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to despise any opportunity that fell in their way of adding to the store of their general knowledge.
In after times, however, we find that Hippocrates was much esteemed by the medical profession in this country, and the Physicians of Myddvai quote him with admiration.* But their acquaintance with him was, no doubt, derived from a perusal of his works, rather than by tradition.
Some people there may be who are unwilling to admit the authority of our native memorials as to the Druidic antiquity of the art of medicine among the Cymry. But there exists not the slightest reason for any incredulity or doubt on the subject. On the contrary, the classical writers of Greece and Rome, as soon as they are in a position to address us, bear witness in a greater or less degree to the same fact, and support the general correctness of our traditions. The physical researches of the Bards and Druids seem to have caught their especial attention. “The soothsayers,” says Strabo, “are sacrificers and physiologists (pvololoyou.) The Druids in addition to physiology practise ethic philosophy.” Nature both external and human-causes and effects-diseases and their antidotes—all came under their cognizance, and in their hands underwent a complete and practical investigation. Cicero informs us that he was personally acquainted with one of the Gallic Druids, Divitiacus the Æduan, a man of quality in his country, who professed to have a thorough knowledge of the laws of nature, including, as we may well suppose the science of medicine.
* See $ 176.
Pliny enumerates some of the plants most in repute among the Britons for their medicinal properties. He mentions the mistletoe, and observes that in Druidical language it signified “ All heal,” omnia sanantem—a name indicative of the efficacy which it was supposed to possess; and it is remarkable, as corroborative of his assertion, that Oll iach is to this very day one of the names by which the plant in question is known to the Cymry. Nor does it appear that its virtues, real or traditionary, were forgotten in comparatively recent times. In the Book of Howel Veddyg, a descendant of the celebrated physicians of Myddvai, and which forms the second part of the present volume, we are informed that the mistletoe was efficacious in cases of general debilitynervous complaints-brain fever-rheumatism-affection of the heart, liver, bowels, kidneys, spineepilepsy—paralysis—insanity. It will strengthen the sight and hearing, and all the bodily senses—prevent barreness—and “whosoever takes a spoonful of the powder in his ordinary drink once a day, shall have uninterrupted health, strength of body, and manly vigour.”
Another plant mentioned by Pliny, is the selago,* a kind of club moss, resembling savine, which, according to him, the Druids much admired for its medicinal qualities, particularly in diseases of the eyes.
The samolus, or marshwort, is said also to have been greatly used by them to cure their oxen and swine.
Welsh Botanology comprehends several plants, which either by name or tradition, are associated with the art of healing, and may be referred purely
* Lycopodium Selago, or Upright Fir Moss.
to Druidical times, or at least to times when the Bardic College enjoyed the protection of the state. Such are the Derwen Vendigaid, or Vervain, the symbol of Alban Hevin, as the Mistletoe was of Alban Arthan-Arian Cor-Arian Gwion-Berwr Taliesin-Bogail Gwener-Boled Olwen-BronwenCerddinen-Clych Enid-Erbin–Eirin Gwion-Ffaen Taliesin— Golch Enid—Llys y Dryw-Llys Taliesin-Meillionen Olwen-Pumbys yr Alban-Yspyddaden, with many others.
We do not know to what extent British medicine was influenced one way or other by the Roman domination. It is very certain that the masters of the world did not generally regard with a favourable eye our native institutions, and as in the matter of medicine they themselves were not particularly celebrated, we are warranted in supposing that the medical college received no very great advantage from their rule. The Bards, however, though pre-eminently conservative, would not reject any real improvements which the Romans might propose to their notice, as we infer from their conduct in other matters, such as their reception of the Roman mode of making parchment and books.
Soon after the departure of the Romans, partiality for medical or physical pursuits becomes once more characteristic of our Cymric ancestors. The following constituents of man are attributed to the “Chief of Bards” in the 6th century.
" THE ELEMENTS OF MAN BY TALIESIN." “Man consists of eight parts :—the first is the earth, which is sluggish and heavy, whence is the flesh. The second is the stones, which are hard, and these are the materials of the bones. The third is water, which is moist and cold, and is the substance of the blood.
The fourth is salt, which is briny and sharp, whence are the passions and the faculties of feeling in respect of corporeal sense and perception. The fifth is the air, or wind, whence is the breath. The sixth is the sun, which is clear and fair, whence is the fire, or corporeal warmth, and the light and colour. The seventh is the Holy Spirit, whence are the soul and life. The eighth is Christ, that is, the intellect and wisdom, and the light of the soul and life.
If the part of man that preponderates be of the earth, he will prove unwise, sluggish and very heavy, and will be a little, short, thin dwarf, 'according as the preponderance may be, whether great or small. If it be of the air, the man will be light, unsteady, garrulous, and given to gossip. If of the stones, he will be hard of heart, understanding and judgment—a miser and a thief. If of the sun, he will be a man of genius, affectionate, active, docile, and poetical. If of the Holy Spirit, he will be godly, amiable, and compassionate, of a just and tender judgment, and fond of the arts and sciences; and this cannot otherwise than equiponderate with Christ and divine sonship."
Taliesin has likewise the credit of being the propounder of the following medical Triads ;
“There are three intractable substantial organs : the liver ; the kidney ; and the heart.
There are three intractable membranes : the dura mater; the peritoneum ; and the urinary bladder.
There are three tedious complaints : disease of the knee joint ; disease of the substance of a rib, and phthysis; for when purulent matter has formed in one of these, it is not known when it will get well.”+
The period between the 6th and 10th centuries, being especially occupied with national troubles, does not seem to have been favourable to the study of the arts and sciences in Wales ;-at any rate the literary remains of that interval are extremely scanty, and furnish us with no information as to the state of medical science, or the estimation in which the physician was held in the country.
Not so, however, the era of Howel Dda, (or the Good.) In his laws, which were compiled about A.D. 930, several particulars are noticed in connexion with
these points, and more especially the mediciner of the Royal Court. Of him it is thus stated :
“Of the mediciner of the household, his office, his privilege, and his duty, this treats,
1. The twelfth is the mediciner of the household.
2. He is to have his land free ; his horse in attendance; and his linen clothing from the queen, and his woollen clothing from the king.
3. His seat in the hall within the palace is at the base of the pillar to which the screen is attached, near which the king sits.
4. His lodging is with the chief of the household.
5. His protection is, from the time the king shall command him to visit a wounded or sick person, whether the person be in the palace or out of it, until he quit him, to convey away an offender.
6. He is to administer medicine gratuitously to all within the palace, and to the chief of the household ; and he is to have nothing from them except their bloody clothes, unless it be for one of the three dangerous wounds, as mentioned before; these are a stroke on the head unto the brain ; a stroke in the body unto the bowels; and the breaking of one of the four limbs; for every one of these three dangerous wounds the mediciner is to have nine score pence and his food, or one pound without his food, and also the bloody clothes.
7. The mediciner is to have, when he shall apply a tent, twenty
8. For an application of red ointment, twelve pence.
14. The mediciner is to take an indemnification from the kindred of the wounded person, in case he die from the remedy he may use, and if he do not take it, let him answer for the deed.
15. He is to accompany the armies. 16. He is never to leave the palace, but with the king's permission. 17. His saraad is six kine, and six score of silver, to be augmented. 18. His worth is six score and six kine, to be augmented."
Elsewhere we meet with the following particulars :
“Of the three conspicuous scars this is-
There are three conspicuous scars : one upon the face ; another upon the foot ; and another upon the hand ; thirty pence on the foot ; three score pence on the hand ; six score pence on the face.