Friar Bacon His Discovery of the Miracles of Art, Nature, and Magick

Chap. VII.

Of Retarding the Accidents of Old age, and Prolongation of Life.

THe furthest attainment, which the complement of Art, joyned with the whole Energy of Nature can reach unto, is the Prolongation of Life to a very old date. How farre this is attainable, manifold experience hath shewed us. Pliny reports, Lib.22.cap.24. That Pollio, a man of a strong body and mind, lived much longer then men usually now: of whom Octavius Augustus enquiring, What course he took to live so long? was answered ænigmatically, he used Oyl without, and Mulsum within (now according to the opinion of some, it's eight parts of water, and nine of honey) I might produce many examples of the same quality: as that which fell out in the dayes of King William; A Countreyman plowing in the field, found a golden vessel, containing a certain liquor, which he supposing to be the Dew of Heaven, washed his face withall, and drunk of it, whereby he became renued in spirit, body and excellency, De bubulio factus est Bajulus Regis Sicilie, from a Plow-man he was made Porter to the King of Sicily. And the Popes Letters assures us, That Almannus, held Prisoner by the Saracens, through the use of a Medicine lived five hundred years. For the King, whose Captive he was, having received this Medicine from the Embassadours of the great King, and being suspicious of them, made tryall hereof upon this Captive, which was brought him for that purpose. And the Lady of the Woods in great Britanny searching for a white Hinde, found an Ointment, wherewith the Keeper of the Woods anointed his whole body, except the soals of his feet, and he lived three hundred years without any corruption, save in the soals of his feet, which had some passions. We our selves know it frequent in these dayes, That plain Country men, without the advantage so much as of a Physicians advice, live very healthfully an hundred years, or little lesse. And these are the rather confirmed by the operations of Animals, as Harts, Eagles, Serpents, and many other, who by the efficacy of heart or stones, have renewed their youth: And wise men seeing that even bruits could reach so farre to their Prolongation, adjudging it no lesse feasable by reasonable men, set themselves on the Spurre to find out this secret. Hereupon Artefius from his own ingenuity, having found the Secrets, of Stones, Herbs, Sensibles, &c. both for the knowledge of Nature, and especially the Prolongation of Life, did * rejoyce, * Al. Glory. that he had lived 1025 yeares. Further, to confirme this Assertion of the Prolongation of Life, it's considerable, That man naturally is immortal, that is to say, Potens non mori, hath a possibility of not dying. Yea, even after his fall, he might live a thousand years, though by degrees the length of life was abbreviated. Hence it follows, That this abbreviation is Accidental, and consequentially may be repaired in whole or in part; and upon search we shall find the accidental cause of this corruption, is not from the Heavens, or any other than the defect of true Government of our health. In that our Fathers are corrupt and imbecil, they beget sonnes of a corrupt complexion and composition, and their children upon the same score are corrupted. Thus the Pedigree of corruption is deprived from Fathers to sonnes, until we settle upon our heirs an assured abbreviation of our dayes. Yet this doth not conclude, That to perpetuity there shall succeed an abreviation of our life, since there is a positive period set to our life, men may live till they be eighty years, though then their dayes be but labour and sorrow. Psalm 90.

Now if every man would from the brest exercise a compleat Regiment of health (which consists in such things as have relation to Meat, Drink, Sleep, Waking, Motion, Rest, Evacuation, Retention, Air, and the Passions of the mind) He might find a remedy resisting his proper malady. For upon the prosecution of such a Regiment, one might arrive at the uttermost limit of that Nature he had from his Parents will permit, Deest parenthesis in alio exemplo. and be led to the very last period of Nature (I mean Nature fallen from its original uprightness) beyond which there is no further progresse; because it doth little or nothing availe against the corruption of our Ancestours: and yet the great impossibility of any mans so ordering himself in a mean, in all the fore-mentioned things, as the Regiment of health exacts, wherefore abbreviation of our dayes does not only from our Progenitors, but hath its advantages from the want of Regiment. However the Art of Physick sufficiently determines this. Although nor rich, or poor, wise or ignorant, no nor the most accurate Physicians themselves, do accomplish this Regiment in themselves or others, as every eye can discern; Yet Nature is not deficient in Necessaries, or Art any wayes incompleat, but rather is advantagious to make insurrections and irruptions against, and so farre into these accidental passions, as they are either wholly or in part rooted out. At first, and in the beginning of our ages declining, the remedy was easie: But since we have five thousand years or more disadvantage, the Cure is more craggy.

But waving the Inconveniences wise men moved by the considerations forementioned, have endeavoured to find out the means and wayes, which not only are forceable against the defects of every mans proper Regiment, but also against the corruptions of our Parents: Not that hereby they can attain to the yeares of Adam or Artesius, by reason of the growing corruption, but that our dayes may be augmented an hundred yeares, or more, above the ordinary age of most men in these dayes. And though it be impossible absolutely to retard the accidents of old age, yet hereby they may mitigate them, so as life will happily be prorogued beyond the common account, yet alwayes within the ultimate circuit of Nature. There is a bounder of Nature, set in men since their Fall. There is a bounder of every particulate man arising from the proper corruption of his Parents. Beyond both these bounders it's impossible to passe; yet happily one may arrive beyond the latter: nor yet so farre to go beyond it, as that the wisest of men can never reach the former. Although there be a possibility and aptitude of Nature to proceed to that boundary our first Parents set them. Let no man think this strange, since this aptitude extends itself to immortality, as appears both before the fall,and shall be evident after the Resurrection.

Perhaps you may object, That neither Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, or Galen ever attained that prolongation. I shall answer, They have not attained the knowledge of many ordinary truths, which other ingenious heads have found out; and if so, they may easily miscarry in a businesse of such weighty consequence, though they made it their study: especially, if we consider, how they were burdened with other impertinencies, and so were sooner brought to their gray haires, spending the inch of their Candles in more debased and vulgar subjects, than in finding out the wayes to so great Secrets. We are not ignorant Aristotle sayes in his Predicaments, That the Quadrature of a Circle is possible, yet not then known, Yea he cofesseth, himself and all his Predecessors were ignorant hereof, yet we in our times know it. Now if Aristotle did come short in such a trivial, much more might he in the deep mysteries of Nature. «E«ven in these dayes wise men are ig«norant of many things, which the «most ordinary capacity shall under«stand ere long. Thus the Objection is of little force.

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