The School of Salerno

The Medical Poem of Salerno

translated into English by Sir John Harington, 1608

[title page of Harington's school of salerno.]
The Englishmans Doctor.
The School of Salerne,
Physical observations for the perfect Preserving of the body of Man in continual health.
Printed for John Helme, and John
Busby Junior and are to be sold at the little shop
next Cliffords Inn-Gate, in Fleet Street: 1608

Prefaces by Sir John Harington and others

The Latin text Harington (loosely) translated

Preface by the Webmaster to the first World Wide Web edition of Harington's work

E-mail the Webmaster (Robert S. Richmond, M.D.)

75. (Latin 159.) The Salerne School

The Salerne school doth by these lines impart
All health to England's King, and doth advise
From care his head to keep, from wrath his heart,
Drink not much wine, sup light, and soon arise,
When meat is gone, long sitting breedeth smart:
And after noon still waking keep your eyes.
When moved you find yourself to Nature's needs,
Forbear them not, for that much danger breeds,
Use three Physicians still; first Doctor Quiet,
Next Doctor Merry-man, and Doctor Diet.

"Meat" in Elizabethan English means simply "food". "Diet" means any regimen for eating, not a reducing diet.

Rise early in the morn, and straight remember,
With water cold to wash your hands and eyes,
In gentle fashion reaching every member,
And to refresh your brain when as you rise,
In heat, in cold, in July and December,
Both comb your head, and rub your teeth likewise:
If dined, to stand or walk will do no harm.
Three things preserve the sight: Grass, Glass, and Fountains,
At Even springs, at Morning visit Mountains.

If R. be in the month, their judgements err,
That think that sleep in afternoon is good:
If R. be not therein, some men there are
That think a little nap breeds no ill blood:
But if you shall herein exceed too far,
It hurts your health, it cannot be withstood:
Long sleep at afternoons by stirring fumes,
breeds Sloth, and Agues, Aching heads and Rheums:
The moisture bred in Breast, in Jaws and Nose,
are called Catarrhs, or Phthisics, or the Pose.

"Agues", pronounced AY-gyooz, are febrile spells, particularly those of malaria. "Rheums" (pronounced rooms), rheumatism.

Great harms have grown, and maladies exceeding,
By keeping in a little blast of wind:
So Cramps and Dropsies, Colics have their breeding,
and Mazèd Brains for want of vent behind.
Besides we find in stories worth the reading,
A certain Roman Emperor was so kind,
Claudius by name, he made a Proclamation,
A Scape to be no loss of reputation.
Great suppers do the stomach much offend,
Sup light if quiet you to sleep intend.

According to Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars (Claudius 32) the Roman Emperor Claudius considered issuing an edict permitting people to break wind whenever they needed to, without penalty.

To keep good diet, you should never feed
Until you find your stomach clean and void
Of former eaten meat, for they do breed
Repletion, and will cause you soon be cloyed.
None other rule but appetite should need,
When from your mouth a moisture clear doth void.
All Pears and Apples, Peaches, Milk, and Cheese,
Salt meats, red Deer, Hare, Beef, and Goat: all these
Are meats that breed ill blood, and Melancholy,
If sick you be, to feed on them were folly.

Eggs newly laid, are nutritive to eat,
And roasted rare are easy to digest.
Fresh Gascoigne wine is good to drink with meat,
Broth strengthens nature above all the rest.
But broth prepared with flour of finest wheat,
Well boiled, and full of fat for such are best.
The Priest's rule is (a Priest's rule should be true):
Those Eggs are best, are long, and white and new.
Remember eating new laid Eggs and soft,
For every Egg you eat you drink as oft.

