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THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH.
DAUGHTER of Pæon, queen of every joy,
Hygeia 1; whose indulgent smile sustains
The various race luxuriant Nature pours,
And on th' immortal essences bestows
Immortal youth; auspicious, O descend!
Thou cheerful guardian of the rolling year,
Whether thou wanton'st on the western gale,
Or shak'st the rigid pinions of the North,
Diffusest life and vigour through the tracts
Of air, thro' earth, and ocean's deep domain.
When thro' the blue serenity of Heaven
Thy power approaches, all the wasteful host
Of Pain and Sickness, squalid and deform'd,
Confounded sink into the loathsome gloom,
Where in deep Erebus involv'd the Fiends
Grow more profane. Whatever shapes of death,
Shook from the hideous chambers of the globe,
Swarm thro' the shuddering air: whatever
Or meagre famine breeds, or with slow wings
Rise from the putrid wat'ry element,
The damp waste forest, motionless and rank,
That smothers earth, and all the breathless
Or the vile carnage of th' inhuman field;
Whatever baneful breathes the rotten South;
Whatever ills th' extremes or sudden change
Of cold and hot, or moist and dry produce;
They fly thy pure effulgence: they and all
The secret poisons of avenging Heaven,
And all the pale tribes halting in the train
Of Vice and heedless Pleasure: or if aught
The comet's glare amid the burning sky,
'Hygeia, the goddess of health, was, according to the genealogy of the heathen deities, the daughter of Esculapius; who, as well as Apollo, was distinguished by the name of Pæon.
Mournful eclipse, or planets ill combin'd,
Portend disastrous to the vital world;
Thy salutary power averts their rage,
Averts the general bane: and but for thee
Nature would sicken, nature soon would die.
Without thy cheerful active energy
No rapture swells the breast, no poet sings,
No more the maids of Helicon delight.
Come then with me, O goddess, heav'nly gay!
Begin the song; and let it sweetly flow,
And let it wisely teach thy wholesome laws:
"How best the fickle fabric to support
Of mortal man; in healthful body how
A healthful mind the longest to maintain."
"Tis hard, in such a strife of rules, to choose
The best, and those of most extensive use;
Harder in clear and animated song
Dry philosophic precepts to convey.
Yet with thy aid the secret wilds I trace
Of Nature, and with daring steps proceed
Thro' paths the Muses never trod before.
Nor should I wander doubtful of my way,
Had I the lights of that sagacious mind
Which taught to check the pestilential fire,
And quell the deadly Python of the Nile.
O thou belov'd by all the graceful arts,
Thou long the fav'rite of the healing powers,
Indulge, O Mead! a well-design'd essay,
Howe'er imperfect: and permit that I
My little knowledge with my country share,
Till you the rich Asclepian stores unlock,
And with new graces dignify the theme.
Ye who amid this feverish world would wear
A body free of pain, of cares a mind;
Fly the rank city, shun its turbid air;
Breathe not the chaos of eternal smoke
And volatile corruption, from the dead,
The dying, sick'ning, and the living world
Exhal'd, to sully Heaven's transparent dom
With dim mortality. It is not air
That from a thousand lungs reeks back to thine,
Sated with exhalations rank and fell,
The spoil of dunghills, and the putrid thaw
Of nature; when from shape and texture she
Relapses into fighting elements:
It is not air, but floats a nauseous mass
Of all obscene, corrupt, offensive things.
Much moisture hurts; but here a sordid bath,
With oily rancour fraught, relaxes more
The solid frame than simple moisture can.
Besides, immur'd in many a sullen bay
That never felt the freshness of the breeze,
This slumb'ring deep remains, and ranker grows
With sickly rest: and (tho' the lungs abhor
To drink the dun fuliginous abyss)
Did not the acid vigour of the mine,
Roll'd from so many thundering chimnies, tame
The putrid steams that overswaim the sky;
This caustic venom would perhaps corrode
Those tender cells that draw the vital air,
In vain with all the unctuous rills bedew'd;
Or by the drunken venous tubes, that yawn
In countless pores o'er all the pervious skin
Imbib'd, would poison the balsamic blood,
And rouse the heart to every fever's rage.
