even more reversals than that of the days of old; it has grown too materialistic, and our near and far scientists are frequently nothing more than the employed but well-disguised agents of certain interests. Nature, on the other hand, is always absolute, constant, sincere, trustworthy and dependable. Obey the laws of Nature, because if you violate them you betray yourself and pare down your life. The further you deviate from them, the shorter will be your existence.
One of the cardinal laws of Nature is economy. Applying this law to the nourishment of our body, which is one of the principal and vital functions for maintenance of life, we must study the proper requirements of the complex physico-chemical engine and practice economy according to Nature. Enough or sufficient de-notes a supply equal to the demand, not too little, not too much. To choke the engine is just as disastrous as no fuel at all. Primitive man observed this rule of Nature, consumed simple food and lived longer, but civilized man plunged into luxury and corruption and confused the appetite of the palate with that of the stomach; the result is shorter life with innumerable "engine troubles" which finally lead to destruction. These are complications unknown to the "children" of Nature. Meticulous care of the stomach by selecting proper fuel, both with regard to quality and quantity, is one of the most important considerations for pre-serving health; without it the attainment to a great age is impossible.
There are many instances in history which confirm the belief that a liberal consumption of honey is conducive to prolongation of life. Anacreon, who died at the age of 115, attributed his long life to the daily use of honey. Pythagoras, who lived exclusively on honey and bread, was convinced that it was due to this routine that he reached the age of ninety, otherwise he would surely have died forty years earlier. His followers, the Pythagoreans, lived on the same diet. "Bread and honey was the Pythagorean's meat." Apollonius, a disciple of Pythagoras, lived to the age of 130 (died in 95 A.D.). Bread and honey is mentioned in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament: "I have eaten my bread with honey." Occasionally this combination serves also as a regal food. In the nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, from Mother Goose:
"The King was in the counting house, counting out his money,
Pliny mentioned (Book II, Ch. 14) that the Pythagoreans believed that the absence of blindness and of eye troubles in general was attributable to the daily consumption of honey. Antichus, the physician, and Telephus, the grammarian, lived on Attic honey and bread, to which their old age was ascribed. Epaminondas, the statesman and general, is said to have rarely eaten any-thing else but bread and honey. Hippocrates prescribed honey to those who "wished" to live long; he himself reached the age of 109 years. When one of Augustus Caesar's guests, Pollio Rumilius, 100 years old, was asked by the Emperor how he preserved the natural vigor of his body and mind, he answered: Intus mulso, foris oleo (Honey within, and oil without). This old gentleman was very fond of dipping his bread into honied wine. Pliny, and also Lycus, often refer to the long lives of the Cyrneans (inhabit-ants of Sardinia) who "continually" ate honey, of which there was an abundance on the island.
Democritus was convinced that even the odor and emanation of honey helped to prolong life. Athenaeus described (II, 177) how Democritus (470 B.C.) in his old age, when he wished to hasten his approaching end, decided to abstain from all food and to starve himself to death. The female members of his family, who were eager to celebrate the impending rituals of Thesmophoria, a three-day autumn feast attended only by women, implored him to survive the festivals at least. To this he agreed; and —though he did not eat—he ordered a jar of warm honey and by inhaling its aroma kept himself alive during the holidays, soon after which he died at the age of 109. This was the same Democritus, commonly called the "laughing philosopher," who laughed at the follies of men even in his dreams, and who, not to be disturbed in his deep philosophical reflections, blinded himself be-cause he was not able to look at a woman without a craving to possess her. They say that Diophanes, when he was I lo years old, also tried to prolong his life by inhaling the balmy odor of honey.
