I. Thus having given you a short Explanatory Introduction to our History of Plants, without the Knowledge of which, this Work could not well be understood, and upon which principles a great part of the Practice of Physick is founded and built; the Observation of which, is truly a practising according to Art, and not going hand over head, and a doing of things at all adventures, as Empiricks do, by which the Life of a Patient is not only put into Danger, but by such Empirical Practices, a thousand Miscarriages are daily committed; to the great prejudice of the Sick, and disreputation of the Medical Arts.
II. Many great things have been performed by simple Medicines and Preparations; and by that prime and simple Practice, the Qualities and Virtues of Simples were first investigated or found out. This was the first step of Art. Afterwards when the Faculties and Virtues of many things were discovered, the succeeding Practisers began to add one thing to another, which they thought to have like Virtues; believing, that two things of equal strength being conjoin'd, the Power and Force of that Medicine must be doubled; and indeed it many times succeeded according to expectation.
III. From these beginnings, Artists began to redouble their Forces, and to multiply Ingredients; making continually Complex Compositions, and from the belief of a Vis unita, to form Compounds, which in process of many Ages, became a Magazine or Store-House, as it were, of Remedies for all Diseases; which they formed into a method of Prescriptions, and under proper Titles, and particular forms of Preparations; they made at length a Repository for general Practise, consisting of a great number of Prescripts, serving for all Indications, and for the Cure of the most common and reigning Diseases; which they called by the name of a Pharmacopoeia or Dispensatory.
IV. Thus the Medical Arts, under this natural and primitive Simplicity, continued for many hundred Years; and obtained the name of Hipprocratical and Galenical Physick, without any considerable or manifest advantage, alteration, or advance of Reputation; except in forming a Farrago of not only Compound, but decompound Recipes, which being a Hodge-Podge of Complications, tended rather to the Detriment and Reproach of our Art, than the adding of any Honour or Glory to it; and thereby reduced the Science from Natural and Simple Empiricism, into an Artificial and Reputable Art of Quackery.
V. The Art thus groaning under this Labyrinth of Misfortunes, by the ill Practises of supposed Learned Men; or rather Empiricks, began to sink under the Burden, and indeed would in a short time have been reduced into the most profound Mystery of Empiricism, or Quackery; had it not pleased God, to make the Light of Chymistry to Arise and Shine upon us, by the Means of that wonderful Spirit, and great Man, Paracelsus: who not only shew'd the weakness of Empiricism, of Galenick Medicines, and Medicasters, but unvailed and brought the Arts of Medicine out of their Rubbish, and set them in a true light, for the general Good of Mankind.
VI. If it be objected, that Chymistry was in being long before Paracelsus was born. To this we answer, so was the Circulation of the Blood before our Great Harvey: But as it was Harvey, who first brought the Circulation to Light, for the reforming, and more full elucidating the Art of Physic; so we say, that it was Paracelsus who brought the Light of Chymistry to arise and shine in our Horizon; and let us into its Secret Recesses, shewing us all its hidden Treasures, and brought them forth for the Glory of our Art, the Increase of true Medical Knowledge, and an Universal Good.
VII. Yet we do not say, that the Old Physick is wholly to be cast away: There are many (tho' simple) excellent things in it; which by a Skilful and Prudent Physician may be excerpted, and collected together; and which if conjoined with the Chymical, open into a great Field of Knowledge, and wonderful Productions, that not only shew us the Genesis, but also Analysis of all natural things; and with what an amazing Harmony they sympathise with Human Bodies, and how admirably they conspire to Operate in Mankind, to the extirpation of Diseases, and support of Life, against whatever may be opposite to Health, and the well-being of a Living Man.
VIII. The next thing then which the Physician had in his View, was the Composition and Structure of the Human Frame, that thereby he might know how the Body grew, and was nourished, and by what means it might fall to decay, and so fail. And since the Growth and Nourishment was from the Matter received in by the Mouth into the Stomach, they considered that there was an innate property in that Viscus, viz. Natural Spirits, to convert the received Food into a kind of nourishing Juice, which the Greeks (our first Physicians) were pleased to call Chylus, which being more perfected in the Entrails, was thence conducted by proper Vessels, and conveyed to the Heart; where being converted into Blood, it was thence by the Arteries distributed over the whole Body, to contribute to its encrease of Magnitude, and nourishment of all its Parts, that it might not fall to decay. The Meanders, or Ways, by which this Bloody Juice past and repast, was discovered by Dissection of the Human Carcass; how it past from the Heart by the Arteries, to almost every individual Part of the Body, for its Nutrition; and how, what was more than was fit for that Purpose, was returned by the Veins to the Heart again; which for that reason seems to be the Fountain of the Vital Spirits, and so by a perpetual Circulation, conserves the Microcosm in a habitual State of Life and Strength. And by the same Art, they came to a discovery of the Nervous System, (whose Original is in the Head) by which the Animal Spirits, generated in the Brain, were conveyed thro' the whole Man, giving Sense or Feeling, Life and Motion, to every part of the same.
IX. How the Body fell to decay, or failed, was the next Consideration, which was either:
- I. By External Accidents, by Blows, Falls, Cuts, Punctures, Gunshot, etc. from whence came Contusions, Wounds, Fluxes of Blood, Ulcers, Fractures, Luxations, Dismembrings, and loss of Substance, which directed them to Topicks, or External Applications, whence, from a long Series of Experiences, arose the Practice and Art of Chirurgery.
