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genius and science, of principles and laws, sity) was wont to take his hat off whenever having the royal gifts of invention and elo- he mentioned his name, and to call him quence, was not equally endowed with those " Angliæ lumen, Artis Phæbum veram Hiphomelier, but in their degree not less rare pocratici viri speciem :” that his life was qualities, which made Dr. Abercrombie, our written by Samuel Johnson in the “GentleScottish Sydenham, what he was, as a mas- man's Magazine,” and was one of his earliest ter in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. and worst paid performances ; that he was a The one pursued his profession as a science, Whig, and went out into the field as a Parto be taught, to be transmitted in its entire liament man. Moreover, that when asked ness—the other as an art to be applied. The by Sir Richard Blackmore what he would one was, in the old phrase, luciferous—the advise him for medical reading, he replied, other frugiferous.
“read Don Quixote, sir,”—an answer as full One great object we have in now bringing of sense as wit, and the fitness and wisdom forward the works and character of Syden- of which it would be not less pleasant than ham, is to enforce the primary necessity, profitable to unfold at length. We had especially in our day, of attending to medi- been told, also, in a very general way by cine as the art of healing, not less than as our teachers, that Sydenham had done some the science of diseases and drugs. We want things for his profession, which, considering at present more of the first than of the the dark age in which he lived, were highly second. Our age is becoming every day to his credit ; that his name was well conmore purely scientific, and is occupied far nected with the history and management of more with arranging subjects and giving the small-pox ; the nature of epidemics, names, and remembering them, than with dropsies, &c., and that he had recorded his understanding and managing objects. There own sufferings from the gout in a very clever is often more knowledge of words than of and entertaining way. All this was true, things.
but by no means the whole truth. Not only We have already stated our potion, that are his observations invaluable to any one to the great body of physicians now-a-days, engaged in tracing the history of medicine Sydenham is little more than a name, and as a practical art, and as an applied science; that his works, still more than those of his in marking in what respects it is changed, companion, Locke, are more spoken of than and in what unchanged; in how much it is read. This is owing to several causes : better now than then, and in what little it is partly to their being buried in Latin, which not so good. In addition to all this, they men seem now ashamed to know; partly to are full of excellent rules for the diagnosis much in them being now scientifically obso- and treatment of diseases; and we can trace lete and useless ; partly from their practical to him as their origin many of our most comvalue being impaired by our ignorance of mon and valuable therapeutic doctrines. his formulas of cure; and greatly also, we And they everywhere manifest how thofear, from what Baglivi calls “an inept de- roughly he practiced what he taught, how rision and neglect of the ancients,” which is honestly he used his own “method,” that of more prevalent than creditable. We include continued, close, serious observation. But ourselves among these; for until we got we confess, after all, our chief delight is from Dr. Greenhill's edition, we had never read the discovery he makes in his works of his seriously and thoroughly these admirable personal character — the exemplar he furtracts, which were all of an occasional char- nishes in himself of the four qualities Hipacter, and were forced from their author by pocrates says are indispensable in every the importunity of friends, or the envious good physician—learning, sagacity, humancalumny of enemies, often in the form of ity, probity. This personality gives a conletters to his friends.
stant charm to everything he writes—the We had, when at college, picked up like warmth of his humane, practical nature is our neighbors the current commonplaces felt throughout. about Sydenham; such as that he went by Above all, we meet with a habitual referthe name of "the Prince of English physi-ence to what ought to be the supreme end cians.” That Boerhaave (of whom, by the of every man's thoughts and energies—the way, we knew quite as little, unless it were two main issues of all his endeavors, the a certain awful acquaintance with a certain glory of God and the good of men. Human squab and golden visage, which grimly re- life was to him a sacred, a divine, as well as garded us from above a druggist's door, as a curious thing, and he seems to have poswe hurried along the bridges to the Univer- /sessed through life, in rare acuteness, that
sense of the value of what was at issue, of sea, out of whose multitudinous abyss it has the perilous material he had to work in, been flung, and and that gentleness and compassion for his suffering fellow-men, without which no man, “ Which doth with its eternal motion make be his intellect ever so transcendent, his
A sound like thunder-everlastingly.” learning ever so vast, his industry ever so accurate and inappeasable, need hope to be
This habit of Sydenham's mind is strikinga great physician, much less a virtuous and ly shown in the first sentence of his Preface honest man. This characteristic is very
to the first edition of his Medical Observastriking. In the midst of the most minute tions: details, and the most purely professional
“Qui medicinæ dat operam, hæc secum ut sæpe statements, he bursts out into some abrupt perpendat oportet : Primo, se de ægrorum vitâ acknowledgment of “ The Supreme Judge,” ipsius curæ commissâ, rationem aliquando Su“The true Archiater and Archeus.” We PREMO Judici redditurum. Deinde quicquid artis may give one among many such instances. aut scientiæ, Divino beneficio consecutus est, imHe closes his observations on “the Epidemic primis, ad ŞUmmi Numinis laudem, atque humani Cough and Pleurisy Peripneumony of 1675," generis salutem, esse dirigendum : indignum with this sudden allusion to the Supreme vel ambitus officio inserviant.