It was a wide-spread belief among the ancients that inhalations, not only of honey, but of all sweet emanations, benefit life and retard old age. This principle was extolled by Galen and later by Roger Bacon, Hufeland and others. Healthy, vigorous young people—also animals—were supposed to comfort and revive old men by emanating health-giving vapors. This influence had also a distinctly opposite effect, namely that the contact debilitated youth. The faith prevailed for thousands of years and still exists today. Borelli and others quoted names of dying persons who recovered by prolonged blowing of the breath of healthy friends into their mouths. Cornaro attributed his old age to youthful environment. When he became old and was at the point of death, he gathered eleven of his grandchildren round him to renew his vital forces. To quote him: "I often sing myself with them, for my voice is now clearer and stronger than it ever was in my youth; and I am a stranger to those peevish and morose humors which fall so often to the lot of old age." Marriages between persons of widely differing ages seem to confirm the theory. Hufeland comments thus upon the subject: "We cannot refuse our approval of the method if it be remembered how the exhalations from newly opened animals stimulate paralyzed limbs, and how the application of living animals also soothes a violent pain." This probably led to the first blood transfusion which was per-formed on animals. In the seventeenth century (1666) it was already accomplished on human beings. Blood transfusion was prohibited in England by the Parliament and in Italy by the Pope.
We all know the story of King David, when he became old and stricken in years. The Bible tells us (Kings 1: 1) that they covered him with clothes but "he gat no heat." "Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my Lord the King a young virgin: . . . and let her lie in thy bosom that my Lord the King may get heat." And they sent for the beautiful Abishag, the Shunammite virgin, who slept by the king and served and left—as a virgin. Boerhaave, the famous Dutch physician of the seventeenth century, recommended an old burgomaster of Amster-dam to lie between two young girls, assuring him that he would thus recover strength and spirits.
Hermippus, a teacher of a girls' school, lived to the age of 155 and, according to his own statement, was kept young by the breath of young girls. Quoting from Hermippus: "When Thisbe, in the blooming flower of her age, decked by the Graces, taught by the Muses, converses with old Hermippus, her youth reanimates his age, and the clear flame with which her young heart glows lends its heat to that of the old man. Each time that the lovely virgin breathes, the sweet vapour which escapes from her breath is full of vivifying spirits which swim in her purple veins. And even as spirits attract spirits, so these same vapours mingle themselves on the instant with the blood of old Hermippus. From thence, passing through his body, they fill that same blood, so that we may say, almost without metaphor, that the spirit of Thisbe brings life to this old man."
Rudolph I, one of the greatest admirers of women, also believed that "the breath of a beautiful young girl is the best medicine in the world." When the king was 66 years old he married the glorious Agnes of Burgundy. During the wedding ceremonies the Bishop of Speyer assisted the bride from her carriage. The prelate was so struck by her dazzling beauty that he could not abstain from kissing the bride. His Majesty forbade the Bishop, after that, to visit the court, advising him to remain at home and kiss—instead of Agnes—the Agnus Dei (the Lamb of God). Even old Socrates reported that his shoulder, where a beautiful young girl had touched him, itched for five days. (St. Hieronymus suggested that the strength of the Devil was in his loins. Diaboli virtus in lumbis.)
The French Count de Montlosier, a man who was reputed for his great originality and force of character, kept thirty cows in each wing of his house which communicated with its interior. The rooms were filled with the "sweet breath" of the animals and the Count attributed his physical power and old age to this contingency. When he had passed 8o, his hearing and eyesight were perfect, he could read any type without glasses and retained his thirty-two teeth without decay.
To retrace our lost steps to "real" honey, it is not surprising that beekeepers who, as a rule, consume (and also inhale) great quantities of honey and only rarely indulge in sugar, reach a ripe old age. This belief is very prevalent. The list of famous apiarians who passed eighty and even ninety years of age is almost endless. François Huber, Dzierzon, Langstroth, Dr. C. C. Miller, A. I. Root, Charles Dadant, Thomas W. Cowan, for fifty years Editor of the British Bee Journal, are typical examples. John Anderson, lecturer on beekeeping at the University of Aberdeen, remarked: "There is nothing in the world that could beat honey as an aid to defy old age. Keep bees and eat honey if you want to live long. Beekeepers live longer than anybody else." Many old life-elixirs of great reputation contained honey. Parcelsus Bombastus ab Hohenheim, who traveled over half the world and collected wonder-working medicines from all quarters, was a great believer in the health-giving power of honey.
