« ZurückWeiter »
JOHN ARMSTRONG, a physician and poet, was superior merit. Its topics are judiciously chosen born about 1709 at Castleton in Roxburghshire, from all those which can add grace or beauty to a where his father was the parish minister. He was difficult subject; and as he was naturally gifted brought up to the medical profession, which he with a musical ear, his lines are scarcely ever harsh. studied at the university of Edinburgh, where he In 1760 Dr. Armstrong had interest enough to took his degrees. He settled in London in the double obtain the appointment of physician to the army in capacity of physician and man of letters, and he Germany, which he retained till its return. He then rendered himself known by writings in each. In resumed his practice in London; but his habits and 1744 his capital work, the didactic poem entitled manners opposed an insurmountable bar against "The Art of preserving Health," made its appear-popular success. He possessed undoubted abilities, ance, and raised his literary reputation to a height but a morbid sensibility preyed on his temper, and which his subsequent publications scarcely sustained. his intellectual efforts were damped by a languid It has therefore been selected for this work; and it listlessness. He died in September, 1779, leaving may be affirmed, that of the class to which it be- considerable savings from a very moderate income. longs, scarcely any English performance can claim
ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH.
DAUGHTER of Pæon, queen of every joy,
Hygeia* 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 vigor through the tracts
Of air, through earth, and ocean's deep domain.
When through the blue serenity of Heaven
Thy power approaches, all the wasteful host
Of Pain and Sickness, squalid and deform'd,
Confounded sink into the lothesome 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 through the shuddering air: whatever plagues
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 winds,
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;
* 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.
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,
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 Through 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 dome 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 rancor 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 (though the lungs abhor
To drink the dun fuliginous abyss)
Did not the acid vigor of the mine,
Roll'd from so many thundering chimneys, tame
The putrid steams that overswarm 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 breeze
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 smiles
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 adamantine 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 hides
Umbrageous Ham!-But if the busy town
Attract thee still to toil for power or 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 tremors come, with mighty love of rest,
Convulsive yawnings, lassitude, and pains
That sting the burden'd brows, fatigue the loins,
And 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 vigor sinks, the habit melts 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 vapors 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 through the veins Unactive in the services of life, Unfit to lead its pitchy current through 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 denied To half mankind, a further task ensues; How best to mitigate 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 bog; 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 vapors lie;
Or through the thickets send the crackling flames.
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 years;
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,
Meantime, the moist malignity to shun
Of burthen'd skies; mark where the dry champaigu
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'erhung, defends you from the blust'ring North,
And bleak affliction of the peevish East.
Disarm the dangers of the dropping sky,
Unless with exercise and manly toil
You brace your nerves, and spur the lagging blood. 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 fatt'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 thick'ning blood;
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
The moist relaxing vegetable store
Prevail in each repast: your food supplied
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
The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser strain
Of waters rushing o'er 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
cool,The mind with calm delight, promotes the just
And natural movements of th' harmonious frame.
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 annoy.
But may no fogs, from lake or fenny plain,
Involve my hill! and wheresoe'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
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 horrors 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' embattled 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.
Or moist 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 infesta
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 vigor of the Sun!
While on the neighboring hill the rose inflames
The verdant spring; in virgin beauty blows
The tender lily, languishingly sweet:
O'er every hedge the wanton wood bine roves,
And autumn ripens in the summer's ray.
Nor less the warmer living tribes demand
The fost'ring Sun, whose energy divine
*The wild rose, or that which grows on the common brier.
Dwells not in mortal fire; whose gen'rous heat
Glows through 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!
ENOUGH 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
Stupendo is solitude frowns o'er the heath,
To rouse a noble horror in the soul:
But rugged paths fatigue, and error leads
Through 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, vigor, 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 last 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 through 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 hind
Can labor into blood. The hungry meal
Alone he fears, or aliments too thin;
By violent powers too easily subdu'd,
Too soon expell'd. His daily labor 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, lessen'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 vigor 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 lothesome 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 bones 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 most
The temp'rature affects. There are, whose blood
Impetuous rages through 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
Supplied 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.
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)