While yet you breathe, away; the rural wilds
Invite; the mountains call you, and the vales;
The woods, the streams, and each ambrosial
That fans the ever-undulating sky;
A kindly sky! whose fost'ring power regales
Man, beast, and all the vegetable reign.
Find then some woodland scene where Nature
Benign, where all her honest children thrive.
To us there wants not many a happy seat!
Look round the smiling land, such numbers rise
We hardly fix, bewilder'd in our choice.
See where enthron'd in adamantiue state,
Proud of her bards, imperial Windsor sits;
Where choose thy seat in some aspiring grove
Fast by the slowly-winding Thames; or where
Broader she laves fair Richmond's green retreats,
(Richmond that sees an hundred villas rise
Rural or gay.) O! from the summer's rage
O! wrap me in the friendly gloom that bides
Unbrageous Ham!-But if the busy town
Attract thee still to toil for power of gold,
Sweetly thou may'st thy vacant hours possess
In Hampstead, courted by the western wind;
Or Greenwich, waving o'er the winding flood;
Or lose the world amid the sylvan wilds
Of Dulwich, yet by barbarous arts unspoil'd.
Green rise the Kentish hills in cheerful air;
But on the marshy plains that Lincoln spreads
Build not, nor rest too long thy wandering feet.
For on a rustic throne of dewy turf,
With baneful fogs her aching temples bound,
Quartana there presides; a meagre fiend
Begot by Eurus, when his brutal force
Compress'd the slothful Naiad of the fens.
From such a mixture sprung, this fitful pest
With fev'rish blasts subdues the sick'ning land:
Cold tremours come, with mighty love of rest,
Convulsive yawnings, lassitude, and pains
That sting the burden'd brows, fatigue the loins,
Aud rack the joints, and every torpid limb;
Then parching heat succeeds, till copious sweats
O'erflow a short relief from former ills
Beneath repeated shocks the wretches pine,
The vigour sinks, the habit inelts away :
The cheerful, pure, and animated bloom
Dies from the face, with squalid atrophy
Devour'd, in sallow melancholy clad.
And oft the sorceress, in her sated wrath,
Resigns them to the furies of her train:
The bloated Hydrops, and the yellow Fiend
Ting'd with her own accumulated gall.
In quest of sites, avoid the mournful plain Where osiers thrive, and trees that love the lake;
Where many lazy muddy rivers flow:
Nor for the wealth that all the Indies roll
Fix near the marshy margin of the main.
For from the humid soil and wat❜ry reign
Eternal vapours rise; the spongy air
For ever weeps: or, turgid with the weight
Of waters, pours a sounding deluge down.
Skies such as these let every mortal shun
Who dreads the dropsy, palsy, or the gout,
Tertian, corrosive scurvy, or moist catarrh;
Or any other injury that grows
From raw-spun fibres idle and unstrung,
Skin ill-perspiring, and the purple flood
In languid eddies loitering into phlegm.
Yet not alone from humid skies we pine;
For air may be too dry. The subtle Heaven,
That winnows into dust the blasted downs,
Bare and extended wide without a stream,
Too fast imbibes th' attenuated lymph
Which, by the surface, from the blood exhales.
The lungs grow rigid, and with toil essay
Their flexible vibrations! or inflam'd,
Their tender ever-moving structure thaws.
Spoil'd of its limpid vehicle, the blood
A mass of lees remains, a drossy tide
That slow as Lethe wanders thro' the veins;
Unactive in the services of life,
Unfit to lead its pitchy current thro'
The secret mazy channels of the brain.
The melancholic fiend (that worst despair
Of physic) hence the rust-complexion'd man
Pursues, whose blood is dry, whose fibres gain
Too stretch'd a tone; and hence in climes adust
So sudden tumults seize the trembling nerves,
And burning fevers glow with double rage.
Fly, if you can, these violent extremes
Of air; the wholesome is nor moist nor dry.
But as the power of choosing is deny'd
To half mankind, a further task ensues;
How best to initigate these fell extremes,
How breathe unhurt the withering element,
Or hazy atmosphere: though custom moulds
To every clime the soft Promethean clay;
And he who first the fogs of Essex breath'd
(So kind is native air) may in the fens
Of Essex from inveterate ills revive
At pure Montpelier or Bermuda caught.
