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your worship's feet, some forty or fifty years hence; by that time. you will have learned so much patience, as never to roar for the matter. But if you do roar (for that may be then as you use yourself now) they that look on, if they love life, will envy, not pity you. Indeed you are already a fit object for the envy of thinking men, for I have heard you confess, that yours is an hereditary gout, and that is for the better; an hereditary gout is a far greater happiness than an acquired one. What a deal of intemperance, and amorous excesses, might it have cost your worship to have got the gout before forty; whereas now you have the mighty blessing for nothing, sorte nascendi, it is your birth-right, Sir, never think of parting with it.
Perhaps, you may be now tempted to ask me, how I acquired my gout? I shall not be shy to satisfy your curiosity, for I came by it honestly. We scholars have a way, by ourselves, to come at the blessing, without ever being beholden to the god, that chears the genteel candidate of the gout by day, or the goddess that entertains him on nights. We lead sedentary lives, feed heartily, drink quantum sufficit, but sleep immoderately; so that, the superfluities of our sober and grave fulness not exhaling, we very honestly prepare tartarous matter for the gout, for the beneficial gout, which gives us pain without danger. Ascend we now the next step, which advances the honour of the gout.
2. The gout is no constant companion, but allows his patients lucid joyous intervals.
Human nature is so framed, that no one thing is agreeable to it always; therefore it is well for us, that the world is so full of changes. The earth we tread on, the seas we sail on, the air we breathe in, the starry firmament expanded round us, have their continual vicissitudes, which all make for our advantage and delight. The body of man is a true microcosm in this respect, for it never continues in one condition; and, upon the same account, his mind is a very fit guest for his body; for, at different times, he thinks and speaks different things,
Modo reges atque tetrarchas,
Omnia magna loquens, modo sit mihi.
• Sometimes he'd talk, of heroes, and of kings,
How welcome is a guest that knows when to be gone; but, if his stay be longer than ordinary, we are ready to thrust him out doors. For these, and the like considerations, the way of the
gout's dealing with his patients can never be enough esteemed. Whatever some impatient weak minds may think, it is manifest, that the gout, by his coming and going, takes the right course to be very agreeable and obliging. Weak people may curse the gout, and wish to be wholly excused from his intermitting visits; but I look upon such people, as men that are weary of the world, and, being willing to leave it, I grant, they have reason to be angry with the gout; with the gout, that folds their mortality so fast about them.
Your worship has been guilty of this impatience, but I hope to recover you to a better mind. I have already shewn you, that, to a wise considerer, the absence of danger takes off from the pain of the gout; but some pain there is, and ought to be, for constant health has no relish, it is an insipid dull thing: that reverend Calvinist, Dr. Twiss, affirms, that it is better to be damned, than annihilated. I might, I suppose, with less offence, affirm, that it were better to be dead, than never to be sick of the gout: nay, this I am sure of, that all the sober and experienced people will be so far from taking offence, that I shall have them on my side, if I venture on that paradox; for, how often have I heard a grave adviser, one that had tried health and sickness, alternately, for many years, tell the robust, young, riotous fellow, that he knew not the value of health. No, how should he, having never been sick? But why should his sober adviser press him to be careful of his health? That is the way never to understand the deliciousness of it; by that time he gets the gout, he will thoroughly understand the matter, I'll warrant him. Set me two men together, one that never knew pain, and another newly recovered of the gout; observe them both narrowly; in the former, perhaps, you may perceive an easy, even temper; but the latter is ravished with joys and satisfactions, which, if his tongue does not declare, his hands, and feet, and gesture shall.
