A few introductory remarks on this subject will serve a useful purpose. It will be seen that I have referred to the alphabetical pentagon of health - which is purely a provisional arrangement of my own. It consists of five headings, which fall naturally into alphabetical order. They are best considered, therefore, in the following way, namely:
This is a convenient method of remembering the five great fundamental principles concerned in the preservation of health. It will serve, moreover, as a means of impressing them upon the memory, superior to any other with which I am acquainted.
This very number five, indeed, has a more than ordinary significance belonging to itself. It has been termed a mystical number. "Five," says Pythagoras, "has peculiar force in expiations. It is everything. It stops the power of poisons and is redoubted by evil spirits." According to the Pythagorean school of philosophy, the world is a piece of harmony and man the full chord. The major chord consists of a fundamental or tonic, its major third and its just fifth. The eighth note, or complement of the octave, is the diapason of man. These are of course very highly imaginative speculations. It is interesting to remember, however, that the system of astronomy first taught by Pythagoras was afterwards developed into the solar system by Copernicus, and is now received as the Copernican system.
But, turning from grave to gay, we find that five wits have been described, viz., common sense, imagination, fantasy, estimation, and memory. Of these, common sense passes judgment on all things; imagination brings the mind to realise what comes before it; fantasy stimulates the mind to act; estimation has to do with all that pertains to time, space, locality, etc.; and memory is " the warder of the brain."
Then again, have we not also the five senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting ? Have we not likewise five fingers and five toes on either hand and foot ? Moreover, is not fives an ancient and honoured game, still popular wherever the English language is spoken, and is not its name derived from its being played with the " bunch of fives," namely the hand ? And further, there must be numbers of Australians who know well what "five-corners" are.
In addition to the foregoing, the number five has an important historical and legal association in connection with the Code Napoleon. Prior to Napoleon's time, different laws and customs prevailed in different parts of France, and altogether legal matters were in a chaotic state. It was greatly to his credit, therefore, that he recognised the necessity for the entire alteration and remodelling of the whole system. But what was more striking than the recognition of the existing defects was the speediness with which they were rectified, for the Code Napoleon was devised and actually in operation between 1804 and 1810.
It consisted of five parts, namely the "Code Civil," dealing with the main body of the private law; the "Code de Procedure Civile"; the "Code de Commerce," dealing with the laws relating to commercial affairs; the "Code d'Instruction Criminelle "; and finally, the "Code Penal." It is recorded that Napoleon was prouder of this than of his victories. "I shall go down to posterity,"he said, "with my Code in my hand." The best proof of its excellence is that to-day it remains in force as the law of France (though it has been re-christened the "Code Civil" under the Republic), and that it has been the model for many Continental Codes, notably Belgium, Italy, and Greece.
But, leaving these references to the many associations attached to the number five, it must not be supposed that my desire is to make people unnecessarily timorous about themselves on the score of health. This is certainly not my intention, for such a frame of mind would defeat the very object I have in view. Yet there still remains the fact that a little rational attention is indispensable if the vigour of the body is to be maintained at its best. There is a very great difference between carefulness carried to extremes in this respect, on the one head, and a heedlessness arid total disregard of personal health, on the other. The golden mean between these two is the proper knowledge of what is required for the preservation of health, and so much conformity thereto as will give the best results. And yet it must be remembered that no cast-iron code can be laid down which would be applicable to one and all. No; idiosyncrasy, that personal peculiarity which makes each individual different from every one else, is too potent a factor to be ignored. In matters of this kind, each one, to a certain extent, is a law unto himself, and, consequently, what agrees and what disagrees is only discoverable by the individual concerned. In what follows, therefore, I have endeavoured to lay down rules for guidance which will be beneficial to by far the greatest number; although this element of the ego must never be forgotten.