Father Sebastian Kneipp, of "dew-walking" fame, mentioned that he knew a man, well over eighty, who prepared daily a drink at his dinner table, consisting of a tablespoonful of good ripe honey in a glassful of boiling water. "In my advanced age"—the man used to say—"I am thankful for my health and strength, which I attribute to this drink." Father Kneipp was one of the greatest propagandists of honey. He thought honey "a dissolving, purifying, nourishing and strengthening substance," and freely dispensed it to patients who made pilgrimages to his sanitarium from all over the world. Bernarr Macfadden's honey-grape fruit juice-water mixture, of which people drink several quarts daily without any other nourishment, is well known.
On account of the author's known interest in honey, he is deluged with letters from all quarters praising the salubrious effects of the substance. R. D. Horton, of Blossburg, Pa., wrote recently (in his own good handwriting) as follows: "Although ninety-one years old I cannot see any reason why I should not add some more years to my life if I continue the daily use of ripe honey (extracted) of which I have consumed for the last eleven years three pounds per week and a little more for supper (in combs). I cured myself from a heart disease when eighty years old, of which I suffered for five years. I am not a doctor or a chemist but a farmer and have kept bees for the last 57 years which was my hobby since boyhood. Some people call me a doctor because I helped and cured so many heart diseases, stomach ulcers and coughs with honey. I give bloated babies a spoonful of heated honey in warm milk, which does the trick."
During his nearly half a century long medical practice the author has met many surprisingly energetic folk of advanced age with remarkably healthy complexions. In taking their histories, the report of a liberal daily dose of honey was seldom missing. About two years ago, a patient of his, a former Mayor of Kansas City, eighty years old, stepped into the office without an overcoat. The thermometer registered 14° below zero, besides, a blustering north wind was howling. When the patient was scolded for his recklessness, and at the same time was reminded of his age, he nonchalantly explained, "All my life I have been taking a goodly portion of honey for breakfast and I am not afraid of catching cold." Similar reports are not few and far between. A publisher consulted the writer last summer and he was impressed by the patient's ruddy cheeks, youthful expression and sparkling eyes. He did not look a day older than fifty. When asked about his age, the reply was, seventy-four. Further information about his mode of living revealed the same account, "a goodly portion of honey every morning for breakfast."
It is a professional pleasure to chat with octogenarians, nonagenarians and centenarians and gather their secrets of physiological and mental longevity. They all seem to have had simple rules, consisting of regularity and moderation and a decided repudiation of most modern scientific principles. Metabolism did not seem to interest them. One "baby" in fact referred to metabolic diet as diabolic diet; and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
It is true that the span of life has been increased in the last half century or so, mainly as the result of the reduction in child mortality. People, however, do not reach such an advanced age as in bygone days. No other factor could better explain the reason for the comparatively few veterans of the passing centuries than the quality and quantity of food and drink consumed.
From the history of the Jews, we learn that Moses, who during his life was exposed to ordeals and fatigue, lived to the age of 110; Abraham attained to the age of 175; his son, the peaceable Isaac, to 18o; Jacob, who possessed more cunning, lived only to 147; Ishmael, the warrior, to 137; the ever-active Joshua to 1 Io; Sarah to 127; and Joseph, much afflicted in his youth, to 110. Josephus, the historian, commented on the advanced ages of ancient Jews: "Their food was fitted for the prolongation of life; and, besides, God afforded them a longer life on account of their virtue." The secrets of food seem to have been lost and the cultivation of virtues forgotten.
The Essenes (Essenos in Greek means king bee, the epithet of Zeus), a tribe among the Hebrews whose occupation was bee-keeping, enjoyed health and life much longer than other people. Many of them passed the hundred-year mark. Josephus thought that it was due to their "slender" diet. Honey surely was not missing from their bill of fare.
Pliny mentions in his Natural History the traditional manner in which the inhabitants in the Po district placed their bee hives on floats and drifted along the river to supply their bees with new pastures. Apiculture must have been far advanced to furnish the great demand for honey. This was nearly twenty centuries ago, at the time of the birth of Christ. People in the olden days did not have sugar and, as they required and desired sweets, it is logical to surmise that they must have indulged in the sweetest of all, honey. Historical records amply confirm the supposition.