autem esse, ut cælestia illa dona, vel avaritiæ,
Porro, se, non Being : “Qui post sequentur morbi, solus ignobilis alicujus aut contemnendi animalis, novit, Qui novit omnia.
And again, after curam suscepisse ; ut enim, humani generis giving his receipt for the preparation of his pretium agnoscas, UNIGENITUS Dei Filius, homo laudanum liquidum, so much of Spanish factus est adeoque naturam assumptam sua dig: wine, of opium, of saffron, of cinnamon and natione nobilitavit
. Denique, nec se communi cloves, he adds, Profecto non hic mihi sorte, exemptum esse, sed iisdem legibus mortali. tempero, quin gratulabundus animadvertam, expositum, quibus alii quilibet ; quo diligentius
, DEUM Omnipotentem παντων Δωσηρα εαων non aliud remedium, quod vel pluribus malis MOvomadns ægrotantibus opem ferre conetur.”
et quidem teneriori cum affectu, ipse plane debellandis par sit, vel eadem efficacius extirpet, humano generi in miseriarum solatium
The following are some quotations, taken concessisse, quam opiata.”
at random, from his various treatises and If we may adapt the simple but sublime letters, in which we may see what he himself saying of Sir Isaac Newton, Sydenham,
a practitioner, and what were his though diligent beyond most other chil- views as to the only way in which Med
“ dren” in gathering his pebbles and shells on icine, as an art, could be advanced. the shore of the great deep, and in winning In his Epistle to Dr. Mapletoft, prefixed for mankind some things of worth from the to the “Observationes Medicæ,” his first vast and formless infinite, was not uncon- publication, when he was 42 years of age, scious of the mighty presence beside which he gives his friend a long and entertaining he was at work; he was not deaf to the
account of his early professional life, and strong music of that illimitable sea. He
thus proceedsrecognized in the midst of the known, the greater, the infinite, the divine unknown;
“Having returned to London, I began the behind everything certain and distinct he practice of Medicine, which when I studied beheld something shadowy and unsearch- curiously with most intent eye (intento admodum able, past all finding out; and he did not, oculo) and utmost diligence, I came to this conas many men of his class have too often viction, which to this day increases in strength, done, and do, rest in the mere contemplation that our art is not to be better learned than by its
exercise and use; and that it is likely in every and recognition of the sidslov. This was to him but the shadow of the supreme sub- their eyes and their mind the most accurately and
case to prove true, that those who have directed stance, ó dsos. How unlike to this fervor, diligently to the natural phenomena of diseases, this reverence and godly fear, is the hard, will excel in eliciting and applying the true indicool, nonchalant style of many of our mod cations of cure.
With this thread as my guide, ern men of science, each of whom is so I first applied my mind to a closer observation of
fevers, and after no small amount of irksome intent on his own little pebble, so bent upon
waiting, and perplexing mental agitations, which finding in it something no one else ever
I had to endure for several years, I at last fell found, so self-involved and self-sufficient, upon a method by which, as I thought, they that his eyes and his ears are alike shut to might be cured, which method I some time ago the splendors and the voices of the liberal | made public at the urgent request of my friends."
