The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher
Part 5 out of 6
_Directions for Drawing of Blood._
Drawing of blood was first invented for good and salutary purposes,
although often abused and misapplied. To bleed in the left arm removes
long continued pains and headaches. It is also good for those who have
got falls and bruises.
Bleeding is good for many disorders, and generally proves a cure, except
in some extraordinary cases, and in those cases bleeding is hurtful. If
a woman be pregnant, to draw a little blood will give her ease, good
health, and a lusty child.
Bleeding is a most certain cure for no less than twenty-one disorders,
without any outward or inward applications; and for many more with
application of drugs, herbs and flowers.
When the moon is on the increase, you may let blood at any time day or
night; but when she is on the decline, you must bleed only in the
Bleeding may be performed from the month of March to November. No
bleeding in December, January or February, unless an occasion require
it. The months of March, April and November, are the three chief months
of the year for bleeding in; but it may be performed with safety from
the ninth of March to the nineteenth of November.
To prevent the dangers that may arise from she unskilful drawing of
blood, let none open a but a person of experience and practice.
There are three sorts of people you must not let draw blood; first
ignorant and inexperienced persons. Secondly, those who have bad sight
and trembling hands, whether skilful or unskilled. For when the hand
trembles, the lance is apt to start from the vein, and the flesh be
thereby damaged, which may hurt, canker, and very much torment the
patient. Thirdly, let no woman bleed, but such as have gone through a
course of midwifery at college, for those who are unskilful may cut an
artery, to the great damage of the patient. Besides, what is still
worse, those pretended bleeders, who take it up at their own hand,
generally keep unedged and rusty lancets, which prove hurtful, even in a
skilful hand. Accordingly you ought to be cautious in choosing your
physician; a man of learning knows what vein to open for each disorder;
he knows how much blood to take as soon as he sees the patient, and he
can give you suitable advice concerning your disorder.
* * * * *
ARISTOTLE'S BOOK OF PROBLEMS
ASTROMER, ASTROLOGERS AND
THE STATE OF MAN'S BODY.
Q. Among all living creatures, why hath man only his countenance lifted
up towards Heaven. A. 1. From the will of the Creator. But although this
answer be true, yet it seemeth not to be of force, because that so all
questions might be easily resolved. Therefore, 2. I answer that, for the
most part, every workman doth make his first work worse, and then his
second better! so God creating all other animals before man gave them
their face looking down to the earth; and then secondly he created man,
unto whom he gave an upright shape, lifted unto heaven, because it is
drawn from divinity, and it is derived from the goodness of God, who
maketh all his works both perfect and good. 3. Man only, among all
living creatures, is ordained to the kingdom of heaven, and therefore
hath his face elevated and lifted up to heaven, because that despising
earthly and worldly things, he ought often to contemplate on heavenly
things. 4. That the reasonable man is like unto angels, and finally
ordained towards God; and therefore he hath a figure looking upward. 5.
Man is a microcosm, that is, a little world, and therefore he doth
command all other living creatures and they obey him. 6. Naturally there
is unto everything and every work, that form and figure given which is
fit and proper for its motion; as unto the heavens, roundness, to the
fire a pyramidical form, that is, broad beneath and sharp towards the
top, which form is most apt to ascend; and so man has his face towards
heaven to behold the wonders of God's works.
Q. Why are the heads of men hairy? A. The hair is the ornament of the
head, and the brain is purged of gross humours by the growing of the
hair, from the highest to the lowest, which pass through the pores of
the exterior flesh, become dry, and are converted into hair. This
appears to be the case, from the circumstance that in all man's body
there is nothing drier than the hair, for it is drier than the bones;
and it is well known that some beasts are nourished with bones, as dogs,
but they cannot digest feathers or hair, but void them undigested, being
too hot for nourishment. 2. It is answered, that the brain is purged in
three different ways; of superfluous watery humours by the eyes, of
choler by the nose, and of phlegm by the hair, which is the opinion of
the best physicians.
Q. Why have men longer hair on their heads than any other living
creature? A. Arist. de Generat. Anim. says, that men have the moistest
brain of all living creatures from which the seed proceedeth which is
converted into the long hair of the head. 2. The humours of men are fat,
and do not become dry easily; and therefore the hair groweth long on
them. In beasts, the humours easily dry, and therefore the hair groweth
not so long.
Q. Why doth the hair take deeper root in man's skin than in that of any
other living creatures? A. Because it has greater store of nourishment
in man, and therefore grows more in the inward parts of man. And this is
the reason why in other creatures the hair doth alter and change with
the skin, and not in man, unless by a scar or wound.
Q. Why have women longer hair than men? A. Because women are moister and
more phlegmatic than men, and therefore there is more matter for hair to
them, and, by consequence, the length also of their hair. And,
furthermore, this matter is more increased in women than men from their
interior parts, and especially in the time of their monthly terms,
because the matter doth then ascend, whereby the humour that breedeth
the hair, doth increase. 2. Because women want beards; so the matter of
the beard doth go into that of the hair.
Q. Why have some women soft hair and some hard? A. 1. The hair hath
proportion with the skin; of which some is hard, some thick, some subtle
and soft, some gross; therefore, the hair which grows out of thick,
gross skin, is thick and gross; that which groweth out of a subtle and
fine skin, is fine and soft; when the pores are open, then cometh forth
much humour, and therefore hard hair is engendered; and when the pores
are strait, then there doth grow soft and fine hair. This doth evidently
appear in men, because women have softer hair than they; for in women
the pores are shut and strait, by reason of their coldness. 2. Because
for the most part, choleric men have harder and thicker hair than
others, by reason of their heat, and because their pores are always
open, and therefore they have beards sooner than others. For this reason
also, beasts that have hard hair are boldest, because such have
proceeded from heat and choler, examples of which we have in the bear
and the boar; and contrariwise, those beasts that have soft hair are
fearful, because they are cold, as the hare and the hart. 3. From the
climate where a man is born; because in hot regions hard and gross hair
is engendered, as appears in the Ethiopians, and the contrary is the
case is cold countries toward the north.
Q. Why have some men curled hair, and some smooth? A. From the superior
degree of heat in some men, which makes the hair curl and grow upward;
this is proved by a man's having smooth hair when he goes into a hot
bath, and it afterwards becomes curled. Therefore keepers of baths have
often curled hair, as also Ethiopians and choleric men. But the cause of
this smoothness, is the abundance of moist humours.
Q. Why do women show ripeness by hair in their privy parts, and not
elsewhere, but men in their breasts? A. Because in men and women there
is abundance of humidity in that place, but most in women, as men have
the mouth of the bladder in that place, where the urine is contained, of
which the hair in the breast is engendered, and especially that about
the navel. But of women in general, it is said, that the humidity of the
bladder of the matrix, or womb, is joined and meeteth in that lower
secret place, and therefore is dissolved and separated in that place
into vapours and fumes, which are the cause of hair. And the like doth
happen in other places, as in the hair under the arms.
Q. Why have not women beards? A. Because they want heat; which is the
case with some effeminate men, who are beardless from the same cause, to
have complexions like women.
Q. Why doth the hair grow on those that are hanged? A. Because their
bodies are exposed to the sun, which, by its heat doth dissolve all
moisture into the fume or vapour of which the hair doth grow.
Q. Why is the hair of the beard thicker and grosser than elsewhere; and
the more men are shaven, the harder and thicker it groweth? A. Because
by so much as the humours or vapours of a liquid are dissolved and taken
away, so much the more doth the humour remaining draw to the same; and
therefore the more the hair is shaven, the thicker the humours gather
which engender the hair, and cause it to wax hard.
Q. Why are women smooth and fairer than men? A. Because in women much of
the humidity and superfluity, which are the matter and cause of the hair
of the body, is expelled with their monthly terms; which superfluity,
remaining in men, through vapours passes into hair.
Q. Why doth man, above all other creatures, wax hoary and gray? A.
Because man hath the hottest heart of all living creatures; and
therefore, nature being most wise, lest a man should be suffocated
through the heat of his heart, hath placed the heart, which is most hot,
under the brain, which is most cold; to the end that the heat of the
heart may be tempered by the coldness of the brain; and contrariwise,
that the coldness of the brain may be qualified by the heat of the
heart; and thereby there might be a temperature in both. A proof of this
is, that of all living creatures man hath the worst breath when he comes
to full age. Furthermore, man doth consume nearly half his time in
sleep, which doth proceed from the great excess of coldness and moisture
in the brain, and from his wanting natural heat to digest and consume
that moisture, which heat he hath in his youth, and therefore, in that
age is not gray, but in old age, when heat faileth; because then the
vapours ascending from the stomach remain undigested and unconsumed for
want of natural heat, and thus putrefy, on which putrefaction of humours
that the whiteness doth follow, which is called grayness or hoariness.
Whereby it doth appear, that hoariness is nothing but a whiteness of
hair, caused by a putrefaction of the humours about the roots of the
hair, through the want of natural heat in old age. Sometimes all
grayness is caused by the naughtiness of the complexion, which may
happen in youth: sometimes through over great fear and care as appeareth
in merchants, sailors and thieves.
Q. Why doth red hair grow white sooner than hair of any other colour? A.
Because redness is an infirmity of the hair; for it is engendered of a
weak and infirm matter, that is, of matter corrupted with the flowers of
the woman; and therefore it waxes white sooner than any other colour.
Q. Why do wolves grow grisly? A. To understand this question, note the
difference between grayness and grisliness; grayness is caused through
defect of natural heat, but grisliness through devouring and heat. The
wolf being a devouring beast, he eateth gluttonously without chewing,
and enough at once for three days; in consequence of which, gross
vapours engendered in the wolf's body, which cause grisliness. Grayness
and grisliness have this difference; grayness is only in the head, but
grisliness all over the body.
Q. Why do horses grow grisly and gray? A. Because they are for the most
part in the sun, and heat naturally causes putrefaction; therefore the
matter of hair doth putrefy, and in consequence they are quickly peeled.
Q. Why do men get bald, and trees let fall their leaves in winter? A.
The want of moisture is the cause in both, which is proved by a man's
becoming bald through venery, because by that he lets forth his natural
humidity and heat; and by that excess in carnal pleasure the moisture is
consumed which is the nutriment of the hair. Thus, eunuchs and women do
not grow bald, because they do not part from this moisture; and
therefore eunuchs are of the complexion of women.