In the seventh book of Pliny's work we find the following passage:
"The year of our Lord seventy-six, falling into the time of Vespasian, is memorable: in which we shall find, as it were, a kalendar of long-lived men; for that year there was a taxing (now a taxing is the most authentical and truest informer touching the ages of men), and in that part of Italy which lieth between the Apennine mountains and the river Po, there were found 124 persons that either equalled or exceeded a hundred years of age, namely,
Fifty-four of 100 years each
Besides these, Parma, in particular, afforded five, whereof
Three were 120 years each
A certain town, then called the Velleiatium, situated in the hills about Placentia, afforded ten, whereof
Six were 110 years each
Pliny quotes from Alexander Cornelius that an Illyrian, named Daudon, lived for 500 years. According to Lucian, Tiresias lived for six centuries. Epimenides of Crete had seen three centuries succeed each other. Onomocritus, the Athenian, reports that certain men in Greece and their families enjoyed perpetual youth.
Pliny has written more about the nutritional and medicinal value of honey than any other ancient author. In his day, honey was an important food and a component of most popular drinks. Pliny's frequent eulogy of honey and the above statistics must have some correlation.
Honey was an important food, medicine and a principal commodity, and mead the universal drink also among the ancient Britons. The bardic name of Great Britain was, THE HONEY ISLE OF BELI." There is not a shadow of a doubt but that the inhabitants of the British Isles freely indulged in honey. Pliny re-ported that these "Islanders" consumed a great quantity of honey-brew. Tickner Edwardes remarks, "among the Anglo-Saxons the beehives supplied the whole nation, from the King down to the poorest serf, not only with an important part of their food but with drink and light as well." It is not surprising that the old Britons reached a ripe old age. Plutarch remarked, "the ancient Britons only begin to grow old at 12o years." The following documentary evidences may be of interest:
Thomas Carn, according to the parish register of the church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, died on January 28, 1588, aged 207 years. He was born under the reign of Richard II (1381 A.D.) and lived through the reigns of twelve kings and queens of England.
Thomas Parr, a native of Shropshire, died on the 16th day of November, 1635, at the age of 152. There is a story about Parr that he was asked by his sovereign Charles I. what he had done in his long life that other people could not accomplish. He answered that the Church had ordered him, when he was 102, to do penance. Thomas Parr at that age fell in love with Catherine Milton and had a child by her. Later, at the age of 12o, he married a widow. Shortly before his death Parr was invited to London by the Earl of Arundel, where he was introduced to his monarch and royally feasted. The rich food he indulged in, did not agree with him and he died soon after-ward. An autopsy was performed which revealed a congestion (plethora) of his viscera, otherwise the doctor who made the postmortem found his internal organs in perfect condition and believed that Parr could have lived for many more years if it had not been for his visit to London. Parr's maxim was, to keep one's head cool by temperance and the feet warm by exercise; to go to bed early and to rise early; and if one were inclined to become fat, he should keep his eyes open and his mouth shut. Parr's grandfather, a native of Bedfordshire, died in his 100th year. At the age of 85, he had a complete set of new teeth and his snowy hair became darker (Philosophical Transactions, Vol. XXIII). It was recorded of Parr that he was very fond of metheglin (honey wine).
Henry Jenkins, a native of Yorkshire, lived to the age of 169 years and died on the 8th day of December, 1670, as a result of a chill. It is said about Fisherman Jenkins that shortly be-fore his death he was still swimming like a fish. He left one son 102 and another 100 years old.
Catherine, the Countess of Desmond, died in Ireland in 1612 and saw her 148th year. She renewed her teeth thrice during her life, according to Lord Bacon.
Thomas Damme died in 1648 at the age of 154.
James Bowels, aged 152, lived in Killingworth and died on the 15th day of August, 1656.
Mr. Eccleston, a native of Ireland, lived to the age of 143, died in the year 1691.
Peter Torton died in 1724 at the age of 185.
John Ronsey, Esq., of the island of Distrey, Scotland, died in 1738, aged 137. He had a son one hundred years old, who inherited his estate.