Fine Manchet feeds too fat, Milk fills the veins,
New cheese doth nourish, so doth flesh of Swine:
The Dowcets of some beasts, the marrow, brains,
And all sweet tasting flesh, and pleasant wine,
Soft Eggs (a cleanly dish in house of Swains),
Ripe Figs and Raisins, late come from the vine:
Choose wine you mean shall serve you all the year,
Well-savored tasting well, and colored clear.
Five qualities there are, wine's praise advancing,
Strong, Beautiful, and Fragrant, Cool and Dancing.

manchet: fine white bread
dowcets, dowsets, doucets: testicles, usually of a deer

White, Muscatel, and Candy wine, and Greek,
Do make men's wits and bodies gross and fat;
Red wine doth make the voice oft-time to seek,
And hath a binding quality to that;
Canary, and Madeira, both are like
To make one lean indeed: (but wot you what)
Who say they make one lean, would make one laugh,
They mean, they make one lean upon a staff.
Wine, Women, Baths, by Art or Nature warm,
Used or abused do men much good or harm.

Six things, that here in order shall ensue,
Against all poisons have a secret power,
Pear, Garlic, Radish-roots, Nuts, Rape, and Rue,
But Garlic chief; for they that it devour,
May drink, and care not who their drink do brew:
May walk in airs infected every hour.
Sith Garlic then hath powers to save from death,
Bear with it though it make unsavory breath:
And scorn not Garlic, like to some that think
It only makes men wink, and drink, and stink.

Though all ill favors do not breed infection,
Yet sure infection cometh most by smelling,
Who smelleth still perfumèd, his complexion
Is not perfum'd by Poet Martial's telling,
Yet for your lodging rooms give this direction,
In houses where you mind to make your dwelling,
That near the same there be no evil scents
Of puddle-waters, or of excrements,
Let air be clear and light, and free from faults,
That come of secret passages and vaults.

If wine have overnight a surfeit brought,
A thing we wish to you should happen seeld,
Then early in the morning drink a draught,
And that a kind of remedy shall yield,
But 'gainst all surfeits, virtue's school hath taught
To make the gift of temperance a shield:
The better wines do breed the better humors,
The worse, are causes of unwholesome tumors.
In measure drink, let wine be ripe, not thick,
But clear and well allayed, and fresh and quick.

The English is a bit vague, but the Latin makes clear that the "hair of the dog" is meant.
Si tibi serotina noceat potatio vini
Hora matutina rebibas et erit medicina.

"seeld" seldom (the text has "feeld"). "Allayed" diluted. "Tumors" any swellings, not necessarily cancers.

The like advice we give you for your Beer,
We will it be not sour, and yet be stale:
Well boiled, of hearty grain and old and clear,
Nor drink too much nor let it be too stale:
And as there be four seasons in the year,
In each a several order keep you shall.
In Spring your dinner must not much exceed,
In Summer's heat but little meat shall need:
In Autumn ware you eat not too much fruit:
With Winter's cold full meats do fittest suite.

"Yet be stale" makes no sense, and repeats the rime. Perhaps "yet be hale".

If in your drink you mingle Rue with Sage,
All poison is expelled by power of those,
And if you would withal Lust's heat assuage,
Add to them two the gentle flower of Rose:
[Who] Would not be sea-sick when seas do rage,
Sage-water drink with wine before he goes.
Salt, Garlic, Parsley, Pepper, Sage, and Wine,
Make sauces for all meats both coarse and fine.
Of washing of your hands much good doth rise,
'Tis wholesome, cleanly, and relieves your eyes.

Adding the word "who" to the beginning of the fifth line, corrects the scansion and improves the sense. Perhaps an early typographical error.

Eat not your bread too stale, nor eat it hot,
A little Leavened, hollow baked and light:
Not fresh, of purest grain that can be got,
The crust breeds choler both of brown and white,
Yet let it be well baked or eat it not,
Howe'er your taste therein may take delight.
Pork without wine is not so good to eat,
As Sheep with wine, it medicine is and meat,
Though entrails of a beast be not the best,
Yet are some entrails better than the rest.

Some love to drink new wine not fully fined,
But for your health we wish that you drink none,
For such to dangerous fluxes are inclined,
Besides, the Lees of wine do breed the stone,
Some to drink only water are assigned,
But such by our consent shall drink alone.
For water and small beer we make no question,
Are enemies to health and good digestion:
And Horace in a verse of his rehearses,
That Water-drinkers never make good verses.

