Imágenes de páginas

Imaginations. Boerhaave, on the contrary, was convinced by daily Experience and a Fund of good Sense, that the Greek Physicians by diligent Observation had determined, with great Accuracy, how Nature acts in producing the Symptoms of Distempers, and her Methods of relieving herself, either with or without the Aflistance of Art, and that their Experience had furnished them with very fuccessful Methods of Cure. The two Points therefore which he seems to have had perpetually in View, were to establish, on mechanical Principles, as much as was poffible, the Doctrine of the Antients with Respect to the Diagnostics and Prognostics of Difcases, and shew that they could not be otherwise than they have represented them.

But the second View is of more Importance than the first, it being no less than to demonstrate, that the Methods of Cure pursued by the antient Phycians were generally the best that could possibly have been contrived with the Materials they were acquainted with, though for Reasons to which they were probably Strangers. This appears to me the diftinguishing Character of Boerhaave, and by this he has done almost as much Service to Phyfic, as his Predeceffors for some Centuries had done Milchiefs. : It is greatly to be lamented that our illustrious Author did not think proper to publish his Lectures on his Institutes and his Aphorisms before his Decease. If he had foreseen the fatal Consequences of such an Omislion, I believe his Love to Mankind ' would have prevailed upon him to have done it, and thereby prevented the Mischiefs which his great Name, and the Reputation of his Lectures, máy poffibly do in the World. That I may explain my Meaning I must observe, that it is the Misfortune of the English to be very little used to converse in Latin, though, perhaps, no People in the World understand

[ocr errors]

it better. Add to this, that as we pronounce Latin
in a different Manner from all other Nations, our
Ears are not accustomed to the foreign Accent.
Hence Foreigners with Difficulty understand ús,
and on the other Hand it is impoffible for us to
take their · Meaning, especially in long Discourses,
with that Degree of Exactness, which Subjects of
Importance require ; and indeed it is no easy Mat-
ter to take the entire Sense of long Discourses,
though delivered in the Languages we are best ac-
quainted with. This is the Reason that many of
his Pupils who have long attended his Lectures, for
two or three Years have frequently mistaken his
Meaning, and held their own Errors with an equal
Degree of Veneration with the genuine Doctrine of
their Profeffor, and have imprudentiy neglected to
set themselves right, by examining the Sources
from whence Boerhaave himself drew his Treasures ;
sometimes perhaps because they imagined the Au-
thority of their Professor rendered it superfluous,
and sometimes because they were Strangers to the
Languages in which the best medicinal Authors
wrote thus : either out of Choice or Neceflity, tak-
ing a more easy, though a less certain, Way to Know-
ledge, than Boerhaave either advised or thought
proper to pursue himself.

That this has been really the Case the spurious Works attributed to Boerhaave by his Scholars are glaring Evidences; among which his Method of studying Physic, as I think it is called deserves fome No. tice, being a crude and injudicious Performance, and in a great many Instances contradictory to the Sentiments of Boerhaave, on the Subjects there treated ;, and as I remember, it recommends fome Authors who never wrote or even existed. In the same Rank is the Praxis Medica printed in five Volumes in Holland, though the Title tells us at Padua. In the Preface we are informed, that many of his Au

Subjects refpect to his ch

ditors took his Lectures in Writing ; that these were carefully compared, and hence this Work was compiled. Yet notwithstanding all this Care, there are not many Pages without some enormous Error, nor even Sentences without false Latin; so little did they understand either their Professor or their Subjects.

With respect to his Chymistry, it may be justly faid, that his Theory is more philosophical, exact and full, and his Processes more methodical and regular, than those of any preceding Author on the Subject. It is remarkable, that in this Work he has made many chymical Operations subfervient to the establihing several important Doctrines of the Antients, and to the Confirmation of their Practice. I shall conclude with remarking, that this Work alone would have been sufficient to raise the Character of any other Man, but is however that in which Boerhaave shines mnch less than in his Institutes and Aphorisms, the last of which is, perhaps, more useful than any one Book written upon Physic, and has had the Honour of being translated into Arabic, as is said by the Mufti, and printed at Confiantinople


с н A R A cт E R



[ocr errors]

R . Collins was a Man of extensive Literature, IV and of vigorous Faculties. He was acquainted not only with the learned Tongues, but with the Italian, French, and Spanish Languages. He had employed his Mind chiefly upon Works of Fiction, and Subjects of Fancy; and by indulging fome peculiar Habits of Thought, was eminently delighted with those Flights of Imagination which pass the Bounds of Nature, and to which the Mind is reconciled only by a passive Acquiescence in popular Traditions. He loved Fairies, Genii, Giants, and Monsters; he delighted to rove through the Meanders of Inchantment, to gaze on the Magnificence of gol en Palaces, to repose by the Waterfalls of Elysian Gardens.

This was however the Character rather of his Inclination than his Genius ; the Grandeur of Wild. ness, and the Novelty of Extravagance, were always desired by him, but were not always attained. But. Diligence is never wholly loft ; if his Efforts fometimes caused Harshness and Obscurity, they likewise produced in happier Moments Sublimity and Splendour. This Idea which he had formed of Excellence, led him to oriental Fictions and allegorical Imagery; and perhaps, while he was intent upon


Description, he did not sufficiently cultivate Sentiment. His Poems are the Productions of a Mind not deficient in Fire, nor unfurnished with Knowledge either of Books or Life, but somewhát obitructed in its Progress, by Deviation in Quest of mistaken Beauties.

His Morals were pure, and his Opinions pious: In a long Continuance of Poverty, and long Habits of Dissipation, it cannot be expected that any Character should be exactly uniform. There is a Degree of Want by which the Freedom of Agency is almost destroyed; and long Association with fortui. tous Companions will at last relax the Strictness of Truth, and abate the Fervour of Sincerity. That this Man, wise and virtuous as he was, passed always unentangled through the Snares of Life, it would be Prejudice and Temerity to affirm ; but it may be said that at least he preserved the Source of Action unpolluted, that his Principles were never shaken, that his Distinctions of Right and Wrong were never confounded, and that his Faults had no. thing of malignity or Design, but proceeded from fome unexpected Pressure, or casual Temptation.

The latter Part of his Life cannot be remembered, but with Pity and Sadness. He languished some Years under that Depression of Mind which enchains the Faculties without destroying them, and leaves Reason the Knowledge of Right without the Power of pursuing it. These Clouds, which he found gathering on in his Intellects, he endeavoured to disperse by Travel, and paffed into France; but found himself constrained to yield to his Malady, and returned. He was for some Time confined in a House of Lunatics, and afterwards retired to the Care of his Sister in Colchester, where Death at last came to his Relief.

After his Return from France, the Writer of this Character paid him a Visit at Islington, where he


« AnteriorContinuar »