But if the raw and oozy heaven offend;
Correct the soil, and dry the sources up
Of wat'ry exhalation: wide and deep
Conduct your trenches through the quaking
Solicitous, with all your winding arts,
Betray the unwilling lake into the stream;
And weed the forest, and invoke the winds
To break the toils where strangled vapours lie;
Or through the thickets send the crackling
Meantime at home with cheerful fires dispel The humid air: and let your table smoke With solid roast or bak'd; or what the herds
Of tamer breed supply; or what the wilds Yield to the toilsome pleasures of the chase. Generous your wine, the boast of ripening
But frugal be your cups; the languid frame,
Vapid and sunk from yesterday's debauch,
Shrinks from the cold embrace of wat'ry Heavens.
But neither these nor all Apollo's arts,
Disarm the dangers of the dropping sky,
Unless with exercise and manly toil [blood.
You brace your nerves, and spur the lagging
The fat'ning clime let all the sons of ease
Avoid; if indolence would wish to live,
Go, yawn and loiter out the long slow year
In fairer skies. If droughty regions parch
The skin and lungs, and bake the thickening
Deep in the waving forest choose your seat,
Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air;
And wake the fountains from their secret beds,
And into lakes dilate their rapid stream.
Here spread your gardens wide; and let the cool,
The moist relaxing vegetable store
Prevail in each repast: your food supply'd
By bleeding life, be gently wasted down,
By soft decoction and a mellowing heat,
To liquid balm; or, if the solid mass
You choose, tormented in the boiling wave:
That through the thirsty channels of the blood
A smooth diluted chyle may ever flow.
The fragrant dairy from its cool recess
Its nectar acid or benign will pour
To drown your thirst; or let the mantling bowl
Of keen sherbet the fickle taste relieve.
For with the viscous blood the simple stream
Will hardly mingle; and fermented cups
Oft dissipate more moisture than they give.
Yet when pale seasons rise, or Winter rolls
His horrours o'er the world, thou may'st indulge
In feasts more genial, and impatient broach
The mellow cask. Then too the scourging air
Provokes to keener toils than sultry droughts
Allow. But rarely we such skies blaspheme.
Steep'd in continual rains, or with raw fogs
Bedew'd, our seasons droop: incumbent still
A ponderous Heaven o'erwhelms the sinking soul.
Lab'ring with storms in heapy mountains rise
Th' imbattled clouds, as if the Stygian shades
Had left the dungeon of eternal night,
Till black with thunder all the South descends.
Scarce in a showerless day the Heavens indulge
Our melting clime; except the baleful East
Withers the tender spring, and sourly checks
The fancy of the year. Our fathers talk
Of summers, balmy air, and skies serene.
Good Heaven! for what unexpiated crimes
This dismal change! the brooding elements,
Do they, your powerful ministers of wrath,
Prepare some fierce exterminating plague?
Or is it fix'd in the decrees above
That lofty Albion melt into the main ?
Indulgent Nature! O dissolve this gloom!
Bind in eternal adamant the winds
That drown or wither: give the genial West
To breathe, and in its turn the sprightly North:
And may once more the circling seasons rule
The year; not mix in every monstrous day.
Meantime, the moist malignity to shun [paign Qf burthen'd skies; mark, where the dry cham.
Swells into cheerful hills: where marjoram
And thyme, the love of bees, perfume the air;
And where the cynorrhodon with the rose
For fragrance vies; for in the thirsty soil
Most fragrant breathe the aromatic tribes.
There bid thy roofs high on the basking steep
Ascend, there light thy hospitable fires.
And let them see the winter morn arise,
The summer evening blushing in the West :
While with umbrageous oaks the ridge behind
O'er hung, defends you from the blust'ring North,
And bleak affliction of the peevish East.
Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all
The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm;
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
Above the luxury of vulgar sleep.
The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser strain
Of waters rushing o'r the slippery rocks,
Will nightly lull you to ambrosial rest.
To please the fancy is no trifling good,
Where health is studied; for whatever moves
The mind with calm delight, promotes the just
And natural movements of th' harmonious
Besides, the sportive brook for ever shakes
The trembling air, that floats from hill to hill
From vale to mountain, with incessant change
Of purest element, refreshing still
Your airy seat, and uninfected gods.