The choice of meat to health doth much avail,
First Veal is wholesome meat, and breeds good blood,
So Capon, Hen, and Chicken, Partridge, Quail,
The Pheasant, Woodcock, Lark and Thrush be good,
The Heath-cock wholesome is, the Dove, the Rail,
And all that do not much delight in mud.
Fair swans such love your beauties make me bear you,
That in the dish I easily could forbear you.
Good sport it is to see a Mallard killed,
But with their flesh, your flesh should not be filled.

As choice you make of Fowl, so make of Fish,
If so that kind be soft, the great be best,
If firm, then small, and many in a dish:
I need not name, all kinds are in request.
Pike, Trout, and Perch, from water fresh I wish,
From Sea, Bass, Mullet, Bream, and Soles are best:
The Pike a ravening tyrant is in water,
Yet he on land yields good fish, ne'er the later,
If Eels and Cheese you eat, they make you hoarse,
But drink apace thereto, and then no force.

Some love at meals to drink small draughts and oft,
But fancy may herein and custom guide,
If Eggs you eat, they must be new and soft,
In Pease good qualities and bad are tried,
To take them with the skin that grows aloft
They windy be, but good without their hide.
In great consumptions learn'd Physicians think,
'Tis good a Goat or Camel's mile to drink,
Cow's milk and Sheep's do well, but yet an Ass's
Is best of all, and all the others passes.

Milk is for Agues and for Headache naught,
Yet if from Agues fit you feel you free,
Sweet butter wholesome is, as some have taught,
To cleanse and purge some pains that inward be.
Whey, though it be contemned, yet it is thought
To scour and cleanse, and purge in due degree:
For healthy men may Cheese be wholesome food,
But for the weak and sickly 'tis not good,
Cheese is a heavy meat, both gross and cold
And breedeth Costiveness both new and old.

Cheese makes complaint that men on wrong suspicions
Do slander it, and say it doth such harm,
That they conceal his many good conditions,
How oft it helps a stomach cold to warm,
How fasting 'tis prescribed by some Physicians,
To those to whom the flux doth give alarm:
We see the better sort thereof doth eat,
To make as 'twere a period of their meat;
The poorer sort, when other meat is scant,
For hunger eat it to relieve their want.

Although you may drink often while you dine,
Yet after dinner touch not once the cup,
I know that some Physicians do assign
To take some liquor straight before they sup:
But whether this is meant by broth or wine,
A controversy 'tis not yet ta'en up:
To close your stomach well, this order suits,
Cheese after flesh, Nuts after fish or fruits,
Yet some have said (believe them as you will),
One Nut doth good, two hurt, the third doth kill.

Some Nut 'gainst poison is preservative:
Pears wanting wine, are poison from the tree,
But baked Pears counted are restorative,
Raw Pears a poison, baked a medicine be.
Baked Pears a weak dead stomach do revive,
Raw Pears are heavy to digest we see,
Drink after Pears, take after Apples order
To have a place to purge yourself of ordure.
Ripe Cherries breed good blood, and help the stone,
If Cherry you do eat, and Cherry-stone.

Cool Damsons are, and good for health, by reason
They make your entrails soluble and slack,
Let Peaches steep in wine of newest season,
Nuts hurt the teeth, that with their teeth they crack,
With every Nut 'tis good to eat a Raisin,
For though they hurt the spleen, they help the back.
A plaster made of Figs, by some men's telling,
Is good against all kernels, boils and swelling,
With Poppy joined, it draws out bones are broken,
By Figs are lice engendered, Lust provoken.

Eat Medlars, if you have a looseness gotten,
They bind, and yet your urine they augment,
They have one name more fit to be forgotten,
While hard and sound they be, they be not spent,
Good Medlars are not ripe, till seeming rotten,
For meddling much with Medlars some are shent.
New Rhenish wine stirs urine, doth not bind,
But rather loose the Belly breeding wind,
Ale humors breeds, it adds both flesh and force;
'Tis loosing, cool, and urine doth enforce.

Medlars are the fruit of Mesphilus germanica, eaten rotten-ripe and strong-smelling. No Elizabethan gallant worth his codpiece could decline a medlars joke, thus Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, "As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone."
The Webmaster will be allowed his own Medlars joke.

