Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

The Hiſtory of Life and Death. hath good digeſtion, an old man bad; a young man’s bowels are ſoft and ſucculent, an
old man’s ſalt and parched; a young man’s body is erect and ſtreight, an old man’s
bowing and crooked; a young man’s limbs are ſteady, an old man’s weak and trem-
bling; the humours in a young man are cholerick, and his bloud inclined to heat, in an
old man phlegmatick and melancholick, and his bloud inclined to coldneſs; a young
man ready for the act of Venus, an old man ſlow unto it: in a young man the juices
of his body are more roſcid, in an old man more crude and wateriſh; the ſpirit in a
young man plentiful and boiling, in an old man ſcarce and jejune: a young man’s ſpi-
rit is denſe and vigorous, an old man’s eager and rare; a young man hath his ſenſes
quick and intire, an old man dull and decayed; a young man’s teeth are ſtrong and
entire, an old man’s weak, worn, and faln out; a young man’s hair is coloured, an
old man’s (of what colour ſoever it were) gray; a young man hath hair, an old man
baldneſs; a young man’s pulſe is ſtronger and quicker, an old man’s more confuſed
and ſlower; the diſeaſes of young men are more acute and curable, of old men longer
and hard to cure; a young man’s wounds ſoon cloſe, an old man’s later; a young man’s
cheeks are of a freſh colour, an old man’s pale, or with a black bloud; a young man
is leſs troubled with rheums, an old man more. Neither do we know in what things
old men do improve as touching their body, ſave onely ſometime in fatneſs; whereof
the reaſon is ſoon given, Becauſe old men’s bodies do neither perſpire well, nor aſſimi-
late well: now Fatneſs is nothing elſe but an exuberance of nouriſhment above that
which is voided by excrement, or which is perfectly aſſimilated. Alſo ſome old men
improve in the appetite of feeding by reaſon of the acid humors, though old men digeſt
worſt. And all theſe things which we have ſaid, Phyſicians negligently enough will
refer to the diminution of the Natural heat and Radical moiſture, which are things of no
worth for uſe. This is certain, Drineſs in the coming on of years doth forego Cold
neſs; and bodies when they come to the top and ſtrength of heat do decline in Drineſs,
and after that follows Coldneſs.



Now we are to conſider the Affections of the Mind. I remember when I was a
young man, at Poictiers in France I converſed familiarly with a certain French man, a
witty young man, but ſomething talkative, who afterwards grew to be a very eminent
man: he was wont to inveigh againſt the manners of old men, and would ſay, That if
their Minds could be ſeen as their Bodies are, they would appear no leſs deformed. Be-
ſides, being in love with his own wit, he would maintain, That the vices of old men’s
Minds have ſome correſpondence and were parallel to the putrefactions of their Bo-
dies: For the drineſs of their skin he would bring in Impudence; for the hardneſs of
their bowels, unmercifulneſs: for the lippitude of their eyes, an evil Eye and Envy: for the caſting down of their eyes, and bowing their body towards the earth,
Atheiſm; (for, ſaith he, they look no more up to Heaven as they are m [?] ont) for the
trembling of their members, Irreſolution of their decrees and light inconſtancy; for the
bending of their fingers, as it were to catch, Rapacity and covetouſneſs; for the buck-
ling of their knees, Fearfulneſs; for their wrinkles, Craftineſs and Obliquity: and other
things which I have forgotten. But to be ſerious, a young man is modeſt and ſhame-
fac’d, an old man’s fore-head is hardned; a young man is full of bounty and mercy, an
old man’s heart is brawny; a young man is affected with a laudable emulation, an old
man with a malignant envy; a young man is inclined to Religion and Devotion, by
reaſon of his fervency and inexperience of evil, an old man cooleth in piety
through the coldneſs of his charity, and long converſation in evil, and likewiſe
through the difficulty of his belief; a young man’s deſires are vehement, an old man’s
moderate; a young man is light and moveable, an old man more grave and conſtant; a young man is given to liberality, and beneficence, and humanity, an old man to co-
vetouſneſs, wiſdom for his own ſelf, and ſeeking his own ends; a young man is
confident and full of hope, an old man diffident and given to ſuſpect moſt things; a
young man is gentle and obſequious, an old man froward and diſdainful; a young man
is ſincere and open-hearted, an old man cautelous and cloſe; a young man is given
to deſire great things, an old man to regard things neceſſary; a young man thinks
well of the preſent times, an old man preferreth times paſt before them; a young man
reverenceth his Superiours, an old man is more forward to tax them: And many other
things, which pertain rather to Manne [?] rs than to the preſent Inquiſition. Notwithſtand-
ing old men, as in ſome things they improve in their Bodies, ſo alſo in their Minds,
unleſs they be altogether out of date: namely, that as they are leſs apt for inven-


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