Chap. VIII.

Of the passage of Meat and Drink.

THAT there are different passages for Meat and Drink, the Meat or dry aliment descending by the one, the Drink or moistning vehicle by the other, is a popular Tenent in our daies, but was the assertion of learned men of old. For the same was affirmed by Plato, maintained by Eustathius in Macrobius, and is deducible from Eratosthenes, Eupolis and Euripides. Now herein Men contradict experience, not well understanding Anatomy, and the use of parts. For at the Throat there are two cavities or conducting parts: the one the Oesophagus or Gullet, seated next the spine, a part official unto nutrition, and whereby the aliment both wet and dry is conveied unto the stomack; the other (by which tis conceived the Drink doth pass) is the weazon, rough artery, or wind-pipe, a part inservient to voice and respiration; for thereby the air descendeth into the lungs, and is communicated unto the heart. And therefore all Animals that breath or have lungs, have also the weazon, but many have the gullet or feeding channel, which have no lungs or wind-pipe; as fishes which have gils, whereby the heart is refrigerated; for such thereof as have lungs and respiration, are not without the weazon, as Whales and cetaceous Animals.

Again, Beside these parts destin'd to divers offices, there is a peculiar provision for the wind-pipe, that is, a cartilagineous flap upon the opening of the Larinx or Throttle, which hath an open cavity for the admission of the air; but lest thereby either meat or drink should descend, Providence hath placed the Epiglottis, Ligula, or flap like an Ivy leaf, which alwaies closeth when we swallow, or when the meat and drink passeth over it into the gullet. Which part although all have not that breath, as all cetaceous and oviparous Animals, yet is the weazon secured some other way; and therefore in Whales that breath, least the water should get into the lungs, an ejection thereof is contrived by a Fistula or spout at the head. And therefore also though birds have no Epiglottis, yet can they so contract the rim or chink of their Larinx, as to prevent the admission of wet or dry ingested; either whereof getting in, occasioneth a cough, until it be ejected. And this is the reason why a Man cannot drink and breath at the same time; why, if we laugh while we drink, the drink flies out at the nostrils; why, when the water enters the weazon, Men are suddenly drowned; and thus must it be understood, when we read of one that dyed by the seed of a Grape,1 and another by an hair in milke.[2]

Now if any shall still affirm, that some truth there is in the assertion, upon the experiment of Hippocrates, who killing an Hog after a red potion, found the tincture thereof in the Larinx; if any will urge the same from medical practice, because in affections both of Lungs and weazon, Physitians make use of syrupes, and lambitive medicines;[3] we are not averse to acknowledge, that some may distil and insinuate into the wind-pipe, and medicines may creep down, as well as the rheum before them; yet to conclude from hence, that air and water have both one common passage, were to state the question upon the weaker side of the distinction, and from a partial or guttulous irrigation, to conclude a totall descension.


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}.

1 Anacreon the Poet, if the story be taken literally. [Pliny NH vii (44) (englished by Holland). The story of Fabius, killed by a hair in milk, is in the same passage.]

2 [Wren: And a woman in Knowle, Wiltes, by a piece of the great tendon in a neck of veale, which is commonly cald the Halifax) which getting sodenly within the larinx chokt her.]

3 [Wren: In a dangerous catharr, the end of giving syrupes is, that sliding downe with the rheumes, they may both abate and correct the cold crude and corroding qualities of rheumes: and withall by the ingredients, and the balmy benigne quality of sugar, att once arme and warme the lungs, and withall thicken the rheum that fals, that itt may bee more easily expectorated.]

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