Homer says, that the beauty of Helen was a prize, worth all the blood spilt through the long course of the ten years war. Homer would not have redeemed those lives by the least injury to that adorable lady. Such are the lucid intervals between heart-breaking fits of the gout, worth all the ravings, and roarings, which the violent paroxysm forces from the tortured patient; and who would spoil the refined pleasure of his recovery, by wishing to have one angry throb, one heavy groan abated him? Si parvis componere magna liceret, if we might compare great things with small, the gout is to health, as ham, and tongue, to wine, or rather, as Zan
Yun, to the lovers congress. Courage, Sir, and be advised by me, it is good advise I am giving, and you shall have it gratis. When your foot swells, and burns, and throbs, banish all foolish sorrow and repining, instead whereof, let swelling joys dilate your generous breast; when sharp, fermenting juices, not easily miscible, shall meet, and, by their furious contest, cause cruel twitchings of your nervous fibres, comfort your heart, and be extremely pleased; when masculine, acetous recrements shall, with female,
tartarous matter, mix, ingender, and beget a tophous mass; when that same tophous mass shall lodge in the internodia of your worship's bones, entertaining you with a rending solution of continuity, then let your soul triumph; but touch not, taste not, the crumen-emulgent doctor's emulsions, juleps, apozemes, nor let his repercussives, or resolvents, cataplasms, and anodynes touch you; so let your friend, the gout, take his course, and maul you soundly. O! so easy, so pleased, so joyous, so happy, so blessed will you be, when the turn of health shall come; why, Sir, you will be in heaven, in heaven while you are on earth; you will be intirely beatified on this side the grave, and that is more than Solomon has arrived at yet (if you can give any credit to a Catholick painter) for but one half of him is glorified, the other fries in flames, vexed by tormenting devils, like the noble Shaftsbury in Windsor-hall; beshrew the painter for his pains, Fas est et ab hoste doceri. Learn of our common enemy; Sir, I fancy, the late tyrant solaces his exile, with the expectation of a return to trample on the liberties, and riot in the blood of hereticks; but, before ever that dismal day come, may the gout, my life's kind preserver, and my dear life itself forsake me; only I will make it in my bargain, I will not stand to this wish, if my help can contribute any thing to oppose this invasion. I am much of the mind, Sir, that, by what I have said already, you are a coming proselyte; but, before I have done with you, you shall chuse to part with your eyes, rather than your true friend, the gout. The mighty blessing whereof, that you may the better understand, mount with me one step higher, and then take notice of this farther advantage of the gout.
3. The gout presents you with a perpetual almanack; and that it may never be out of the way, but ready always for your worship's use, safely deposits it in the internodia of your bones. Barometers, thermometers, and other the inventions of men, not yet perfect masters of their art, serve more for the delight, than the use of the curious; but the useful pains of the gout give your honour trusty prognosticks of the seasons. As often as a moist constitution of the year, south or north winds, or snows are at hand, you predict those things from the accesses of your pains; and by the absence of your pains you foreknow the contrary; so, one way or other, your bone-almanack serves for all changes.
Our Lilly's and Gadbury's foreknow, when it shall be rain-like, or snow-like, but what your honour foreknows, by means of the gout, does afterwards actually come to pass. Doctor Goad knew
more of the stars, and their positions than you, but not half so much of their influence. Spinoza will have it, that, when a Jewish prophet foretold any thing, he gave a sign, a present sign, which was a confirmation of his prophecy; you have the sign within you, Sir, and are a true prophet all over.
Majora animalia diutius visceribus parentum continentur, says Pliny. Nature gives to larger sized animals a longer stay in the womb of their mother; their mighty limbs, and vast frame of body,
are not so soon fashioned and perfected, as is the compendious texture of lesser animals. So it is with the most noble arts and sciences, with the most useful inventions, when first brought to light; every man is taken up with unactive extasy, and lazy admiration, greatly pleased to be taught, and let into mystery, and as well content to know no more than is taught him. Time passes silently on, and ages steal away, before there starts up a studious inquisitive person, who bends his wit to improve the discoveries of his ancestors, and raise them to their just perfection.
