Agitated by the Storms of Passion or Winds of Vice? Discover the Regency Secrets to Happiness

Maybe you were slighted at a ball? Or perhaps the person you love is so far above you in station that no union is possible? Don’t fret, my dears, the self-help classic Anatomy of Melancholy is here to lift your depressed spirits.

Please note, if you want to earnestly study the history of mental health, I recommend the Anatomy of Melancholy as it was published in 1683, or the faithful editions thereafter. Those volumes include diagnosis, herbal remedies, as well as old-fashioned purging and bloodletting. However, I have not excerpted from the original tome but from a rather crazy, abridged 1824 version. The editor describes his volume as a smaller boat built from the wood of the original. He writes, “so trimmed, it is hoped, as to be capable of shewing to its passengers, the superior pleasures that are to be experienced on the calm and unruffled surface of a virtuous life; while it exhibits to their view, the terrifying dangers of that turbulent ocean, which, agitated by the storms of Passion and the winds of Vice, dashes with rude and raging violence along its surrounding shores.

at Properly

Bread made of good wheaten flour, pure, well purged from the bran, and kneaded with rain-water, is of itself “the staff of life.” The thinnest beer, and lightest wines, are, of all liquors, the best, except fine pure water, sweet to the smell, and like air to the sight, such as is soon hot, and soon cold. … Of fruits, the sweetest are the best, particularly the juice of the pomegranate; and of herbs, borage, bugles, endive, fennel, anniseed, and balm, are to be preferred. The use of rose-water, if it be sweet, and well distilled, is particularly serviceable in the cure of this disease.

Melancholy men have, in general, good appetites and bad digestions; and nothing sooner poisons both the body and mind, than to eat and ingurgitate beyond all measure, as many of them do.

Fasting and feasting in extremes are equally pernicious, and best restrained by tasting only of one dish of plain food, and never eating until hunger requires to be satisfied.

Isaak Soreau. Still-life with Grapes, Flowers, and Berries in a Wanli Bowl.

njoy Fresh Air and Cleanliness

A clear air cheers up the spirits, and exhilarates the mind; but a thick, black, misty, and tempestuous atmosphere, contracts the powers both of body and of mind, and overthrows, in time, the strongest health. A good prospect alone will relieve melancholy.

He, therefore, who wishes either to recover or enjoy the invaluable blessings of health, and particularly he who is disposed to be melancholy, should frequently wash his hands and face, shift his clothing, have clean linen, and be comfortably attired; for, sordes vitiant, nastiness defiles a man, and dejects his spirits; but above all, he should shift his place of residence, and always choose, at each remove, a dry and airy eminence. 

ake a Bath

Bathing, either in natural or artificial baths, is of great use in this malady, and yields, as many physicians, particularly Ætius, Galen, Rhasis, and Montonus, contend, as speedy a remedy as any other physic whatsoever. Crato and Fuschius recommend baths medicated with camomile, violets, and borage. Laurentius, and others, speak of milk baths, the body afterwards to be anointed with oil of bitter almonds; and some prescribe a bath in which ram’s heads, and other ingredients of the like kind, have been previously boiled.

o Exercise

Exercise, both mental and corporeal, when duly regulated, and discreetly taken, highly contributes not only to the restoration and establishment of general health, but to the prevention and expulsion of this particular disease. The heavens themselves are in constant motion; the sun rises and sets, the moon increases and decreases, the stars and planets have their regular revolutions, the air is agitated with winds, the waters ebb and flow, and man also should ever be in action. Employment, which Galen calls “Nature’s physician,” is indeed so essential to human happiness, that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery.

Let the world, I say, have their may-games, wakes, whitsunales; their dancings and concerts; their puppet-shews, hobby-horses, tabors, bagpipes, balls, barley-breaks, and whatever sports and recreations please them best, provided they be followed with discretion.

ead a good book

No person can be so wholly overcome with idleness or involved in the labyrinth of worldly cares, troubles, and discontents, who will not find his mind, if he has any, much enlightened by reading.

et Some Sleep

Sleep, by expelling cares, and pacifying the mind, is particularly serviceable in the cure of melancholy; and must not only be procured at proper intervals, but protracted, if possible, beyond its ordinary duration. Crato is of opinion that seven or eight hours is a competent time for a melancholy man to rest. He who wishes to taste the sweets of sleep, must go to bed, animo securo, quieto, et libero, with a secure and composed mind, in a quiet place; for to lie in bed, as some do, and not sleep night after night, giving assent to pleasing conceits and vain imaginations, is extremely pernicious. All violent perturbations of the mind must, in some sort, be qualified before we can look for soft repose. The quietude and security of rural retirement greatly encourage this composure of the mind. Ficinus recommends the concord of sweet sounds to the ear of a patient, previous to the usual hours of rest, as a certain means of procuring undisturbed and pleasing repose; others the reading of some amusing tale; and others, to have a basin of water gently dropping its contents near the bedside. But perhaps a good draught of muscadine, with a toast and nutmeg, may prove as efficacious a remedy against that disinclination to sleep, and those fearful and troublesome dreams with which melancholy are molested, as any that can be prescribed; always including, however, the two indispensable requisites for this purpose, a clear conscience, and a light supper. 

isten to Music

Music, divine music, besides the excellent powers it possesses of expelling many other diseases, is a sovereign remedy against despair and melancholy, and will drive even the Devil himself away.

Adolf Emil Hering.

elax in the Company of Friends

False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports; forming the most pleasing remedy against, not only melancholy, but every grievance and discontent: for Discontents and Grievances are the lot of man: our whole life, as Apuleius well observes, is a glucupicron, a bitter-sweet passion, a mixture of pleasure and of pain, from which no man can hope to go free: but as this condition is common to all, no one man should be more disquieted than another.

