The Vanitie of the Eye, by George Hakewill. Chapter 20.

[Note that Hakewill makes reference not only to ancient authors, but also to Andre DuLaurens, and Walter Bailey.]

[Back to Pre-1800 English Texts.]

[Transcription by Christopher T. Leffler, MD, MPH.]

[Title Page]

[STC 12622]



First beganne for the Comfort of a

Gentlewoman bereaved of her

sight, and since vpon occa-

sion enlarged & pub-

lished for the




George Hakewill Master

of Arts, and fellow of Exeter

Coll. in Oxford.

The third Edition augmented by

the Author.

Eccles 31.15.

Noquius oculo quid creatum est


Printed by Ioseph Barnes, Printer

to the Vniversitie. 1615.

[p. 92]

CAP. 20.

Of the infinite diseases & casualties which the eie is subject unto.

NOW besides this secret intelligence, which the eie giues the world of the souls weaknes, & the bodies imperfectos; I find themselues subiect to far more diseases from within, and casualties from without, then any other member. [sidenote: Lib. I.C.II] Charro in his book of wisdom counts the diseases only to be sixscore, [sidenote: Lib. 7.C.20] but Rhodigin, who runnes over the particulars, bringes in a catalogue of a greater number, and Laurentius in his treatise of the eie, purposing to speake of this matter begins in this manner. [p. 93] I will not undertake (saith he) in this place to set down any exact descriptio of the diseases of the eie, it being an enterprise to tedious, which would require at least an hundred several chapters, the particulars are so infinit. And sure if we cosider aright the diverse peeces, & parcels of the eie, as the three humors, the 7 tunicles, the muscles, the vaines, the arteries, the nerues, the spirits, & withal vnderstand that each of these hath his severall diseases proper to it, besides those which are many times imparted from the disteper of the braine ( with which the eie holdes a marvelous correspondence ) and those which are incident to the whole bal of the eie as excesse, or defect in quantitie, improper situation, or figuration, or the like, cannot but conceaue as much as is before affirmed, especially if to these internall diseases we ioine those externall accidents, offesiue to it, winde, dust, smoake, gnats, straines, stripes, bruises, sometime to the diminutation, and sometime to the depravation, and not seldome to the totall losse and perishing of the sight. [p. 94] But above all it is most cosiderable that light the very object in which it most delighteth, and comforteth it selfe, it notwithstanding most hurtfull, and dangerous to it by dispersing and dissolving (as it were) the opticke spirits, as may appeare by S. Paul stricken blind with a light from heave, which suddenly shoane round about him; and by Zenophons souldiers who travelling many daies, through the snow, the greatest part of them lost their sight; [p. 95] [sidenote: Lib. 10 de usu partiii. Cap. 3.] To this ende, tis worth the remembring, which Galen mentioneth in his tract of the sight, that Dionysius the tyrat of Sicilie being disposed to punish any with blindnesse, would first cast them into a deepe dungeon in which there was no crevise, or chincke for admission of the sunne beames, where hauing kept them by the space of certaine daies, they were in a cleere sunshine weather, immediately from thence brought into a higher chamber full of lights, and all parieted over with a bright kind of plaister; by which meanes surfiting (as it were) and glutting their eies vpon this new fresh lustre, within a while (according to the tyrants designe) they became starke blinde. The truth of this assertion is also prooued by the experience of seeing the starres at noone day, from the bottom of a deep well, or when the sun is eclipsed (as Thucydides witnesseth it happened in his time) the sight being otherwise dazeled with the cleerenes of the sun beames, that it cannot possibly apprehend or discern those lesser lights in presence of the greater. But beside these assaults of the sight from without, and diseases arising from the natural dispositio from withint; diverse kindes of meates, and sauces there are, in our ordinary diet, which serue as much to diminish or depraue the sight, as to nourish or augment the body. Of these D. Baily in his treatise of the preservation of the eie sight, hath mustred vp a faire troupe; which mixed with some other accidents, the schoole of Salerne hath notwithstandinge summarily, and pithily comprehended in a few verses, and because they are happily rendred by S. Iohn Harrington, I will set them downe in our own mother tongue. [p. 97]

Wine, women, bathes, by art or nature wrought,

Onions, garlicke, mustard seed, fire, and light,

Smoke, bruises, dust, pepper to powder brought,

Beanes, letiles, straines, winde, teares, & Phoebus bright.

And all sharpe things our eie sight doe molest.

Yet watching hurts them more then all the rest.

Among which one hath vnhappily marked two things, as offensiue to the sight, which notwithstanding are most necessary in the life of man, hic & hac ignis, the one to the preservatio of mankinde, and the other of particulars. The former of which notwithstanding is foud to bee lesse offensiue to the eie sight in other countries, especially in the higher Germany then tis here with vs; there being ever in their hypocausts a convenient warmth, howbeit the fire bee never seene; so that, the scorching heat (which is it that dries the christalline humor, & by that meanes hurts the eie) is not felt in those parts. Others there are, who note two other things, as vseful in another kind & yet as offensiue to the eie, & to that purpose alleage the authority of the same author.

Since that hath happe a husband bad to burie,

And is therefore in hurt, not sad, but merie,

Yet if in shee good manners shee will keepe,

Onions, and mustardseed will make her weepe.

[p. 99]

But for my part I tooke especiall notice of watching, and teares, the one being the readiest meanes to gaine knowledge & the other to giue vent to our griefes, to which may be added fasting, as hurtful to the sight & yet more vsefull in a Christian mans life then any yet named.

[end of chapter 20]


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