Sharp vinegar doth cool, withal it dries,
And gives to some ill humor good correction:
It makes one melancholy, hurts their eyes,
Not making fat, nor mending their complexion:
It lessens sperm, makes appetite to rise,
Both taste and scent is good against infection.
The Turnip hurts the stomach, wind it breedeth,
Stirs urine, hurts his teeth thereon that feedeth,
Who much thereof will feed, may wish our Nation
Would well allow of Claudius' proclamation.

We have met the flatulent Emperor Claudius in verse 79.

It follows now what part of every beast
Is good to eat: first know the Heart is ill,
It is both hard and heavy to digest.
The Tripe with no good juice our flesh doth fill:
The Lights are light, yet but in small request:
But outer parts are best in Physic's skill.
If any brains be good (which is a question),
Hen's brain is best and lightest of digestion:
In Fennel-seed, this virtue you shall find,
Forth of your lower parts to drive the wind.

"Lights", lungs. "Tripe", stomach and intestines.

Of Fennel virtues four they do recite,
First, it hath power some poisons to expel,
Next, burning Agues it will put to flight,
The stomach it doth cleanse, and comfort well:
And fourthly, it doth keep and cleanse the sight,
And thus the seed and herb doth both excel.
Yet for the two last told, if any feed
With Fennel may compare, 'tis Anise-seed:
Some Anise-seed be sweet, and some more bitter,
For pleasure these, for medicine those are fitter.

Dame Nature's reason, far surmounts our reading,
We feel effects the causes oft unknown,
Who knows the cause why Spodium stancheth bleeding?
(Spodium but the ashes of an Ox's bone.)
We learn therein to praise his power exceeding,
That virtue gave to wood, to herbs, to stone;
The Liver, Spodium: Mace, the Heart delights,
The brain likes Musk, and Licorice the Lights;
The Spleen is thought much comforted with Capers,
In Stomach, Galingale, always ill vapors.

"Galingale", now galangal, a ginger-like root. "Spodium", an antediluvian partial thromboplastin time reagent.

Sauce would be set with meat upon the table,
Salt is good sauce, and had with great facility:
Salt makes unsavory viands manducable,
To drive some poisons out, Salt hath ability,
Yet things too salt are ne'er commendable:
They hurt the sight, in nature cause debility,
The scab and itch on them are ever breeding,
The which on meats too salt are often feeding:
Salt should be first removed, and first set down
At table of the Knight, and of the Clown.

As tastes are divers, so Physicians hold
They have as sundry qualities and power,
Some burning are, some temperate, some cold,
Cold are these three, the Tart, the Sharp, the Sour.
Salt, bitter, biting, burn as hath been told,
Sweet, fat and fresh, are temperate every hour.
Four special virtues hath a sop in wine,
It maketh the teeth white, it clears the eyne,
It adds unto an empty stomach fullness,
And from a stomach filled, it takes the dullness.

If to an use you have yourself betaken,
Of any diet, make no sudden change,
A custom is not easily forsaken,
Yea though it better were, yet seems it strange,
Long use is as a second nature taken,
With nature custom walks in equal range.
Good diet is a perfect way of curing:
And worthy much regard and health assuring.
A King that cannot rule him in his diet,
Will hardly rule his Realm in peace and quiet.

They that in Physic will prescribe you food,
Six things must note we here in order touch,
First what it is, and then for what 'tis good,
And when and where, how often, and how much:
Who note not this, it cannot be withstood,
They hurt, not heal, yet there are many such.
Colewort's broth doth loose, the substance bind,
Thus play they fast and loose, and all behind:
But yet if at one time you take them both,
The substance shall give place unto the broth.

168. Quale, quid, et quando, quantum, quoties, ubi, dando,
Ista notare cibo debet medicus diaetando.

Perhap we see the beginnings of clinical science here,
or at least of quantitative reasoning.
"Loose, bind" the bowels: We note with gratitude the absence of cheese jokes from the Regimen.

