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What is health?

May 25, 2020
A Bruegel image of the Great Plague

During these difficult times it is apposite that we give close and sustained attention to what it really means to be human on this planet. When we take a longer view, that is perhaps two or three millennia, we begin to take notice of our vulnerabilities. With this in mind I offer readers a perspective on human health which was written in 1683. It is today a refreshing look at who we are and how we behave.

Think carefully about your health

‘Who is he that values health at the rate it is worth? Not he that hath it; he reckons it among the common ordinary enjoyment’s and takes as little notice of it than his long worn clothes; perhaps more careful of his garments , remembering their price; but thinks health cost him nothing and coming to him at so easy a rate values it accordingly, and hath little regard to keep it, is never truly sensible of what he enjoyed until he finds the want of it by sickness; then health, above all things, is earnestly desired and wished for.’

You that have health and know how to prize it, I’ll tell you what it is that you may love it better, put a higher value upon it , and endeavour to preserve it with a more serious  stricter observance and tuition.

‘Health is that which makes your bed easy and your sleep refreshing; that revives your strength with the rising sun, and makes you cheerful at the light of another day; tis that which fills up the hollow and uneven places of your carcase, and males your body plump and comely, ‘tis that which dresses You up in Nature’s richest attire, and adorns your face with the choicest colours.’

‘Tis that which makes fertile and increases the natural endowments of your mind, and preserves them long from decay; makes your wit acute and your memory retentive.’

‘Tis that which makes the soul delight in her mansion, sporting herself at the casements of your eyes.’

Tis that which makes pleasure to be pleasure, and delights delightful, without which you can solace yourself in nothing of terrene felicities or enjoyment’s.’

Did‘But now take a view of yourself when health has turned its back upon you, and deserts your company; see, then, how the scene is changed; how you are robbed and spoiled of all your comforts and enjoyment’s.’

‘Sleep  that was stretched out from evening to to the fair bright day is now broken into pieces and subdivided, not worth the accounting; the night that before seemed short is now too long, and the downy bed presseth hard against the bones.’

‘Exercise is now toyling and walking abroad the carrying of a burden.’

‘The eye that flashed as lightning is now like the poaceous body of a thick cloud, that rolled from east to west swifter than a celestial orb, is now tired and weary standing still; that which penetrated the centre of another microcosm, hath lost its planetary influence, and is becoming obtuse and dull.’

We may as likely keep or acquire riches by prodigality as preserve health and obtain long life by intemperance, inordinate passions, a noxious air, and such like injurious customs, ways, and manner of living.’

UNKNOWN WRITER 1683  

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Dr Jeff Nicholas

This site is about both History & Biography

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Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

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