NR Digital

Pass the Snail Syrup

by Anthony Daniels

An 18th-century recipe for longevity

My tailor gave me the good news first: My measurements hadn’t changed in more than 20 years. The bad news was that he thought that the suit he was going to make me was of such good cloth that it would see me out. He added that it would be suitable for every occasion, from conferences to funerals (not all that far, in my experience). “Including my own, I suppose,” I said. He did not disagree; and it is best to plan ahead. One cannot be buried, or even cremated, in Prince of Wales check.

Old age comes to us all, and sooner than one thinks, at least when one has already aged. That is why, looking for tips on how to outlive my new suit, I decided to read The Old Man’s Guide to Health and Longer Life with Rules for Diet, Exercise and Physick for Preserving a Good Constitution and Preventing Disorders in a Bad One, by Dr. John Hill. As it was first published in 1750 it might be thought a little out of date, especially as Hill was widely regarded as a quack and a charlatan even at the time; but quackery springs eternal, as a glance at the health section of any bookshop should be enough to convince anyone, and it thrives by the suspicion that quacks might just know something that is undreamt of in doctors’ philosophy.

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