In Physic Mallows have much reputation,
The very name of Mallow seems to sound,
The root thereof will give a kind purgation,
By them both men and women good hath found,
To women's monthly flowers they give laxation,
They make men soluble that have been bound.
And lest we seem in Mallow's praises partial,
Long since hath Horace praisèd them, and Martial.
The worms that gnaw the womb and never stint,
Are killed, and purged, and driven away with Mint.

The Latin text allows us to conclude that the worms are in the gastrointestinal tract (ventris lumbricos) rather than the womb:
169. Malvae radices rasae dedere faeces,
Vulvam moverunt, et fluxum saepe dederunt.
Mentitur mentha si sit depellere lenta
Ventris lumbricos, stomachi vermesque nocivos.

But who can write thy worth, (O sovereign Sage!).
Some ask how man can die, where thou dost grow,
Oh that there were a medicine curing age,
Death comes at last, though death comes ne'er so slow:
Sage strengths the sinews, fever's heat doth suage,
The Palsy helps, and rids of mickle woe.
In Latin (Salvia) takes the name of safety,
In English (Sage) is rather wise than crafty.
Sith then the name betokens wise and saving,
We count it nature's friend and worth the having.

Take Sage and Primrose, Lavender and Cresses,
With Wallwort that doth grow 'twixt lime and stone,
For he that of these herbs the juice expresses,
And mix with powder of a Castor-stone,
May breed their ease whom palsy much oppresses,
Or if this breed not help, then look for none.
Rue is a noble herb to give it right,
To chew it fasting, it will purge the sight.
One quality thereof yet blame I must,
It makes men chaste, and women fills with lust.

Fair Ladies, if these Physic rules be true,
That Rue hath such strange qualities as these,
Eat little Rue, lest your good husbands rue,
And breed between you both a shrewed disease,
Rue whets the wit, and more to pleasure you,
In water boiled, it rids the room of fleas.
I would not to you Ladies, Onions praise,
Save that they make one fair (Aesclapius says),
Yet taking them requires some good direction,
They are not good alike for each complexion.

If unto Choler men be much inclined,
'Tis thought that Onions are not good for those,
But if a man be phlégmatic (by kind)
It does his stomach good, as some suppose:
For Ointment juice of Onions is assigned,
To heads whose hair falls faster than it grows:
If Onions cannot help in such mishap,
A man must get him a Gregorian cap.
And if your hound by hap should bite his master,
With Honey, Rue, and Onions make a plaster.

The seed of Mustard is the smallest grain,
And yet the force thereto is very great,
It hath a present power to purge the brain,
It adds unto the stomach force and heat:
All poison it expels, and it is plain,
With sugar 'tis a passing sauce for meat.
She that hath hap a husband bad to bury,
And is therefore in heart not sad, but merry,
Yet if in show good manners she will keep,
Onions and Mustard-seed will make her weep.

Though Violets smell sweet, Nettles offensive,
Yet each in several kind much good procures,
The first doth purge the heavy head and pensive,
Recovers surfeits, falling sickness cures:
Though Nettles stink, yet make they recompense,
If your belly by the Colic pain endures,
Against the Colic Nettle-seed and honey
Is Physic: better none is had for money.
It breedeth sleep, stays vomits, phlegms doth soften,
It helps him of the Gout that eats it often.

Clean Hyssop is an herb to purge and cleanse
Raw phlegms, and hurtful humors from the breast,
The same unto the lungs great comfort lends,
With honey boiled: but far above the rest,
It gives good color, and complexion mends,
And is therefore with women in request:
With Honey mixed, Cinquefoil cures the Canker,
That eats out inward parts with cruel rancor.
but mixed with wine, it helps a grievèd side,
And stays the vomit, and the lask beside.

"Lask": diarrhea

Elecompane strengthens each inward part,
A little looseness is thereby provoken,
It suageth grief of mind, it cheers the heart,
Allayeth wrath, and makes a man fair spoken:
And drunk with Rue in wine, it doth impart
Great help to those that have their bellies broken,
Let them that unto choler much incline,
Drink Pennyroyal steepèd in their wine.
And some affirm that they have found by trial,
The pain of Gout is cured by Pennyroyal.

