Against this discourse of Diogenianus Philo himself made some objections, and desired me to be the old physicians' patron; who must be branded with inadvertency and ignorance, unless it appears that those diseases began since their time. First then Diogenianus, methinks, very precariously desires us to think that the intenseness or remissness of degrees is not a real difference, and does not alter the kind. For, were this true, then we should hold that downright vinegar is not different from pricked wine, [p. 429] nor a bitter from a rough taste, darnel from wheat, nor garden-mint from wild mint. For it is evident that these differences are only the degrees of the same qualities, in some being more intense, in some more remiss. So we should not venture to affirm that flame is different from a white spirit, daylight from flame, hoar-frost from dew, or hail from rain; but that the former have only more intense qualities than the latter. Besides, we should say that blindness is of the same kind with short-sightedness, violent vomiting (or cholera) with weakness of the stomach, and that they differ only in degree. Though what they say is nothing to the purpose; for if they admit the increase in intensity and vehemency, but declare that this came but now of late,—the novelty appearing in the quantity rather than the quality,—the same difficulties which they urged against the other opinion oppress them. Sophocles says very well concerning those things which are not believed to be now, because they were not heretofore,—
Once at the first all things their being had.And it is probable that not all diseases, as in a race, the barrier being let down, started together; but that one rising after another, at some certain time, had its beginning and showed itself. It is rational to conclude (continued I) that all diseases that rise from want, heat, or cold bear the same date with our bodies; but afterwards over-eating, luxury, and surfeiting, encouraged by ease and plenty, raised bad and superfluous juices, and those brought various new diseases, and their perpetual complications and mixtures still create more new. Whatever is natural is determined and in order; for Nature is order, or the work of order. Disorder, like Pindar's sand, cannot be comprised by number, and that which is beside Nature is straight called indeterminate and infinite. Thus truth is simple, and but one; but falsities innumerable. The exactness [p. 430] of motions and harmony are definite, but the errors either in playing upon the harp, singing, or dancing, who can comprehend? Indeed Phrynichus the tragedian says of himself,
As many figures dancing doth proposeAnd Chrysippus says that the various complications of ten single axioms amount to 1,000,000. But Hipparchus hath confuted that account, showing that the affirmative contains 101,049 complicated propositions, and the negative 310.952. And Xenocrates says, the number of syllables which the letters will make is 100,200,000. How then is it strange that the body, having so many different powers in itself, and getting new qualities every day from its meat and drink, and using those motions and alterations which are not always in the same time nor in the same order, should upon the various complications of all these be affected with new diseases? Such was the plague at Athens described by Thucydides, who conjectures that it was new because that birds and beasts of prey would not touch the dead carcasses. Those that fell sick about the Red Sea, if we believe Agatharcides, besides other strange and unheard diseases, had little serpents in their legs and arms, which did eat their way out, but when touched shrunk in again, and raised intolerable inflammations in the muscles; and yet this kind of plague, as likewise many others, never afflicted any beside, either before or since. One, after a long stoppage of urine, voided a knotty barley straw. And we know that Ephebus, with whom we lodged at Athens, threw out, together with a great deal of seed, a little hairy, many-footed, nimble animal. And Aristotle tells us, that Timon's nurse in Cilicia every year for two months lay in a cave, without any vital operation besides breathing. And in the Menonian books it is delivered as a symptom of a diseased liver carefully to [p. 431] observe and hunt after mice and rats, which we see now nowhere practised. Therefore let us not wonder if something happens which never was before, or if something doth not appear among us with which the ancients were acquainted; for the cause of those accidents is the nature of our body, whose temperature is subject to be changed. Therefore, if Diogenianus will not introduce a new kind of water or air, we, having no need of it, are very well content. Yet we know some of Democritus's scholars affirm that, other worlds being dissolved, some strange effluvia fall into ours, and are the principle of new plagues and uncommon diseases. But let us not now take notice of the corruption of some parts of this world by earthquake, droughts, and floods, by which both the vapors and fountains rising out of the earth must be necessarily corrupted. Yet we must not pass by that change which must be wrought in the body by our meat, drink, and other exercises in our course of life. For many things which the ancients did not feed on are now accounted dainties; for instance mead and swine's paunch. Heretofore too, as I have heard, they hated the brain of animals so much, that they abominated the very name of it; as when Homer says, ‘I value him at a brain's1 worth.’ And even now we know some old men, that will not taste cucumber, melon, orange, or pepper. Now by these meats and drinks it is probable that the juices of our bodies are much altered, and their temperature changed, new qualities arising from this new sort of diet. And the change of order in our feeding having a great influence on the alteration of our bodies, the cold courses, as they were called formerly, consisting of oysters, sea-urchins, salads, and the like, being (in Plato's phrase) transferred ‘from tail to mouth,’ now make the first course, whereas they were [p. 432] formerly the last. Besides, the glass which we usually take before supper is very considerable in this case; for the ancients never drank so much as water before they ate, but now we drink freely before we sit down, and fall to our meat with a full and heated body, using sharp sauces and pickles to provoke appetite, and then we fall greedily on the other meat. But nothing conduceth more to alterations and new diseases in the body than our various baths; for here the flesh, like iron in the fire, grows soft and loose, and is presently constipated and hardened by the cold. For, in my opinion, if any of the last age had looked into our baths, he might have justly said,
As waves roll on the sea when tempests toss.
There burning Phlegethon meets Acheron.For they used such mild gentle baths, that Alexander the Great being feverish slept in one. And the Gauls' wives carry their pots of pulse to eat with their children whilst they are in the bath. But our baths now inflame, vellicate, and distress; and the air which we draw is a mixture of air and water, disturbs the whole body, tosses and displaces every atom, till we quench the fiery particles and allay their heat. Therefore, Diogenianus, you see that this account requires no new strange causes, no intermundane spaces; but the single alteration of our diet is enough to raise new diseases and abolish old.