Billeder på siden

blending of many medicines in one prescription ; they are desired to give up searching for imaginary causes of disease—such as acidity of the blood—and treating these supposititious causes with equally supposititious antidotes, after the fashion of the chemists and the school of Sylvius; they are desired to give up a blind and infatuated respect for Galen, such as was professed by the College of France and the fashionable Guy Patin. They must neither be disciples of Galen, bleeding because he bled, and giving purgatives because he says the humors must be cleansed; nor must they be disciples of Nature, as Hippocrates was, merely imitating the natural crises and evacuations of the morbific actions in the body. They must do something quite different: they must search out substances which exercise a directly curative power—a power of neutralizing the causes of disease without producing any disturbing effect on the body. Having found these medicines, which are known by the name of Specifics, they must give one, and one only, at a time, and carefully observe its action ; they must, moreover, give it in a small dose, for its action must be preternaturally energetic upon a part preternaturally sensitive.

Such is the Baconian system of Medicine as set forth by Boyle.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

Formation of Academies of Science-Borelli-Medical Mechanics- Introduction

of Cinchona Bark— Its effect upon the General Mortality-Writings against it - Cromwell's last Illness—Richard Talbot-Sydenham-His Birth-place---His Military and Medical Career-His Writings-His relation to Hippocrates-His Imitation of Nature-Treatment of Pleurisy-Rheumatism and Blood-lettingWe must discover Specifics—Selection of a Remedy—Herald of Homeopathy -His strange Prescriptions—The English Hippocrates.

It would seem natural to pass at once from Boyle's eloquent and ingenious defence of Specifics, to an account of the introduction of the use of Cinchona Bark in the cure of ague ; and of the principles and opinions in regard to the practice of his profession, which characterized Sydenham, the great English physician of his period. But the history of every branch of humanity, besides advancing in one direction from its origin to its end, throws out lateral offshoots, of too great importance to be neglected. The offshoot of the era which occupies our attention at present, is known by the name of mathematical or mechanical medicine.

| From the copy of the bust prefixed to his works.

After the liberation of the European intellect by the religious controversies, great discoveries, and daring thinkers (such as Bacon and Descartes) of the sixteenth century, there was a simultaneous effort in various countries to form a new order of association for the cultivation of physical science. It is very interesting to observe how leading minds tend to anticipate events, and construct plans which, inpracticable for the moment, realize themselves in the fulfilment of time, and justify the wisdom of their authors, although their temporary failure brought down the ridicule of more short-sighted contemporaries. Thus, in Italy, in 1603, there was founded the first Academy of Science, called Accademia di Lincei. Among the many celebrated men who belonged to this academy was Galileo, whose famous work, “Il Saggiatore,” it had the honour of publishing. But this first attempt was premature; it roused the jealousy of Rome, and the academy had to be dissolved. In the year 1657, another Institution of a similar character arose at Florence. It took the name of the Accademia del Cimento, or Academy of Experiments. The members of this were the disciples of Galileo, and men of great renown, of whom Borelli was one of the chief. Some years previously, in 1652, Leopold's Academy of Natural Sciences had been established at Vienna. In 1663, our own Royal Society was founded, under the presidency of Sir C. Wren, assisted by Robert Boyle, with the patronage of the restored House of Stuart. In England, as in Italy, there had been a germination suppressed by the civil war, and it was not till peace was confirmed that science was honoured and proclaimed. In 1666, the French Royal Academy of Sciences was established at Paris, by the minister Colbert ;' an Institution which has, perhaps, done more than any of its sisters to accomplish its

| Popular Encyclopædia, Art. Academy, Sprengel, Boyle, &c., &c.

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 forinulæ 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 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. He was the first to discover the insensible perspiration, and to investi. gate 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.

i Borelli, De Motu Animalium. Neapoli, 1734.

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

Sanctorius, translated by John merits of the two together, the preIrving. London, 1712.

ference will, perhaps, be readily given I must, in short, confess that these to Sanctorius.”— Boerhaave's Lectures, Aphorisms of Sanctorius, with those

Vol. III., of Hippocrates, are writings of greater ? Lorenz Bellini, Opuscula. Lugd., merit than any other in the whole art 1690. of Physic; and even if we compare the

P. 309.

« ForrigeFortsæt »