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Wherefore that utility may be considered as well as humanity, the anatomy of the living subject is not to be relinquished altogether, nor referred (as it was by Celsus) to the casual practices of surgery; since it may be well discharged by the dissection of beasts alive, which, notwithstanding the dissimilitude of their parts to human, may, with the help of a little judgment, sufficiently satisfy this inquiry.
Again, in their inquiry concerning diseases, they find many which they pronounce incurable, some at their very commencement, and others after a certain period. So that the proscriptions of Sylla and the Triumvirs were as nothing to the proscriptions of physicians, wherein by most iniquitous edicts they give up so many to death ; of whom nevertheless numbers escape with less difficulty than they did in the Roman proscriptions. Therefore I will not hesitate to set down among the desiderata a work on the cure of diseases which are held incurable; that so some physicians of eminence and magnanimity may be stirred up to take this work (as far as the nature of things permits) upon them ; since the pronouncing these diseases incurab'e gives a legal sanction as it were to neglect and inattention, and exempts ignorance from discredit.
Again, to go a little further ; I esteem it likewise to be clearly the office of a physician, not only to restore health, but also to mitigate the pains and torments of diseases; and not only when such mitigation of pain, as of a dangerous symptom, helps and conduces to recovery; but also when, all hope of recovery being gone, it serves only to make a fair and easy passage from life. For it is no small felicity which Augustus Cæsar was wont so earnestly to pray for, that same Euthanasia ;
which likewise was observed in the death of Antoninus Pius,' which was not so much like death as like falling into a deep and pleasant sleep. And it is written of Epicurus, that he procured the same for himself; for after his disease was judged desperate, he drowned his stomach and senses with a large draught and ingurgitation of wine; whereupon the epigram was made,
lle drowned in wine the bitterness of the Stygian water. But in our times, the physicians make a kind of scruple and religion to stay with the patient after he is given up; whereas in my judgment, if they would not be wanting to their office, and indeed to humanity, they ought both to acquire the skill and to bestow the attention whereby the dying may pass more easily and quietly out of life. This part I call the inquiry concerning outward Euthanasia, or the easy dying of the body (to distinguish it from that Euthanasia which regards the preparation of the soul); and set it down among
the desiderata. Again, in the cures of diseases I generally find this deficience; that the physicians of this age, though they pursue well enough the general intentions of cures, yet the particular receipts which are proper for the cure of particular diseases they either do not well understand or do not scrupulously observe. For physicians have frustrated and destroyed the fruit of tradition and ex1.erience by their magistralities, in adding and taking away and making changes in their receipts at their pleasure ; and substituting quid pro quo, much like the chemists; usurping such command over the medicine, 1 Sueton. in August. c. 99.
2 Cf. Diog. Laert. x. 16
that the medicine loses all command over the disease. For except it be treacle and mithridate, and perhaps disascordium and the confection of alkermes, and a few other medicines, they tie themselves to scarce any certain receipts severely and religiously. For as to those confections which are for sale in the shops, they are rather in readiness for general intentions than accommodated and specially adapted to particular cures ; for they do not specially regard any one disease, but relate generally to purging, opening, comforting, and altering. And this is principally the cause why empirics and old women are more happy many times in their cures than learned physicians, because they are more exact and religious in holding to the composition and confection of tried medicines. Indeed I remember a physician here in England, a famous practitioner, in religion almost a Jew, in reading a kind of Arab, who used to say, “ Your physicians in Europe are indeed men of learning; but they do not know the particular cures for diseases.” He would also say in jest, not very reverently, “ that our physicians are like bishops, who have the
power of the keys, to bind and loose, and nothing more." But to speak seriously ; I conceive that it would be of great use if some physicians, among the more distinguished both for learning and practice, would compose a work on medicines tried and approved by experiment for the cure of particular dis
For if it be thought fitter for a learned physician (after taking account of the constitution and age of his patients, the season of the year, their customs, and the like) to apply his medicines according to the occasion, than to abide by any certain prescriptions, the opinion, though plausible, is fallacious, and allows too little weight to experience, and too much to judgment. For as they were the most useful citizens and of the best composition in the state of Rome, who either being consuls inclined to the people, or being tribunes inclined to the senate; so in the matter we now handle, they are the best physicians, who being great in learning most incline to the traditions of experience, or being distinguished in practice do not reject the methods and generalities of art. As to the qualifying of medicines (if it be ever necessary), it ought rather to be done in the vehicles than in the body of the medicines, wherein nothing should be altered without evident necessity. This part therefore, which treats of authentic and positive medicines, I set down as wanting. But it is a thing that should not be undertaken without keen and severe judgment, and in synod, as it were, of select physicians.
Again, in preparation of medicines I find it strange (especially considering how mineral medicines have, been so much lauded and extolled by the chemists, and that such medicines are safer applied outwardly than taken inwardly) that no man has endeavoured to make an imitation by art of natural baths and medicinal fountains; although it is confessed that they receive their virtues from the mineral veins through which they flow; and not only so, but as a manifest proof of the fact, human industry has found the way to discern and distinguish by analysis from what kind of mineral such waters receive tincture; as sulphur, vitriol, steel, or the like. Which natural tincture if it might be reduced to compositions of art, would put it in the power of man to make more kinds of them as occasion demands, and to regulate their temper at discretion. This part there
fore, concerning the imitation of nature in artificial baths (an undertaking doubtless both easy and profit. able), I judge to be deficient.
But lest I grow to be more particular than is agreeable either to my intention or to the nature of this treatise, I will conclude this part with the note of one deficience more, which seems to me of greatest consequence; which is, that the method of treatment in use is too compendious to accomplish anything remarkable or difficult. For in my judgment it would be an opinion more flattering than true, to think any medicine can be so sovereign or so happy as that the simple use of it can work any great cure. It were a strange speech, which spoken once, or even spoken many times, should reclaim a man from a vice to which he is by nature subject. The thing is impossible. It is order, pursuit, sequence, and skilful interchange of application, which is mighty in nature. And these things, although they require greater judgment in prescribing and more constant obedience in observing, yet make up for it abundantly by the magnitude of the effects they produce. Now although a man would think, by the daily attentions which physicians pay to their patients, —their visitations, nursings, and prescriptions, — that they were pursuing the cure diligently and following it up by a certain path; yet let a man look more deeply into the prescripts and ministrations which physicians use, and he shall find the most of them full of vacillation and inconstancy, devices of the moment, without any settled or foreseen course of cure; whereas they ought from the very first, as soon as ever the disease is fully discovered and known, to resolve upon some regular plan of treatment, and not to depart therefrom