Billeder på siden

intellect is the swiftest of things, for it runs through everything: time is the wisest of things, for it finds out everything." The following lines remind one of Goethe :—

"It is not many words that real wisdom proves:

Breathe rather one wise thought,——

Select one worthy object,—

So shall you best the endless prate of silly men reprove." 1

At some distance after Thales came Pythagoras, whose mind was of the same composite character, but showed evidence of more advancement. On the one hand, he indulged in speculations about the universe, of the same general and altogether unpractical nature as those of Thales; while, on the other hand, he applied himself to the study of geometry, and made some important discoveries in that science-as, for example, the proposition now known as the 47th of the 1st book of Euclid, that the square of the hypotheneuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the squares of the other two sides. He is said to have been so delighted with his success, as to have sacrificed a hecatomb of oxen-a curious illustration of the feelings remaining in their childhood state after the intellect had attained to man's maturity.

While Pythagoras tended towards the two extremes of speculation about the world and the cultivation of pure science, his disciple, Empedocles, seems to have been among the first to touch upon the application of science to the wants of his age. He was a physician; and although it is more than 2000 years since he lived, he contrived to execute a task similar to one which at present is puzzling the ingenuity of modern engineers. "When a pestilence attacked the people of Selinus by reason of the bad smells arising from the adjacent river, so that the men died and the women bore dead children, Empedocles contrived a plan, and brought into the same channel two other rivers

1 Diogen. Laert. Op. cit. p. 19.


at his own expense, and so by mixing their waters with that of the other river, he sweetened the stream." For this the people of Selinus adored him as a god. If some modern Empedocles would do the same to the Thames, even at the public expense, no doubt the people of London. would honour him after their fashion.

It is important to note that the word Philosopher was about this period invented and applied to the leaders of Greek thought. Thales and Solon were called "the wise," but their successors, entering the region of physical speculation and discovery, recognized their own ignorance, and refused any title but the modest one of "lovers of wisdom." It was to this class of speculations about the origin of the world, that at that time the name Philosophy was confined.

Along with the progress of Greek intellect towards a discrimination of the physical causes of events, we find, not unnaturally, a renunciation on the part of some of these early thinkers, of all the old beliefs in the gods. Thus, for example, Diagorus, called the Atheist, was once at a tavern where the fire was very low, and there was no wood at hand except a statue of Hercules. This he pitched into the waning flames, and exclaimed, Bravo, Hercules, this is the thirteenth and last of thy labours!" 3 What a distance we have now drifted from the Hercules of Homer! We have come to the beginning of the modern era of speculation and investigation, the era of Socrates, Plato, and the Father of MedicineHIPPOCRATES.

Diogen. Laert. Op. Cit. p. 366. 2 Cicero de Nat. Deor., quoted by Le Clerk.

3 This reminds one of a somewhat similar act, performed by a very different man, in very different circumstances, thus graphically described by Mr. Carlyle :-"Scottish John Knox,

such world hero as we know, sat nevertheless pulling, grim, taciturn, at the oar of the French galley in the water of the Lore,' and even flung the Virgin Mary over, instead of kissing her, as a 'pented bredd,' or timber virgin who could naturally swim."-French Revolution, Vol. II. p. 136.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

Facies Hippocratica-Love-sickness-Sacred Diseases-Freedom and SlaveryVow of Purity-Elements and Humours-Greek Physics-ux and μGhosts Healing Power of Nature-Spirit Manifestations-Principle of Contraries-Empirics--Methodists-Sensible System-Dogmatists-Allopathy and Homœopathy-General Culture-Temple of Esculapius-His Descriptive Power - His Inductive Method-His Serious Diligence-Follow Nature-Barley Water -Surgical Treatment-Aphorisms.

ON the south-eastern coast of Asia Minor, there is a deep indentation known by the name of the Ceramic Gulph. At the entrance of this long bay is the island of Cos. It is rather smaller than the Isle of Wight, being ninety-five square miles in extent, and of somewhat the same shape. On the opposite shore, to the right, looking eastward, on a point of the main land, stood its great rival the town and

temple of Cnidus. Cos was a fertile country, carrying on an extensive trade in wine and ointments, and manufacturing a peculiar kind of dress which went by its name (Coo Vestes). Its chief town was beautifully situated on the north-east side, and had an excellent harbour. In the immediate neighbourhood stood the Asclepieum, or temple of Esculapius.' Here, about the year 460 B.C., were born Apelles, the greatest painter of his age-possibly of any age and Hippocrates, the second of his name, called the Great his grandfather, the first Hippocrates, was the great-grandson of Sostratus the Third, whose ancestor, the first Sostratus, was the grandson of the Homeric hero, Podalirius, son of Esculapius.2

We may fairly assume that Hippocrates and Apelles were early companions; and, possibly, some of the peculiarities of the style of the great physician may be due to the influence of the great painter. Hippocrates' descriptive faculty, in which, in his own department, he has never been even approached in excellence, is wholly destitute of literary merit. It has the severity of naked truth. He sees with the eye of an artist, but tells what he sees in the plainest, most unartistic method. For example, take his picture of a dying face: "a sharp nose, hollow eyes, collapsed temples; the ears cold, contracted, and their lobes turned out; the skin about the forehead being rough, distended, and parched; the colour of the whole face being green, black, livid, or lead-coloured." This still goes by the name of the facies Hippocratica, or "the dying face, by Hippocrates." If we compare this picture of a dying man with that drawn by Shakespere, we shall at once perceive the points of resemblance and contrast: "After I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with the flowers, and smile upon his

'Smith's Classical Dict., Art. Cos. 2 The genuine works of Hippocrates, translated by Francis Adams. Sydenham Soc. p. 23. Dr. Adams has laid

not the profession alone of which he is so great an ornament, but humanity itself, under a debt of gratitude by his admirable revival of Hippocrates.

[ocr errors]

finger-ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and he babbled of green fields." Both these pictures give the permanent and universal, stripped of the accidental; they both exhibit a perception of the type, which is the first step in art; but while Hippocrates contents himself with this and jots it down, as becomes a physician, to assist him and his followers in recognizing the indications of approaching death, Shakespere completes it by giving form and finish to the wording, so as to satisfy the mind with the picture itself.


When old enough to go to school, Hippocrates was sent to Selimbria, in Thrace, on the coast of the Propontis, not far from where Constantinople now stands. Here he came under the tuition and discipline of Herodicus, a man of great celebrity in his day, who seems to have been the first to institute a regular system of exercise and regimen, not only for the use of his pupils, but for invalids. He was the Priesnitz of Greece, and as such incurred the ridicule of Plato, who describes him as sending his patients on a walk from Athens to Megara and back without a rest, a distance of fifty-two English miles. This is probably a caricature. He is blamed, however, by Hippocrates-at least, in one of the Hippocratic treatises-for attempting to cure fevers by exercise; and Plato hits the blot in the whole system of this kind of treatment-no less applicable to the modern Water-cure than to the method of Herodicus-when he observes, that this way of going on may do very well for rich people, who can afford to spend their life in taking care of it; but that when a mason or carpenter falls ill, he sends for a physician to cure him then and there by some immediate expedient, otherwise he must starve. Notwithstanding the objections to the extravagances of this

1 Death of Falstaff, Henry V., Act II.

2 Phædrus, in principio.

3 Book of Epidemics.
Republic, Book III.

« ForrigeFortsæt »