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§ 4. Sleep and Health

The Bedroom

The innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,

The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast. Macbeth, 11. ii. 37-41
The Valet's Duties

When your master intendeth to bedward, see that ye have fire and candle sufficient and see ye have clean water in at night and in the morning: and if your master lie in fresh sheets, dry off the dankness by the fire. If he lie in a strange place, see his sheets be clean and sweet, and then fold down his bed, and warm his night kerchief, and see his house of office be clean, help off his clothing, and draw the curtains, and make sure the fire and candle, and avoid the dogs, and shut all the doors. And in the evening or in the morning, your master being alone, if ye have anything to say to him, then is good leisure and time to know his pleasure. In the morning if it be cold, make a fire, and have in clean water, bring him his petticoat warm, with his doublet, and all his apparel clean brushed, and his shoes made clean, and help to array him, truss his points, strike up his hosen clean, and set all thing clean and cleanly about him; give him good attendance, and in especial among strangers, for attendance doth please masters very well. Thus doing with diligence, God will prefer you to honour and good fortune.

HUGH RHODES, The Booke of Nurture 1568

The Care of the Body (a physician's advice)

To bedward be you merry or have merry company about you, so that to bedward no anger nor heaviness, sorrow nor pensivefulness, do trouble or disquiet you. To bedward and also in the morning, use to have a fire in your chamber, to waste and consume the evil vapours within the chamber, for the breath of man may putrify the air within the chamber: I do advertise you not to stand nor to sit by the fire, but stand or sit a good way off from the fire, taking the flavour of it, for fire doth arify and doth dry up a man's blood, and doth make stark the sinews and joints of man. In the night let the windows of

your house, specially of your chamber, be closed. When you be in your bed, lie a little while on your left side, and sleep on your right side....

Let your nightcap be of scarlet, and this, I do advertise you, to cause to be made a good thick quilt of cotton, or else of pure flocks or of clean wool, and let the covering of it be of white fustian, and lay it on the featherbed that you do lie on; and in your bed lie not too hot nor too cold, but in a temperance. Old ancient doctors of physic saith eight hours of sleep in summer and nine in winter is sufficient for any man; but I do think the sleep ought to be taken as the complexion of man is. When you do rise in the morning, rise with mirth and remember God. Let your hosen be brushed within and without, and flavour the inside of them against the fire; use linen socks, or linen hosen next your legs: when you be out of your bed, stretch forth your legs and arms and your body, cough and spit....

After you have evacuated your body and trussed your points, comb your head oft, and so do divers times in the day. And wash your hands and wrists, your face and eyes and your teeth, with cold water; and after that you be apparelled, walk in your garden or park, a thousand pace or two. And then great and noble men do use to hear mass, and other men that cannot do so, but must apply their business, doth serve God with some prayers, surrendering thanks to him for his manifold goodness, with asking mercy for their offences. And before you go to your refection, moderately exercise your body with some labour, or playing at the tennis, or casting a bowl, or poising weights or plummets of lead in your hands, or some other thing, to open your pores, and to augment natural heat. At dinner and supper use not to drink sundry drinks, and eat not of divers meats: but feed of two or three dishes at the most. After that you have dined and supped, labour not by-and-by after, but make a pause, sitting or standing upright the space of an hour or more with some pastime : drink not much after dinner. your supper, use light meats of digestion, and refrain from gross meats; go not to bed with a full nor an empty stomach. And after your supper make a pause ere you go to bed; and go to bed, as I said, with mirth.


Andrew BoordE, A Compendyous Regyment or a Dietary of helth 1542

The Physician

Macbeth. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?



Must minister to himself.

Therein the patient

Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
...If thou couldst, doctor, cast

The water of my land, find her disease,
And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
I would applaud thee to the very echo,
That should applaud again....

What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug
Would scour these English hence?

Macbeth, v. iii. 40-55 [In 1607 Shakespeare's eldest daughter Susanna married the physician, John Hall.]

A worthy physician is the enemy of sickness, in purging nature from corruption. His action is most in feeling of pulses, and his discourses chiefly of the nature of diseases. He is a great searcher out of simples, and accordingly makes his composition. He persuades abstinence and patience, for the benefit of health, while purging and bleeding are the chief courses of his counsel. The apothecary and the chirurgeon are his two chief attendants, with whom conferring upon time, [he] grows temperate in his cures. Surfeits and wantonness are great agents for his employment, when by the secret of his skill out of others' weakness he gathers his own strength. In sum, he is a necessary member for an unnecessary malady, to find a disease and to cure the diseased.

An unlearned and so unworthy physician is a kind of horseleech, whose cure is most in drawing of blood, and a desperate purge, either to cure or kill, as it hits. His discourse is most of the cures that he hath done, and them afar off; and not a receipt under a hundred pounds, though it be not worth three halfpence. Upon the market-day he is much haunted

with urinals, where if he find anything (though he know nothing), yet he will say somewhat, which if it hit to some purpose with a few fustian words, he will seem a piece of strange stuff. He is never without old merry tales and stale jests to make old folks laugh, and comfits or plums in his pocket to please little children; yea, and he will be talking of complexions, though he know nothing of their dispositions; and if his medicine do a feat, he is a made man among fools; but being wholly unlearned, and ofttimes unhonest, let me thus briefly describe him he is a plain kind of mountebank and a true quacksalver, a danger for the sick to deal withal, and a dizard in the world to talk withal.

NICHOLAS BRETON, The Good and the Badde 1616


It is therefore Death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent that they are but abjects and humbles them at the instant; makes them cry, complain and repent, yea, even to hate their forepassed happiness. He takes the account of the rich and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but in the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it. Oh eloquent, just and mighty Death! whom none could advise thou hast persuaded, what none hath dared thou hast done, and whom all the world hath flattered thou only hast cast out of the world and despised. Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered it all over with those two narrow words,

Hic jacet.

SIR WALTER RALIGH, The Historie of the World 1614



There are cozeners abroad; therefore it behoves men to be wary.
The Winter's Tale, Iv. iii. 256

My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus; who being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is the silly cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful in the highway: beating and hanging are terrors to me: for the life to come, I sleep out the thought of it. Ibid. IV. ii. 23-31


To have an open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cut-purse: a good nose is requisite also, to smell out work for the other I see this is the time that the unjust man doth thrive....Every lane's end, every shop, church, session, hanging, yields a careful man work. Ibid. Iv. iii. 686-704

Rogues and the law

It will be

[The law referred to below is the famous statute of 1572. noticed that it includes players among other classes of vagrants, and the passage was constantly quoted with glee by puritan opponents of the theatre. But the law was directed against wandering actors not attached to a nobleman's company such as that of the Lord Chamberlain, to which Shakespeare belonged.]

With us the poor is commonly divided into three sorts, so that some are poor by impotency, as the fatherless child, the aged, blind and lame, and the diseased person that is judged to be incurable: the second are poor by casualty, as the wounded soldier, the decayed householder, and the sick person visited with grievous and painful diseases: the third consisteth of thriftless poor, as the rioter that hath consumed all, the

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