Q. Why are not women bald? A. Because they are cold and moist, which are
the causes that the hair remaineth; for moistness doth give nutriment to
the hair, and coldness doth bind the pores.
Q. Why are not blind men naturally bald? A. Because the eye hath
moisture in it, and that moisture which should pass through by the
substance of the eyes, doth become a sufficient nutriment for the hair
and therefore they are seldom bald.
Q. Why doth the hair stand on end when men are afraid? A. Because in
time of fear the heat doth go from the outward parts of the body into
the inward to help the heart, and so the pores in which the hair is
fastened are shut up, after which stopping and shutting up of the pores,
the standing up of the hair doth follow.
_Of the Head._
Q. Why is a man's head round? A. Because it contains in it the moistest
parts of the living creature: and also that the brain may be defended
thereby, as with a shield.
Q. Why is the head not absolutely long but somewhat round? A. To the end
that the three creeks and cells of the brain might the better be
distinguished; that is, the fancy in the forehead, the discoursing or
reasonable part in the middle, and memory in the hinder-most part.
Q. Why doth a man lift up his head towards the heavens when he doth
imagine? A. Because the imagination is in the fore part of the head or
brain, and therefore it lifteth up itself, that the creeks or cells of
the imagination may be opened, and that the spirits which help the
imagination, and are fit for that purpose, having their concourse
thither, may help the imagination.
Q. Why doth a man, when he museth or thinketh of things past, look
towards the earth? A. Because the cell or creek which is behind, is the
creek or chamber of the memory; and therefore, that looketh towards
heaven when the head is bowed down, and so the cell is open, to the end
that the spirits which perfect the memory should enter it.
Q. Why is not the head fleshy, like other parts of the body? A. Because
the head would be too heavy, and would not stand steadily. Also, a head
loaded with flesh, betokens an evil complexion.
Q. Why is the head subject to aches and griefs? A. By reason that evil
humours, which proceed from the stomach, ascend up to the head and
disturb the brain, and so cause pain in the head; sometimes it proceeds
from overmuch filling the stomach, because two great sinews pass from
the brain to the mouth of the stomach, and therefore these two parts do
always suffer grief together.
Q. Why have women the headache oftener than men? A. By reason of their
monthly terms, which men are not troubled with, and by which a moist,
unclean and venomous fume is produced, that seeks passage upwards, and
so causes the headache.
Q. Why is the brain white? A. 1. Because it is cold, and coldness is the
mother of white. 2. Because it may receive the similitude and likeness
of all colours, which the white colour can best do, because it is most
Q. Why are all the senses in the head? A. Because the brain is there, on
which all the senses depend, and are directed by it; and, consequently,
it maketh all the spirits to feel, and governeth all the membranes.
Q. Why cannot a person escape death if the brain or heart be hurt? A.
Because the brain and heart are the two principal parts which concern
life; and, therefore, if they be hurt, there is no remedy left for cure.
Q. Why is the brain moist? A. Because it may easily receive an
impression, which moisture can best do, as it appeareth in wax, which
doth easily receive the print of the seal when soft.
Q. Why is the brain cold? A. 1. Because that by this coldness it may
clear the understanding of man and make it subtle. 2. That by the
coldness of the brain, the heat of the heart may be tempered.
_Of the Eyes._
Q. Why have you one nose and two eyes? A. Because light is more
necessary to us than smelling; and therefore it doth proceed from the
goodness of Nature, that if we receive any hurt or loss of one eye, the
other should remain.
Q. Why have children great eyes in their youth, which become small as
they grow up? A. It proceeds from the want of fire, and from the
assemblage and meeting together of the light and humour; the eyes, being
lightened by the sun, which doth lighten the easy humour thereof and
purge them: and, in the absence of the sun, those humours become dark
and black, and the sight not so good.
Q. Why does the blueish grey eye see badly in the day-time and well in
the night? A. Because greyness is light and shining in itself, and the
spirits with which we see are weakened in the day-time and strengthened
in the night.
Q. Why are men's eyes of diverse colours? A. By reason of diversity of
humours. The eye hath four coverings and three humours. The first
covering is called consolidative, which is the outermost, strong and
fat. The second is called a horny skin or covering, of the likeness of
a horn; which is a clear covering. The third, uvea, of the likeness of a
black grape. The fourth is called a cobweb. The first humour is called
_albuginous_, from its likeness unto the white of an egg. The second
glarial; that is, clear, like unto crystalline. The third vitreous, that
is, clear as glass. And the diversity of humours causeth the diversity
of the eyes.
Q. Why are men that have but one eye, good archers? and why do good
archers commonly shut one? And why do such as behold the stars look
through a trunk with one eye? A. This matter is handled in the
perspective arts; and the reason is, as it doth appear in _The Book of
Causes_, because that every virtue and strength united and knit
together, is stronger than when dispersed and scattered. Therefore, all
the force of seeing dispersed in two eyes, the one being shut, is
gathered into the other, and so the light is fortified in him; and by
consequence he doth see better and more certainly with one eye being
shut, than when both are open.
Q. Why do those that drink and laugh much, shed most tears? A. Because
that while they drink and laugh without measure the air which is drawn
in doth not pass out through the windpipe, and so with force is
directed and sent to the eyes, and by their pores passing out, doth
expel the humours of the eyes; which humour being expelled, brings
Q. Why do such as weep much, urine but little? A. Because the radical
humidity of a tear and of urine are of one and the same nature, and,
therefore, where weeping doth increase, urine diminishes. And that they
are of one nature is plain to the taste, because they are both salt.
Q. Why do some that have clear eyes see nothing? A. By reason of the
oppilation and naughtiness of the sinews with which we see; for the
temples being destroyed, the strength of the light cannot be carried
from the brain to the eye.
Q. Why is the eye clear and smooth like glass? A. 1. Because the things
which may be seen are better beaten back from a smooth thing than
otherwise, that thereby the sight should strengthen. 2. Because the eye
is moist above all parts of the body, and of a waterish nature; and as
the water is clear and smooth, so likewise is the eye.
Q. Why do men and beasts who have their eyes deep in their head best see
far off? A. Because the force and power by which we see is dispersed in
them, and both go directly to the thing which is seen. Thus, when a man
doth stand in a deep ditch or well, he doth see in the daytime the stars
of the firmament; because then the power of the night and of the beams
are not scattered.
Q. Wherefore do those men who have eyes far out in their head not see
far distant? A. Because the beams of the sight which pass from the eye,
are scattered on every side, and go not directly unto the thing that is
seen, and therefore the sight is weakened.
Q. Why are so many beasts born blind, as lions' whelps and dogs' whelps.
A. Because such beasts are not yet of perfect ripeness and maturity, and
the course of nutriment doth not work in them. Thus the swallow, whose
eyes, if they were taken out when they are young in their nest, would
grow in again. And this is the case in many beasts who are brought forth
before their time as it were dead, as bear's whelps.
Q. Why do the eyes of a woman that hath her flowers, stain new glass?
And why doth a basilisk kill a man with his sight? A. When the flowers
do run from a woman, then a most venomous air is distilled from them,
which doth ascend into a woman's head; and she, having pain in her head,
doth wrap it up with a cloth or handkerchief; and because the eyes are
full of insensible holes, which are called pores, there the air seeketh
a passage, and infects the eyes, which are full of blood. The eyes also
appear dropping and full of tears, by reason of the evil vapour that is
in them; and these vapours are incorporated and multiplied till they
come to the glass before them; and by reason that such a glass is round,
clear and smooth, it doth easily receive that which is unclean. 2. The
basilisk is a very venomous and infectious animal, and there pass from
his eyes vapours which are multiplied upon the thing which is seen by
him, and even unto the eye of man; the which venomous vapours or humours
entering into the body, do infect him, and so in the end the man dieth.
And this is also the reason why the basilisk, looking upon a shield
perfectly well made with fast clammy pitch, or any hard smooth thing,
doth kill itself, because the humours are beaten back from the hard
smooth thing unto the basilisk, by which beating back he is killed.
Q. Why is the sparkling in cats' eyes and wolves' eyes seen in the dark
and not in the light? A. Because that the greater light doth darken the
lesser; and therefore, in a greater light the sparkling cannot be seen;
but the greater the darkness, the easier it is seen, and is more strong
Q. Why is the sight recreated and refreshed by a green colour? A.
Because green doth merely move the sight, and therefore doth comfort it;
but this doth not, in black or white colours, because these colours do
vehemently stir and alter the organ and instrument of the sight, and
therefore make the greater violence; and by how much the more violent
the thing is which is felt or seen the more it doth destroy and weaken
_Of the Nose._
Q. Why doth the nose stand out further than any other part of the body.
A. 1. Because the nose is, as it were, the sink of the brain, by which
the phlegm of the brain is purged; and therefore it doth stand forth,
lest the other parts should be defiled. 2. Because the nose is the
beauty of the face, and doth smell.
Q. Why hath a man the worst smell of all creatures? A. Because man hath
most brains of all creatures; and, therefore, by exceeding coldness and
moisture, the brain wanteth a good disposition, and by consequence, the
smelling instrument is not good, yea, some men have no smell.
Q. Why have vultures and cormorants a keen smell? A. Because they have a
very dry brain; and, therefore, the air carrying the smell, is not
hindered by the humidity of the brain, but doth presently touch its
instrument; and, therefore, vultures, tigers and other ravenous beasts,
have been known to come five hundred miles after dead bodies.
Q. Why did nature make the nostrils? A. 1. Because the mouth being shut
we draw breath in by the nostrils, to refresh the heart. 2. Because the
air which proceedeth from the mouth doth savour badly, because of the
vapours which rise from the stomach, but that which we breathe from the
nose is not noisome. 3. Because the phlegm which doth proceed from the
brain is purged by them.
Q. Why do men sneeze? A. That the expulsive virtue and power of the
sight should thereby be purged, and the brain also from superfluities;
because, as the lungs are purged by coughing, so is the sight and brain
by sneezing; and therefore physicians give sneezing medicaments to purge
the brain; and thus it is, such sick persons as cannot sneeze, die
quickly, because it is a sign their brain is wholly stuffed with evil
humours, which cannot be purged.
