Page images

for him to appreciate the jingle of gold in his wallet and to make him seem the more sane.

Body and mind go hand in hand, and if Don Quixote is a study in mental ideals and psychic equilibrium, it is as much a study of physical ideals and that which makes for bodily balance. The picture is perfect from both standpoints, and each reader can extract from it, according to his insight, wisdom in bodily and mental health.

It is significant that Cervantes' precepts of health are always put into the mouth of the idealist of this strangely assorted pair. Sancho is a pen-picture of the panderer to the flesh, but Don Quixote always subordinates his bodily demands to the larger issues of his errantry. Cervantes, himself an idealist, was, like all our greatest men, impressed with the dignity of the body and the value of health, and, through the knight, he, along with Shakespeare, Bacon, Molière, Montaigne, Locke, Franklin, Wesley, Carlyle, and Spencer, was a great lay-teacher of health. That his lessons are presented so clandestinely adds to his art without diminishing the effectiveness of his teaching.

Cervantes knew the curse of ill health, and we can guess that it often interfered with many of his plans. He knew what it was to be in that unhappiest-of-all lots for a soldier,-stretched, on the eve of a great battle, upon a bed of fever in the hold of his ship. As the hero of his book would have done under similar circumstances, he, against all remonstrance of his companions, made his way to the deck, took a prominent part in the fight, and received, as tokens of his bravery, three gunshot wounds-two in his chest and one which permanently crippled his right hand "for the greater glory of that member." But though he never spares himself when duty calls, the idealist values his physical welfare as necessary to spiritual advancement, and only his respect and care for his body could, in the excesses of the age in which he lived, have kept Cervantes in such a state of preservation that, after three score and five years, he could complete his masterpiece.

The father of Cervantes was a physician and, reasoning from son to father, we can believe he was a wise one. Doubtless the celebrated son absorbed all his father's lore and maxims, but

most of his somatic wisdom was learned by experience. After his unfortunate adventure with the enchanted sheep armies and the disenchanting shepherds, Don Quixote, upon inventory of his possessions, finds he has lost some teeth in the combat. On hearing Sancho's report as to the number of his remaining molars, he cries, "Unfortunate that I am! I had rather they had torn off an arm, provided it were not the sword arm; for thou must know, Sancho, that a mouth without teeth is like a mill without a stone, and that a diamond is not so precious as a tooth." By such acuteness of observation in this matter Cervantes fairly anticipates, by three centuries, the teaching of professional hygienists. That he learned this lesson partly from experience is most likely; for, though he makes Don Quixote say that he had lost no teeth by decay or "catarrh," he, at sixtynine, describes himself as having but six teeth "and those in poor condition and so ill-matched that no two of them meet."

Cervantes preached, as he practised, temperance and sobriety. Upon his assumption of the governorship of his island, Sancho is advised by his master as to his bodily, as well as to his other, conduct. He tells him to "eat little at dinner and less at supper; for the health of the whole body is tempered in the laboratory of the stomach." We are reminded of Shakespeare's "Fat stomachs have lean pates and dainty bits make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits." Don Quixote's gentle admonition, "Drink with moderation; for inebriety never keeps a secret nor performs a promise," is echoed by Feste in Twelfth Night when he tells Olivia that a drunken man is "Like a drowned man, a fool and a madman. One draught above heat makes him a fool; the second mads him; and a third drowns him."

Shakespeare's apostrophe to sleep is outrivaled by that of Cer

vantes :

"Blessings light on him who first invented sleep. It covers a man all over, mind and body, like a cloak; it is meat to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, heat to the cold, and cold to the hot; it is the coin that can purchase all things; the balance that makes the shepherd equal with the king, the fool with the wise man. It has only one fault, as I have heard say, which is, that it looks like death; for between the sleeper and the corpse there is little to choose."

The average physician of the time, in the person of Pedro Recio de Aguero, is held up by Cervantes to gentle but certain ridicule. Dazzled by "the North Star and shining light of medicine," his "Master Hippocrates," he, as bodily adviser to Governor Sancho, blindly applies the aphorisms of the Father of Medicine as to the restrictions of diet, much to the distress of Sancho, who swears by the material sun, that, beginning with Pedro, he will "cudgel every doctor out of the island, at least those I take to be ignorant," but "the learned physicians, the prudent and wise, I'll put on my head and honour like persons divine."