He then refers to the persecution and that being specifically different, require a differcalumnies he had been exposed to from the ent treatment. The word carduus, or thistle, is profession, who looked upon him as a pes- be inaccurate and imperfect who would content
applied to several herbs, and yet a botanist would tilent fellow, and a setter forth of strange himself with a generic description. Furthermore, doctrines ; and adopts the noble saying of when this distribution of distempers into genera Titus Tacitus, in reply to Metellus
has been attempted, it has been to fit into some
hypothesis, and hence this distribution is made to “ It is easy to speak against me when I make suit the bent of the author rather than the real no reply ; you have learned to speak evil; I, my nature of the disorder. How much this has ob conscience bearing me witness, have learned to structed the improvement of physic, any man may despise evil-speaking; you are master of your know. In writing, therefore, such a natural longue, and can make it utter what you list; I history of diseases, every merely philosophical am master of my ears, and can make them hear hypothesis should be set aside, and the manifest without being offended.”
and natural phenomena, however minute, should be noted with the utmost exactness.
The useAnd, after making the reference we have fulness of this procedure cannot be easily overalready mentioned, to his method having rated, as compared with the subtle inquiries and had the sanction and assistance of Locke, he trifling notions of modern writers; for can there thus concludes in regard to the ultimate at the morbific causes, or of discovering the cu
be a shorter, or indeed any other way, of coming success of his newly discovered way- rative indications, than by a certain perception of
the peculiar symptoms ? By these steps and “As concerns the future, I cast the die, not helps it was, that the father of physic, the great over-careful how it may fall, for, since I am now Hippocrates, came to excel. His theory, Θεωρία, no longer young, and have, by the blessing of being no more than an exact description or view of the Almighty, a sufficient provision for the re- Nature. He found that Nature alone often termainder of my journey, (tantum mihi est viatici, minates diseases, and works a cure with a few quantum restat viæ,) I will do my best to attain, simple medicines, and often enough with no without trouble to myself or others, that measure medicines at all. If only one person in every of happiness so beautifully depicted by Politian :- age had accurately described, and consistently * Felix ille animi, divisque simillimus ipsis,
cured, but a single disease, and made known his Quem non mendaci resplendens gloria fuco secretphysic would not be where it now is; but Sollicitat, non fastosi mala gaudia luxus. we have long since forsook the ancient method of Sed tacitos sinit ire dies, et paupere cultu cure, founded upon the knowledge of conjunct Exigit innocuæ tranquilla silent a vito.'” causes, insomuch that the art, as at this day
practiced, is rather the art of talking about disWe shall now give more fully his peculiar eases than of curing them. I make this digresviews, and in order to render him due honor forsion in order to assert, that the discovering and originating and acting upon them, we must re. assigning of remote causes, which now-a-days so
much engrosses the minds and feeds the vanity of member in the midst of what a mass of curious inquirers, is an impossible attempt, and errors and prejudices, of theories actively that only immediate and conjunct causes fall mischievous, he was placed, at a time when within the compass of our knowledge.” Or, as the mania of hypothesis was at its height, he elsewhere pithily states it :-"Cognitio nostra, and when the practical part of his art was over- in rerum cortice, omnis ferme versatur, ac ad run and stultified by vile and silly nostrums.
50 051 sive quod res hoc modo se habeat, fere We must have all this in our mind, or we shall tantum assurgit; to dioti, sive rerum causas, fail in estimating the amount of independent nullatenus attingit.” thought, of courage and uprightness, and of all that deserves to be called virtue and mag- the case more clearly or sensibly. It is this
His friend Locke could not have stated nanimity, which was involved in his thinking, doctrine of “conjunct causes,” this necesand writing, and acting as he did.
sity for watching the action of compound “The improvement of physic, in my opinion, and often opposing forces, and the having to
all this depends, 1st. Upon collecting, as genuine and do all this not in a machine, of which, if you natural, a description or history of diseases as have seen one you have seen all, but where can be procured; and, 2nd, Upon laying down a each organism has often as much that is fixed and complete method of cure. With regard different from as common with all others ; to the history of diseases, whoever considers the it is this which takes medicine out of the undertaking deliberately, will perceive that a few such particulars must be attended to : 1st, All category of exact sciences, and puts it into diseases should be described as objects of natural that which includes politics, ethics, navigation, history, with the same exactness as is done by and practical engineering, in all of which, botanists, for there are many diseases that come though there are principles, and those prinunder the same genus, and bear the same name, 'ciples quite within the scope of human rea
son, yet the application of these principles, an apprentice as well as a student, and by must, in the main, be left to each man's being put under the tutorage of a master skill, presence of mind, and judgment, as to who exercises as well as expounds his craft. the case in hand.