Margaret Patten, a Scotch woman, died in 1739 at the age of 137. Colonel Thomas Winsloe, a native of Ireland, aged 146, died on the 22nd day of August, 1766.
Francis Consist, a native of Yorkshire, aged 150, died January, 1768.
William Ellis, of Liverpool, died on the 16th day of August, 178o, at the age of 130.
Kentigern, the Bishop of Glasgow, called also St. Monagh, lived to the age of 185, which is certified on his monument, erected in 1781.
Margaret Foster, aged 136, and her daughter, aged 104, natives of Cumberland, were both alive in the year 1771.
John Mount, a native of Scotland, who saw his 136th year, died on the 27th day of February, 1776.
William Evans, of Carnarvon, aged 145, still existed in 1782. Dumiter Radaloy, aged 140, who lived in Harmenstead, died on the 16th day of January, 1782.
Sir Owen of Scotland died at the age of 124; he left a natural son, born to him when he was 98. Sir Owen lived on milk, honey, vegetables, water and wine, and during the last year of his life he walked 74 miles in 6 days.
Peter Garden, a Scotchman, died at the age of 131. He was a tall and lean person and kept the appearance of the freshness of youth until his very end.
John Taylor, a Scotch miner, lived to 132; always smoked and kept his teeth sound until his death.
James Sands, an Englishman of the sixteenth century, died when 140; his wife, at the age of 120.
Lawrence Hutland, of the Orkney Islands, reached the age of 170.
Almost all these people came from a low station of life, except the Countess of Desmond. Their diets were, without exception, moderate, and in some instances, abstemious. Sir William Temple (the author of Health and Long Life), who also reached an old age, remarked, with respect to moderation in alcoholic drinks, "The first glass I drink for myself; the second for my friends; the third for good humor; and the fourth for my enemies." Sir William thought that "health and long life are usually the blessings of the poor." With regard to the influence of sex functions on longevity, it is remarkable that most men who reached an extreme age were "much" married and at a very late period of their lives. De Longueville, who lived to the age of 110, had ten wives and married again when 99. He had a son when he was roi years old. Great corporeal strength, acquired by labor or athletics, does not favor longevity. Few people with great physical prowess arrive at a great age.
Piast, the beekeeper, who was elected King of Poland in 824 A.D. and whose family ruled Poland for several centuries with the greatest glory, lived to the age of 120. That he indulged in honey and mead is proven by the contemporary legends.
These are all authentic records. If we also accept the reports about abnormally advanced ages mentioned in the Bible, like that of Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah (Genesis 5:27), who is believed to have lived to the age of 969 years, we must admit that during bygone generations longevity far exceeded that of the present times. They say that at the time of the patriarchs the years were shorter than they are at present, according to some historians, one-fourth of our calculation. Each season was supposed to have represented a year. Even so Methuselah would have lived 242 years. We call our modern patriarchs old at 90.
St. Patrick died in 491 A.D. at the age of 122. St. David lived to the age of 146, St. Simon was martyred at the age of 107. St. Narcissus died at the age of 165 and St. Anthony at 105, and Paul, the Hermit, at the age of 113. Several monks of Mt. Athos reached the age of 150. Albuna, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, lived beyond the century and a half mark. Attila, who reigned over the Huns in the fifth century, was supposed to have died during his wedding festivities (not the first either) at the age of 124 years. The Chaldean, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek and Roman writers often mention very advanced ages. Asclepiades, the Persian physician, died at the age of 150, Galen at 140, Sophocles at the age of 130. Hirpanus, according to Pliny, lived 155 years and 5 days. (Some historians are convinced that he referred to Hermippus.)
Among the Slavic races, we also find parallel instances. Old records mention that Peter Czartan, a peasant, died in 1724 in Belgrade when he was 185 years old and was still engaged in begging, a few days before his death. He left behind a son 155 years old, and another 97 years old. A Russian of Polozk, hale and hearty in 1796, was supposed to have married the third time when 93 years old, and to have lived to the age of 163. He had. 138 descendants; at the time of his death his youngest son was 62. John Rovin, of the town of Temesvâr, formerly in Hungary, reached, according to records, the age of 172 and his wife, Sarah Rovin, the age of 164. They were married for 148 years and they had a 116-year-old son. Hungary was a well-known Eldorado of beekeeping and honey always was and still is in great favor. Humboldt assures us that he became personally acquainted there with a peasant, aged 143, whose wife was. 117.
