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No. 025 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 25
Thursday, March 29, 1711. Addison.

… AEgrescitque medendo.


The following Letter will explain it self, and needs no Apology.


‘I am one of that sickly Tribe who are commonly known by the Name of Valetudinarians, and do confess to you, that I first contracted this ill Habit of Body, or rather of Mind, by the Study of Physick. I no sooner began to peruse Books of this Nature, but I found my Pulse was irregular, and scarce ever read the Account of any Disease that I did not fancy my self afflicted with. Dr. Sydenham’s learned Treatise of Fevers [1] threw me into a lingring Hectick, which hung upon me all the while I was reading that excellent Piece. I then applied my self to the Study of several Authors, who have written upon Phthisical Distempers, and by that means fell into a Consumption, till at length, growing very fat, I was in a manner shamed out of that Imagination. Not long after this I found in my self all the Symptoms of the Gout, except Pain, but was cured of it by a Treatise upon the Gravel, written by a very Ingenious Author, who (as it is usual for Physicians to convert one Distemper into another) eased me of the Gout by giving me the Stone. I at length studied my self into a Complication of Distempers; but accidentally taking into my Hand that Ingenious Discourse written by Sanctorius, [2] I was resolved to direct my self by a Scheme of Rules, which I had collected from his Observations. The Learned World are very well acquainted with that Gentleman’s Invention; who, for the better carrying on of his Experiments, contrived a certain Mathematical Chair, which was so Artifically hung upon Springs, that it would weigh any thing as well as a Pair of Scales. By this means he discovered how many Ounces of his Food pass’d by Perspiration, what quantity of it was turned into Nourishment, and how much went away by the other Channels and Distributions of Nature.

Having provided myself with this Chair, I used to Study, Eat, Drink, and Sleep in it; insomuch that I may be said, for these three last Years, to have lived in a Pair of Scales. I compute my self, when I am in full Health, to be precisely Two Hundred Weight, falling short of it about a Pound after a Day’s Fast, and exceeding it as much after a very full Meal; so that it is my continual Employment, to trim the Ballance between these two Volatile Pounds in my Constitution. In my ordinary Meals I fetch my self up to two Hundred Weight and [a half pound [3]]; and if after having dined I find my self fall short of it, I drink just so much Small Beer, or eat such a quantity of Bread, as is sufficient to make me weight. In my greatest Excesses I do not transgress more than the other half Pound; which, for my Healths sake, I do the first Monday in every Month. As soon as I find my self duly poised after Dinner, I walk till I have perspired five Ounces and four Scruples; and when I discover, by my Chair, that I am so far reduced, I fall to my Books, and Study away three Ounces more. As for the remaining Parts of the Pound, I keep no account of them. I do not dine and sup by the Clock, but by my Chair, for when that informs me my Pound of Food is exhausted I conclude my self to be hungry, and lay in another with all Diligence. In my Days of Abstinence I lose a Pound and an half, and on solemn Fasts am two Pound lighter than on other Days in the Year.