Abstemius's Fables (Sir Roger L'Estrange)
281. (Abstemius 29) A Sick Hermit.
There was a very good Man, that in the Five and twentieth Year of his Age, fell into a desperate Fit of Sickness; the Doctors sat upon him, and the whole College were of opinion, that there was no saving of his Life without the Use of a Woman. The Poor Man lay Humming nad Hawing a good while, betwixt Sin and the Remedy; but in the end, he gave up himself wholly to the Physicians to do with him as they thought fit. Upon this, the Doctors, by Consent, put a good Armful of warm Woman's Flesh into the Bed to him, by way of a Recipe, and so laid him to rest, till about some two Hours after: At which time they came to see how the Prescription had wrought; and there did they find the Poor Religious tearing his Hair, beating his Breast, and groaning as if his very Heart would break. So they fell presently to Reasoning, and Casing upon the Matter with him, and laying comfortable Distinctions before him betwixt the Morality, and the Necessity of what was done. No, no Gentlemen, says he, my Grief is not thereabouts; but it goes to the Heart of me to think how long I have liv'd in Ignorance; and that this Fit of Sickness should never take me sooner.
Flesh is Frail. When a strong Appetite, and a troublesome Virtue meet in Competition, 'tis a hard Matter for a Man to resist the Temptation.
Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists: Abstemius's Fables by Sir Roger L'Estrange. Available online at Google Books.