Chiefly for this I praise the man who builds
High on the breezy ridge, whose lofty sides
Th' ethereal deep with endless billows chafes.
His purer mansion nor contagious years
Shall reach, nor deadly putrid airs annoye
But may no fogs, from lake or fenny plain,
Involve my hill! and whereso'er you build,
Whether on sun burnt Epsom, or the plains
Wash'd by the silent Lee; in Chelsea low,
Or high Blackheath with wintry winds assail'd;
Dry be your house: but airy more than warm.
Else every breath of ruder wind will strike
Your tender body through with rapid pains;
Fierce coughs will tease you, hoarseness bind your
Or mojst gravedo load your aching brows.
These to defy, and all the fates that dwell
In cloister'd air tainted with steaming life,
Let lofty ceilings grace your ample rooms;
And still at azure noontide may your dome
At every window drink the liquid sky.
Need we the sunny situation here,
And theatres open to the South, commend?
Here, where the morning's misty breath infests
More than the torrid noon? How sickly grow,
How pale, the plants in those ill-fated vales,
That, circled round with the gigantic heap
Of mountains, never felt, nor ever hope
To feel, the genial vigour of the Sun!
While on the neighbouring hill the rose in-
The verdant spring; in virgin beauty blows
The tender lily, languishingly sweet;
O'er every hedge the wanton woodbine roves,
And autumn ripens in the sumniner's ray.
Nor less the warmer living tribes demand
The fost'ring Sun, whose energy divine.
2 The wild rose, or that which grows on the common briar.
Dwells not in mortal fire; whose gen'rous heat
Glows thro' the mass of grosser elements,
And kindles into life the ponderous spheres.
Cheer'd by thy kind invigorating warmth,
We court thy beams, great majesty of day!
If not the soul, the regent of this world,
First-born of Heaven, and only less than God!
THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH.
ExOUGH of air. A desert subject now,
Rougher and wilder, rises to my sight.
A barren waste, where not a garland grows
To bind the Muse's brow; not ev'n a proud
Stupendous solitude frowns o'er the heath,
To rouse a noble horrour in the soul:
But rugged paths fatigue, and errour leads
'Thro' endless labyrinths the devious feet.
Farewell, ethereal fields! the humbler arts
Of life; the table and the homely gods
Demand my song. Elysian gales, adieu !
The blood, the fountain whence the spirits
The generous stream that waters every part,
And motion, vigour, and warm life conveys
To every particle that moves or lives;
This vital fluid, through unnumber'd tubes
Pour'd by the heart, and to the heart again
Refunded; scourg'd for ever round and round;
Enrag'd with heat and toil, at lasts forgets
Its balmy nature; virulent and thin
It grows; and now, but that a thousand gates
Are open to its flight, it would destroy
The parts it cherish'd and repair'd before.
Besides, the flexible and tender tubes
Melt in the mildest most nectareous tide
That ripening Nature rolls; as in the stream
Its crumbling banks; but what the force
Of plastic fluids hourly batters down,
That very force, those plastic particles
Rebuild so mutable the state of man.
For this the watchful appetite was given,
Daily with fresh materials to repair
This unavoidable expense of life,
This necessary waste of flesh and blood.
Hence, the concoctive powers, with various art,
Subdue the cruder aliments to chyle;
The chyle to blood; the foamy purple tide
To liquors, which thro' finer arteries
To different parts their winding course pursue;
To try new changes, and new forms put on,
Or for the public, or some private use.
Nothing so foreign but th' athletic bind
Can labour into blood. The hungry meal
Alone he fears, or aliments too thin;
By violent powers too easily subu❜d,
Too soon expell'd. His daily labour thaws,
To friendly chyle, the most rebellious mass
That salt can harden, or the smoke of years;
Nor does his gorge the luscious bacon rue,
Nor that which Cestria sends, tenacious paste
Of solid milk. But ye of softer clay,
Infirm and delicate! and ye who waste
With pale and bloated sloth the tedious day!
