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A LETTER

FROM A NUN OF PADUA,

THE GRAND-DAUGHTER OF LEWIS CORNARO.

CHAPTER V.

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TESTIMONY OF HER GRANDFATHER'S REGULAR LIFE. LEWIS CORNARO was, by the ill conduct of some of his relations, deprived of the dignity of a noble Venetian, of which he was possessed, and which he deserved for his virtues, and by his birth. He was not banished from his country, but was free to remain in Venice, if he pleased; but seeing himselfexcluded from all the publicemployments of the Republic, he retired to Padua, where he took up his residence.

He married at Udina, a city of Friuli; his wife's name was Veronica, of the family of Spiltemberg. She was a long time barren, and as he ardently wished for children, he neglected nothing which might give him that satisfaction. At last, after many vows, prayers, and remedies, his wife became pregnant, and was delivered of a daughter, who was named Clara, because of the devotion which each of them had for St. Francis.

This was an only daughter, and was married to John Cornaro, the son of Fantin, of the family of that name, which was distinguished by the surname of Cornaro del Episcopia. It was a very powerful family before the loss which Christendom suffered by losing the kingdom of Cyprus, where the family had a considerable estate.

Člara had eleven children, eight sons and three daughters. Lewis Cornaro had also the pleasure to see himself, as it were, revived by a miracle in a great number of successors; for though he was very ancient when Clara came into the world, yet he lived to see her very old, and his offspring to the third generation.

Cornaro was a man of understanding, merit, and courage. He loved glory, and was naturally liberal; nevertheless, without profuseness. His youth was infirm, being very passionate and hasty; but when he perceived what damages the vices of his temper caused him, he resolved to correct them, and had command enough of himself to conquer his passion, and those extravagant humors to which he was subject. After this glorious victory, he became so moderate, mild, and affable, that he gained the esteem and friendship of all those who knew him.

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He was extraordinarily sober, observed the rules which he mentions in his writings; and dieted himself always with so much wisdom and precaution, that finding his natural heat decaying by degrees in his old age, he also diminished his diet by degrees, so far as to stint himself to the yolk of an egg for a meal, and sometimes, a little before his death, it served him for two meals.

By this means he preserved his health, and was also vigorous, to the age of a hundred years ; his mind did not decay, he never had need of spectacles, neither lost he his hearing.

And that which is no less true than difficult to believe, is, that he preserved his voice so clear and harmonious, that, at the end of his life; he sung with as much strength and delight, as he did at the age of twenty-five years.

He had foreseen that' he should live long without any infirmity, and was not deceived in it. When he felt that his last hour drew near, he disposed himself to leave this life with the piety of a Christian, and the courage of a philosopher. He made his will, and set all his affairs in order ; after which he received the last sacraments, and expected death patiently in an elbow chair. In short, it may be said, that being in good health, feeling no manner of pain, having also his mind and eye brisk, a little fainting fit took him, which was instead of an agony, and made him fetch his last breath. He died at Padua, April 26, 1566, and was buried May 8, following

His wife died some years after him. Her life was long, and her old age as happy as that of her spouse, only her latter days were not altogether like his. Some time before her death she was seized with a lingering, which brought her to her grave. She gave up her soul one night in her bed, without any convulsive motions, and with so perfect a tranquillity, that she left this life without being perceived.

This is all I can say of those good people, by the idea which remains of them, from what I heard my deceased father, and some other friends of Lewis Cornaro, say of them; who having lived so long, after an extraordinary manner, deserve not to die so soon in the memory of man.

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AUTHORITIES

TROM THE

HISTORY OF M. DE THOV, AND THE DIALOGUES OP CARDAN,

CONCERNING

CORNARO'S METHOD

OY

PROLONGING LIFE AND PRESERVING HEALTH.

CHAPTER VI. The extract of the thirty-eighth book of the History of M. President de Thou, runs thus:

“Lewis Cornaro was an extraordinary and admirable instance of a long life; for he lived a hundred years, healthful in body and sound in mind. He was descended from one of the most illustrious families of Venice ; but through some misfortune, owing to his birth, was excluded from all public honors and state employments. He married at Udina, in Friuli, one Veronica, of the family of Spiltemberg: and being in possession of a good estate he was desirous of having children to inherit it. In short, what by the prayers he put up, and by the help of physicians, he conquered the point ; and his wife, whom he dearly loved, and who was pretty well gone in years, was brought to bed of a daughter, when he least expected it. This daughter, named Clara, was married to John, the son of Fantina Cornaro, a rich family of Cyprus, by whom she had eight sons and three daughters.