This native gift and its appropriate object It is in medicine as in the piloting of a have been so justly, so beautifully described ship-rules may be laid down, principles by Hartley Coleridge in his “Life of Fotherexpounded, charts exhibited ; but when a gill,” that we cannot refrain from closing man has made himself master of all these, our remarks on this subject by quoting his he will often find his ship among breakers words. Do our readers know his “ Biograand quicksands, and must at last have re- phia Borealis ?" If they do, they will agree course to his own craft and courage. Gau- with us in placing it among the pleasantest bius, in his admirable chapter, “ De dis- books in our language, just such a one as ciplina Medici," thus speaks of the reasonable Plutarch, had he been an Englishman, would certainty of medicine as distinguished from have written : -“ There are certain inward the absolute certainty of the exact sciences, gifts, more akin to genius than to talent, and at the same time gives a very just idea which make the physician prosper, and deof the infinite (as far as concerns our limited serve to prosper; for medicine is not like powers of sense and judgment) multiplicity practical geometry, or the doctrine of proof the phenomena of disease :-“Nec vero jectiles, an application of an abstract, demonsufficit "medicum communia modo intueri; strable science, in which a certain result may oportet et cuivis homini propria, quæ quidem be infallibly drawn from certain data, or in diversitas tam immensa occurrit ut nulla ob- which the disturbing forces may be calculated servationum vi exhauriri possit. Solâ de with scientific exactness.
It is a tentative nique contemplatione non licet acquiescere, arl, to succeed in which demands a quickness inque obscuris rebus suspendere judicium, of eye, thought, tact, invention, which are donec lux affulgeat. Actionem exigil of not to be learned by study, nor, unless by ficium. Captanda hinc agendi occasio, quæ connatural aptitude, to be acquired by expesæpe præceps, per conjecturam cogit deter- rience; and it is the possession of this sense, minare, quod per scientiam sat cito nequit. exercised by patient observation, and fortified Audiant hæc obtrectatores, et cum didicerint by a just reliance on the vis medicatrix, the scientias puras, ab iis quas applicatas vocant, self-adjusting tendency of nature, that concontemplativas à practicis, distinguere, vi- stitutes the true physician or healer, as imadeant quo jure medicinam præ aliis, ut omnis gination constitutes the poet, and brings it certi expertem, infament." It would not be to pass, that sometimes an old apothecary, easy to put more important truth into clearer not far removed from an old woman, and expression. Conjecture, in its good sense, as whose ordinary conversation savors, it may meaning the throwing together of a number be, largely of twaddle, who can seldom give of the elements of judgment, and taking a rational account of a case or its treatment, what
upon the whole is the most likely, and acquires, and justly, a reputation for infalliacting accordingly, has, and will ever have, bility, while men of talent and erudition are à main part to play in any art that con- admired and neglected; the truth being, cerns human nature, in its entireness and that there is a great deal that is mysterious in in action. When in obscure and danger- whatever is practical.” ous places, we must not contemplate, we But to return to our author. He was the must act, it may be precipitately. This is first to point out what he called the varying what makes medicine so much more of an “constitutions” of different years in relation art than a science, and dependent so much to their respective epidemics, and the impormore upon the agent than upon his instruc- tance of watching the type of each new epitions; and this it is that makes us so earnest demic before settling the means of cure in our cautions against the supposition that none of his works is his truly philosophical any amount of scientific truth, the most ac- spirit, and the subtlety and clearness of his curate and extensive, can in medicine super- understanding, shown more signally than in sede the necessity of the recipient of all his successive histories of the epidemics of this knowledge having, as Richard Baxter his time. Nothing equal to them has ever says, by nature “a special sagacity,-a na- appeared since; and the full importance of turally searching and conjecturing turn of the principles he was the first to lay down is mind.” Moreover, this faculty must be dis- only now beginning to be fully acknowledged. ciplined and exercised in its proper function, His confession as to his entirely failing to disby being not a hearer only, but also a doer, cover what made one epidemic so to differ
from another, has been amply confirmed by the whole with such exquisite order, that, as all all succeeding observers. He says,
the evils of nature eminently conspire to complete
the harmony of the whole work, so every being is “I have carefully examined the different con
endowed with a divine direction or instinct, which stitutions of different years as to the manifest
is interwoven with its proper essence, and hence qualities of the air, yet I must own I have hither.
the safety of mankind was provided for, who, notto made no progress, having found that years, wise in a sad enough plight.' Again, — He would
withstanding all our doctoring, had been otherperfectly agreeing as to their temperature and other sensible properties, have produced very dif- be no honest and successful pilot who were to ferent tribes of diseases, and vice versa.