To tell of Cress's virtues long it were,
But divers patients unto that are debtor:
It helps the teeth, it gives to bald men hair,
With Honey mixed, it Ringworms kills and Tetter:
But let not women that would children bear
Feed much thereof, for they to fast were better.
An herb there is takes of the Swallow's name,
And by the Swallows gets no little fame,
For Pliny writes (though some thereof make doubt)
It helps young Swallows' eyes when they are out.

The Latin sheds some light on what Pliny says about Chelidonium majus:
171. De Celedonia: Caecatis pullis hac lumina mater hirundo,
Plinius ut scribit, quamvis sint eruta reddit.

Green Willow though in scorn it oft is used,
Yet some are there in it not scornful parts,
It killeth worms, the juice in ears infused,
With Vinegar: the bark destroyeth warts.
But at one quality I much have mused,
That adds and bates much of his good deserts.
For writers old and new, both ours and foreign,
Affirm the seed make women chaste and barren.
Take Saffron if your heat make glad you will,
But too much for that the heart may kill.

Indeed saffron (Crocus sativus) is reported to be cardiotoxic in large overdose, though more likely the autumn crocus Colchicum is meant..

Green Leeks are good, as some Physicians say,
Yet I would choose howe'er I them believe,
To wear Leeks rather on St. David's Day,
Than eat the Leek upon St. David's Eve.
The bleeding at the nose Leeks' juice will stay,
And women bearing children much relieve.
Black Pepper beaten gross you good shall find,
If cold your stomach be, or full of wind:
White Pepper helps the cough, and phlegm it riddeth
And Agues fit to come it oft forbiddeth.

The leek is the national emblem of Wales, and is worn on St. David's Day, St. David being the patron of Wales.

Our hearing is a choice and dainty sense,
And hard to men[d], yet soon it may be marred,
These are things that breed it most offense,
To sleep on stomach full and drinking hard,
Blows, falls, and noise, and fasting violence,
Great heat and sudden cooling afterwards;
All these, as is by sundry proofs appearing,
Breed tingling in our ears, and hurt our hearing:
Then think it good advice, not idle talk,
That after Supper bids us stand or walk.

You heard before what is for hearing naught,
Now you shall see what hurtful is for sight:
Wine, women, Baths, by art to nature wrought,
Leeks, Onions, Garlic, Mustard-seed, fire and light,
Smoke, bruises, dust, Pepper to powder brought,
Beans, lentils, strains, Wind, Tears, and Phoebus bright,
And all sharp things our eyesight do molest:
Yet watching hurts them more than all the rest.
Of Fennels, Vervain, Chelidon, Roses, Rue,
Is water made, that will the sight renew.

If in your teeth you hap to be tormented,
By meansome little worms therein do breed:
Which pain (if heed be ta'en) may be prevented,
By keeping clean your teeth when as you feed,
Burn Frankincense (a gum not evil scented)
Put Henbane unto this, and Onion feed,
And in a Tunnel to the Tooth that's hollow,
Convey the smoke thereof, and ease shall follow.
By Nuts, Oil, [ - - ], Eels, and cold in head,
By Apples and raw fruits is hoarseness bred.

Line 9 clearly lacks a metrical foot, which the Latin (173) might restore as "strong drink" or "drinking".

To show you how to shun raw running Rheums,
Exceed not much in meat, in drink, and sleep,
For all excess is cause of hurtful fumes,
Eat warm broth warm, strive in your breath to keep,
Use exercise that vapors ill consumes:
If Fistula do rise in any part,
And to procure your danger and your smart,
Take Arsenic, Brimstone, mixed with Lime and Soap,
And make a tent, and then of cure there's hope.

If so your head do pain you oft with aching,
Fair water or small beer drink then or never,
So may you scape the burning fits and shaking
That wonted are to company the Fever.
If with much heat your head be ill in aching,
To rub your head and temples still persever,
And make a bath of Morel (boilèd warm)
And it shall keep your head from further harm.
A Flix dangerous evil is, and common,
In it shun cold, much drink, and strain of women.

"Morrell": possibly the mushroom. "Flix": an archaic form of "flux", usually diarrhea, though perhaps here a urethral discharge is meant.

