Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life - Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method - of Preserving Health to Extreme Old Age

Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life - Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method - of Preserving Health to Extreme Old Age


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life, by Lewis CornaroThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method ofPreserving Health to Extreme Old AgeAuthor: Lewis CornaroRelease Date: December 12, 2009 [EBook #30660]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SOBER AND TEMPERATE LIFE ***Produced by Andrew GudgelDISCOURSES ON A SOBER AND TEMPERATE LIFE.ByLEWIS CORNARO, A NOBLE VENETIAN.Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example,THE METHOD OF PRESERVING HEALTH TO EXTREME OLD AGE.Translated from the Italian Original.A NEW EDITION, CORRECTED.LONDON:Printed for Benjamin White, at Horace'sHead, in Fleet-Street.M.DCC.LXXIX.PREFACEThe author of the following discourses, Lewis Cornaro, was descended from one of the most illustrious families inVenice, but by the ill conduct of some of his relations, had the misfortune to be deprived of the dignity of a nobleman, andexcluded from all honours and public employments in the state. Chagrined at this unmerited disgrace, he retired toPadua, and married a lady of the family of Spiltemberg, whose name was Veronica. Being in possession of a goodestate, he was very desirous of ...



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SThoeb ePr raojnedc tT eGmutpeenrbaetre g LiEfeB,o boyk  Lofe wDiiss cCoourrnsaerso on aThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: Discourses on a Sober and Temperate LifeWherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, theMethod of Preserving Health to Extreme Old AgeAuthor: Lewis CornaroRelease Date: December 12, 2009 [EBook #30660]Language: English*E**B OSTOAK RST OOBFE RT HAINS DP TREOMJEPCETR AGTUET LEINFBE E**R*GProduced by Andrew Gudgel
DISCOURSES ON ASOBER ANDTEMPERATE LIFE.yBLEWIS CORNARO, A NOBLE VENETIAN.Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example,ETXHTE RMEEMTEH OOLD DO AF GPER.ESERVING HEALTH TOTranslated from the Italian Original.A NEW EDITION, CORRECTED.LONDON:HPreinatde, di nf oFrl eBeet-njSatrmeient .White, at Horace'sM.DCC.LXXIX.
PREFACEThe author of the following discourses, LewisCornaro, was descended from one of the mostillustrious families in Venice, but by the ill conductof some of his relations, had the misfortune to bedeprived of the dignity of a nobleman, andexcluded from all honours and public employmentsin the state. Chagrined at this unmerited disgrace,he retired to Padua, and married a lady of thefamily of Spiltemberg, whose name was Veronica.Being in possession of a good estate, he was verydesirous of having children; and after a longexpectation of this happiness, his wife wasdelivered of a daughter, to whom he gave thename of Clara. This was his only child, whoafterwards was married to John, the son of FantiniCornaro, of a rich family in Cyprus, while thatisland belonged to the republic of Venice. Thoughhe was far advanced in life when his daughterClara came into the world, yet he lived to see hervery old, and the mother of eight sons and threedaughters. He was a man of sound understanding,determined courage and resolution. In his youngerdays, he had contracted infirmities byintemperance, and by indulging his too greatpropensity to anger; but when he perceived the illconsequence of his irregularities, he had commandenough of himself to subdue his passion andinordinate appetites. By means of great sobriety,and a strict regimen in his diet, he recovered hishealth and vigour, which he preserved to anextreme old age. At a very advanced stage of lifehe wrote the following discourses, wherein he
acquaints us with the irregularity of his youth, hisreformation of manners, and the hopes heentertained of living a long time. Nor was hemistaken in his expectation, for he resigned his lastbreath without any agony, sitting in an elbow chair,being above an hundred years old. This happenedat Padua, the 26th of April, 1566. His lady, almostas old as himself, survived him but a short time,and died an early death. They were both interred inSt. Anthony's church, without pomp, pursuant totheir testamentary directions.These discourses, though written in Cornaro's oldage, were penned at different times, and publishedseparately: The first, which he wrote at the age ofeighty-three, is intitled, A Treatise on a Sober Life,in which he declares war against every kind ofintemperance; and his vigorous old age speaks infavour of his precepts. The second treatise hecomposed at the age of eighty-six: it containsfarther encomiums on sobriety, and points out themeans of mending a bad constitution. He says,that he came into the world with a cholericdisposition, but that his temperate way of life hadenabled him to subdue it. The third, which he wroteat the age of ninety-one, is intitled, An EarnestExhortation to a Sober Life; here he uses thestrongest arguments to persuade mankind toembrace a temperate life, as the means ofattaining a healthy and vigorous old age. Thefourth and last, is a letter to Barbaro, Patriarch ofAquileia, written at the age of ninety-five; itcontains a lively description of the healthy, vigour,and perfect use of all his faculties, which he had
