Diet had long been linked to catharsis and purgation, and easily became a locus for puritanism. The seventeenth century was the time when many (if not most) of the Western world's 'Rich Restoratives' were introduced via the flourishing international trade routes. These new food drugs were cane sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, and tobacco, and the new drinks made from the chemist's recent discovery of pure 'neat' alcohol—brandy, gin, fortified wines such as port or sherry, and herbal and fruit liqueurs such as aquavit and cherry brandy. All these items went down extremely well with the public, but were regarded by ascetics as excessively corrupting foods that produced overheated brains and venal 'Hot, fantastick passions of love'. One seventeenth-century English physiologist's internalized moral hatred of the supine, sickly, effeminate, and above all Foreign 'Hot Regimen from Hot Climates' had very clear targets:
Brandy, spirits, strong wines, smoking Tobacco, Hot Baths, wearing flannel and many clothes, keeping in the House, warming of beds, sitting by great fires, drinking continually of Tea and Coffee, want of due exercise of body, by too much study or passion of the mind, by marrying too young, or by too much Venery
(which injures Eyes, Digestion, Perspiration, and breeds Winds and Crudities): and for all the effeminacy, Niceness, and weakness of spirits that is produced in the Hysterical and Hypochondriacal...55
Uncompromising temperance and vegetarianism became the badge of English radicalism in the seventeenth century. Pure food or 'vegetable' beliefs either came through individual revelation or (increasingly as time wore on) through intellectual persuasion and reference to the natural 'common sense' of 'our forefathers'—'yea the most of them fed upon graine, corne, roots, pulse, hearbes, weedes and such other baggage, and yet lived longer than wee, were healthfuller than wee'. The ascetic works of classical Pythagoreanism and Indian Vedic vegetarianism were beginning to be rediscovered and admired. The Famil-ists and Adamites had vegetarian followers, mirroring the sects and believers in Cromwell's Model Army who thought meat-eating unlawful, and cold-water drinkers who abstained from alcohol.56 The famous radical Protestant hermit Roger Crab, after a near-death experience while soldiering during the Civil War, conducted the experiment of living alone on 'a smalle Roode of ground . . . at Ickham near Uxbridge . . . in obedience to the command of Christ', wearing sackcloth and eating nothing but garden produce:
if naturall Adam had kept to his single naturall fruits of God's appearance, namely fruits and herbs, we had not been corrupted. Thus we see that by eating and drinking we are swallowed up in corruption... [and] the flesh-destroying Spirits and Angels draweth near us . . .
By praying, fasting, and suffering the pangs given to him by his 'Old Man' (his body), Crab became something of a celebrity healer, preaching against meat and alcohol:
if my patients were any of them wounded or feaverish, I sayd, eating flesh or drinking strong beer would inflame the blood, venom their wounds, and encrease their disease, so there is no proof like experience: so the eating of flesh is an absolute enemy to pure nature; pure nature being the workmanship of a pure God, and corrupt nature under the custody of the devil.57
Fasting was a particular sign of grace. There were many Protestant women who also felt the call of personal prophecy, and embarkedon a severe ascetic regime of virginal celibacy, isolation, and, above all, fasting. Anne Wentworth embraced virginity and public preaching;Martha Taylor carried out a 'Prodigious Abstinence occasioned by twelve months fasting' and was exhibited publicly in her home;the prophet Sarah Wight starved herself as a penance, lost her sight and hearing, went into a catatonic state, and spoke 'extempore in soliliquies'.58 Oxford and Cambridge universities were monastic and celibate institutions steeped in the traditions of fasting and the philosophical or 'Mean Diet'. Protestant Cambridge was the centre of a core group of ascetic Protestant natural philosophers later known as the Neoplatonists, who strenuously opposed the 'clockwork' mechanism of Descartes, and argued for the material existence of a transcendent spirit world (including angels): 'The Platonists doe chiefly take notice of Three kindes of Vehicles, Aetherial, Aerial, and Terrestrial, in every one whereof there may be several degrees of purity and impurity...'. Platon-ism and Pythagoreanism were closely aligned in Cambridge; one leading member of the Neoplatonists, Henry More, was known to be a strict vegetarian who considered it his bodily duty to 'endeavour after the Highest Purity'.59
In the later seventeenth century, however, the main living prophet of English vegetarianism was the self-taught shepherd, hatter, and popular author Thomas Tryon (1634-1703), who wrote dozens of books on Cleanness and Innocency for all occasions:
There is no other way to obtain the great mystery and Knowledge of God, his Law, and our Selves, but by Self-Denial, Cleanness, Temperance, and Sobriety; in Words, Imployments, Meats and Drinks; all which... [keep] our bodies in Health, and our minds in serenity; rendering us unpolluted Temples, for the Holy Spirit of God to communicate with.60
Condemning all hot 'Gluttenous and intoxicating Liquors [and] fumes as those of Tobacco, Opium, and the like Poysons', he followed Crab and preached an Adamite, hermetic, country life, living on vegetables, grains, pulses, and cold water: 'he that lives as he ought needs but a few things, and those easie to be procured, a small cottage, a little Garden, a Spade, Corn, and Water, white garments, a little wood, a straw-bed, will support Nature to the highest degree'.61 His Pythagorean philosophy led him to abhor the violence and pollution of towns, with their noise, smoke, and nauseous trades (including butchery), and to become a pacifist. In Pythagoras his Mystick Philosophy Reviv'd (1691), Tryon explained that this primarily meant living without killing anything:
Let none of your food be attended with the groans of the innocent Creatures . . . endeavour and with equal constancy and earnestness to pursue after purity...to eschew things derived from violence; and therefore be considerate in the eating of Flesh or Fish, or any thing not procured but by the death of some of our fellow creatures; rather let them content themselves with the Delicacy of the Vegetables, which are full as nourishing, much more wholesome, and indisputably innocent...62
He once produced a plan for a Society of Clean and Innocent Livers based on 'Rules of Cleanness, Self-Denial, and Separation' and a Sublime merciful diet, but it was never put into practice; though famous, and even fashionable (the poet Aphra Behn was an admirer), he undoubtedly suffered some social derision on account of his vegetarianism—not least because his wife, though sober in other things, refused to give up meat.63 But Tryon was certainly a proponent of Cold Regimen, and alert to the experimental work of the Moderns. His campaign against hot drinks, hot feather beds, and hot-coddling children and swaddling babies—'lapping of them up in several Double Clothes and Swathes, so tight, that a Man may write on them'—was firmly in tune with the medical teaching of his fellow Londoner Thomas Sydenham.
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