Q. Why do such as are apoplectic sneeze, that is, such as are subject
easily to bleed? A. Because the passages, or ventricles of the brain are
stopped, and if they could sneeze, their apoplexy would be loosed.
Q. Why does the heat of the sun provoke sneezing, and not the heat of
the fire? A. Because the heat of the sun doth dissolve, but not consume,
and therefore the vapour dissolved is expelled by sneezing; but the heat
of the fire doth dissolve and consume, and therefore doth rather hinder
sneezing than provoke it.
_Of the Ears._
Q. Why do beasts move their ears, and not men? A. Because there is a
certain muscle near the under jaw which doth cause motion in the ear;
and therefore, that muscle being extended and stretched, men do not move
their ears, as it hath been seen in divers men; but all beasts do use
that muscle or fleshy sinew, and therefore do move their ears.
Q. Why is rain prognosticated by the pricking up of asses' ears? A.
Because the ass is of a melancholic constitution, and the approach of
rain produceth that effect on such a constitution. In the time of rain
all beasts prick up their ears, but the ass before it comes.
Q. Why have some animals no ears? A. Nature giveth unto everything that
which is fit for it, but if she had given birds ears, their flying would
have been hindered by them. Likewise fish want ears, because they would
hinder their swimming, and have only certain little holes through which
Q. Why have bats ears, although of the bird kind? A. Because they are
partly birds in nature, in that they fly, by reason whereof they have
wings; and partly they are hairy and seem to be of the nature of mice,
therefore nature hath given them ears.
Q. Why have men only round ears? A. Because the shape of the whole and
of the parts should be proportionable, and especially in all things of
one nature; for as a drop of water is round, so the whole water: and so,
because a man's head is round, the ears incline towards the same figure;
but the heads of beasts are somewhat long, and so the ears are drawn
into length likewise.
Q. Why hath nature given all living creatures ears? A. 1. Because with
them they should hear. 2. Because by the ear choleric superfluity is
purged; for as the head is purged of phlegmatic superfluity by the nose,
so from choleric, by the ears.
_Of the Mouth._
Q. Why hath the mouth lips to compass it? A. Because the lips cover and
defend the teeth; for it would be unseemly if the teeth were always
seen. Also, the teeth being of a cold nature, would be soon hurt if they
were not covered with lips.
Q. Why has a man two eyes and but one mouth? A. Because a man should
speak but little, and hear and see much. And by hearing and the light we
see difference of things.
Q. Why hath a man a mouth? A. 1. Because the mouth is the gate and door
of the stomach. 2. Because the meat is chewed in the mouth, and prepared
and made ready for the first digestion. 3. Because the air drawn into
the hollow of the mouth for the refreshing of the heart, is made pure
Q. Why are the lips moveable? A. For the purpose of forming the voice
and words which cannot be perfectly done without them. For as without
_a, b, c_, there is no writing, so without the lips no voice can well be
Q. What causes men to yawn or gape? A. It proceeds from the thick fume
and vapours that fill the jaws; by the expulsion of which is caused the
stretching out and expansion of the jaws, and opening of the mouth.
Q. Why doth a man gape when he seeth another do the same? A. It proceeds
from the imagination. And this is proved by the similitude of the ass,
who by reason of his melancholy, doth retain his superfluity for a long
time, and would neither eat nor piss unless he should hear another
doing the like.
_Of the Teeth._
Q. Why do the teeth only, amongst all ether bones, experience the sense
of feeling? A. That they may discern heat and cold, that hurt them,
which other bones need not.
Q. Why have men more teeth than women? A. By reason of the abundance of
heat and cold which is more in men than in women.
Q. Why do the teeth grow to the end of our life, and not the other
bones? A. Because otherwise they would be consumed with chewing and
Q. Why do the teeth only come again when they fall, or be taken out, and
other bones being taken away, grow no more? A. Because other bones are
engendered of the humidity which is called radical, and so they breed in
the womb of the mother, but the teeth are engendered of nutritive
humidity, which is renewed and increased from day to day.
Q. Why do the fore-teeth fall in youth, and grow again, and not the
cheek teeth? A. From the defect of matter, and from the figure; because
the fore-teeth are sharp, and the others broad. Also, it is the office
of the fore-teeth to cut the meat, and therefore they are sharp; and
the office of the others to chew the meat, and therefore they are broad
in fashion, which is fittest for that purpose.
Q. Why do the fore-teeth grow soonest? A. Because we want them sooner in
cutting than the others in chewing.
Q. Why do the teeth grow black in human creatures in their old age? A.
It is occasioned by the corruption of the meat, and the corruption of
phlegm with a choleric humour.
Q. Why are colts' teeth yellow, and of the colour of saffron, when they
are young, and become white when they grow up? A. Because horses have
abundance of watery humours in them, which in their youth are digested
and converted into grossness; but in old age heat diminishes, and the
watery humours remain, whose proper colour is white.
Q. Why did nature give living creatures teeth? A. To some to fight with,
and for defence of their lives, as unto wolves and bears, unto some to
eat with, as unto horses, unto some for the forming of the voices, as
Q. Why do horned beasts want their upper teeth? A. Horns and teeth are
caused by the same matter, that is, nutrimental humidity, and therefore
the matter which passeth into the horns turneth not into teeth,
consequently they want the upper teeth. And such beasts cannot chew
well; therefore, to supply the want of teeth, they have two stomachs,
from whence it returns and they chew it again, then it goes into the
other to be digested.
Q. Why are some creatures brought forth with teeth, as kids and lambs;
and some without, as men? A. Nature doth not want in necessary things,
nor abound in things superfluous; and therefore, because these beasts,
not long after they are fallen, do need teeth, they are fallen with
teeth; but men, being nourished by their mother, for a long time do not
stand in need of teeth.
_Of the Tongue._
Q. Why is the tongue full of pores? A. Because the tongue is the means
whereby which we taste; and through the mouth, in the pores of the
tongue, doth proceed the sense of tasting. Again, it is observed, that
frothy spittle is sent into the mouth by the tongue from the lungs,
moistening the meat and making it ready for digestion.
Q. Why do the tongues of such as are sick of agues judge all things
bitter? A. Because the stomachs of such persons are filled with
choleric humours; and choler is very bitter, as appeareth by the gall;
therefore this bitter fume doth infect their tongues; and so the tongue,
being full of these tastes, doth judge everything bitter.
Q. Why doth the tongue water when we hear sour and sharp things spoken
of? A. Because the imaginative virtue or power is of greater force than
the power or faculty of tasting; and when we imagine a taste, we
conceive the power of tasting as a swan; there is nothing felt by the
taste, but by means of the spittle the tongue doth water.
Q. Why do some persons stammer and lisp? A. Sometimes through the
moistness of the tongue and brain, as in children, who cannot speak
plainly nor pronounce many letters. Sometimes it happeneth by reason of
the shrinking of certain sinews which go to the tongue, which are
corrupted with phlegm.
Q. Why are the tongues of serpents and mad dogs venomous? A. Because of
the malignity and tumosity of the venomous humour which predominates in
Q. Why is a dog's tongue good for medicine, and a horse's tongue
pestiferous? A. By reason of some secret property, or that the tongue of
a dog is full of pores, and so doth draw and take away the viscosity of
the wound. It is observed that a dog hath some humour in his tongue,
with which, by licking he doth heal; but the contrary effect is the lick
of a horse's tongue.
Q. Why is spittle white? A. By reason of the continual moving of the
tongue, whereof heat is engendered, which doth make this superfluity
white; as seen in the froth of water.
Q. Why is spittle unsavoury and without taste? A. If it had a certain
determinate taste, then the tongue would not taste at all, but only have
the taste of spittle, and could not distinguish others.
Q. Why doth the spittle of one that is fasting heal an imposthume? A.
Because it is well digested and made subtle.
Q. Why do some abound in spittle more than others? A. This doth proceed
of a phlegmatic complexion, which doth predominate in them; and such are
liable to a quotidian ague, which ariseth from the predominance of
phlegm; the contrary in those that spit little, because heat abounds in
them, which consumes the humidity of the spittle; and so the defect of
spittle is a sign of fever.
Q. Why is the spittle of a man that is fasting more subtle than of one
that is full? A. Because the spittle is without the viscosity of meat,
which is wont to make the spittle of one who is full, gross and thick.
Q. From whence proceeds the spittle of a man? A. From the froth of the
lungs, which according to the physicians, is the seat of the phlegm.
Q. Why are beasts when going together for generation very full of froth
and foam? A. Because then the lights and heart are in greater motion of
lust; therefore there is engendered in them much frothy matter.
Q. Why have not birds spittle? A. Because they have very dry lungs.
Q. Why doth the tongue sometimes lose the use of speaking? A. It is
occasioned by a palsy or apoplexy, which is a sudden effusion of blood,
and by gross humours; and sometimes also by infection of _spiritus
animates_ in the middle cell of the brain which hinders the spirits from
being carried to the tongue.
_Of the Roof of the Mouth._
Q. Why are fruits, before they are ripe, of a bitter and sour relish,
and afterward sweet? A. A sour relish or taste proceeds from coldness
and want of heat in gross and thick humidity; but a sweet taste is
produced by sufficient heat; therefore in the ripe fruit humidity is
subtle through the heat of the sun, and such fruit is commonly sweet;
but before it is ripe, as humidity is gross or subtle for want of heat,
the fruit is bitter or sour.
Q. Why are we better delighted with sweet tastes than with bitter or any
other? A. Because a sweet thing is hot and moist, and through its heat
dissolves and consumes superfluous humidities, and by this humidity
immundicity is washed away; but a sharp, eager taste, by reason of the
cold which predominates in it, doth bind overmuch, and prick and offend
the parts of the body in purging, and therefore we do not delight in
Q. Why doth a sharp taste, as that of vinegar, provoke appetite rather
than any other? A. Because it is cold, and doth cool. For it is the
nature of cold to desire to draw, and therefore it is the cause of
Q. Why do we draw in more air than we breathe out? A. Because much air
is drawn in that is converted into nutriment, and with the vital spirits
is contained in the lungs. Therefore a beast is not suffocated as long
as it receives air with its lungs, in which some part of the air
Q. Why doth the air seem to be expelled and put forth, seeing the air is
invisible, by reason of its variety and thinness? A. Because the air
which is received in us, is mingled with vapours and fumes from the
heart, by reason whereof it is made thick, and so is seen. And this is
proved by experience, because that in winter, we see our breath, for the
coldness of the air doth bind the air mixed with fume, and so it is
thickened and made gross, and by consequence is seen.