the happiness of enjoying at that advanced periodof life.This useful work was translated some years agointo English, under the title of Sure and certainmethods of attaining a long and healthy life. Thetranslator seems rather to have made use of aFrench version than of the Italian original; he haslikewise omitted several passages of the Italian,and the whole is rather a paraphrase than atranslation. This has induced us to give the publican exact and faithful version of that excellentperformance, from the Venice edition in 8vo, in theyear 1620 [1]: and as a proof of the merit andauthenticity of the work, we beg leave to quote Mr.Addison's recommendation of it, SPECTATOR,Vol. iii, No 195."The most remarkable instance of the efficacy oftemperance, towards the procuring long life, iswhat we meet with in a little book published byLewis Cornaro, the Venetian; which I rathermention, because it is of undoubted credit, as thelate Venetian ambassador, who was of the samefamily, attested more than once in conversation,when he resided in England. Cornaro, who was theauthor of the little treatise I am mentioning, was ofan infirm constitution, till about forty, when, byobstinately persisting in an exact course oftemperance, he recovered a perfect state ofhealth; insomuch that at fourscore he published hisbook, which has been translated into English underthe title of, Sure and certain methods of attaining along and healthy life. He lived to give a third or
fourth edition of it, and after having passed hishundredth year, died without pain or agony, andlike one who falls asleep. The treatise I mentionhas been taken notice of by several eminentauthors, and is written with such spirit ofchearfulness, religion, and good sense, as are thenatural concomitants of temperance and sobriety.The mixture of the old man in it, is rather arecommendation than a discredit to it."[P1a] dTuhae,  ifinr s4tt oe,d iAti.oDn.  w15a5s 8p.ublished by the author atA TREATISE ON A SOBER LIFEIt is a thing past all doubt, that custom, by time,becomes a second nature, forcing men to use that,whether good or bad, to which they have beenhabituated: nay, we see habit, in many things, getthe better of reason. This is so undeniably true,that virtuous men, by conversing with the wicked,very often fall into the same vicious course of life.The contrary, likewise, we see sometimes happen;viz. that, as good morals easily change to bad, sobad morals change again to good. For instance: leta wicked man, who was once virtuous, keepcompany with a virtuous man, and he will againbecome virtuous; and this alteration can beattributed to nothing but the force of habit, whichis, indeed, very great. Seeing many examples ofthis; and besides, considering that, in consequenceof this great force of habit, three bad customs have
got footing in Italy within a few years, even withinmy own memory; the first flattery andceremoniousness: the second Lutheranism [2],which some have most preposterously embraced;the third intemperance; and that these three vices,like so many cruel monsters, leagued, as indeedthey are, against mankind, have graduallyprevailed so far, as to rob civil life of its sincerity,the soul of its piety, and the body of its health; Ihave resolved to treat of the last of these vices,and prove that it is an abuse, in order to extirpateit, if possible. As to the second, Lutheranism, andthe first, flattery, I am certain, that some greatgenius or another will soon undertake the task ofexposing their deformity, and effectuallysuppressing them. Therefore, I firmly hope, that,before I die, I shall see these three abusesconquered and driven out of Italy; and this countryof course restored to its former laudable andvirtuous customs.[2] The author writes with the prejudice of azealous Roman Catholic against the doctrine of theReformation, which he here distinguishes by thename of Lutheranism. This was owing to theartifices of the Romish clergy in those days, bywhom the reformed religion was misinterpreted, asintroductive of licentiousness and debauchery.To come then to that abuse, of which I amproposed to speak, namely, intemperance; I say,that it is a great pity it should have prevailed so