- II. Or Internal, from a defect of Natural Spirits in the Stomach and Bowels, whereby their Tone, or innate concoctive Property being hurt, they either:
- 1. Generated a bad Chylus, which did not Nourish as it ought to do, but either profligated the Blood and Lympha, by depauperating them; or otherwise created a tartarous Kind of Mucilage, by which not only the vessels thro' which it was to pass were obstructed, but the Viscera also themselves were perturbed in their Operations, by glutinous Slime, Sand, Gravel, Stones, etc.
- Or 2. They generated not Chylus enough to nourish and sustain the External Man, whereby the Body falls into Lassitudes or Weaknesses, Pinings, and a lingering Consumption; which if not prudently remedied, and that in time, reduces the poor Patient to a meer Skelton, and so making him past hopes of Cure, sends him decently to his Grave. An indigested Chylus, or defective in its quantity, as it creates a depauperated Blood and Lympha, so it makes either weak Vital Spirits, or a deficiency of them, whence comes Faintness, Languishings, and the like, and an universal decay of the Strength of the whole Man. And according to the poverty of the Blood and Lympha, such also are the Animal Spirits proceeding from it, from whose weakness or decay, proceed all the Nervous Diseases afflicting the Body, as Tremblings, Numbness, loss of Strength and Motion, Convulsions, Palsies, etc.
X. The Body being thus afflicted with Diseases, it was natural to believe, that they could not be without their proper Signs, by which they might be known, as also several attendant Symptoms; all which must arise from some certain Cause, or Causes; the Signs of which Causes, (which they call Diagnosticks) they daily learnt from Observation. These Causes, whether Original or Accidental, they gradually searched out, that the Sources whence they were derived, might be at length discovered. All which was absolutely necessary towards the investigation of the Cure: For that without the Cause was known and removed, the Effects thereof, viz. the Disease, could not cease, or be taken away. As Diseases then appeared in the World, they observed the Signs accompanying them, and the Symptoms which many times accrued, which they set down in Writing, under the Names of those several Diseases. And enquiring into the Course of the Patients Life, and what Accidental Matters might also happen, at the introitum of the Disease, the antecedent Causes of the Malady, became in some measure manifest. Whence by a great number of Remarks, net only the Antecedent and Remote Causes came to be discovered, but also the conjoined and near Causes were at length brought to Light: From whence the Diagnostick part of the Art, received its Illustration. Again, from the Greatness or Lightness of the Causes; from the impending Symptoms, as they seem'd more or less dangerous; and from attending to the end of the Disease, thro' a long Series of Observations; being all rationally considered together, the Prognostick Precepts were educed. And if the Disease was thought curable, the Indications of Cure, voluntarily flowed from the morbisick state of the Sick, which proceeded
- 1. From the Causes Antecedent and Present.
- 2. From the Nature of the Disease, whither Similar, Organick, or Common.
- 3. From the Symptoms, as being Dangerous or Not.
- 4. From the Vital Powers, Respecting the Strength or Weakness of the Diseased Body.
XI. Art being by these Advances, and so many Degrees, or Steps, brought on towards Perfection; what remains for the Learned Professor to do? Truly to know what Disease it is which afflicts the Person, and by the Crisis, and manifest Symptoms, to make his Medical Prognosticks, whether the Patient be Curable or not; that he may do every thing for the Reputation of his Art, and of himself. So that if he sees the Sick past hopes of Recovery, he may decline his Attacks, and let the Relatives and Attendants know the Danger impending. But if there be Hopes of Life, (tho' but small) he may make his Artful and Masterly Prescriptions, according to the Indications of Cure, which with a Rational and Modest assurance, he may hope and conclude, will not go without their desired Effects.
XII. Like as the Art of Rhetorick was not the foundation of Oratory, or of the first Orators, Demosthenes, Cicero, etc. but the Orators the foundation of the Art, out of whose unexampled Orations, all its Precepts and Rules were Excerpted, or Gleaned, and by Wise Men reduced into the form of an Art, by which all succeeding Rhetoricians regulated and made their Orations: So the Medical Art, and all its Rules, even the Fabrick of the whole Art, was Reared and Built out of Empiricism, or Quackery; and its Original or Foundation, was laid by Empiricks, or Quacks, (as the Learned are pleased to phrase it) and that the first Physicians were no other than Empiricks, Quacks, or Tryers of Skill; out of whose Tryals, Observations and Practices, some Wise Men collected a Set of Precepts and Rules, which being reduced into Method, we now call the Art of Physick. But all the to be deplored Misfortunes of the Art is, that it makes not a great many Real Physicians, but too many Ignorant or Conceited Doctors, and too great a number of Formal and Rattle-headed Empiricks or Quacks.
XIII. What we have farther to say is, to commend the sincere Lovers of Art, to the good Providence of God. That in their Search and Enquiries into Nature, and unravelling (as it were) the Rules and Precepts of Medicine, they may find the Answer of their Expectations; and have their Minds or Souls, enlightned with the Splendor and prevailing Excellencies, of true Wisdom and Knowledge; so as to be able to perform the Great things, wrapt up in the Mysteries of this Science they are Professors of; for the Good of the Sick, their own Benefit, and the Reputation of the Art of Physick.
I Request all those Gentlemen and others, who send Letters to me, about their own Concerns, to be so Civil, as to pay Postage for them; or else they may expect to go without an Answer. It is not reasonable that I should be at Charge for Persons, I have no Acquaintance withall, and the Business their own. I should not say this, was it but now and than a Letter. But to receive about two thousand Letters a Year (as I have formerly done) upon other Peoples Affairs, or some trifling Matter, and to pay Postage for them, makes a considerable Sum. And besides, it is as Burdensome and Troublesome to Answer them, as it is Chargeable to Receive them.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.