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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 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.
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 1 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;"1 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.
1 Sylva Sylvarum, 696.
2 History of Life and Death, translated by Rawley.
Harvey's Opinion of Bacon-Van Helmont's Birthplace and Early PursuitsHe Studies Medicine-Galen fails him-Archæus-Gas-Blood-letting in Pleurisy-His Aversion to Blood-letting-Harvey-His Studies-Crack brained -Physician to Charles I.-Present at the Battle of Edgehill-His Discoveries -Galen's Notions about the Course of the Blood-Harvey Discovers the Circulation-His Description of it-He suggests the true theory of Respiration. As Abraham had two sons,-the one the progenitor of that enduring race, whose wealth at the present day goes far to sustain the political systems of Europe; the other the father of the wandering tribes which have refused to enter within the pale of civilized life, and preserve till now the vagrant habits of the wild Ishmael,-so Bacon may be said to have had two successors,-the one the child of the promise, transmitting the rich and prolific fruits of true philosophy to remotest times; the first to reveal the wonders disclosed to the eye freed from the distorting glasses of antiquated notions; the other, the representative of Bacon's mysticism, and loose experimentation.
1 From a print prefixed to his works, 1682.
The name of the first is William Harvey; of the second, Johan Baptista van Helmont. Not that either of these were professed disciples of Bacon, although we think that the influence of the greatest English philosopher may be traced upon the greatest English physiologist. On this point we are at issue with Dr. Willis, the translator of Harvey's books, who, in the biographical sketch prefixed to that work, makes the following observations: "Harvey, besides being physician to the king and household, held the same responsible situation in the families of the most distinguished among the nobles and men of eminence of his time; among others, to the Lord Chancellor Bacon, whom Aubrey informs us 'he esteemed much for his wit and style, but would not allow to be a great philosopher. Said he to me, 'He writes philosophy like a Chancellor,' speaking in derision. Harvey's penetration never failed him the philosopher of fact cared not for the philosopher of prescription; he who was dealing with things, and through his own inherent powers exhibiting the rule, thought little of him who was at work upon abstractions, and who only inculcated the rule from the use he saw others making of it. Bacon has many admirers, but there are not wanting some in these present times, who hold with his illustrious contemporary, that he wrote philosophy like a Lord Chancellor.'" 1 reply to this singular passage, we would suggest that probably the gossiping Aubrey entirely misunderstood Harvey's expression, “He writes philosophy like a Lord Chancellor.” Perhaps he was not aware that among the learned men of his day he was called the chancellor of learning as well as of law, and most likely it was in this sense, and not in derision, that Harvey used the phrase. That "the philosopher of fact cared not for the philosopher of prescription," is a
The works of William Harvey, M. D., translated from the Latin, with a life of the author, by Robert Willis,
M.D., 1847. Printed for the Sydenham