The surgeon was of small account in the days of Cervantes. The operation of phlebotomy, about the only one performed, was so common and so inexpensive as to have no importance as a subject for conversation. The surgeon was, in fact, none other than the barber, and the barber was the surgeon. Cervantes makes most happy use of this surgeon-barber's and barber-surgeon's chief utensil,-his basin. Of two neighboring villages, one has a surgeon and the other is so small as to have "neither apothecary nor barber, and since its neighbor had, the barber of the larger served the lesser; in which at this time was a man that had need to be bled and another that had need to be shaved." The barber-surgeon was on his way thither "carrying his brass basin which served as receptacle either for blood or lather according to the need of the case," and, since it rained, "the barber would not spoil his hat (which must have been new), -in its stead he wore the basin," which, "being burnished, shone half a league." What wonder that, though bereft of its visor, this basin should, to the unclouded eye of the Knight, be none other than the helmet of Mambrino!

Though the barber-surgeon has evolved apace into the barber and the surgeon, each going his own way, the one cutting always through the skin, the other doing so only by accident, the maker of patent medicines has not changed one whit in three hundred years. Cervantes impales this enterprising member of society with his unescapable pen. After unceremonious handling by the servants of the Holy Brotherhood, Don Quixote is reminded of the magic balsam of Fierabras, after two draughts of which

he promises his squire, “. instantly thou wilt see me become sounder than an apple." Like any other Sancho, the Squire pricks up his ears and exclaims, "If this be so, I renounce from henceforward the government of the promised island, and only desire in payment of my many and good services, that your worship will give me the receipt of this extraordinary liquor; for I dare say it will anywhere fetch more than two reals an ounce, and I want no more to pass this life with credit and comfort. But I should be glad to know whether the making of it will cost much?" "For less than three reals," Don Quixote answers, "thou mayest make nine pints." Let us see. An average, not-too-long-used real was worth about ten cents. For less than thirty cents one could make nine pints, that is, nearly a hundred and fifty ounces. The magic elixir would cost, therefore, half a cent an ounce. Two reals, or twenty cents, was evidently a very saleable price for a cure-all. The return would be fortyfold. Is it any wonder that Sancho wishes to go into the pharmaceutical business, and exclaims, "Sinner that I am! Why does your worship delay making it?" Alas, the making of magic elixirs of life at a four-thousand-per-cent profit is still a most alluring pursuit! "for we are all as God made us, and oftentimes a great deal worse." Sancho was cured of his enthusiasm over this bit of enterprise by taking a dose of his own medicine.

"Goodman death" found Cervantes a resistant victim, and it was not until he had, in 1616, reached his sixty-ninth year that, by the aid of dropsy,-due probably to a failing heart, he took him from this world that had been none too kind to him. Yet to it he has given a work of which, fortunately, he himself could say, "Children turn its leaves, young people read it, grown men understand it, old folks praise it." Perhaps it would have pleased him not a little to know that physicians, even so great as Sydenham, would read and recommend it as a "very good book."


New Haven, Connecticut


The story of California forms one of the most interesting and romantic of all the states in the Union, and the quest of the Argonauts of '49 is by far the most fascinating chapter in California's history. This state was early settled by the Spaniards, but they made slow progress in developing the country. It remained for the discovery of gold in El Dorado County to hasten the development of California and to impart to its history special interest and romance. The revolutionary action of John Charles Fremont, the Pathfinder, which resulted in the cession of this Mexican territory to the Union, had already prepared the way for the rapid tide of immigration which then set in to the Pacific Coast. The discovery of gold of course imparted additional impetus to this tide and brought a vast horde of adventurers to this El Dorado. Cities sprang up by magic, as it were by night, and what but a short while before was a vast primeval forest soon blossomed into a cultivated land of fertile fields waving their golden harvests of grain and of orchards laden with their ripe luscious fruits. Great engineering enterprises were undertaken and streams turned out of their natural courses to do man's bidding; and thus an immense new commonwealth was created out of a vast wilderness.

There were two routes from the East to this wonderful new land of the Golden Fleece, the one a waterway by Cape Horn and the other the overland trail. But either of these routes entailed severe hardships and untiring endurance on the part of the pioneers, and it was only the fittest that survived the difficulties and hardships of the voyage by sea or of the overland journey. So the pioneers who reached California were a husky and sturdy folk capable of untold endurance and as distinctive as the companions of Jason. Those who made their way to California in '49 were, for the most part, men of education and not a few college graduates. Yet among the men of education and character were some also of the baser sort, some even of the criminal class. All, however, both cultured and degraded, tended toward a lower level of living and thinking under the

« PreviousContinue »