To fast in Summer doth the body dry,
Yet doth it good, if thereto you inure it,
Against a surfeit vomiting to try,
Is remedy but some cannot endure it.
Yet some so much themselves found help thereby,
They go to sea a purpose to procure it.
Four seasons of the year there are in all,
The Summer and the Winter, Spring and Fall:
In every one of these, the rule of reason
Bids keep good diet, suiting every season.

The Spring is moist, of temper good and warm,
Then best it is to bathe, to sweat, and purge,
Then may one ope a vein in either arm,
If boiling blood or fear of agues urge.
Then Venus' recreation does no harm,
Yet may too much thereof turn to a scourge.
In Summer's heat (when choler hath dominion)
Cool meats and moist are best in some opinion:
The Fall is like the Spring, but endeth colder,
With Wines and Spice the Winter may be bolder.

Now if perhaps some have desire to know,
The number of our bones, our teeth, our veins,
This verse ensuing plainly doth it show,
To him that doth observe, it taketh pains:
The teeth thrice ten, and two, twice eight a row,
Elevenscore bones save one in us remains:
For veins, all that may vain in us appear,
A vein we have we have for each day in the year:
All these are like in number and connection.
The difference grows in bigness and complexion.

Four humors reign within our bodies wholly,
And these comparèd to four Elements,
The Sanguine, Choler, Phlegm, and Melancholy,
The latter two are heavy, dull of sense,
Th' other two are more Jovial, quick and Jolly,
And may be likened thus without offense,
Like air both warm and moist, is Sanguine clear,
Like fire doth Choler hot and dry appear.
Like water cold and moist is Phlégmatic,
The Melancholy cold, dry earth is like.

This verse and the following clearly stress the word "phlegmatic" (spelled "flegmatique") on the first syllable, and I have marked it that way for the reader's convenience. Compare "lunatic" and W.B. Yeats's pronunciation of "fanatic".

Complexions cannot virtue breed or vice,
Yet may they unto both give inclination,
The Sanguine gamesome is, and nothing nice,
Love Wine, and Women, and all recreation,
Likes pleasant tales, and news, plays, cards, and dice,
Fit for all company, and every fashion:
Though bold, not apt to take offense, not ireful,
But bountiful, and kind, and looking cheerful,
Inclining to be fat, and prone to laughter,
Loves mirth, and Music, cares not what comes after.

Sharp Choler is a humor most pernicious,
All violent, and fierce, and full of fire,
of quick conceit, and therewithal ambitious,
Their thoughts to greater fortunes still aspire,
Proud, bountiful enough, yet oft malicious,
A right bold speaker, and as bold a liar,
On little cause to anger great inclined,
Much eating still, yet ever looking pined,
In younger years they use to grow a pace,
In elder hairy on their breast and face.

The Phlégmatic are most of no great growth,
Inclining to be rather fat and square:
Given much unto their ease, to rest and sloth,
To put themselves to any pain most loath.
So dead their spirits, so dull their senses are:
Still either sitting, like to folk that dream,
Or else still spitting, to avoid the phlegm:
One quality doth yet these harms repair,
That for the most part Phlégmatic are fair.

The Melancholy from the rest doth vary,
Both sport and ease, and company refusing,
Exceeding studious, ever solitary,
Inclining pensive still to be, and musing,
A secret hate to others apt to carry:
Most constant in his choice, though long a-choosing,
Extreme in love sometime, yet seldom lustful,
Suspicious in his nature, and mistrustful,
A wary wit, an hand much given to sparing,
A heavy look, a spirit little daring.

Now though we give these humors several names;
Yet all men are of all participant,
But all have not in quantity the same,
For some (in some) are more predominant,
The color shows from whence it lightly came,
Or whether they have blood too much or want.
The wat'ry Phlégmatic are fair and white,
The Sanguine Roses joined to Lilies bright,
The Choleric more red; the Melancholy,
Alluding to their name, are swart and colly.

If Sanguine humor do too much abound,
These signs will be thereof appearing chief,
The face will swell, the cheeks grow red and round,
With staring eyes, the pulse beat soft and brief,
The veins exceed, the belly will be bound,
The temples and the forehead full of grief,
Unquiet sleeps, that so strange dreams will make,
To cause one blush to tell when he doth wake:
Besides the moisture of the mouth and spittle,
Will taste too sweet, and seem the throat to tickle.