Q. Why have some persons stinking breath? A. Because of the evil fumes
that arise from the stomach. And sometimes it doth proceed from the
corruption of the airy parts of the body, as the lungs. The breath of
lepers is so infected that it would poison birds if near them, because
the inward parts are very corrupt.
Q. Why are lepers hoarse? A. Because the vocal instruments are
corrupted, that is, the lights.
Q. Why do persons become hoarse? A. Because of the rheum descending from
the brain, filling the conduit of the lights; and sometimes through
imposthumes of the throat, or rheum gathering in the neck.
Q. Why have the females of all living creatures the shrillest voices,
the crow only excepted, and a woman a shriller and smaller voice than a
man? A. By reason of the composition of the veins and vocal arteries the
voice is formed, as appears by this similitude, that a small pipe
sounds shriller than a great. Also in women, because the passage where
the voice is formed is made narrow and strait, by reason of cold, it
being the nature of cold to bind; but in men, the passage is open and
wider through heat, because it is the property of heat to open and
dissolve. It proceedeth in women through the moistness of the lungs, and
weakness of the heat. Young and diseased men have sharp and shrill
voices from the same cause.
Q. Why doth the voice change in men at fourteen, and in women at twelve;
in men they begin to yield seed, in women when their breasts begin to
grow? A. Because then the beginning of the voice is slackened and
loosened; and this is proved by the similitude of the string of an
instrument let down or loosened, which gives a great sound, and also
because creatures that are gelded, as eunuchs, capons., etc., have
softer and slenderer voices than others, by the want of their stones.
Q. Why do small birds sing more and louder than great ones, as appears
in the lark and nightingale? A. Because the spirits of small birds are
subtle and soft, and the organ conduit strait, as appeareth in a pipe;
therefore their notes following easily at desire, they sing very soft.
Q. Why do bees, wasps, locusts and many other such like insects, make a
noise, seeing they have no lungs, nor instruments of music? A. Because
in them there is a certain small skin, which, when struck by the air,
causeth a sound.
Q. Why do not fish make a sound? A. Because they have no lungs, but only
gills, nor yet a heart, and therefore they need not the drawing in of
the air, and by consequence they make no noise, because a voice is a
percussion of the air which is drawing.
_Of the Neck._
Q. Why hath a living creature a neck? A. Because the neck is the
supporter of the head, and therefore the neck is in the middle between
the head and the body, to the intent that by it, and by its sinews,
motion and sense of the body might be conveyed through all the body; and
that by means of the neck, the heart, which is very hot, might be
separated from the brain.
Q. Why do some creatures want necks, as serpents and fishes? A. Because
they want hearts, and therefore want that assistance which we have
spoken of; or else they have a neck in some inward part of them, which
is not distinguished outwardly.
Q. Why is the neck full of bones and joints? A. That it may bear and
sustain the head the better. Also, because the back bone is joined to
the brain in the neck, and from thence it receives marrow, which is of
the substance of the brain.
Q. Why have some creatures long necks, as cranes, storks and such like?
A. Because such birds seek their food at the bottom of waters. And some
creatures have short necks, as sparrows, hawks, etc., because such are
ravenous, and therefore for strength have short necks, as appeareth in
the ox, who has a short neck and strong.
Q. Why is the neck hollow, and especially before, about the tongue? A.
Because there are two passages, whereof the one doth carry the meat to
the nutritive instrument, or stomach and liver, which is called by the
Greeks _Aesophagus_; and the other is the windpipe.
Q. Why is the artery made with rings and circle? A. The better to bow
and give a good sounding.
_Of the Shoulders and Arms._
Q. Why hath a man shoulders and arms? A. To lift and carry burdens.
Q. Why are the arms round? A. For the swifter and speedier work.
Q. Why are the arms thick? A. That they may be strong to lift and bear
burdens, and thrust and give a strong blow; so their bones are thick,
because they contain much marrow, or they would be easily corrupted and
Q. Why do the arms become small and slender in some diseases, as in mad
men, and such as are sick of the dropsy? A. Because all the parts of the
body do suffer the one with the other; and therefore one member being in
grief, all the humours do concur and run thicker to give succour and
help to the aforesaid grief.
Q. Why have brute beasts no arms? A. Their fore feet are instead of
arms, and in their place.
_Of the Hands._
Q. For what use hath a man hands, and an ape also, like unto a man? A.
The hand is an instrument a man doth especially make use of, because
many things are done by the hands, and not by any other part.
Q. Why are some men ambo-dexter, that is, they use the left hand as the
right? A. By reason of the great heat of the heart, and for the hot
bowing of the same, for it is that which makes a man as nimble of the
left hand as of the right.
Q. Why are the fingers full of joints? A. To be more fit and apt to
receive and keep what is put in them.
Q. Why hath every finger three joints, and the thumb but two? A. The
thumb hath three, but the third is joined to the arm, therefore is
stronger than the other fingers; and is called pollex or polico, that
is, to excel in strength.
Q. Why are the fingers of the right hand nimbler than the fingers of the
left? A. It proceedeth from the heat that predominates in those parts,
and causeth great agility.
_Of the Nails._
Q. From whence do nails proceed? A. Of the tumosity and humours, which
are resolved and go into the extremities of the fingers; and they are
dried through the power of the external air, and brought to the hardness
Q. Why do the nails of old men grow black and pale? A. Because the heat
of the heart decaying causeth their beauty to decay also.
Q. Why are men judged to be good or evil complexioned by the colour of
the nails? A. Because they give witness of the goodness or badness of
their heart, and therefore of the complexion, for if they be somewhat
red, they betoken choler well tempered; but if they be yellowish or
black, they signify melancholy.
Q. Why do white spots appear in the nails? A. Through mixture of phlegm
_Of the Paps and Dugs._
Q. Why are the paps placed upon the breasts? A. Because the breast is
the seat of the heart, which is most hot; and therefore the paps grow
there, to the end that the menses being conveyed thither as being near
the heat of the heart, should the sooner be digested, perfected and
converted with the matter and substance of the milk.
Q. Why are the paps below the breasts in beasts, and above the breast in
women? A. Because woman goes upright, and has two legs only; and
therefore if her paps were below her breasts, they would hinder her
going; but beasts having four feet prevents that inconveniency.
Q. Whether are great, small or middle-sized paps best for children to
suck? A. In great ones the heat is dispersed, there is no good
digestion of the milk; but in small ones the power and force is strong,
because a virtue united is strongest; and by consequence there is a good
digestion for the milk.
Q. Why have not men as great paps and breasts as women? A. Because men
have not monthly terms, and therefore have no vessel deputed for them.
Q. Why do the paps of young women begin to grow about thirteen or
fifteen years of age? A. Because then the flowers have no course to the
teats, by which the young one is nourished, but follow their ordinary
course and therefore wax soft.
Q. Why hath a woman who is with child of a boy, the right pap harder
than the left? A. Because the male child is conceived in the right side
of the mother; and therefore the flowers do run to the right pap, and
make it hard.
Q. Why doth it show weakness of the child, when the milk doth drop out
of the paps before the woman is delivered? A. Because the milk is the
proper nutriment of the child in the womb of its mother, therefore if
the milk run out, it is a token that the child is not nourished, and
consequently is weak.
Q. Why do the hardness of the paps betoken the health of the child in
the womb? A. Because the flowers are converted into milk, and thereby
strength is signified.
Q. Why are women's paps hard when they be with child, and soft at other
times? A. Because they swell then, and are puffed, and the great
moisture which proceeds from the flowers doth run into the paps, which
at other seasons remaineth in the matrix and womb, and is expelled by
the place deputed for that end.
Q. By what means doth the milk of the paps come to the matrix or womb?
A. There is a certain knitting and coupling of the paps with the womb,
and there are certain veins which the midwives do cut in the time of the
birth of the child, and by those veins the milk flows in at the navel of
the child, and so it receives nourishment by the navel.
Q. Why is it a sign of a male child in the womb when the milk that
runneth out of a woman's breast is thick, and not much, and of a female
when it is thin? A. Because a woman that goeth with a boy hath a great
heat in her, which doth perfect the milk and make it thick; but she who
goes with a girl hath not so much heat, and therefore the milk is
undigested, imperfect, watery and thin, and will swim above the water if
it be put into it.
Q. Why is the milk white, seeing the flowers are red, of which it is
engendered? A. Because blood which is well purged and concocted becomes
white, as appeareth in flesh whose proper colour is white, and being
boiled, is white. Also, because every humour which is engendered of the
body, is made like unto that part in colour where it is engendered as
near as it can be; but because the flesh of the paps is white, therefore
the colour of the milk is white.
Q. Why doth a cow give milk more abundantly than other beasts? A.
Because she is a great eating beast, where there is much monthly
superfluity engendered, there is much milk; because it is nothing else
but the blood purged and tried.
Q. Why is not milk wholesome? A. 1. Because it curdeth in the stomach,
whereof an evil breath is bred. 2. Because the milk doth grow sour in
the stomach, where evil humours are bred, and infect the breath.
Q. Why is milk bad for such as have the headache? A. Because it is
easily turned into great fumosities, and hath much terrestrial substance
in it, the which ascending, doth cause the headache.
Q. Why is milk fit nutriment for infants? A. Because it is a natural and
usual food, and they were nourished by the same in the womb.
Q. Why are the white-meats made of a newly milked cow good? A. Because
milk at that time is very springy, expels fumosities, and, as it were,
purges at that time.
Q. Why is the milk naught for the child, if the woman giving suck uses
carnal copulation? A. Because in time of carnal copulation, the best
part of the milk goes to the seed vessels, and to the womb, and the
worst remain in the paps, which hurts the child.
Q. Why do physicians forbid the eating of fish and milk at the same
time? A. Because they produce a leprosy, and because they are
Q. Why have not birds and fish milk and paps? A. Because paps would
hinder the flight of birds. And although fish have neither paps nor
milk, the females cast much spawn, which the male touches with a small
gut, and causes their kind to continue in succession.