« In a word, Lewis Cornaro, by his sobriety, and the regimen he observed in his diet, corrected the infirmities he had contracted by intemperance in his youth, and by the strength of his reason, moderated his inclinations and propensity to anger. So that in his old age he had as good a constitution of body, and as mild and eventempered a mind, as before in the flower of his youth he was infirm, and apt to fly out into a passion. He composed several Treatises when he was very old, wherein he tells us of the irregularity of his former life, and of his reformation, and the hopes he had of living long. Nor was he mistaken in his account, for he died calmly, and without any pain, being above a hundred years old, at Padua, where he had taken up his residence. His wife, almost as old as himself, survived him : but within a short time after, died a very easy death. They were both buried in St. Anthony's Church,

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without any pomp, according as they had ordered by their last will and testament."

In the Dialogues of Cardan, between a philosopher, a citizen, and a hermit, concerning the methods of prolonging a man's life and preserving his health, Cardan introduces the hermit discoursing thus :

" Whereas, in solid nourishments, and even in drinks, there are several things worthy our observation, viz. their natural qualities, and those which they acquire by the seasoning of them; the order and time wherein we ought to make use of them, without mentioning the quantity of those very aliments and drinks; it is not without reason that the question is asked, which of these things is to be regarded most ?

s. Some have declared themselves for the quantity, maintaining, that it has in effect a greater share than any other thing, in the preservation of health and life.

« The famous Lewis Cornaro, a noble Venetian, was of this mind. He treated on this subject at the age of fourscore, enjoying then a perfect soundness of body and mind. This venerable old man, at the age of thirty-six, was seized with so violent a distemper, that his life was despaired of. Even after that time, he took care to eat just the same quantity every meal ; and though he was not free from a great many fatigues, and some misfortunes which occasioned his brother's death, yet the exactness of his regimen preserved him always in health, with an entire freedom of mind.

“At seventy years of age, a coach, in which he travelled, was overthrown, by which he was dragged a great way, wounded in the head, and in one of his legs and arms. The physicians despaired of his recovery, and were for applying a great many remedies to him. But Cornaro tells us, that being well satisfied of the temperature of his humors, he rejected all the assistance of the physicians, and was quickly cured.

“ Nine years after, when he was almost fourscore, his friends and his very physicians advised him to add two ounces to his ordinary diet : within ten or twelve days after he fell sick, the physicians

gave him over, and he himself began to fear the worst : however, he recovered his health, though with much difficulty.

“The same author adds, that being fourscore years old, his sight and hearing were sound and good; that his voice held strong; that he sometimes sung in concert with his grand-children; that he could either ride or walk a-foot very well, and that he composed a comedy, which came off with applause.

“This wise old gentleman was then of the opinion, that a regular and small quantity of food contributed more than any thing else to the preservation of health ; for he makes no mention of his

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choice of diets. I am used, says Cornaro, to take in all twelve ounces of solid nourishment, such as meat and the yolk of an egg ; and fourteen ounces of drink. It is to be lamented that he did not precisely tell us, whether he took this quantity once or twice a-day : however, since he tells us that he did eat but a very little, it seems as if he did so but once a day.

“ The famous civilian, Panigarolus, who lived to a great age, though of a very weak constitution, never ate or drank above twentyeight ounces a-day. It is true, indeed, that every fortnight he purged himself, but he lived to above ninety.

“ It seems, then, as if Cornaro was minded to keep from us a perfect knowledge of his regimen, and only to tell us, that he had found out an extraordinary one ; since he has not informed us whether he took the quantity he speaks of, once or twice a day; nor whether he altered his diet ; for he treats on that subject as darkly and obscurely as Hippocrates.

“ It is likewise strange, that the quantity of his liquid should exceed that of his solid diet; and the rather, because what he did eat was not equally nourishing, since he took the yolks of eggs as well as meat. In truth, to me he seems to talk more like a philosopher than a physician.”

Thus far Cardan : but, by his leave, if he had read what Cornaro has written concerning a sober and regular life with attention, he would have passed a sounder judgment on his writings ; for in them he not only speaks of the quantity, but in express term discourses of the quality of his diet.

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MAXIMS

TO BE OBERVED FOR THE PROLONGATION OF LIFE.

It is not good to cat too much, nor fast too long, nor to do any thing else that is preternatural.

Whoever eats or drinks too much will be sick.
The distemper of repletion is cured by abstinence.

Old men can fast easily; men of ripe age can fast almost as much, but young persons and children, that are brisk and lively, can hardly fast at all.

Growing persons have a great deal of natural heat, which requires a great deal of nourishment, else the body will pine away.

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