Now of this observation, I am of the mind, there is not again in nature so clean an instance as the gout affords us. The gout, at first, passed for no other but an evil spirit, which an exorcising priest attacked with charms, before ever the physician fell foul upon him with poisonous recipe's. The physician, purely to force a trade, imposed upon the people, that the gout was a disease. Having cheated them with this false opinion, he plagued them with real tortures, all which he was pleased to christen by the general name of therapeutick method, in which his barbarous executions thus follow one another. First phlebotomy, then catharticks, emeticks, hypnoticks, the and all; and, while the inside of the poor patient is thus miserably racked and confounded, he dawbs the outside with anodyne applications, unguents, and cataplasms; and, when all is done, I will give them my body to practise on (though I had rather the executioner had it to dispatch outright) if plain cathartick-gruel, and the cataplasm of a fresh cow-turd, do not work greater wonders, than any thing they can pretend to. From Germany, nay, from beyond the Alps, they come, with hard names, exotick cant, and baneful poison, to allay the paroxysm and remove the procatarxis of the gout; but, God be thanked, their practice decays, and must do more and more every day, now that it is so plainly discovered, that the gout needs no remedy, not being, in truth and proper speaking, a disease, but a sovereign antidote, against the most dangerous diseases. And therefore people of the best sense are content to let it take its course; and not only so, but they are proud to publish the satisfaction they take, in one or other advantage, which the gout affords them. For instance, as to the foreknowledge of weather: the gout never twitches their nerves, but they will be telling others what changes are towards. Now, that which I propose is this, that people should not think it enough to know thus much of the gout, but study to improve and increase their knowledge; for, no doubt, more may be made of this blessing, than ever yet was done by the happy man that has enjoyed it longest. I am persuaded, that if the fortunate patient would be at the pains to observe all the motions of the gout, in his pinching, smarting, gauling accesses; in his gnawing, stabbing, burning paroxysms; in his evacuating, tender, remitting recesses, he might quickly come to wind a storm, so long before, that, in a short time, no owners would think their ship safe, but with a gouty master, nor would any experienced seaman, that wanted a ship, offer himself to the merchants, but
upon crutches. Possibly here some nice person may object, that it is a sad thing to be a cripple; I reply, in lameness two things are to be considered, the unsightly gate, and the afflicting pain. As to the unsightly gate, set the Italian proverb against it:
He knows not Venus in her perfect sweetness,
And Montaigne tells us, that the same is said of men, as well as women; for the Queen of Amazons answered the personable Scythian, who courted her to love, agısa xwλòs oipeĩ, lame men make the best gallants. In that female republick, to prevent the dominion of the males, they lamed them arms and legs in their infancy, believing that they would be rather the better, for the use which they should make of them thereafter. Montaigne gives a philosophical reason for the advantage accruing by lameness, either to men or women, viz. the legs and thighs not receiving their due aliment, it falls out, that the genital parts above are the fuller, better supplied, and more vigorous.
2. As to the pain proceeding from lameness, I will not, to diminish that, tell the objector a long story from the reasonings of Aristotle, or the practice of Cato; but only pray him to consider the lower sort of people, who know little of example, and mind as little of precept. Nature is their guide, and this their familiar practice. They call the phthisick, says Montaigne, a cough; the bloody flux is no more with them than a looseness; a pleurisy, but a stitch in the side; and as they softly name, so they patiently endure these grievances.
If the mercenary adversaries of the gout, the doctors, have any other objections against a Bone-almanack, besides what I have answered, let them be published; I will fairly and fully answer them also, or renounce my reverence for the gout.
O! That I had an infallible medicine, which would both certainly and speedily cause the gout (wine and women are tedious and uncertain ways of purchasing the mighty blessing) I would not doubt but to make more of it, than ever Daffy did of his elixir, or any strolling mountebank of his nostrum. The fair for Rider's almanack, Partridge's almanack, Al-ch's almanack, lasts but one month in the year; but I might vend Gout-almanacks, and Bonealmanacks, all the year round. Here I suspect, that the malevolent doctors, that get their living by their mischievous craft in practising on the gout, will object, that all, which I have hitherto urged in its commendations, has a very great allay; for, though it is not dangerous, yet it is painful; though the patient has lucid intervals, yet he has violent paroxysms; though he be a prophet, yet the spirit, which inspires, rends him. But of these objectors I would fain know, whether holy precious enthusiasm be not a furious ungovernable impulse; whether lucid intervals are not more eligible than a constant, weak, and sullen light; whether pain, without danger, is not better than ease without security? I am of