_Of the Back._
Q. Why have beasts a back? A. 1. Because the back is the way and mien of
the body from which are extended and spread throughout, all the sinews
of the backbone. 2. Because it should be a guard and defence for the
soft parts of the body, as for the stomach, liver, lights and such like.
3. Because it is the foundation of all the bones, as the ribs, fastened
to the back bone.
Q. Why hath the back bone so many joints or knots, called _spondyli_? A.
Because the moving and bending it, without such joints, could not be
done; and therefore they are wrong who say that elephants have no such
joints, for without them they could not move.
Q. Why do fish die after their back bones are broken? A. Because in fish
the back bone is instead of the heart; now the heart is the first thing
that lives and the last that dies; and when that bone is broken, fish
can live no longer.
Q. Why doth a man die soon after the marrow is hurt or perished? A.
Because the marrow proceeds from the brain, which is the principal part
of a man.
Q. Why have some men the piles? A. Those men are cold and melancholy,
which melancholy first passes to the spleen, its proper seat, but there
cannot be retained, for the abundancy of blood; for which reason it is
conveyed to the back bone, where there are certain veins which terminate
in the back, and receive the blood. When those veins are full of the
melancholy blood, then the conduits of nature are opened, and the blood
issues out once a month, like women's terms. Those men who have this
course of blood, are kept from many infirmities, such as dropsy, plague,
Q. Why are the Jews much subject to this disease? A. Because they eat
much phlegmatic and cold meats, which breed melancholy blood, which is
purged with the flux. Another reason is, motion causes heat and heat
digestion; but strict Jews neither move, labour nor converse much, which
breeds a coldness in them, and hinders digestion, causing melancholic
blood, which is by this means purged out.
_Of the Heart._
Q. Why are the lungs light, spongy and full of holes? A. That the air
may be received into them for cooling the heart, and expelling humours,
because the lungs are the fan of the heart; and as a pair of bellows is
raised up by taking in the air, and shrunk by blowing it out, so
likewise the lungs draw the air to cool the heart, and cast it out, lest
through too much air drawn in, the heart should be suffocated.
Q. Why is the flesh of the lungs white? A. Because they are in continual
Q. Why have those beasts only lungs that have hearts? A. Because the
lungs be no part for themselves, but for the heart, and therefore, it
were superfluous for those creatures to have lungs that have no hearts.
Q. Why do such creatures as have no lungs want a bladder? A. Because
such drink no water to make their meat digest and need no bladder for
urine; as appears in such birds as do not drink at all, viz., the falcon
and sparrow hawk.
Q. Why is the heart in the midst of the body? A. That it may import life
to all, parts of the body, and therefore it is compared to the sun,
which is placed in the midst of the planets, to give light to them all.
Q. Why only in men is the heart on the left side? A. To the end that the
heat of the heart may mitigate the coldness of the spleen; for the
spleen is the seat of melancholy, which is on the left side also.
Q. Why is the heart first engendered; for the heart doth live first and
die last? A. Because the heart is the beginning and original of life,
and without it no part can live. For of the seed retained in the matrix,
there is first engendered a little small skin, which compasses the seed;
whereof first the heart is made of the purest blood; then of blood not
so pure, the liver; and of thick and cold blood the marrow and brain.
Q. Why are beasts bold that have little hearts? A. Because in a little
heart the heat is well united and vehement, and the blood touching it,
doth quickly heat it and is speedily carried to the other parts of the
body, which give courage and boldness.
Q. Why are creatures with a large heart timorous, as the hare? A. The
heart is dispersed in such a one, and not able to heat the blood which
cometh to it; by which means fear is bred.
Q. How is it that the heart is continually moving? A. Because in it
there is a certain spirit which is more subtle than air, and by reason
of its thickness and rarefaction, seeks a larger space, filling the
hollow room of the heart; hence the dilating and opening of the heart,
and because the heart is earthly the thrusting and moving ceasing, its
parts are at rest, tending downwards. As a proof of this, take an acorn,
which, if put into the fire, the heat doth dissolve its humidity,
therefore occupies a greater space, so that the rind cannot contain it,
but puffs up, and throws it into the fire. The like of the heart.
Therefore the heart of a living creature is triangular, having its least
part towards its left side, and the greater towards the right; and doth
also open and shut in the least part, by which means it is in continual
motion; the first motion is called _diastole_, that is extending the
heart or breast; the other _systole_, that is, shutting of the heart;
and from these all the motions of the body proceed, and that of the
pulse which the physicians feel.
Q. How comes it that the flesh of the heart is so compact and knit
together? A. Because in thick compacted substances heat is commonly
received and united. And because the heart with its heat should moderate
the coldness of the brain, it is made of that fat flesh apt to keep a
Q. How comes the heart to be the hottest part of all living creatures?
A. It is so compacted as to receive the heat best, and because it should
mitigate the coldness of the brain.
Q. Why is the heart the beginning of life? A. It is plain that in it the
vital spirit is bred, which is the heat of life; and therefore the heart
having two receptacles, viz., the right and the left the right hath more
blood than spirits; which spirit is engendered to give life and vivify
Q. Why is the heart long and sharp like a pyramid? A. The round figure
hath an angle, therefore the heart is round, for fear any poison or
hurtful matter should be retained in it; and because that figure is
fittest for motion.
Q. How comes the blood chiefly to be in the heart? A. The blood in the
heart has its proper or efficient place, which some attribute to the
liver; and therefore the heart doth not receive blood from any other
parts but all other parts of it.
Q. How happens it that some creatures want a heart? A. Although they
have no heart, yet they have somewhat that answers for it, as appears in
eels and fish that have the back bone instead of the heart.
Q. Why does the heart beat in some creatures after the head is cut off,
as in birds and hens? A. Because the heart lives first and dies last,
and therefore beats longer than other parts.
Q. Why doth the heat of the heart sometimes fail of a sudden, and in
those who have the falling sickness? A. This proceeds from the defect of
the heart itself, and of certain small skins with which it is covered,
which, being infected and corrupted, the heart faileth on a sudden;
sometimes only by reason of the parts adjoining; and therefore, when any
venomous humour goes out of the stomach that turns the heart and parts
adjoining, that causeth this fainting.
_Of the Stomach._
Q. For what reason is the stomach large and wide? A. Because in it the
food is first concocted or digested as it were in a pot, to the end that
which is pure should be separated from that which is not; and therefore,
according to the quantity of food, the stomach is enlarged.
Q. How comes it that the stomach is round? A. Because if it had angles
and corners, food would remain in them and breed ill-humours, so that a
man would never want agues, which humours are evacuated and consumed,
and not hid in any such corners, by the roundness of the stomach.
Q. How comes the stomach to be full of sinews? A. Because the sinews can
be extended and enlarged, and so is the stomach when it is full; but
when empty it is drawn together, and therefore nature provides the
Q. How comes the stomach to digest? A. Because of the heat which is in
it, and comes from the parts adjoining, that is, the liver and the
heart. For as we see in metals the heat of the fire takes away the rust
and dross from iron, the silver from tin, and gold from copper; so also
by digestion the pure is separated from the impure.
Q. For what reason doth the stomach join the liver? A. Because the liver
is very hot, and with its heat helps digestion, and provokes appetite.
Q. Why are we commonly cold after dinner? A. Because then the heat goes
to the stomach to further digestion, and so the other parts grow cold.
Q. Why is it hurtful to study soon after dinner? A. Because when the
heat labours to help the imagination in study, it ceases from digesting
the food, which remains undigested; therefore people should walk
sometimes after meals.
Q. How cometh the stomach slowly to digest meat? A. Because it swims in
the stomach. Now, the best digestion is in the bottom of the stomach,
because the fat descends not there; such as eat fat meat are very sleepy
by reason that digestion is hindered.
Q. Why is all the body wrong when the stomach is uneasy? A. Because the
stomach is knit with the brain, heart and liver, which are the principal
parts in man; and when it is not well, the others are indisposed.
Again, if the first digestion be hindered, the others are also
hindered; for in the first digestion is the beginning of the infirmity
in the stomach.
Q. Why are young men sooner hungry than old men? A. Young men do digest
for three causes; 1. For growing; 2. For restoring life; and 3. For
conservation of life. Also, young men are hot and dry, and therefore the
heat doth digest more, and by consequence they desire more.
Q. Why do physicians prescribe that men should eat when they have an
appetite? A. Because much hunger and emptiness will fill the stomach
with naughty rotten humours, which are drawn in instead of meat; for, if
we fast over night we have an appetite to meat, but none in the morning;
as then the stomach is filled with naughty humours, and especially its
mouth, which is no true filling, but a deceitful one. And, therefore,
after we have eaten a little, our stomach comes to us again; for the
first morsel, having made clean the mouth of the stomach, doth provoke
Q. Why do physicians prescribe that we should not eat too much at a
time, but little by little? A. Because when the stomach is full, the
meat doth swim in it, which is a dangerous thing. Another reason is,
that as very green wood doth put out the fire, so much meat chokes the
natural heat and puts it out; and therefore the best physic is to use
temperance in eating and drinking.
Q. Why do we desire change of meals according to the change of times; as
in winter, beef, mutton; in summer light meats, as veal, lamb, etc.? A.
Because the complexion of the body is altered and changed according to
the time of year. Another reason is, that this proceeds from the quality
of the season: because the cold in winter doth cause a better digestion.
Q. Why should not the meat we eat be as hot as pepper and ginger? A.
Because as hot meat doth inflame the blood, and dispose it to a leprosy,
so, on the contrary, meat too cold doth mortify and chill the blood. Our
meat should not be over sharp, because it wastes the constitution; too
much sauce doth burn the entrails, and inclineth to too often drinking;
raw meat doth the same; and over sweet meats to constipate and cling the
Q. Why is it a good custom to eat cheese after dinner, and pears after
all meat? A. Because, by reason of its earthliness and thickness it
tendeth down towards the bottom of the stomach, and so put down the
meat; and the like of pears. Note, that new cheese is better than old,
and that old soft cheese is very bad, and causeth the headache and
stopping of the liver; and the older the worse. Whereof it is said that
cheese digesteth all things but itself.
Q. Why are nuts good after cheese, as the proverb is, "After fish nuts,
and after flesh cheese?" A. Because fish is of hard digestion, and doth
easily putrefy and corrupt; and nuts are a remedy against poison.
