Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

The Hiſtory of Life and Death. Longer, for the moſt part when the times are barbarous, and men fare leſs delici-
ouſly, and are more given to bodily exerciſes: Shorter, when the times are more
civil, and men abandon themſelves to luxury and eaſe. But theſe things paſs on by
their turns, the ſucceſſion of Generations alters is not. The ſame, no doubt, is in
other living Creatus [?] es; for neither Oxen, nor Horſes, nor Sheep, nor any the
like, are abridged of their wonted ages at this day. And therefore the Great
Abridger of Age was the Floud; and perhaps ſome ſuch notable accidents (as
particular Inundations, long Droughts, Earthquakes, or the like) may do the ſame
again And the like reaſon is in the dimenſion and ſtature of Bodies; for neither
are they leſſened by ſucceſſion of Generations, howſoever Virgil (following the
vulgar opinion) divined, that after Ages would bring forth leſſer Bodies than the
then preſent: whereupon ſpeaking of ploughing up the Æmathian and Æmonen-
ſian Fields, he ſaith, Grandiáq; effoſſis mirabitur oſſa Sepulchris, That after-ages ſhall
admire the great bones digged up in ancient Sepulchres. For whereas it is manifeſted that
there were heretofore men of Gigantine Statures, (ſuch as for certain have been found
in Sicily, and elſe-where, in ancient Sepulchres and Caves) yet within theſe laſt
three thouſand years, a time whereof we have ſure memory, thoſe very places have
produced none ſuch: although this thing alſo hath certain turns and changes, by the
Civilizing of a Nation, no leſs than the former. And this is the rather to be noted,
becauſe men are wholly carried away with an opinion, that there is a continual
decay by Succeſſion of Ages, as well in the term of man’s Life as in the
ſtature and ſtrength of his Body; and that all things decline and change to the



In Cold and Northern Countries men live longer commonly than in Hot: which
muſt needs be in reſpect the skin is more compact and cloſe, and the juices of
the body leſs diſſipable, and the Spirits themſelves leſs eager to conſume, and in
better diſpoſition to repair, and the Air (as being little heated by the Sun-beams)
leſs predatory: And yet under the Æquinoctial Line, where the Sun paſſeth to and
fro, and cauſeth a double Summer and double Winter, and where the Days and
Nights are more cqual, (if other things be concurring) they live alſo very long; as in Peru and Taprobane.



Iſlanders are, for the moſtpart, longer-liv’d than thoſe that live in Continents: for
they live not ſo long in Ruſſia as in the Orcades; nor ſo long in Africa, though
under the ſame Parallel, as in the Canaries and Tercera’s; and the Japonians are
longer-liv’d than the Chineſes, though the Chineſes are made upon long life. And this
thing is no marvel, ſeeing the Air of the Sea doth heat and cheriſh in cooler Regi-
ons, and cool in hotter.



High Situations do rather afford long-livers than Low, eſpecially if they be not Tops
of Mountains, but Riſing Grounds, as to their general Situations; ſuch as was Ar-
cadia in Greece, and that part of Ætolia where we related them to have lived ſo long. Now there would be the ſame reaſon for Mountains themſelves, becauſe of the pureneſs
and clearneſs of the Air, but that they are corrupted by accident, namely, by the
Vapours riſing thither out of the Valleys, and reſting there; and therefore in Snowy
Mountains there is not found any notable long life, not in the Alps, not in the Pyre-
nean Mountains, not in the Apennine: yet in the tops of the Mountains running
along towards Æthiopia and the Abyſſines, where by reaſon of the Sands beneath little
or no Vapour riſeth to the Mountains, they live long, even at this very day, attaining ma-
ny times to an hundred and fifty years.



Marſhes and Fens are propitious to the Natives, and malignant to Strangers, as touch-
ing the lengthning and ſhortning of their lives: and that which may ſeem more mar-
vellous, Salt-Marſhes, where the Sea Ebbs and Flows, areleſs wholſome than thoſe of
Freſh water.



The Countries which have been obſerved to produce long-livers are theſe; Arcadia,
Ætolia, India on this ſide Ganges, Braſil, Taprobane, Britain, Ireland, with the Iſlands of
the Orcades and Hebrides: for as for Æthiopia, which by one of the Ancients is re-
ported to bring forth long-Livers, ’tis but a toy,



It is a Secret; The healthfulneſs of Air, eſpecially in any perfection, is better
found by Experiment than by Diſcourſe or Conjecture. You may make a trial by
a lock of Wool expoſed for a few dayes in the open Air, if the weight be not much


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