Avoid the stubborn aliment, avoid
The full repast; and let sagacious age
Grow wiser, lesson'd by the dropping teeth.
Half subtiliz'd to chyle, the liquid food
Readiest obeys th' assimilating powers;
And soon the tender vegetable mass
Relents; and soon the young of those that tread
The stedfast earth, or cleave the green abyss,
Or pathless sky. And if the steer must fall,
In youth and sanguine vigour let him die;
Nor stay till rigid age, or heavy ails,
Absolve him ill-requited from the yoke.
Some with high forage, and luxuriant ease,
Indulge the veteran ox; but wiser thou,
From the bald mountain or the barren downs,
Expect the flocks by frugal Nature fed ;
A race of purer blood, with exercise
Refin'd and scanty fare : for, old or young,
The stall'd are never healthy; nor the cramm'd.
Not all the culinary arts can tame
To wholesome food, the abominable growth
Of rest and gluttony; the prudent taste
Rejects like bane such loathsome lusciousness,
The languid stomach curses even the pure
Delicious fat, and all the race of oil:
For more the oily aliments relax
Its feeble tone; and with the eager lymph
(Fond to incorporate with all it meets)
Coyly they mix, and shun with slippery wiles
The woo'd embrace. Th' irresoluble oil,
So gentle late and blandishing, in floods
Of rancid bile o'erflows: what tumults hence,
What horrors rise, were nauseous to relate.
Choose leaner viands, ye whose jovial make
Too fast the gummy nutriment imbibes:
Choose sober meals; and rouse to active life
Your cumbrous clay; nor on the enfeebling down,
Irresolute, protract the morning hours.
But let the man whose boues are thinly clad,
With cheerful ease and succulent repast
Improve his habit if he can; for each
Extreme departs from perfect sanity.
I could relate what table this demands,
Or that complexion; what the various powers
Of various foods: but fifty years would roll,
And fifty more before the tale were done.
Besides, there often lurks some nameless, strange,
Peculiar thing; nor on the skin display'd,
Felt in the pulse, nor in the habit seen;
Which finds a poison in the food that inost
The temp'rature affects. There are, whose blood
Impetuous rages thro' the turgid veins,
Who better bear the fiery fruits of India
Than the moist melon, or pale cucumber.
Of chilly nature others fly the board
Supply'd with slaughter, and the vernal powers
For cooler, kinder sustenance implore.
Some even the generous nutriment detest
Which, in the shell, the sleeping embryo rears.
Some, more unhappy still, repent the gifts
Of Pales; soft, delicious and benign:
The balmy quintessence of every flower,
And every grateful herb that decks the spring;
The fost'ring dew of tender sprouting life;
The best refection of declining age;
The kind restorative of those who lie
Half dead and panting, from the doubtful strife
Of nature struggling in the grasp of death.
Try all the bounties of this fertile globe,
There is not such a salutary food
As suits with every stomach. But (except,
Amid the mingled mass of fish and fowl,
And boil'd and bak'd, you hesitate by which
You sunk oppress'd, or whether not by all)
Taught by experience soon you may discern
What pleases, what offends. Avoid the cates
That lull the sicken'd appetite too long;
Or heave with fev'rish flushings all the face,
Burn in the palms, and paruh the rough'uing
Or much diminish or too much increase
Th' expense, which Nature's wise economy,
Without or waste or avarice, maintains.
Such cates abjur'd, let prowling hunger loose,
And bid the curious palate roam at will;
They scarce can err amid the various stores
That burst the teeming entrails of the world.
Led by sagacious taste, the ruthless king
Of beasts on blood and slaughter only lives;
The tiger, form'd alike to cruel meals,
Would at the manger starve: of milder seeds
The generous borse to herbage and to grain
Confines his wish; tho' fabling Greece resound
The Thracian steeds with human carnage wild.
Prompted by instinct's never-erring power,
Each creature knows its proper aliment;
But man, th' inhabitant of every clime,
With all the commoners of Nature feeds.
Directed, bounded, by this power within,
Their cravings are well-aim'd: voluptuous man
Is by superior faculties misled;
Misied from pleasure even in quest of joy,
Sated with Nature's boons, what thousands seek,
With dishes tortur'd from their native taste,
And mad variety, to spur beyond
Its wiser will the jaded appetite!