Q. Why is it unwholesome to wait long for one dish after another, and to
eat of divers kinds of meat? A. Because the first begins to digest when
the last is eaten, and so digestion is not equally made. But yet this
rule is to be noted; dishes light of digestion, as chickens, kids, veal,
soft eggs and such like, should be first eaten; because, if they should
be first served and eaten and were digested, they would hinder the
digestion of the others; and the light meats not digested would be
corrupted in the stomach and kept in the stomach violently, whereof
would follow belching, loathing, headache, bellyache and great thirst.
It is very hurtful too, at the same meal to drink wine and milk, because
they are productive of leprosy.
Q. Whether is meat or drink best for the stomach? A. Drink is sooner
digested than meat, because meat is of greater substance, and more
material than drink, and therefore meat is harder to digest.
Q. Why is it good to drink after dinner? A. Because the drink will make
the meat readier to digest. The stomach is like unto a pot which doth
boil meat, and therefore physicians do counsel to drink at meals.
Q. Why is it good to forbear a late supper? A. Because there is little
moving or stirring after supper, and so the meat is not sent down to the
bottom of the stomach, but remaineth undigested, and so breeds hurts;
therefore a light supper is best.
_Of the Blood._
Q. Why is it necessary that every living creature that hath blood have
also a liver? A. Because the blood is first made in the liver, its seat,
being drawn from the stomach by certain principal veins, and so
Q. Why is the blood red? A. 1. It is like the part in which it is made,
viz., the liver, which is red. 2. It is likewise sweet, because it is
well digested and concocted; but if it hath a little earthly matter
mixed with it, that makes it somewhat salt.
Q. How is women's blood thicker than men's? Their coldness thickens,
binds, congeals, and joins together.
Q. How comes the blood to all parts of the body through the liver, and
by what means? A. Through the principal veins, as the veins of the head,
liver, etc., to nourish the body.
_Of the Urine._
Q. How doth the urine come into the bladder, seeing the bladder is shut?
A. Some say sweatings; others, by a small skin in the bladder, which
opens and lets in the urine. Urine is a certain and not deceitful
messenger of the health or infirmity of man. Men make white urine in the
morning, and before dinner red, but after dinner pale, and also after
Q. Why is it hurtful to drink much cold water? A. Because one contrary
doth hinder and expel another; water is very cold, and lying so in the
stomach, doth hinder digestion.
Q. Why is it unwholesome to drink new wine? A. 1. It cannot be digested;
therefore it causeth the belly to swell, and a kind of bloody flux. 2.
It hinders making water.
Q. Why do physicians forbid us to labour presently after dinner? A. 1.
Because the motion hinders the virtue and power of digestion. 2.
Because stirring immediately after dinner causes the different parts of
the body to draw the meat to them, which often breeds sickness. 3.
Because motion makes the food descend before it is digested. And after
supper it is good to walk a little, that the food may go to the bottom
of the stomach.
Q. Why is it good to walk after dinner? A. Because it makes a man well
disposed, and fortifies and strengthens the natural heat, causing the
superfluity of the stomach to descend.
Q. Why is it wholesome to vomit? A. It purges the stomach of all naughty
humours, expelling them, which would breed again if they should remain
in it; and purges the eyes and head, clearing the brain.
Q. How comes sleep to strengthen the stomach and the digestive faculty?
A. Because in sleep the heat draws inwards, and helps digestion; but
when we awake, the heat returns, and is dispersed through the body.
_Of the Gall and Spleen._
Q. How come living creatures to have a gall? A. Because choleric humours
are received into it, which through their acidity helps the guts to
expel superfluities; also it helps digestion.
Q. How comes the jaundice to proceed from the gall? A. The humour of the
gall is bluish and yellow; therefore when its pores are stopped the
humour cannot go into the sack thereof, but are mingled with the blood,
wandering throughout all the body and infecting the skin.
Q. Why hath a horse, mule, ass or cow a gall? A. Though these creatures
have no gall in one place, as in a purse or vessel, yet they have one
dispersed in small veins.
Q. How comes the spleen to be black? A. It is occasioned by terrestrial
and earthy matter of a black colour. According to physicians, the spleen
is the receptacle of melancholy, and that is black.
Q. Why is he lean who hath a large spleen? A. Because the spleen draws
much water to itself, which would turn to fat; therefore, men that have
a small spleen are fat.
Q. Why does the spleen cause men to laugh, as says Isidorus; "We laugh
with the spleen, we are angry with the gall, we are wise with the heart,
we love with the liver, we feel with the brain, and speak with the
lungs"? A. The reason is, the spleen draws much melancholy to it, being
its proper seat, the which melancholy proceeds from sadness, and is
there consumed; and the cause failing, the effect doth so likewise. And
by the same reason the gall causes anger, for choleric men are often
angry, because they have much gall.
_Of Carnal Copulation._
Q. Why do living creatures use carnal copulation? A. Because it is most
natural in them to get their like.
Q. What is carnal copulation? A. It is a mutual action of male and
female, with instruments ordained for that purpose to propagate their
Q. Why is this action good in those that use it lawfully and moderately?
A. Because it eases and lightens the body, clears the mind, comforts the
head and senses, and expels melancholy.
Q. Why is immoderate carnal copulation hurtful? A. Because it destroys
the sight, dries the body, and impairs the brain, often causes fevers
and shortens life also.
Q. Why doth carnal copulation injure melancholic or choleric men,
especially thin men? A. Because it dries the bones much which are
naturally so. On the contrary, it is good for the phlegmatic and
sanguine, because they abound with that substance which by nature, is
Q. Why should not the act be used when the body is full? A. Because it
hinders digestion; and it is not good for a hungry belly, because it
Q. Why is it not good soon after a bath? A. Because then the pores are
open, and the heat dispersed through the body: for after bathing, it
cools the body too much.
Q. Why is it not proper after vomiting or looseness? A. Because it is
dangerous to purge twice a day; for in this act the veins are purged,
and the guts by the vomit.
Q. Why is there such delight in the act of venery? A. Because this act
is such a contemptible thing in itself, that all creatures would
naturally abhor it were there no pleasure in it; and therefore nature
readily uses it, that all kinds of living things should be maintained
and kept up.
Q. Why do such as use it often take less delight in it than those who
come to it seldom? A. 1. The passages of the seed are over large and
wide; and therefore it makes no stay there, which would cause the
delight. 2. Through often evacuation there is little seed left, and
therefore no delight. 3. Because such, instead of seed there is cast out
blood, undigested and raw, or some other watery substance, which is not
hot, and therefore affords no delight.
_Of the Seed of Man and Beasts._
Q. How, and of what cometh the seed of man? A. Some philosophers and
physicians say, it is superfluous humours; others say, that the seed is
pure blood, flowing from the brain, concocted and whitened in the
testicles; but sweat, urine, spittle, phlegm, choler, and the like, and
blood dispersed throughout the whole body, come chiefly from the heart,
liver and brain, because those parts are greatly weakened by casting
seed; and therefore it appears that frequent carnal copulation is not
Q. Why is a man's seed white, and a woman's red? A. It is white in men
by reason of great heat and quick digestion, because it is rarefied in
the testicles; but a woman's is red, because her terms corrupt the
undigested blood, and it hath its colour.
Q. How come females to have monthly courses? A. Because they are cold in
respect of men, and because all their nourishment cannot be converted
into blood, a great part of which turns to menses, which are monthly
Q. For what reason do the menses not come down in females before the age
of thirteen? A. Because young women are hot, and digest all their
Q. For what reason do they leave off at about fifty? A. Because nature
is then so exhausted, they cannot expel them by reason of weakness.
Q. Why have not breeding women the menses? A. Because that then they
turn into milk, and into the nourishment of the child: for if a woman
with child have them, it is a sign that she will miscarry.
Q. Why are they termed _menstrua_, from the word _mensis_, a month? A.
Because it is a space of time that measures the moon, as she ends her
course in twenty-nine days, and fourteen hours.
Q. Why do they continue longer with some than others, as with some six
or seven, but commonly with all three days? A. The first are cold,
therefore they increase most in them, and consequently are longer
expelling; other women are hot, and therefore have fewer and are sooner
Q. Are the menses which are expelled, and those by which the child is
engendered, all one? A. No, because the one are unclean, and unfit for
that purpose; but the other very pure and clear, therefore the fittest
Q. Why have not women their menses all one and the same time, but some
in the new moon, some in the full, and others at the wane? A. From their
several complexions, and though all women (in respect of men) are
phlegmatic, yet some are more sanguine than others, some more choleric;
and as the moon hath her quarters, so have women their complexions; the
first sanguine, the second choleric.
Q. Why do women easily conceive after their menses? A. Because the womb
being cleansed, they are better prepared for conception.
Q. Why do women look pale when they first have their menses upon them?
A. Because the heat goes from the outward parts of the body to the
inward, to help nature to expel their terms, which deprivation of heat
doth cause a paleness in the face. Or, because that flux is caused of
raw humours, which, when they run, make the face colourless.
Q. Why do they at that time abhor their meat? A. Because nature labours
more to expel their terms than digest; and, therefore, if they should
eat, their food would remain raw in the stomach.
Q. Why are some women barren and do not conceive? A. 1. It proceeds
sometimes from the man who may be of a cold nature, so that his seed is
unfit for generation. 2. Because it is waterish, and so doth not stay in
the womb. 3. By reason that the seed of them both hath not a like
proportion, as if the man be melancholy and the woman sanguine, or the
man choleric and the woman phlegmatic.
Q. Why do fat women seldom conceive? A. Because they have a slippery
womb, and the seed will not stay in it. Or, because the mouth of the
matrix is very strait, and the seed cannot enter it, or, if it does, it
is so very slowly that it grows cold and unfit for generation.
Q. Why do those of a hot constitution seldom conceive? A. Because the
seed in them is extinguished or put out, as water cast into fire;
whereof we find that women who vehemently desire the flesh seldom
Q. Why are whores never with child? A. By reason of divers seeds, which
corrupt and spoil the instruments of conception, for it makes them so
slippery, that they cannot retain seed. Or, else, it is because one
man's seed destroys another's, so neither is good for generation.
Q. Why do women conceive twins? A. Because there are seven cells or
receptacles in the womb; wherefore they may naturally have so many
children at once as there falls seed into these cells.