If Choler do exceed, as may sometimes,
Your ears will ring, and make you to be wakeful,
Your tongue will seem all rough, and oftentimes
Cause vomits, unaccustomèd and hateful.
Great thirst, your excrements are full of slime,
The stomach squeamish, sustenance ungrateful,
Your appetite will seem in naught delighting,
Your heart still grievèd with continual biting,
The pulse beat hard and swift, all hot extreme,
Your spittle sour, of firework oft you dream.

If Phlegm abundance have due limits past,
These signs are here set down will plainly show,
The mouth will seem to you quite out of taste,
And apt with moisture still to overflow:
Your sides will seem all sore down to the waist,
Your meat wax loathsome, your digestion slow:
Your head and stomach both in so ill taking,
One seeming ever griping, t'other aching:
With empty veins the pulse beat slow and soft,
In sleep, of Seas and rivers dreaming oft.

Of Bleeding many profits grow and great,
The spirits and senses are renewed thereby:
Tho these men slowly by the strength of meat,
But these with wine restored are by and by.
By bleeding, to the marrow cometh heat,
It maketh clean your brain, relieves your eye,
It mends your appetite, restoreth sleep,
Correcting humors that do waking keep:
All inward parts and senses also clearing,
It mends the voice, touch, small and taste, and hearing.

Three special months (September, April, May),
There are, in which 'tis good to ope a vein;
In these 3 Months the Moon bears greatest sway,
Then old or young that store of blood contain,
May bleed now, though some elder wizards say
Some days are ill in these, I hold it vain:
September, April, May, have days apiece,
That bleeding do forbid, and eating Geese,
And those are they forsooth of May the first,
Of other two, the last of each are worst.

But yet those days I grant, and all the rest,
Have in some cases just impediment,
As first, if nature be with cold oppressed,
Or if the Region, Isle, or Continent
Do scorch or freeze, if stomach meat detest:
If Baths or Venus late you did frequent,
Nor old, nor young, nor drinkers great are fit,
Not in long sickness, nor in raging fit,
Or in this case if you will venture bleeding,
The quantity must then be most exceeding.

When you to bleed intend, you must prepare
Some needful things both after and before,
Warm water and sweet oil, both needful are,
And wine, the fainting spirit to restore:
Fine binding clothes of linen, and beware,
That all the morning you do sleep no more:
Some gentle motion helpeth after bleeding,
And on light meats a spare and temperate feeding:
To bleed doth cheer the pensive, and remove
The raging furies bred by burning love.

Make your incision large and not too deep,
That blood have speedy issue with the fume,
So that from sinews you all hurt do keep,
Nor may you (as I touched before) presume
In six ensuing hours at all to sleep,
Lest some slight bruise in sleep cause an apostume:
Eat not of milk, nor ought of milk compounded,
Nor let your brain with much drink be confounded;
Eat no cold meats, for such the strength impairs,
And shun all misty and unwholesome airs.

"Apostume" (also aposteme, aposthume), a deep abscess. Perhaps here a postsurgical hematoma or seroma is meant.

Besides the former rules for such as pleases,
Of letting blood to take more observation,
Know in beginning of all sharp diseases,
'Tis counted best to make evacuation:
Too old, too young, both letting blood displeases.
By years and sickness make your computation.
First in the Spring for quantity you shall
Of blood take twice as much as in the Fall:
In Spring and Summer let the right arm blood,
The Fall and Winter for the left are good.

The Heart and Liver, Spring and Summer bleeding,
The Fall and Winter, hand and foot doth mend,
One vein cut in the hand, doth help exceeding,
Unto the spleen, voice, breast, and entrails lend,
And suages griefs that in the heart are breeding.
But here the Salerne School doth make an end:
And here I cease to write, but will not cease,
To wish you live in health, and die in peace:
And ye our Physic rules that friendly read,
God grant that Physic you may never need.


Posted to the Web May 26th, 2000