Is this for pleasure? Learn a juster taste;
And know that temperance is true luxury.
Or is it pride? Pursue some nobler aim,
Dismiss your parasites who praise for hire;
And earn the fair esteem of honest men, [yours,
Whose praise is fame. Form'd of such clay as
The sick, the needy, shiver at your gates.
Even modest want may bless your hand unseen,
Tho' hush'd in patient wretchedness at home.
Is there no virgin, grac'd with ev'ry charm
But that which binds the mercenary vow?
No youth of genius, whose neglected bloom
Unfoster'd sickens in the barren shade?
No worthy man by fortune's random blows,
Or by a heart too generous and humane,
Constrain'd to leave his happy natal seat,
And sigh for wants more bitter than his own?
There are, while human miseries abound,
A thousand ways to waste superfluous wealth,
Without one fool or flatterer at your board,
Without one hour of sickness or disgust..
But other ills th' ambiguous feast pursue,
Besides provoking the lascivious taste.
Such various foods, tho' harmless each alone,
Each other violate; and oft we see
How much to morrow differ from to day;
So far indulge; 'tis fit, besides, that man,
To change obnoxious, be to change inur'd.
But stay the curious appetite, and taste
With caution fruits you never tried before.
For want of use the kindest aliment
Sometimes offends; while custom tames the
Of poison to mild amity with life.
So Heaven has form'd us to the general taste
Of all its gifts: so custom has improv'd
This bent of nature; that few simple foods,
Of all that earth, or air, or ocean yield,
But by excess offend. Beyond the sense
Of light refection, at the genial board
Indulge not often; nor protract the feast
To dull satiety; till soft and slow
A drowsy death creeps on, th' expansive soul
Oppress'd, and smother'd the celestial fire.
The stomach, urg'd beyond its active tone,
Hardly to nutrimental chyle subdues
The softest food: unfinish'd and deprav'd,
The chyle, in all its future wanderings, owns
Its turbid fountain; not by purer streams
So to be clear'd, but foulness will remain.
To sparkling wine what ferment can exalt
Th' unripen'd grape? or what mechanic skill
From the crude ore can spin the ductile gold?
Gross riot treasures up a wealthy fund
Of plagues: but inore immedicable ills
Attend the lean extreme. For physic knows
How to disburthen the too tumid veins,
Even how to ripen the half-labour'd blood :
But to unlock the elemental tubes,
('ollaps'd and shrunk with long inanity,
And with balsamic nutriment repair
The dried and worn-out habit, were to bid
Old age grow green, and wear a second spring;
Or the tall ash, long ravish'd from the soil,
Thro' wither'd veins imbibe the vernal dew.
When hunger calls, obey; not often wait
Till hunger sharpen to corrosive pain:
For the keen appetite will feast beyond
What nature well can bear: and one extreme
Ne'er without danger meets its own reverse.
Too greedily th' exhausted veins absorb
The recent chyle, and load enfeebled powers
Oft to th' extinction of the vital flame.
To the pale cities, by the firm-set siege
And famine humbled, may this verse be borne;
And hear, ye hardiest sons that Albion breeds,
Long toss'd and famish'd on the wintry maiu;
The war shook off, or hospitable shore
Attain'd, with temperance bear the shock of joy;
Nor crown with festive rites th' auspicious day:
Such feasts might prove more fatal than the
Than war or famine. While the vital fire
Burns feebly, heap not the green fuel on;
But prudently foment the wandering spark
With what the soonest feeds its kindest touch
What strife is brew'd, and what pernicious bane, Be frugal ev'n of that: a little give
From combinations of obnoxious things.
Th' unbounded taste I mean not to confine
To hermit's diet needlessly severe.
But would you long the sweets of health enjoy,
Or husband pleasure; at one impious meal
Exhaust not half the bounties of the year,
Of overy realm. It matters not meanwhile
At first; that kindled, add a little more;
Till, by deliberate nourishing, the flame
Reviv'd, with all its wonted vigour glows.
But tho' the two (the full and the jejune)
Extremes have each their vice; it much avails
Ever with gentle tide to ebb and flow
From this to that: so nature learns to bear