Q. Why are twins but half men, and not so strong as others? A. The seed
that should have been for one, is divided into two and therefore they
are weakly and seldom live long.
Q. How are hermaphrodites begotten? A. Nature doth always tend to that
which is best, and always intendeth to beget the male and not the
female, because the female is only for the male's mate. Therefore the
male is sometimes begotten in all its principal parts; and, yet, through
the indisposition of the womb and object, and inequality of the seeds,
when nature cannot perfect the male, she brings forth the female too.
And therefore natural philosophers say, that an hermaphrodite is
impotent in the privy parts of a man, as appears by experience.
Q. Is an hermaphrodite accounted a man or a woman? A. It is to be
considered in which member he is fittest for copulation; if he be
fittest in the woman's, then he is a woman; if in a man's, then he is a
Q. Should he be baptized in the name of a man or a woman? A. In the
name of a man, because names are given _ad placitum_, and therefore he
should be baptized, according to the worthiest name, because every agent
is worthier than its patient.
Q. Doth nature make any monsters? A. She doth; if she did not, then
would she be deprived of her end. For of things possible, she doth
always propose to bring forth that which is most perfect and best; but
in the end, through the evil disposition of the matter, not being able
to bring forth that which she intended, she brings forth that which she
can. As it happened in Albertus's time, when in a certain village, a cow
brought forth a calf, half a man; then the countrymen suspecting a
shepherd, would have burnt him with the cow; but Albertus, being skilled
in astronomy, said that this did proceed from a certain constellation,
and so delivered the shepherd from their hands.
Q. Are they one or two? A. To find out, you must look into the heart, if
there be two hearts, there be two men.
Q. Why are some children like their father, some like their mother, some
to both and some to neither? A. If the seed of the father wholly
overcome that of the mother the child doth resemble the father; but if
the mother's predominate, then it is like the mother; but if he be like
neither, that doth sometimes happen through the four qualities,
sometimes through the influence of some heavenly constellation.
Q. Why are children oftener like the father than the mother? A. It
proceeds from the imagination of the mother in the act of copulation, as
appeared in a queen who had her imagination on a blackamoor; and in the
Ethiopian queen who brought forth a white child, because her imagination
was upon a white colour; as is seen in Jacob's skill in casting rods of
divers colours into the water, when his sheep went to ram.
Q. Why do children born in the eighth month for the most part die
quickly, and why are they called the children of the moon? A. Because
the moon is a cold planet, which has dominion over the child, and
therefore doth bind it with coldness, which is the cause of its death.
Q. Why doth a child cry as soon as it is born? A. Because of the sudden
change from heat to cold: which cold doth affect its tenderness. Another
reason is, because the child's soft and tender body is wringed and put
together coming out of the narrow and strait passage of the matrix, and
especially, the brain being moist, and the head being pressed and
wrinkled together, is the cause that some humours distil by the eyes,
which are the cause of tears and weeping.
Q. Why doth the child put its fingers into its mouth as soon as it
cometh into the world? A. Because that coming out of the womb it cometh
out of a hot bath, and entering into the cold, puts them into its mouth
for want of heat.
_Of the Child in the Womb._
Q. How is the child engendered in the womb? A. The first six days the
seed hath this colour of milk, but in the six following a red colour,
which is near unto the disposition of the flesh; and then it is changed
into a thick substance of blood. But in the twelve days following, this
substance becomes so thick and round that it is capable of receiving
shape and form.
Q. Doth the child in the womb void excrements or make water? No. Because
it hath not the first digestion which is in the stomach. It receives no
food by the mouth, but by the navel; therefore, makes no urine but
sweats, which is but little, and is received in a skin in the matrix,
which at the birth is cast out.
_Of Abortion and Untimely Birth._
Q. Why do women that eat unwholesome meats, easily miscarry? A. Because
they breed putrefied seed, which the mind abhorring doth cast it out of
the womb as unfit for the shape which is adapted to receive the soul.
Q. Why doth wrestling and leaping cause the casting of the child, as
some subtle women do on purpose? A. The vapour is burning, and doth
easily hurt the tender substance of the child, entering in at the pores
of the matrix.
Q. Why doth much joy cause a woman to miscarry? A. Because in the time
of joy, a woman is destitute of heat, and so a miscarriage doth follow.
Q. Why do women easily miscarry when they are first with child, viz.,
the first, second or third month? A. As apples and pears easily fall at
first, because the knots and ligaments are weak, so it is with a child
in the womb.
Q. Why is it hard to miscarry in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth
month? A. Because the ligaments are stronger and well fortified.
_Of Divers Matters._
Q. Why has not a man a tail like a beast? A. Because man is a noble
creature, whose property is to sit; which a beast, having a tail,
Q. Why does hot water freeze sooner than cold? A. Hot water is thinner,
and gives better entrance to the frost.
Q. Why is every living creature dull after copulation? A. By reason that
the act is filthy and unclean; and so every living creature abhors it.
When men do think upon it, they are ashamed and sad.
Q. Why cannot drunken men judge of taste as well as sober men? A.
Because the tongue, being full of pores and spongy, receives more
moisture into it, and more in drunken men than in sober; therefore, the
tongue, through often drinking, is full of bad humours, and so the
faculty of tasting is rendered out of order; also, through the
thickening of the taste itself, drink taken by drunkards is not
presently felt. And by this may also be understood why drunkards have
not a perfect speech.
Q. Why have melancholy beasts long ears? A. The ears proceed from a dry
and cold substance, called gristle, which is apt to become bone; and
because melancholy beasts do abound with this kind of substance, they
have long ears.
Q. Why do hares sleep with their eyes open? A. 1. They have their eyes
standing out, and their eyelids short, therefore, never quite shut. 2.
They are timorous, and as a safe-guard to themselves, sleep with their
Q. Why do not crows feed their young till they be nine days old? A.
Because seeing them of another colour, they think they are of another
Q. Why are sheep and pigeons mild? A. They want galls, the cause of
Q. Why have birds their stones inward? A. Because if outward, they would
hinder their flying and lightness.
Q. How comes it that birds do not piss? A. Because that superfluity
which would be converted into urine, is turned into feathers.
Q. Why do we hear better in the night than by day? A. Because there is a
greater quietness in the night than in the day, for the sun doth not
exhale the vapours by night, but it doth in the day, therefore the moon
is more fit than in the day; and the moon being fit, the motion is
better received, which is said to be caused by a sound.
Q. For what reason doth a man laugh sooner when touched in the armpits
than in any other part of the body? A. Because there is in that place a
meeting of many sinews, and the mean we touch, which is the flesh, is
more subtle than in other parts, and therefore of finer feeling. When a
man is moderately and gently touched there the spirits that are
dispersed run into the face and causes laughter.
Q. Why do some women love white men and some black men? A. 1. Some have
weak sight, and such delight in black, because white doth hurt the sight
more than black. 2. Because like delight in like; but some women are of
a hot nature, and such are delighted with black, because blackness
followeth heat; and others are of a cold nature, and those are delighted
with white, because cold produces white.
Q. Why do men incline to sleep after labour? A. Because, through
continual moving, the heat is dispersed to the external parts of the
body, which, after labour, is gathered together in the internal parts,
there to digest; and from digestion, vapours arise from the heart to the
brain, which stop the passage by which the natural heat should be
dispersed to the external part; and then, the external parts being cold
and thick, by reason of the coldness of the brain sleep is easily
procured. By this it appeareth that such as eat and drink too much, do
sleep much and long, because there are great store of humours and
vapours bred in such persons which cannot be consumed and digested by
the natural heat.
Q. Why are such as sleep much, evil disposed and ill-coloured? A.
Because in too much sleep moisture is gathered together, which cannot be
consumed, and so it doth covet to go out through the superficial parts
of the body, and especially it resorts to the face, and therefore is the
cause of bad colours, as appeareth in such as are phlegmatic and who
desire more sleep than others.
Q. Why do some imagine in their sleep that they eat and drink sweet
things? A. Because the phlegm drawn up by the jaws doth distil and drop
to the throat; and this phlegm is sweet after a sore sweat, and that
seemeth so to them.
Q. Why do some dream in their sleep that they are in the water and
drowned, and some that they were in the water and not drowned;
especially such as are phlegmatic? A. Because when the phlegmatic
substance doth turn to the high parts of the body, then many think they
are in the water and drowned; but when that substance draweth into the
internal parts, then they think they escape. Another reason may be,
overmuch repletion and drunkenness: and therefore, when men are overmuch
filled with meat, the fumes and vapours ascend and gather together, and
they think they are drowned and strangled; but if they cannot ascend so
high then they seem to escape.
Q. May a man procure a dream by an external cause? A. It may be done. If
a man speak softly in another man's ear and awake him not, then of his
stirring of the spirits there are thunderings and buzzings in the head,
which cause dreamings.
Q. How many humours are there in a man's body? A. Four, whereof every
one hath its proper place. The first is choler, called by physicians
_flava bilis_, which is placed in the liver. The second is melancholy,
called _atra bilis_, whose seat is in the spleen. The third is phlegm,
whose place is in the head. The fourth is blood, whose place is in the
Q. What condition and quality hath a man of a sanguine complexion? A. It
is fair and beautiful; hath his hair for the most part smooth; is bold;
retaineth that which he hath conceived; is shame-faced, given to music,
a lover of sciences, liberal, courteous, and not desirous of revenge.
Q. What properties do follow those of a phlegmatic complexion? A. They
are dull of wit, their hair never curls, they are seldom very thirsty,
much given to sleep, dream of things belonging to water, are fearful,
covetous, given to heap up riches, and are weak in the act of venery.
Q. What are the properties of a choleric man? A. He is brown in
complexion, unquiet, his veins hidden, eateth little and digesteth less,
dreameth of dark and confused things, is sad, fearful, exceedingly
covetous, and incontinent.
Q. What dreams do follow these complexions? A. Pleasant, merry dreams do
follow the sanguine; fearful dreams, the melancholic; the choleric dream
of children fighting and fire; the phlegmatic dream of water. This is
the reason why a man's complexion is said to be known by his dreams.
Q. What is the reason that if you cover an egg over with salt, and let
it lie in it a few days, all the meat within is consumed? A. A great
dryness of the salt consumes the substance of the egg.