much, as entirely to banish sobriety. Though all areagreed, that intemperance is the offspring ofgluttony, and sober living of abstemiousness; theformer, nevertheless, is considered a virtue and amark of distinction, and the latter, as dishonourableand the badge of avarice. Such mistaken notionsare entirely owing to the power of custom,established by our senses and irregular appetites;these have blinded and besotted men to such adegree, that, leaving the paths of virtue, they havefollowed those of vice, which lead them before theirtime to an old age, burthened with strange andmortal infirmities, so as to render them quitedecrepid before forty, contrary to the effects ofsobriety, which, before it was banished by thisdestructive intemperance, used to keep men soundand hearty to the age of eighty and upwards. Owretched and unhappy Italy! do you not see, thatintemperance murders every year more of yoursubjects, than you could lose by the most cruelplague, or by fire and sword in many battles?Those truly shameful feasts, no so much infashion, and so intolerably profuse, that no tablesare large enough to hold the dishes, which rendersit necessary to heap them one upon another; thosefeasts, I say, are so many battles; and how is itpossible to support nature by such a variety ofcontrary and unwholesome foods? Put a stop tothis abuse, for God's sake, for there is not, I amcertain of it, a vice more abominable than this inthe eyes of the Divine Majesty. Drive away thisnew kind of death, and you have banished theplague, which, though it formerly used to makesuch havock, now does little or no mischief, owing
to the laudable practice of attending more to thegoodness of the provisions brought to our markets.There are means still left to banish intemperance,and such means too, that every man may haverecourse to them without any assistance. Nothingmore is requisite for this purpose, than to live up tothe simplicity dictated by nature, which teaches usto be content with little, to pursue the medium ofholy abstemiousness and divine reason, and toaccustom ourselves to eat no more than isabsolutely necessary to support life; considering,that what exceeds this, is disease and death, andmerely gives the palate satisfaction, which, thoughbut momentary, brings on the body a long andlasting train of disagreeable sensations anddiseases, and at length destroys it along with thesoul. How many friends of mine, men of the finestunderstanding and most amiable disposition, have Iseen carried off by this plague in the flower of theiryouth? who, where they now living, would be anornament to the public, whose company I shouldenjoy with as much pleasure, as I now feel concernat their loss.In order, therefore, to put a stop to so great anevil, I have resolved by this short discourse todemonstrate, that intemperance is an abuse whichmay be easily removed, and that the good oldsober living may be substituted in its stead; andthis I undertake more readily, as many young menof the best understanding, knowing that it is a vice,have requested it of me, moved thereto by seeingtheir fathers drop off in the flower of their youth,and me so sound and hearty at the age of eighty-
one. They expressed a desire to reach the sameterm, nature not forbidding us to wish for longevity;and old-age being, in fact, that time of life in whichprudence can be best exercised, and the fruits ofall the other virtues enjoyed with less opposition,the passions being then so subdued, that mangives himself up entirely to reason. Theybeseeched me to let them know the methodpursued by me to attain it; and then finding themintent on so laudable a pursuit, I have resolved totreat of that method, in order to be of service notonly to them, but to all those who may be willing toperuse this discourse. I shall, therefore, give myreasons for renouncing intemperance, andbetaking myself to a sober course of life; declarefreely the method pursued by me for that purpose;and then set forth the effects of so good an habitupon me; whence it may be clearly gathered, howeasy it is to remove the abuse of intemperance. Ishall conclude, by shewing how manyconveniencies and blessings are the consequencesof a sober life.I say then, that the heavy train of infirmities, whichhad not only invaded, but even made great inroadsin my constitution, were my motives for renouncingintemperance, to which I had been greatlyaddicted; so that, in consequence of it, and thebadness of my constitution, my stomach beingexceedingly cold and moist, I was fallen intodifferent kinds of disorders, such as pains in mystomach, and often stitches, and spices of thegout; attended by, what was still worse, an almostcontinual slow fever, a stomach generally out of