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design. Thus, within nine years, we have four similar Institutions for the advancement of science, springing up, for the first time, and with resulting success, in Italy, France, and England. Such a common result betokens the same causes, namely, increased human inquisitiveness, and general freedom of inquiry on all subjects, material as well as spiritual.
No question was more suited to engage the attention of an "Academy of Experiments" whose greatest ornaments were physicians, than the application of the newly-discovered laws of mechanical philosophy to the motions of the animal frame. What are the limbs but solid rods, to which contractile ropes are fastened at various points, for the purpose of moving them in certain directions? Here is a problem of levers, weights, and pulleys; and there is no reason why the formulæ of an inanimate machine should not apply to a living fabric. And what is the heart but a pump, continually receiving and discharging a supply of fluid, provided with valves just such as a human contrivance for the same object would have?
Borelli' was not satisfied with giving the most perfect mathematical demonstration of the action of the muscles upon the bones: he pushed his inquiries into the causes of the swelling of the body, of the muscles, and the contraction of their length. This he attributed to an injection of nerve force from the brain, conducted by the nerves, which he represented as tubes. This theory he applied to the origin of fever. Rejecting the chemical hypothesis, he pointed to the fact, that a fit of rage will excite a violent action of the heart, and hasten the circulation of the blood, so as to produce a febrile paroxysm, adding that there is no need to assume any derangement in the constitution of the blood to account for the symptoms. From this he deduced the important inference, that, as fever did not depend upon anything deleterious in the blood, no
1 Borelli, De Motu Animalium. Neapoli, 1734.
good could come of evacuations, either by the bowels or skin, and that fevers could be cured directly by the use of Cinchona bark, strengthening the tone of the solid parts. One of the most renowned men of this school was Sanctorius, who was born in 1561, and died in 1636.1 He was the first to discover the insensible perspiration, and to investigate with scientific accuracy the loss sustained by the body through the skin. The attention excited to this organ, as one of the great emunctories, naturally led to the employment of sudorifics more extensively than at any former period.
Another great man of that time was Lorenz Bellini' (born, 1643; died, 1704). He was a pupil of Borelli's, and attempted to explain the phenomena of fever by a reference to the laws of hydraulics. He showed how a change in the rate of delivery would derange the capillary circulation, and occasion those perturbations of the system. which the chemist attributed to fermentation.
The mechanical philosophers deserve a very different tribute from that due to the chemists. Medical chemistry of those days consisted of loose experimentation, and, if possible, looser reasoning. Acids in the general were talked of, and assumed as well as counter-agents which they called alkalies. These were ordered about, in and out of the body, in the most arbitrary fashion. But these great Italians, Borelli, Sanctorius, Lorenz Bellini, and others, not only were men of great talent, but pursued their investigation into the mechanics of the animal structure by the most rigidly scientific methods; and the results they obtained remain good to the present day. And although it was the fashion at a later period for medical pretenders to employ the
1 Sanctorius, translated by John Irving. London, 1712.
I must, in short, confess that these Aphorisms of Sanctorius, with those of Hippocrates, are writings of greater merit than any other in the whole art of Physic; and even if we compare the
merits of the two together, the preference will, perhaps, be readily given to Sanctorius."- Boerhaave's Lectures, Vol. III., p. 309.
2 Lorenz Bellini, Opuscula. Lugd., 1690.
jargon of mathematics as a cloak for their ignorance, and there were some who expected extravagant results from the transference of mathematical reasoning to the practical art of medicine;' yet, on the whole, the labours of this school were highly beneficial, and acted like a balance-wheel upon the irregular and violent movements of the age; and although they cannot be said to have directly favoured the reception of the first great specific medicine, yet undoubtedly they prepared the way for a more impartial consideration of its merits, than it would have received either at the hands of the Galenists or of the Chemists. Nor must we forget that Robert Boyle, the great advocate for specifics, would have naturally allied himself to men like Borelli, had it not happened that the rank of the Englishman precluded him from entering the medical profession. Had he done so, he would have united in his person, not only two orders of social rank, but two rival schools of medicine. As it was, it pleased Providence to confound the wise by allowing the weak and foolish to be the channel of one of the greatest blessings conferred upon humanity. To speak of the introduction of Cinchona in such high terms may appear extravagant. We are now more familiar with its abuse than its use, do not stand in such apprehension of fever and ague as our forefathers did. But let us look at the bills of mortality in England, before and after bark came into use.