Q. Why is the melancholic complexion the worst? A. Because it proceeds
from the dregs of the blood, is an enemy to mirth and bringeth on aged
appearance and death, being cold and dry.
Q. What is the cause that some men die joyful, and some in extreme
grief? A. Over-great joy doth overmuch heat the internal parts of the
body; and overmuch grief doth drown and suffocate the heart, which
failing, a man dieth.
Q. Why hath a man so much hair on his head? A. The hair on his head
proceeds from the vapours which arise from the stomach, and ascend to
the head, and also of the superfluities which are in the brain; and
those two passing through the pores of the head are converted into hair,
by reason of the heat and dryness of the head. And because man's body is
full of humours, and he hath more brains than any other living
Q. How many ways is the brain purged and other hidden places of the
body? A. Four; the watery and gross humours are purged by the eyes,
melancholy by the ears, choler by the nose, and phlegm by the hair.
Q. What is the reason that such as are very fat in their youth, are in
danger of dying on a sudden? A. Such have very small and close veins, by
reason of their fatness, so that the air and the breath can hardly have
free course in them; and thereupon the natural heat wanting the
refreshment of air, is put out, and as it were, quenched.
Q. Why do garlic and onions grow after they are gathered? A. It
proceedeth from the humidity that is in them.
Q. Why do men feel cold sooner than women? A. Because men, being more
hot than women, have their pores more open, and therefore it doth sooner
enter into them than women.
Q. Why are not old men so subject to the plague as young men and
children? A. They are cold, and their pores are not so open as in youth;
and therefore the infecting air doth not penetrate so soon by reason of
Q. Why do we cast water in a man's face when he swooneth? A. Because
through the coldness of water the heat may run to the heart, and so give
Q. Why are those waters best and most delicate which run towards the
rising sun? A. Because they are soonest stricken with the sunbeams, and
made pure and subtle, the sun having them under it, and by that means
taking off the coldness and gross vapours which they gather from the
ground they run through.
Q. Why have women such weak and small voices? A. Because their
instruments and organs of speaking, by reason of their coldness, are
small and narrow; and therefore, receiving but little air, cause the
voice to be effeminate.
Q. Whereof doth it proceed that want of sleep doth weaken the brain and
body? A. Much watching doth engender choler, the which being hot both
dry up and lessen the humours which serve the brain, the head, and other
parts of the body.
Q. Wherefore doth vinegar so readily staunch blood? A. From its cold
virtue, for all cold is naturally binding, and vinegar being cold, hath
the like property.
Q. Why is sea-water salter in summer than in winter? A. From the heat of
the sun, seeing by experiment that a salt thing being heated becometh
Q. Why do men live longer in hot regions than in cold? A. Because they
may be more dry, and by that means the natural heat is better preserved
in them than in cold countries.
Q. Why is well-water seldom or ever good? A. All water which standeth
still in the spring and is never heated by the sunbeams, is very heavy,
and hath much matter in it, and therefore wanting the heat of the sun,
Q. Why do men sleep better and more at ease on the right side than on
the left? A. Because when they be on the left side, the lungs do lie
upon and cover the heart, which is on that side under the pap; now the
heart, the fountain of life, being thus occupied and hindered with the
lungs, cannot exercise its own proper operation, as being overmuch
heated with the lungs lying upon it, and therefore wanting the
refreshment of the air which the lungs do give it, like the blowing of a
pair of bellows, is choked and suffocated, but by lying on the right
side, those inconveniences are avoided.
Q. What is the reason that old men sneeze with great difficulty? A.
Because that through their coldness their arteries are very narrow and
close, and therefore the heat is not of force to expel the cold.
Q. Why doth a drunken man think that all things about him do turn round?
A. Because the spirits which serve the sight are mingled with vapours
and fumes, arising from the liquors he has drunk; the overmuch heat
causeth the eye to be in continual motion, and the eye being round,
causeth all things about it to seem to go round.
Q. Wherefore doth it proceed, that bread which is made with salt is
lighter than that which is made without it, considering that salt is
very heavy of itself? A. Although bread is very heavy of itself, yet the
salt dries it and makes it light, by reason of the heat which it hath;
and the more heat there is in it, the better the bread is, and the
lighter and more wholesome for the body.
Q. Why is not new bread good for the stomach? A. Because it is full of
moistness, and thick, hot vapours, which do corrupt the blood, and hot
bread is blacker than cold, because heat is the mother of blackness, and
because the vapours are not gone out of it.
Q. Why do lettuces make a man sleep? A. Because they engender gross
Q. Why do the dregs of wine and oil go to the bottom, and those of honey
swim uppermost? A. Because the dregs of wine and oil are earthly, and
therefore go to the bottom; but honey is a liquid that cometh from the
stomach and belly of the bee; and is there in some sort putrefied and
made subtle; on which account the dregs are most light and hot, and
therefore go uppermost.
Q. Why do cats' and wolves' eyes shine in the night, and not in the day?
A. The eyes of these beasts are by nature more crystalline than the eyes
of other beasts, and therefore do so shine in darkness; but the
brightness of the sun doth hinder them from being seen in the day-time.
Q. What is the reason that some men, if they see others dance, do the
like with their hands and feet, or by other gestures of the body? A.
Because the sight having carried and represented unto the mind that
action, and judging the same to be pleasant and delightful, and
therefore the imagination draweth the like of it in conceit and stirs up
the body by the gestures.
Q. Why does much sleep cause some to grow fat and some lean? A. Those
who are of ill complexion, when they sleep, do consume and digest the
superfluities of what they have eaten, and therefore become fat. But
such as are of good complexion, when they sleep are more cold, and
Q. How much, and from what cause do we suffer hunger better than thirst?
A. When the stomach hath nothing else to consume, it consumeth the
phlegm and humours which it findeth most ready and most at hand; and
therefore we suffer hunger better than thirst, because the heat hath
nothing to refresh itself with.
Q. Why doth the hair fall after a great sickness? A. Where the sickness
is long, as in the ague, the humours of the head are dried up through
overmuch heat, and, therefore, wanting nourishment, the hair falls.
Q. Why doth the hair of the eyebrows grow long in old men? A. Because
through their age the bones are thin through want of heat, and therefore
the hair doth grow there, by reason of the rheum of the eye.
Q. Whereof proceedeth gaping? A. Of gross vapours, which occupy the
vital spirits of the head, and of the coldness of the senses causing
Q. What is the reason that some flowers do open with the sun rising, and
shut with the sun setting? A. Cold doth close and shut, as hath been
said, but the heat of the sun doth open and enlarge. Some compare the
sun to the soul of the body; for as the soul giveth life, so the sun
doth give life, and vivificate all things; but cold bringeth death,
withering and decaying all things.
Q. Why doth grief cause men to grow old and grey? A. Age is nothing else
but dryness and want of humours in the body; grief then causeth
alteration, and heat dryness; age and greyness follow immediately.
Q. Why are gelded beasts weaker than such as are not gelded? A. Because
they have less heat, and by that means less force and strength.
* * * * *
THE PROBLEMS OF
MARCUS ANTONINUS SANCTIPERTIAS
Q. Why is it esteemed, in the judgment of the most wise, the hardest
thing to know a man's self? A. Because nothing can be known that is of
so great importance to man for the regulation of his conduct in life.
Without this knowledge, man is like the ship without either compass or
rudder to conduct her to port, and is tossed by every passion and
prejudice to which his natural constitution is subjected. To know the
form and perfection of man's self, according to the philosophers, is a
task too hard; and a man, says Plato, is nothing, or if he be anything,
he is nothing, but his soul.
Q. Why is a man, though endowed with reason, the most unjust of all
living creatures? A. Because only man is desirous of honour; and so it
happens that every one covets to seem good, and yet naturally shuns
labour, though he attain no virtue by it.
Q. Why doth immoderate copulation do more hurt than immoderate letting
of blood? A. The seed is full of nutriment, and better prepared for the
nurture of the body, than the blood; for the blood is nourished by the
Q. What is the reason that those that have long yards cannot beget
children? A. The seed, in going a long distance, doth lose the spirit,
and therefore becomes cold and unfit.
Q. Why do such as are corpulent cast forth but little seed in the act of
copulation, and are often barren? A. Because the seed of such goeth to
nourish the body. For the same reason corpulent women have but few
Q. How come women to be prone to venery in the summer time and men in
the winter? A. In summer the man's testicles hang down and are feebler
than in winter, or because hot natures become more lively in the cold
season; for a man is hot and dry, and a woman cold and moist; and
therefore in summer the strength of men decays, and that of women
increases, and they grow livelier by the benefit of the contrary
Q. Why is man the proudest of all living creatures? A. By reason of his
great knowledge; or, as philosophers say, all intelligent beings having
understanding, nothing remains that escapes man's knowledge in
particular; or it is because he hath rule over all earthly creatures,
and all things seem to be brought under his dominion.
Q. Why have beasts their hearts in the middle of their breasts, and man
his inclining to the left? A. To moderate the cold on that side.
Q. Why doth the woman love the man best who has got her maidenhead? A.
By reason of shame-facedness; Plato saith, shame-facedness doth follow
love, or, because it is the beginning of great pleasure, which doth
bring a great alteration in the whole body, whereby the powers of the
mind are much delighted, and stick and rest immoveable in the same.
Q. How come hairy people to be more lustful than any other? A. Because
they are said to have greater store of excrements and seed as
Q. What is the cause that the suffocation of the matrix, which happens
to women through strife and contention, is more dangerous than the
detaining of the flowers? A. Because the more perfect an excrement is in
its natural disposition, the worse it is when it is altered from that
disposition, and drawn to the contrary quality; as is seen in vinegar,
which is sharpest when it is made of the best wine. And so it happens
that the more men love one another the more they fall into variance and
Q. How come women's bodies to be looser, softer and less than man's; and
why do they want hair? A. By reason of their menses; for with them their
superfluities go away, which would produce hair; and thereby the flesh
is filled, consequently the veins are more hid in women than in men.
Q. What is the reason that when we think upon a horrible thing, we are
stricken with fear? A. Because the conceit or imagination of things has
force and virtue. For Plato saith, the fancy of things has some affinity
with things themselves; for the image and representation of cold and
heat is such as the nature of things are. Or it is this, because when we
comprehend any dreadful matter, the blood runneth to the internal parts;
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