Health (William Vaughan’s Fifteen Directions to Preserve Health)

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In 1600 William Vaughan published his book Naturall and artificial directions for health deriued from the best philosophers, as well moderne, as auncient. It was divided into several sections: the first dealt with the elements (air, water and fire) while the second addressed issues relating to food and drink. Section three covered 'sleepe, early rising, mirth, and exercise' and section four 'evacuations'. The fifth section looked at infirmities and death and the sixth section was concerned with restoration of health. He included these 'Fifteen Directions to Preserve Health' in the book.

Declare vnto mee a dayly dyet, whereby I may line in health, and not trouble my selfe in Physicke.

  1. I will : first of all in the morning when you are about to rise vp, stretch your self strongly : for thereby the animall heate is somewhat forced into the outward partes, the memorie is quickned, and the bodie strengthened.
  2. Secondarily, rub and chafe your body with the palmes of your hands, or with a course linnen cloth the breast, back, and belly, gently : but the armes, thighes, and legges roughly, till they seem ruddy and warme.
  3. Euacuate your selfe.
  4. Put on your apparell : which in the summer time must be for the most part silke, or buffe, made of buckes skinne, for it resisteth venime and contagious ayres : in winter your vpper garment must be of cotton or friezeadow.
  5. When you have apparelled your selfe hansomely, combe your head softly and easily with an Iuorie combe: for nothing recreateth the memorie more.
  6. Picke and rub your teeth: and because I would not haue you to bestow much cost in making dentrifioes for them ; I will aduertise you by foure rules of importance how to keepe your teeth white and vncorruyt (sic), and also to haue a sweete breath.
    1. First, wash well your mouth when you haue eaten your meat
    2. secondly, sleepe with your mouth somewhat open.
    3. Thirdly, spit out in the morning that which is gathered together that night in the throate :
    4. then take a linnen cloth, and rub your teeth well within and without, to take away the fumositie of the meat and the yellownesse of the teeth. For it is that which putrifieth them and infecteth the hreath. But least peraduenture your teeth become loose and filthy, I will shew you a water farre better then ponders, which shall fasten them, scoure the mouth, make sound the gums, and cause the flesh to growe againe, if it were fallen away. Take halfe a glasse-full of vineger, and as much of the water of the mastick tree (if it may easily be gotten) of rosemarie, myrrhe, mastick, bole Armoniake, Dragons herbe, roche allome, of each of them an ounce ; of fine cinnamon halfe an ounce, and of fountaine water three glassefulles ; mingle all well together and let it boile with a small fire, adding to it halfe a pound of honie, and taking away the scumme of it ; then put in a little bengwine, and when it hath sodden a quarter of an houre, take it from the fire, and keepe it in a cleane bottle, and wash your teeth therewithall as well before meate as after ; if you hould some of it in your mouth a little while, it doth much good to the head, and sweetneth the breath. I take this water to be better worth then a thousand of their dentifrices.
  7. Wash your face, eyes, eares and hands, with fountaine water. I have knowne diuers students which vsed to bathe their eyes onely in well water twise a day, whereby they preserued their eyesight free from all passions and bloudsheds, and sharpened their memories maruaylously. You may sometimes bathe your eyes in rosewater, fennell water, or eyebright water, if you please ; but I know for certaintie, that you neede them not as long as you vse good fountaine water. Moreouer, least you by old age or some other meanes doe waxe dimme of sight, I will declare vnto you, the best and safest remedie which I knowe, and this it is : Take of the distilled waters of verueine, bettonie, and fennell one ounce and a halfe, then take one ounce of white wine, one drachme of Tntia (if you may easilie come by it) two drachmas of sugarcandy, one drachme of Aloes Epatick, two drachmes of womans milke, and one scruple of Gamphire : beat those into ponder, which are to be beaten, and infuse them together for foure and twenty houres space, and then straine them, and so vse it when you list.
  8. When you haue finished these, say your morning prayers, and desire God to blesse you, to preserue you from all daungers, and to direct you in all your actions. For the feare of God (as it is written) is the beginning of wissdome: and without his protection whatsoeuer you take in hand, shall fall to mine. Therefore see that you be mindfull of him, and remember that to that intent you were borne, to weet, to set foorth his glorie and most holy name.
  9. Goe about your businesse circumspectly, and endeauour to banish all cares and cogitations, which are the onely baits of wickednesse. Defraud no man of his right : for what measure you giue vnto your neighbour, Be honest, that measure shall you receiue. And finally, imprint this saying deepely in your mind : A man is but a steward of his owne goods ; wherof God one day will demaund an account.
  10. (10) Eate three meales a day vntill you come to the age of fourtie yeares : as, your breakefast, dinner, and supper ; yet, that betweene breakefast and dinner there be the space of foure houres, and betwixt dinner and supper seauen houres : the breakfast must be lesse then dinner, and the dinner somewhat lesse then supper. In the beginning of meales, eate such meates as will make the belly soluble, and let grosse meats be the last. Content your selfe with one kind of meate, for diuersities hurt the body, by reason that meats are not all of one qualitie : Some are easily digested, others againe are heauy, and will lie a long time vpon the stomack: also, the eating of sundrie sorts of meat require often pottes of drinke, which hinder concoction ; like as we see often putting of water into the meatpotte to hinder it from seething. Our stomack is our bodies kitchin, which being distempered, how can we liue in temperate order : drinke not aboue foure times, and that moderately, at each meale : least the belly-God hale you at length captiue into his prison house of gurmandise, where you shall be afflicted with as many diseases as you haue deuoured dishes of sundry sorts. The cups whereof you drinke, should be of siluer, or siluer and gilt.
  11. Labour not either your mind or body presently after meales : rather sit a while and discourse of some pleasant matters : when you haue ended your confabulations, wash your face and mouth with cold waters then go to your chamber, and make cleane your teeth with your tooth-picker, which should be either of iuorie, silver, or gold. Watch not too long after supper, but depart within two hours to bed. But if necessitie compell you to watch longer then ordinary, then be sure to augment your sleepe the next morning ; that you may recompence nature, which otherwise through your watching would not a little be impaired.
  12. Put of your clothes in winter by the fire side : and cause your bed to bee heated with a warming panne : vnless your pretence bee to harden your members, and to apply your selfe vnto militarie discipline. This outward heating doth wonderfally comfort the inward heat, it helpeth concoction, and consumeth moisture.
  13. Remember before you rest, to chew down two or three drachmes of mastick : tor it will preserue your body from bad humours.
  14. Pray feruently to God, before you sleepe, to inspire you with his grace, to defend you from all perils and subtelties of wicked fiends, and to prosper you in all your affaires : and then lay aside your cares and businesse, as well publicke as priuate : for that night, in so doing, you shall slepe more quietly. Make water at least once, and cast it out : but in the morning make water in an vrinal : that by looking on it, you may ghesse some what of the state of your body. Sleep first on your right side with your mouth open, and let your night cappe haue a hole in the top, through which the vapour may goe out.
  15. In the morning remember your affayres, and if you be troubled with rheumes, as soone as you haue risen, vse diatrion piperion, or eate white pepper now and then, and you shall be holpen.

FINIS