Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

. :

B. C. 312. A.D. 200.

THE PULSE.

87

1

read off like a gasometer. Galen used to vaunt that he never was mistaken in his prognosis. If this be true, it was owing to his extensive practice, not to such compilations of dubious indications as he presents us with in these chapters. Were it so, there would have been reason in the question of Martial, possibly put ironically, but reported as a compliment, “How does it happen that my prognostications are not so good as yours? for I have read the prognostics of Hippocrates as well as you.” Whether or not Galen possessed the wonderful gift of infallibility which he claims—"never having found himself wrong, with the help of God, in his prediction,” —(he seems to have been a Monotheist, though not a Christian)—it is quite certain that his practice of medicine had all the fatal faults of his idol Hippocrates, besides a large contingent due to himself. He arranged medicines according to what he called their

qualities,” by which term he did not mean their action upon the body, but their inherent heat or coldness, dryness or moisture. Thus, a medicine was warm in the first, second, or third degree; and moist or dry in a similar ratio :

; so a medicine might be hot in the first and noist in the second degree, and if we met with a disease which was cold in the first and dry in the second degree, then we should administer to the subject of it this remedy. We shall best illustrate the working of this folly by a few quotations from Paulus Ægineta, who follows Galen and his school, and has left a volume on Materia Medica, from which we extract the following:

Cistus (rock-rose).— It is an astringent shrub of gentlycooling powers. Its leaves and shoots are so desiccative as to agglutinate wounds; but the flowers are of a more drying nature, being about the second degree ; and hence, when drunk, they cure dysenteries and all kinds of fluxes." 3

a

[ocr errors]

1 Comment. 2, in Lib. I. Quoted by Sprengel, Vol. II. p. 169.

? De Facult. Simpl. Lib. V.
3 Paulus Ægineta. Vol. III. p. 74.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Lapides (stones).—All kinds are desiccative, like earth, but the Hæmatitis, or blood-stone, is astringent and desiccative to a considerable degree, so that it agrees with trachoma of the eyelids,” &c.

What an extensive generalization !-All stones—that is, all mineral substances—are disposed of as dry, and may

be used in moist diseases ! Lead, antimony, arsenic, mercury, are interchangeable quantities, or what Galen would call “succedanea."

Fæniculum (fennel) is heating in the third degree, and desiccative in the first; it therefore forms milk, and relieves suffusions of the eye.

Ferrum (iron). -When frequently extinguished in water, it imparts a considerable desiccative power to it. When drunk, therefore, it agrees with affections of the

And so on. Given a disease, determine its character as hot or cold, moist or dry, by an effort of imagination ; baving done so, select a remedy which has been catalogued as possessing opposite qualities. This is the famous principle of Galen“contraria contrariis curantur”-held in reverence among us to the present day. But Galen, besides treating diseases in this methodic way, was fond of nostrums, and used to purchase them for large sums. Indeed, his prescriptions bear a strong resemblance to those of itinerant quacks. For example, under the head of “dysentery,” he gives for indiscriminate selection, according to taste, nine recipes, most of which are incorporated in the formulæ of Paulus Ægineta, of which the following are specimens :

spleen.” 3

“ Of the ashes of snails, p. iv.; of galls, p. ii.; of pepper, p. i. Reduce to a fine powder, and sprinkle upon the condiments, or give to drink in water, or a white, watery wine.”

1 Paulus Ægineta. Vol. III. p. 220. ? Ibid. Vol. III. p. 242.

3 Ibid. Vol. III. p. 331.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The trochisk from Egyptian thorn, that of Philip, that from hartshorn, that from

and the trigonis.” The pills from Macer are excellent remedies. The following is an admirable one :

“ Of opium, of saffron, of Indian lycum, of acacia, of shumach, of frankincense, of galls, of hypocystis, of pomegranate-rind, of myrrh, of aloes, equal parts, give in water to the amount of three oboli.” I

So we enter the region of polypharmacy, which, although begun by Galen, did not reach its full extravagance till a

later age.

| Paulus Ægineta. Vol. I. p. 526.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Church Miracles—Charms and Amulets—Monks and Medicine—The Hospital

Roman Influence—The Decline of the EmpireJulian the Apostate-Saracen Conquests—Rhazes taken at his word–Michael Scott-Joseph Wolff-Modern Persian Physicians Selling Price of Lawyers and Physicians—Clovis, his Idea of Christian Duty_Punishment Physicians were liable to—Theriacum-Orthodox Medicine.

THE History of the Art of Medicine has hitherto flowed along a single channel. We have traced it from its source in cloud-capped Olympus, the habitation of the gods of Greece ; we have watched it loitering in primitive purity about the temples of Æsculapius, till it found its westward way to Rome; where, polluted by the filth of that vicious metropolis, we have seen it converted into a stagnant pool. Here it loses its simple character ; like the rest of human history, it becomes broken up; it is no longer a continuity, but a succession of complications—for it enters the revolution of a thousand years' duration, a millennium of troubles and sorrows such as the world never before endured. The whole period was one of gestation, with premature efforts at production ; until, after incredible throes

« ForrigeFortsæt »