1 Vide Donzellini. De Usu Mathematum. 8vo. London, 1707. Not that he committed the error referred to in the text, but he refutes it as then existing. His little work is in the form of a dialogue, and written with much spirit. Although a natural philosopher himself, he makes one of his speakers say, "What new precepts have the mathematics added to the art? what new remedy suggested? what improvement in the cure of the sick?" To which he must reply, None.
The use of natural philosophy is confined almost exclusively to anatomy and physiology, and has no more to do with the practice of medicine than mathematics has with religion. And here we may remark, that the use of academies seems to be limited to advancing positive sciences anatomy, chemistry, &c.; and that their attempts to promote the art of medicine have generally proved rather injurious than advantageous to its development.
In seven years before the use of bark, that is, from the year 1629 to the year 1636, there died—
Thus ague was almost as deadly as consumption, and carried off nearly a fourth of the whole population of England who died during these seven years in which bark was not used. The next seven years embrace from 1653 to 1660, when bark was coming into use,' and the subjoined table shows the difference :—
We observe the mortality of ague drops from 1 in 41 Let us pass over eighty years, during which time bark had been in general use, and take the seven
to 1 in 63.
It is right to observe, that these tables are not made up to prove this fact, or any fact in particular. They were compiled for general purposes by Dr. Short, and published in 1750; and I have extracted
1 The following advertisement appeared in the London Times of that period, entitled, "Mercurius Politicus, comprising the sum of Foreign Intelligence with the Affairs now on Foot, in Three Nations, for the Information of the People. From Thursday, December 9, to Thursday, December 16, 1658:""The Fever Bark, commonly called the Jesuit's Powder, which is so famous for the cure of all manner of Agues, brought over by James Thompson, Merchant, of Antwerp, is to be had either at his own lodgings at the Black Spread
these three diseases to show
Eagle, in the Old Bailey, over against Black and White Court, or at Mr. John Crook's, Bookseller, at the Ship, in St. Paul's Churchyard, with Directions for Use; which Bark or Powder is attested to be perfectly true by Dr. Prujean and other eminent Doctors and Physicians who have made experience of it." This curious advertisement proves that, in 1658, the bark was scarce, so that we could not expect its use to be so common in England as to seriously affect the mortality of ague for a considerable time afterwards.
how little consumption had varied in the havoc it had committed, while measles varied considerably, and ague had almost disappeared. There may be other reasons for this, but the use of bark is the most obvious, and none other has been suggested.1
Peruvian Bark, as the name implies, is obtained from a tree indigenous in Peru. Although it is certain that the use of it in Europe was derived from the cure of the ague in the person of the Countess of Cinchona, the Viceregent of Peru; yet, according to Humboldt, the natives of the district have great dread of its effects, believing it produces mortification. However this may be, it was from the aborigines that the vice-regal court acquired their knowledge of its powers over ague. This cure was
effected in 1638. In the following year, 1639, it was first used in Spain, whither it was brought by the Jesuits. It was much opposed by the regulars of the medical profession, and would probably have been put down as quackery, had it not been for Pope Innocent X., who ordered a trial to be made of its power in ague. This trial was satisfactory, and it was freely used in the Roman States. In 1653 a book was written against it by Chiftelius. "On the appearance of this publication," says Sir G. Baker, who has given the fullest historical account of the matter in the English language," "the author received the highest compliments from his brethren, as if he had relieved the world of a monster or a pestilence." And popular prejudice for a time ran so high against it, that its use was confined to the Papal States. introduction into England, is 1653.3
The date of its That it was not
countenanced then, or till long afterwards, by "the faculty,"
1 New Observations on City, Town, and Country Bills of Mortality.
Dr. T. Short. 1750.-Dr. Short evidently entertained this opinion himself, for he observes upon this table, in reference to the diminished mortality from ague, The most beneficial remedies
or specifics in some diseases were the
3 Morton, Opera omnia.