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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 30

Of Regiment of Health.
1 THere is a wisdome in this, beyond the Rules of Physicke: A Mans owne Obseruation, what he findes Good of, and what he findes Hurt of, is the best Physicke to preserue Health. But it is a safer Conclusion to say; This agreeth not well with me, therefore I will not continue it; Then this; I finde no offence of this, therefore I may vse it. For Strength of Nature in youth, passeth ouer many Excesses, which are owing a Man till his Age. Discerne of the comming on of Yeares, and thinke not, to doe the same Things still; For Age will not be Defied. Beware of sudden Change in any great point of Diet, and if necessity inforce it, fit the rest to it. For it is a Secret, both in Nature, and State; That it is safer to change Many Things, then one. Examine thy Customes, of Diet, Sleepe, Exercise, Apparell, and the like; And trie in any Thing, thou shalt iudge hurtfull, to discontinue it by little and little; But so, as if thou doest finde any Inconuenience by the Change, thou come backe to it againe: For it is hard to distinguish, that which is generally held good, and wholesome, from that, which is good particularly, and fit for thine owne Body. To be free minded, and cheerefully disposed, at Houres of Meat, and of Sleep, and of Exercise, is one of the best Precepts of Long lasting. As for the Passions and Studies of the Minde; Auoid Enuie; Anxious Feares; Anger fretting inwards; Subtill and knottie Inquisitions; Ioyes, and Exhilarations in Excesse; Sadnesse not Communicated. Entertaine Hopes; Mirth rather then Ioy; Varietie of Delights, rather then Surfet of them; Wonder, and Admiration, and therefore Nouelties; Studies that fill the Minde with Splendide and Illustrious Obiects, as Histories, Fables, and Contemplations of Nature. If you flie Physicke in Health altogether, it will be too strange for your Body, when you shall need it. If you make it too familiar, it will worke no Extraordinary Effect, when Sicknesse commeth. I commend rather, some Diet, for certaine Seasons, then frequent Vse of Physicke, Except it be growen into a Custome. For those Diets alter the Body more, and trouble it lesse. Despise no new Accident, in your Body, but aske Opinion of it. In Sicknesse, respect Health principally; And in Health, Action. For those that put their Bodies, to endure in Health, may in most Sicknesses, which are not very sharpe, be cured onely with Diet, and Tendering. Celsus could neuer haue spoken it as a Physician, had he not been a Wise Man withall; when he giueth it, for one of the great precepts of Health and Lasting; That a Man doe vary, and enterchange Contraries; But with an Inclination to the more benigne Extreme: Vse Fasting, and full Eating, but rather full Eating; Watching and Sleep, but rather Sleep; Sitting, and Exercise, but rather Exercise, and the like. So shall Nature be cherished, and yet taught Masteries. Physicians are some of them so pleasing, and conformable to the Humor of the Patient, as they presse not the true Cure of the Disease; And some other are so Regular, in proceeding according to Art, for the Disease, as they respect not sufficiently the Condition of the Patient. Take one of a Middle Temper; Or if it may not be found in one Man, combine two of either sort: And forget not to call, aswell the best acquainted with your Body, as the best reputed of for his Faculty.

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Edited by Ian Lancashire (Dept. of English, University of Toronto) Assisted by Allison Hay.
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