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music and medicine in Apollo, because the office of medicine is but to tune this curious harp of man's body, and to reduce it to harmony. So that the subject, being so variable, hath made the art by a consequence more conjectural, and the art, being conjectural, hath made so much the more place to be left for imposture. For almost all other arts and sciences are judged by acts or masterpieces, as I may term them, and not successes and events. The lawyer is judged by the virtue of his pleadings, and not by the issue of the cause. But the physician hath no particular arts demonstrative of his ability, but is judged most by the event. This is the reason why the physician, seeing that it befalleth to him, even as to the fool, in his own profession, and modest merit outstripped by impudent presumpsion, is apt to give himself up to other pursuits besides those of a purely professional character. Though natural, this is not commendable ; for nothing can be more variable than faces, and yet memory can retain them and distinguish them ; nothing more variable than voices, yet men can discern them; nothing more variable than the sound of words, yet they have been reduced to a few simple letters; so that it is not owing to the incapacity of the mind of man, but because he has not closely observed the varieties of diseases and adapted his remedies accordingly; as the poet says :

“Et quoniam variant morbi variabimus artes

Mille mali species mille salutis erunt.'”]

To examine minutely the various forms of disease, and to adapt to each its own particular remedy, is the general instruction given by Bacon for advancing medicine.

The following passage, although uttered with rhetorical emphasis, probably expresses Bacon's deliberate estimate of Galen and his system :-“This is the man that would screen the ignorance and sloth of physicians from their

Op. cit.




deserved reproach, and preserve them unattacked; whilst himself most feebly and unequally pretends to perfect their art and fill up their office. This is the man that, like the raging dogstar or the plague, devotes mankind to death and destruction by denouncing certain tribes of diseases to be incurable, taking away all glimmering of hope, and leaving no room for future industry. This is the man who makes his own fiction of mixtures to be nature's sole prerogative,” — that is, the fiction of the temperaments and the humours—the improper mixture of elements, an excess of black bile, yellow bile, and so forth, were nothing but a fiction of Galen's, by which he attempted to explain and control the operations of nature, which he did not understand. “Let him then be dismissed, and take along with him the whole train of his associates—these dispensatory compilers from the Arabians, who have shown such folly in their theories, and from their supine and jejune conjectures amass together such a heap of promises instead of real helps from vulgar remedies.”! This passage is taken from the appendix to the “Instauratio Magna,” where Bacon inveighs against Aristotle, and many other worthies; but it is in entire correspondence with what he says, both in the English edition of the “Advancement of Learning” and in the subsequent enlarged Latin version of the same work. “In the inquiry of diseases they do abandon the cures of many, some as in their nature incurable, and others as past the period of cure; so that Sylla and the triumvirs never proscribed so many to die as they do by their ignorant edicts; whereof numbers do escape with less difficulty than they did in the Roman proscriptions."? To this censure he adds, in the Latin edition, the following suggestion :-"A work is wanting upon the cures of reputedly incurable diseases, that physicians of eminence and resolution may be excited and encouraged to pursue the matter as

I A short scientific critique on the lated by Shaw. works of the most eminent philoso- 2 Advancement of Learning, p. 174. phers, ancient and modern. Trans

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far as the nature of things will permit; since to pronounce diseases to be incurable is to exhibit ignorance and carelessness, as it were, by law, and screen ignorance from reproach.'

But most of all Bacon's hopes for the future of medicine, turned upon the discovery of specific remedies :"I find a deficience in the receipts of propriety respecting the cure of particular diseases." Of this deficiency of the appropriate, he writes more definitely in the Latin edition :

They have no particular medicines which, by a specific property, are adapted to particular diseases." “I remember a learned Jew physician who used to say, 'Your European physicians are like bishops, they have the keys of loosing and binding, nothing more.' It would be of great consequence if physicians, eminent for learning and practical skill, would compile a work of approved and experienced medicines in particular diseases.” Again, he says :-“The part of physic

1 which treats of authentic and positive remedies, we note as deficient.” We might multiply quotations to this effect; it is enough, however, to observe, that whenever Bacon comes across medicine in any part of his works, he points out, as the great defect, the want of certain authentic, positive, specific medicines for the cure of well-ascertained diseases.

