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increasing perplexity; and where we might hope for the guidance of truth we find ourselves embarrassed by the delusion of fable.
Le Clerc discusses with considerable ingenuity the question, “si la médicine est venue immediatement de Dieu?”—whether medicine came immediately from God.
In Ecclesiasticus it is said, that “God created the physician and the physic, and that he hath given science to man, and that 'tis he that healeth man, &c."* All the ancient pagans held their gods to be the authors of medicine. The art of physic, says Cicero, is sacred to the invention of the immortal gods : “ deorum immortalium inventioni consecrata est ars medica.” Pliny makes a similar declaration, “ Diis primum inventores suos assignavit medicina cæloque dicavit.”+ In the works of Galen, it is said, that the Greeks ascribed the invention of arts to the sons of God. Hippocrates makes God the inventor. He says, “they who first found the way of curing distempers, thought it an art which deserved to be ascribed to the gods ; which is the received opinion.”
Celsus, the elegant Roman physician, has asserted that medicine and mankind must have been co-eval in their origin : “ Medicina nusquam non est ; an opinion which we think cannot be rationally ques. tioned. If some nations, says Pliny, have made shift without physicians, yet none ever did without physic. The learned Schulze seriously maintains that the first
• Chap. xxxvi. v. 12.
+ Lib. xix. cap. 1.
man must necessarily have been the first physician. (Agxiarip). He considers that our first parents were skilled in physiology. Let the curious reader refer to his work for his reasons for holding this opinion: we do not think this is the place for the discussion of his arguments.
Our medical knowledge of the antediluvians is very scanty. After the deluge, we read of circumcision being performed; and with the solitary exception of this surgical rite, history, whether sacred or profane, presents us with no information whatever respecting the progress of medicine or surgery, during the patriarchal ages. As we descend the stream of time, and approach the limits of authentic history, we find that the science of medicine was cultivated methodically, and reduced to a system.
Herodotus informs us of the state of the science among the Babylonians. The practice of medicine must have preceded the reduction of the art of healing to scientific principles. The Babylonians and Egyptians carried their sick into the market-place and public streets, in order to obtain the experience of those who might pass them, and who had been afflicted with the same diseases; and no one was allowed to pass until he had investigated the sick man's case. This was not only the practice of this nation, but was one of their public laws; and Sozomones mentions it as obtaining amongst the Hiberi, a people in Asia. The prophet Jeremiah feigns Babylon complaining, in the Lamentations, in these words, “Is it nothing to you, that pass by, behold and see if there be
any sorrow equal to my sorrow :" and then the Apostle Mark, (ch. vi.) in allusion to the same custom, says, “ And whithersoever he entered, into villages and cities, and countries, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought that they might touch, if it were but the border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made whole.” Strabo says the same of the Portuguese, “who, according to the ancient custom of the Babylonians and Egyptians, bring their sick into the streets and highways, that all comers who have had the same malady, might give them their advice."* Notwithstanding this circumstance, the Egyptians, a people much resembling the Chinese, were the most forward of the primitive nations, in the march of civilization and the cultivation of knowledge. Manetho, a distinguished Egyptian writer, is represented by Eusebius as stating that Athatis, a traditionary monarch of that country, wrote several treatises on anatomy. In Egypt, medicine was fettered by absurd regulations. The chief priests confined themselves entirely to the exercise of the magic rites and prophecies, which they considered the higher branches of the art, and left the exhibition of remedies to the pastophori, or image-bearers. They were also compelled to follow implicitly the medical precepts of the sacred records contained in the six hermetical books: a deviation from those rules was punished with death. The Egyptians, and other eastern nations who first cultitivated science, cherished a great veneration in the
# Lib. 16.
earliest periods of time for the medical character; and the ancient Greeks, who were less advanced in civilization and the refined arts than the Trojans, never mention their professors of medicine but with the warmest gratitude and veneration. The Argonautic expedition was not undertaken without the attendance and aid of a physician, even the divine Ex, who was considered one of the principal heroes of the school of Chiron the Centaur. The history of Machæon, his son, exhibits a character adorned with most amiable virtues. When he was wounded by Paris, at the siege of Troy, the whole army appeared interested in his recovery. Even Achilles, during his seceding from the allied army, when he had
His friend Machæon singled from the rest,
and he dispatched Patroclus to inquire after the "wounded offspring of the healing god,” who was placed under the protection of the wise Nector at the request of Idomeneus, who observes,
“ A wise Physician, skilled our wounds to heal,
Is more than armies to the public weal.” The Jews were ignorant of medicine until their introduction into Egypt.
The Grecians, like the Egyptians, considered medicine of divine origin. Their Apollo and Minerva, answered to the Isis and Osiris of the latter nation; and Orpheus, the priest, poet, and physician, usurped the place of Thoth.
Esculapius flourished fifty years before the Trojan war; and we find that his two sons distinguished themselves in that war by their valour, and by their skill in curing wounds. Homer, describing Eurypylus wounded and under the care of Patroclus, says,
“ Patroclus cut the forky steel away,
When in his hand a bitter root he bruised,
Hippocrates, who has justly been styled the “Father of Medicine,” was born in the island of Cos, situated in the Egean sea, at no great distance from Rhodes. Celsus remarks, that Hippocrates was the first person who emancipated medicine from the trammels of superstition and the delusions of false philosophy. He considered the doctrine, inculcated by physicians, of the celestial origin of disease, as paralysing the efforts of the physician, and proving highly detrimental to the patient. While the vain hopes it held out of recovery, through the medium of prayers, sacrifices, and bribes for the intercessions of priests, could not fail to bring both religion and medicine into contempt. His works, which have descended to us, are very much contaminated by interpolation. He died at the age of 100, three hundred and sixty years before the birth of Christ.
Contemporaneously with Hippocrates lived Demoeritus of Abdera, a zealous anatomist. Thessalus and Dacro, two sons of Hippocrates, founded, with Poly