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Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example, the Method of Preserving Health to Extreme Old Age   By: (1475-1566)

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Wherein is demonstrated, by his own Example,


Translated from the Italian Original.


LONDON: Printed for Benjamin White, at Horace's Head, in Fleet Street. M.DCC.LXXIX.


The author of the following discourses, Lewis Cornaro, was descended from one of the most illustrious families in Venice, but by the ill conduct of some of his relations, had the misfortune to be deprived of the dignity of a nobleman, and excluded from all honours and public employments in the state. Chagrined at this unmerited disgrace, he retired to Padua, and married a lady of the family of Spiltemberg, whose name was Veronica. Being in possession of a good estate, he was very desirous of having children; and after a long expectation of this happiness, his wife was delivered of a daughter, to whom he gave the name of Clara. This was his only child, who afterwards was married to John, the son of Fantini Cornaro, of a rich family in Cyprus, while that island belonged to the republic of Venice. Though he was far advanced in life when his daughter Clara came into the world, yet he lived to see her very old, and the mother of eight sons and three daughters. He was a man of sound understanding, determined courage and resolution. In his younger days, he had contracted infirmities by intemperance, and by indulging his too great propensity to anger; but when he perceived the ill consequence of his irregularities, he had command enough of himself to subdue his passion and inordinate appetites. By means of great sobriety, and a strict regimen in his diet, he recovered his health and vigour, which he preserved to an extreme old age. At a very advanced stage of life he wrote the following discourses, wherein he acquaints us with the irregularity of his youth, his reformation of manners, and the hopes he entertained of living a long time. Nor was he mistaken in his expectation, for he resigned his last breath without any agony, sitting in an elbow chair, being above an hundred years old. This happened at Padua, the 26th of April, 1566. His lady, almost as old as himself, survived him but a short time, and died an early death. They were both interred in St. Anthony's church, without pomp, pursuant to their testamentary directions.

These discourses, though written in Cornaro's old age, were penned at different times, and published separately: The first, which he wrote at the age of eighty three, is intitled, A Treatise on a Sober Life, in which he declares war against every kind of intemperance; and his vigorous old age speaks in favour of his precepts. The second treatise he composed at the age of eighty six: it contains farther encomiums on sobriety, and points out the means of mending a bad constitution. He says, that he came into the world with a choleric disposition, but that his temperate way of life had enabled him to subdue it. The third, which he wrote at the age of ninety one, is intitled, An Earnest Exhortation to a Sober Life; here he uses the strongest arguments to persuade mankind to embrace a temperate life, as the means of attaining a healthy and vigorous old age. The fourth and last, is a letter to Barbaro, Patriarch of Aquileia, written at the age of ninety five; it contains a lively description of the healthy, vigour, and perfect use of all his faculties, which he had the happiness of enjoying at that advanced period of life.

This useful work was translated some years ago into English, under the title of Sure and certain methods of attaining a long and healthy life . The translator seems rather to have made use of a French version than of the Italian original; he has likewise omitted several passages of the Italian, and the whole is rather a paraphrase than a translation. This has induced us to give the public an exact and faithful version of that excellent performance, from the Venice edition in 8vo, in the year 1620 [1]: and as a proof of the merit and authenticity of the work, we beg leave to quote Mr... Continue reading book >>

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