We find many similar reports among African and Asiatic tribes. A peasant of Bengal, named Numas de Cugna, is alleged to have reached the age of 370 years., He died in 1566. Cugna grew four new sets of teeth and the color of his hair frequently changed from gray to black and the reverse. Roger Bacon refers to Papalius, of German origin, a prisoner of the Saracens, who lived to 500 years. M. Solarville, in 1870, computed that there were 62,503 people in Europe above the age of l00.
All this plainly demonstrates that science, civilization and our present regimen of food not only do not contribute to longevity but the reverse. Culture and art, in general, seem to have cur-tailed life. There must be some confusion between the discovery and the application of the fundamental principles of Nature.
Most authors who pointed the way to longevity, failed to attain to the aim of long life. Sir Francis Bacon, who wrote the famous treatise, History of Life and Death, died at sixty-five. Medical men, especially those who have written a great deal on the subject, died far below the average of standard life. Hippo-crates, who lived to the age of 109, was one of the few exceptions but he was also a student of Nature and had spent his life in the country, calling on patients, very probably, on foot.
The golden rule of longevity seems to be moderation and simple, natural food. Every animal, but man, keeps to one dish. Pythagoras, who was a great philosopher and also a physician, laid down the principle that simple food is the best means to sustain life. He went even further when he made the statement that there is no disorder to which human nature is incident that could not be cured by such simple things as the Almighty Creator has provided. Honey was for Pythagoras No. 1 on the list. His disciples all reached an advanced age. Benjamin Franklin also emphasized that "against diseases known, the strongest fence is the defensive virtue, abstinence." Hufeland believed that it is within man's power to extend his existence to at least two hundred years. Buffon was a little more conservative; he thought the natural length of human life should be one hundred years.
Simple life and nature cures had many enthusiastic advocates during the Middle Ages. A book, edited by a Lover of Mankind, Nature, the Best Physician or Every Man, His Own Doctor (printed at Shakespeare's Head, 17 Paternoster Row, 1745), suggests remedies for all ailments consisting of products collected from Nature's fields and gardens. Honey was a component of many of his remedies.
Thuanis, in the Third Book of his Historia Sui Temporis de-scribes an incident which occurred in 1540. There was a "Cause" tried before the Parliament of Dijon. Thuanis' father was the presiding judge. Among the witnesses examined was Peter L'Marr, aged 40, who was so infirm that he was scarcely able to deliver his evidence. When asked by the President the nature of his illness, he answered that a great part of his life had been spent in tampering with medicines which reduced him to the miserable state in which he appeared. Thuanis explains that the processes of Equity were "rather" slow those days in France and the same "Cause" was submitted again for decision before the Parliament of Paris in 1590. Thuanis was appointed advocate for the plaintiff. One of the witnesses was Jean L'Marr, aged 90. When the evidence was read of the first trial (5o years before) the name of Peter L'Marr came up and Jean was asked whether he was related to the other L'Marr he answered, "Yes, I am the twin brother of Peter who died about 49 years ago, a short time after he gave testimony at the first trial." Thuanis, himself much advanced in age, remembered that trial which occurred during his student days. Curious to know how Jean had preserved his health so well, he asked him about his mode of living. The answer was, "I live regularly and frugally and when I am ill I never consult the Faculty but take only remedies which Nature's gardens provide (honey among them), with the consequence that I soon recover without being obliged to swallow `nauseous loads of physics'." Jean L'Marr lived for many years afterwards and died after a short illness.