The apply himself with less industry to avoid rocks matter seems to stand thus : there are certain and sands, and bring his vessel safely home, than constitutions of years that owe their origin neith
to search into the causes of the ebbing and flower to heat, cold, dryness, or moisture, but upon a
ing of the sea, which, though very well for a certain secret and inexplicable alteration in the philosopher, is foreign to him whose business it is bowels of the earth, whence the air becomes im- to secure the ship. So neither will a physician, pregnated with such kinds of effluvia as subject whose province it is to cure diseases, be able to the human body to distempers of a certain specific bestows less time on the hidden and intricate
do so, though he be a person of great genius, who type.”
method of nature, and adapting his means thereAs to the early treatment of a new epi
to, than on curious and subtle speculations." demic, he says,—“My chief care, in the
The following is honest enough :midst of so much darkness and ignorance, is to wait a little, and proceed very slowly, es
• Indeed, if I may speak my mind freely, I have pecially in the use of powerful remedies, in been long of opinion that I act the part of an honthe meantime observing its nature and pro- est man and a good physician as often as I refrain cedure, and by what means the patient was entirely from medicines, when, upon visiting the relieved or injured ;” and he concludes by patient, I find him no worse to-day than he was regretting the imperfection of his observa- yesterday; whereas, if I attempt to cure the pations, and hoping that they will assist in be
tient by a method of which I am uncertain, he ginning a work that, in his judgment, will going to make on him and by the disease itself ;
will be endangered both by the experiment I am greatly tend to the advantage of mankind. nor will he so easily escape two dangers as one. Had his successors followed in his track with “ That practice, and that alone, will bring reequal sagacity and circumspection, our knowl- lief to the sufferer, which elicits the curative indiedge of these destructive and mysterious in- cations from the phenomena of the diseases themcursions of disease would, in all likelihood, selves, and confirms them by experience, by which have been greatly larger and more practical tal. And had the art of medicine been delivered
means the great Hippocrates made himself immorthan it is now. Sydenham is well known to have produced ease or two might come to be known to the com,
by any one in this wise, though the cure of a disa revolution in the management of the small- mon people, yet the art in its full extent would pox, and to have introduced a method of then have required men more prudent and skillful treatment upon which no material improve than it does now, nor would it lose any of its credit; ment has subsequently been made. We owe for as there is in the operations of Nature, (on thé the cool regimen to him. Speaking of the observations of which a true medical praxis is propriety of attending to the wishes of the founded) more of nicety and subllety than can be
found in any ari supported on the most specious sufferer, he says, with equal humanity and 'hypothesis, so the science of Medicine which Nature good sense
teaches will exceed an ordinary capacity in a much
greater degree than that which mere Philosophy “A person in a burning fever desires to drink teaches." freely of some small liquor; but the rules of art, built upon some hypothesis, having a different design in view, thwart the desire, and instead
There is much profound truth in this. Obthereof, order a cordial. In the meantime the servation, in its strict sense, is not every patient, not being suffered to drink what he wish man's gift, and but few men's actual habit of es, nauseates all kinds of food, but art commands mind. Newton used to say, that if in any him to eat. Another, after a long illness, begs one way he differed from other men, it was hard, it may be, for something odd, or question in his power of continued attention-of faithable; here, again, impertinent art thwarts him ful, unbroken observation; his ladder had and threatens him with death. How much more excellent the aphorism of Hippocrates— Such
all its steps entire, and he went up with a food as is most grateful, though not so wholesome,
composed, orderly foot. It requires more is to be preferred to that which is better, but dis- strength and fineness of mind, more of what tasteful. Nor will this appear strange, if it be deserves to be called genius, to make a series considered that the all-wise Creator has formed of genuine observations in Medicine, or any