He who desires but neighbours’ fare,

Will for no storm or tempest care.


Mirth and Merry Company are the companions of music in the cure of melancholy. The merrier the heart the longer the life. 

Every good physician rings this remedy in his patient’s ears; and Marsilius Ficinus thus concludes an epistle to Bernard Canisianus, and other friends: “Live merrily, O my friends! free from cares and grief: again and again, I exhort you to be merry; and if any thing trouble your hearts, or vex your souls, cast it off with contempt. This I enjoin you not only as a divine, but as a physician; for without mirth, physic is of no force.”

Making Masks During The 1918 Flu Pandemic

I’m still here! I’ve just been extremely busy.

A few months ago, when I had to sew face masks for my family, I made several bad prototypes before finally finding a helpful JoAnn’s Fabrics video tutorial. I rummaged through my fabric scraps, searching for the recommended 100% cotton fabrics. And because I have an embarrassing amount of unfinished sewing projects tucked away, I already possessed soft ¼ inch elastic, so I didn’t have to sew cloth strings.    

I had previously posted an article about the flu pandemic of the late 1910s. Today, I searched more specifically on “influenza” and “masks” in that timeframe. If you’ve struggled with sewing a mask, I hope you appreciate these small finds.

“Red Cross workers of Boston, Massachusetts, removing bundles of masks for American Soldiers from table where other women are busily engaged in making them.” National Archives Identifier: 45499363

From “Comments On Influenza” in Virginia Medical Monthly, 1918.

The Face Mask: With terrible emphasis the public, as well as the profession, has had its attention drawn during this epidemic to the rise of the mask for the protection of people diseases. The surgeons while operating have used the mask during recent years to prevent disease germs from entering wounds of the patients from the mouth and nose of the surgeons. During this terrible epidemic, the proper use of a properly made mask undoubtedly protected many people from “taking” the “Spanish Flu.”

The use of the mask should become more general. At certain periods of the year, when epidemic diseases entering the body through respiratory route appear, it should be used especially by children in schools, on cars, or in moving picture theatres, etc. Of course, the mask should be properly made should be worn on same side, and should be sterilized before being again used. Measles, whooping-cough, meningitis, infantile paralysis, scarlet fever, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis–maybe, at least in part, held in check through this precaution. Remembering that the micro-organisms which make possible these diseases implanted and propagated in bodies of the people and disseminated therefrom to infect the respiratory passage of other bodies, every means that tends to obstruct and prevent this transplantation should be used thoroughly.

In an interesting article (Jour A. M. A.  October 12th, 1918 page 1216), Doust and Lyon reported experiments with face masks and reached the following conclusions:

1 During ordinary or loud speech, infected material from the mouth is rarely projected to a distance of four feet, and usually less. A four-foot danger zone exists about the patient under these conditions.

2 During coughing, infected material from the mouth may be projected at least ten feet. The danger zone about a coughing patient has then, a minimum radius of ten feet.

3 Masks of coarse or medium gauze of from two to ten layers do not prevent the projection of infected material from the mouth during coughing. Such masks are worthless, therefore, in preventing the dissemination of respiratory infections.

4 A three layer buttercloth mask is efficient in preventing the projection of infectious material from the mouth during speaking or coughing. It is a suitable mask, therefore, be worn in connection with respiratory disease.

Then buttercloth, six by eight inches, hemmed on the edges (with four tapes), makes the best cloth mask.

From Influenza, a Study of Measures Adopted for the Control of the Epidemic, by Wilfred H. Kellogg. Issue 31 of Special Bulletin, California State Board of Health. 1919.

From “Home Treatment of Influenza” in Good Health, 1919.

While it is hoped that there will not be a repetition of the influenza epidemic which occurred last year, yet we should be very foolish to be caught as unprepared before. Even though the majority our nurses have returned from the war, there is still a great shortage in the country, and it is highly important that every woman should prepare herself to do the things in case the disease should again invade her home or neighborhood.

That much can be done by the woman who has only a short course in nursing, is illustrated by what a group young women did last winter when influenza came to Battle Creek. There was, of course, a very great shortage nurses and the calls coming to the outpatient department of the Battle Creek Sanitarium were so numerous and urgent that those in charge of the work were all distracted because of their inability to supply the demand for assistance. The young women of the Battle Creek Sanitarium School of Home Economics were therefore invited to co-operate with the Dispensary by going into the various homes of the sick and rendering such assistance.

The first point of instruction was that of prevention. Each girl was supplied with a face mask and instructed to wear it every moment that she was in the house where the influenza prevailed. The mask consisted of three thicknesses of heavy cheesecloth, commonly known as buttercloth, the mask being large enough to cover both the nose and the mouth. This was six by eight inches in size and was fastened by strings coming from the four corners. In order to make the mask a little more comfortable, three or four small tucks were placed at each end thus a little fullness over the nose.

They were instructed always to disinfect their hands and face with a solution of bichloride of mercury, tablets of which can be obtained at any drugstore, or a weak solution of carbolic acid. In removing the mask they were to fold it with the side worn next to the face on the inside of the fold, and to lay it on a clean surface, made so by washing with a disinfectant–the mask to be replaced before again entering the room of the patient–care being taken to put the same side toward the face as had previously been worn or, a better plan still, to put a clean disinfected mask on each time. It is believed that the careful wearing of the mask was responsible for so few cases of influenza resulting among the students. Only three out of about seventy-five who were assisting in homes where the influenza prevailed, contracted the disease. One of them admitted that she had been careless in the wearing of her mask.

“Taking food to the family all down with the “Flu” at Charlotte, North Carolina. They found the mother had just died.” National Archives Identifier:  533586