Speaking of abstinence, we cannot fail to mention the life of Luigi Cornaro (1464 to 1566), a wealthy Venetian noble-man, the most famous valetudinarian and the immortal prototype of abstemious living. His experience is a remarkable in-stance of the efficacy of temperance toward procuring long life. Up to his thirty-fifth year Cornaro had led a life of dissipation, so much so that he was deprived of all honors and privileges to which he was entitled on account of noble birth. A descendant of a family of many Doges (Duce) of Venice and of ancestors who rivaled with kings, he was not even permitted to occupy a State position. His health was so far gone under the weight of infirmities that physicians assured him that he could not live longer than two months and that all medicines were useless. One physician, however, suggested the observance of a most meager diet as the only hope. Cornaro followed the advice and rapidly improved. He became active and happy and healthier than he ever had been before, and he also regained the respect and affection of his fellow-citizens in spite of all disadvantages of his early life. They soon conferred upon him the epithet, "The Temper-ate." Later he married and had a daughter. The fact alone that he had a female descendant proved that constitutionally he was stronger than his wife because Nature, infallibly, favors the weaker sex.
Cornaro's diet consisted of bread, light broth, eggs, veal, mutton, fowl, birds, such as partridge or thrush, and occasionally fish. The only sweet he indulged in was honey. He lived on this diet during all his remaining years; consuming daily not more than twelve ounces of solid food and thirteen ounces of liquid. The quantity and variety fully satisfied him. When seventy years old, he suffered an accident and was seriously injured. His horses bolted, upset the carriage and dragged him along the road. Physicians gave up hope for his life. They suggested blood-letting and a strong physic but he refused both. Cornaro, in spite of all, quickly recovered without complication.
When eighty years old, his friends prevailed on him to make a slight addition to his meals. On their persuasion he increased the solid food to fourteen ounces and drinks to sixteen. Ten days later he became uneasy, dejected and choleric, a burden, as he remarked, to himself and others. He resumed his former regimen and immediately felt better.
Cornaro wrote his° autobiography, The Temperate Life, in four discourses with the intent of glorifying "divine sobriety." To quote him: "Divine Sobriety, pleasing to God, the friend of Nature, the daughter of reason, the sister of virtue, the companion of temperate living, . . . the loving mother of human life, the true medicine both of the soul and of the body; how much should men praise and thank thee for thy courteous gifts! for thou givest them the means of preserving life in health, that blessing than which it did not please God we should have a greater in this world—life and existence, so naturally prized, so willingly guarded by every living creature!" The respective parts were published in the 83rd, 86th, 91st, and 95th years of his life. These treatises, which ought to be important contributions to medical literature, gave inspiration to many in the pursuit of a temperate life.
The life of Cornaro is remarkable in every respect. He had a happy disposition considering his advanced age. "I never knew the world was so beautiful until I reached old age," he used to say. Cornaro was devoid of peevishness and morosity, altogether too often the lot of old age. After meals he felt he had to sing and often commented on the good quality of his voice; after singing he wrote eight hours daily, for the benefit of humanity. When eighty-three he climbed steep hills and walked a great deal. Hunting was his favorite sport. Cornaro's memory, intellect and senses were unaffected. He died peacefully in his one hundred and third year as one who falls asleep, all but pen in hand.
Cornaro's favorite sayings were:
To eat nothing but what is necessary to sustain life.
The food from which one abstains is more beneficial than that which is eaten.
A man cannot be a perfect physician to anyone, except to himself. As you grow older, eat less.
An old man who lives regularly and temperately, even though he is of poor constitution, is more likely to live than a young man in perfect health if addicted to disorderly habits.
His aphorisms on longevity were often repeated by Francis Bacon, Sir William Temple and others who have written on life and death.
Cornaro's portrait by Tintoretto in the Pitti Palace, Florence (No. 83), and his beautiful palace in Padua, one of the most remarkable buildings in Italy, with its magnificent loggia, are often pointed out and remain monuments to Divine Sobriety and Longevity. He was a friend of reason and an enemy of gluttony, intemperance and sensuality.
Horace Fletcher, the advocator of famous "fletcherizing", suggested eating when hungry and swallowing only well-chewed food. Mahatma Gandhi lives on goat's milk and simple sugars, such as honey and dates. He firmly believes that by regulating what enters the stomach we control what enters the brain.