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The practitioner who, at the present day, gave a patient such a dose of hellebore, or veratrum album, as made him die convulsed, would be sent to prison for manslaughter; and yet it was a frequent occurrence, even in the hands of the most skilful and cautious physician of antiquity.
The Aphorisms stand forth as an imperishable memorial of man's greatness and its limitations; the achievements of Hippocrates in the province to which he had access were almost superhuman; he spared no labour in mastering all the knowledge of his time; the judgment he displays in arranging it is matchless; and his deductions have stood unscathed the test of two thousand years. But one thing he could not do; no force of intellect, no ingenuity, could enable him to construct a system of administering remedies which was of the slightest value, because he had not access to any facts from which to make his inferences; and in the absence of facts, he was obliged to have recourse to fiction. He bequeathed to posterity a perfect manual of the natural history of disease, he stated the problem he could not solve. "Such are the causes, such the course, and such the termination, alas! of all the diseases of my day; but if you ask me how to cure them, then I must close my mouth,-I did my best, with the rough means at my disposal. After me, perhaps, there may arise one who can give the answer to this riddle; and not till then shall my full merit be perceived; for the dreadful failures in the practice of the art which I can foresee, but cannot avert, will drag down its credit and expose its cultivators to universal dishonour." Such, we imagine, might have been the reverie of Hippocrates, when surveying the past and speculating upon the future of medicine. But well for him it was, that the degradation which was approaching did not come within the sphere of his vision, but lingered till, full of years and honours, he was carried
to the tomb along with all his mighty contemporaries; and when darkness fell upon the land of light and liberty, of poetry, art, medicine, of almost everything which raises man above the beasts that perish, it enclosed no braver, better, nobler man than the great HIPPOCRATES.
Letter of Diocles-The Rude School-Christ's Miraculous Cures-Christianity and Medicine-Medical Practice in Rome-Ghost Story from Pliny - Asclepiades' Homœopathy-His Travels-Pneuma again—The Pulse-Contraria contrariis curantur.
IN medicine, as in politics, the defects of a system or theory may be so effectually concealed by a first-rate administrator, as to escape detection, so long as such an one is at the helm; but when the vessel is made over to less-competent successors, then the flaws become manifest. The physicians who succeeded the great Hippocrates furnish a striking illustration of this general remark. One of the first and most celebrated of these was Diocles, who lived between three and four hundred years before the Christian There exists a letter which he wrote to Antigonus, the general, who, on the death of Alexander the Great,
1 Ex vetûssimo codice Dioscoridiano Bibliothecæ Cæs.: Vindob.: from a work entitled, "Veterum illustrium philosophum, poetarum, rhetorum et oratorum
imagines ex vetustis nummis, gemmis," &c. Desumptæ a P. Bellario, &c. Romæ. 1685.
became master of the greater part of Asia Minor.
of this epistle is probably about the year 312 B.C., and it is
is about to fall upon the chest, it is usually announced