Bacon died in 1626; in 1638, twelve years afterwards, the Countess of Cinchona, the Queen Regent of Peru, was cured of ague by the bark of the cinchona tree, and by her cure the most striking illustration was given of the truth which Bacon had been uttering all his life, that medicine was to be improved by the discovery of remedies for the cure of particular diseases. The method he proposed for this advancement of the healing art was the careful collection of all well-established cures, such as this of ague by bark; in short, an accurate and complete register of all specific medicines. If he did not propose to apply his method of induction to a collection of such instances, and thus to ascertain the law of specifics, it was doubtless because, in his day,

1 Edition 1633.

A.D. 1561-1626.]



the accumulation of such facts was too small to encourage the hope of the successful application of his inductive method Towards such a law, however, all his efforts tended, and in its discovery Bacon would have recognized the consummation of the theory of the medical art.

If we were to conclude our study of Bacon here, and to pass

from the consideration of his intellectual achievements, as exhibited in such works as “The Advancement of Learning," and the “Novum Organum," to the next names we encounter in the History of Medicine, we should feel the shock of a great, unbroken, sudden descent. But between these high table-lands of Bacon's mind and the lower levels in which he worked for the every-day world, there was a middle region, both of sentiment and speculation, which allied him with the men of his age, and affords another example of the important lesson, that no man, however great, can come into the world except by submitting to the conditions of time and place; and that even the greatest have very much more in common with the least, than a superficial observer is apt to suppose. It is only the difference between their stature and that of their fellows that is extraordinary; all else is common to them and their contemporaries. But as ages pass, time spares the peculiar and the wonderful, and dissolves the rest. So that Bacon, and such as he, are placed in aerial perspective; distance raises their feet of clay off their mother earth, and realizes in a sense the old fable of their translation to the upper regions, inhabited by demi-gods. With Bacon, unfortunately, the clay is so apparent that there is no danger of our yielding to him the adoration due to a divinity. Even if it be true that he committed no offence against morality (as is maintained by a well-known writer'), we should be restrained from idolatry by much in his lesser writings entirely at variance with the philosophic scepticism which his greater works insist upon as the indispensable portal to the exact observation and

| Mr. Hepworth Dixon.


successful investigation of nature. “It is affirmed,” he says, without the expression of any doubt about the credibility of the affirmation, “both by ancient and modern observation, that in furnaces of copper and brass, where chalcitis (vitriol) is often cast in to mend the working, there riseth suddenly a fly, which moveth as if it took hold of the walls of the furnace—sometimes it is seen moving in the fire below, and dieth presently as soon as it is out of the furnace; which is a noble instance, and worthy to be weighed; for it showeth, that as well violent heat of fire as the gentle heat of living bodies, will vivify if it hath matter proportionable. Now, the great axiom of vivification is, that there must be heat to dilate the spirit of the body, an active spirit to be dilated, matter viscous or tenacious to hold in the spirit, and that matter to be put forth and figured ;” that is, formed into some figure. We have elsewhere in his works, another similar axiom –“Let this be laid for a foundation, which is most sure, that there is in every tangible body a spirit or body pneumatical, inclosed and covered with the tangible parts, and that from this spirit,” that is, from the escape of the spirit, “is the beginning of all dissolution and consumption, while the antidote against these is the detaining of this spirit.' Here we reach the watershed of Bacon's mind. On the one side run the streams of scientific enquiry, widening as they advance through the fields of time, and enriching them for golden harvests : on the other side, we hear the rush of torrents, but see only spray, or the outline of those shadowless bodies, those spirits or ghosts, which have flitted about from the earliest period in a region inaccessible to science, and which ever and anon startle the practical every-day world afresh by some spiritual manifestation, proclaimed by some new semi-Bacon, some one who has more affinity with the superstitious Bacon, than with Baeon the philosopher.




Sylva Sylvarum, 696.

? History of Life and Death, translated by Rawley.

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