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from external medicines entering our bodies, should effect such considerable changes, when we see the efficient cause of apoplexy, epilepsy, hysterics, plague, and a number of other disorders, consists, as it were, in imperceptible vapours.-Blood-stone (Lapis Ætites) fastened to the arm by some secret means, is said to prevent abortion. Sydenham, in the iliac passion, orders a live kitten to be constantly applied to the abdomen ; others have used pigeons split alive, applied to the soles of the feet, with success, in pestilential fevers and convulsions. It was doubtless the impression that relief might be obtained by external agents, that the court of king David advised him to se a young virgin, in order that a portion of the natural heat might be communicated to his body, and give strength to the decay of nature.

" Take the heart and liver of the fish and make a smoke, and the devil shall smell it and flee away." During the plague at Marseilles, which Belort attributed to the larvæ of worms infecting the saliva, food, and chyle; and which, he says, “were hatched by the stomach, took their

passage into the blood, at a certain size, hinder. ing the circulation, affecting the juices and solid parts.” He advised amulets of mercury to be worn in bags suspended at the chest and nostrils, either as a safeguard, or as means of cure ; by which method, through the admissiveness of the pores, effluvia specially destructive of all venomous insects, were received into the blood. " An illustrious prince," Belort says, " by wearing such an amulet, escaped the small-pox."

Clognini, an Italian physician, ordered two or three drachms of crude mercury to be worn as a defensive against the jaundice; and also as a preservative against the noxious vapours of inclement seasons :

It breaks,” be observes, and conquers the different figured seeds of pestilential distempers floating in the air ; or else, mixing with the air, kills them where hatched.” By others, the power of mercury, in these cases, has been ascribed to an elective faculty given out by the warmth of the body, which draws out the contagious particles. For, according to this entertained notion, all bodies are continually emitting effluvia, more or less, around them, and some whether they are internal or external. The Bath waters, for instance, change the colour of silver in the pocket of those who use them. Mercury produces the same efect;

Tartar emetic, rubbed on the pit of the stomach, produces vomiting. Yawning and laughing are infectious; so are fear and shame. The sight of sour things, or even the idea of them, will set the teeth on edge. Small-pox, itch, and other diseases, are contagious; if so, say they, mercurial amulets bid fair to destroy the germ of some complaints when used only as an external application, either by manual attrition, or worn as an amulet. But medicated or not, all amulets are precarious and uncertain, and in the cure of diseases are, by no means, to be trusted to.

The Barbary Moors, and generally throughout the Mahommedan dominions, the people are strikingly attached to charms, to which, and nature, they leave the cure of almost every disorder ; and this is the


most strongly impressed upon them from their belief in predestination, which, according to their creed, stipulates the evil a man is to suffer, as well as the length of time it is ordained he should live upon the land of his forefathers; consequently they imagine that any interference from secondary means would avail them nothing, an opinion said to have been entertained by William III, but one by no means calculated for nations, liberty, and commerce ; upon the principle that when the one was entrenched upon, men would probably be more sudden in their revenge, and dislike physic and occupation; and when actuated with religious enthusiasm, nothing could stand them in any service. The opinion of an old navy surgeon,*

on the subject, is worth recording here. A long and intense passion on one object, whether of pride, love, fear, anger, or envy, we see have brought on some universal tremors; on others, convulsions, madness, melancholy, consumption, hectics, or such a chronical disorder as has wasted their flesh, or their strength, as certainly as the taking in of any poisonous drugs would have done. Anything frightful, sudden, or surprising, upon soft, timorous natures, not only shews itself in the continuance, but produces sometimes very troublesome consequences--for instance, a parliamentary fright will make even grown men bewray themselves, scare them out of their wits, turn the hair grey. Surprise removes the hooping cough ; looking from precipices or seeing wheels turn swiftly

* John Ailkin, author of the Navy Surgeon, 1742. Demonologia, p. 64 et seg.



will give giddiness. Shall then these little accidents, or the passions, (from caprice or humour, perhaps,) produce those effects, and not be able to do anything by amulets ? No; as the spirits, in many cases, resort in plenty, we find where the fancy determines, giving joy and gladness to the heart, strength and fleetness to the limbs, and violent palpitations. To amulets, under strong imagination, is carried with more force to a distempered part, and, under these circumstances, its natural powers exert better to a discussion. The cures compassed in this manner,” says our

are not more admirable than many of the distempers themselves. Who can apprehend by what impenetrable method the bite of a mad dog, or tarantula, can produce these symptoms ? The touch of a torpedo numbness ? If they are al. lowed to do these, doubtless they may the other ; and not by miracles, which Spinoza denies the possibility of, but by natural and regular causes, though inscrutable to us. The best way, therefore, in using amulets, must be in squaring them to the imagination of patients: let the newness and surprise exceed the invention, and keep up the humour by a long scroll of cures and vouchers ; by these and such means, many distempers have been cured. Quacks again, according to their boldness and way of addressing (velvet and infallibility particularly) command success by striking the fancies of an audience. If a few, more sensible than the rest, see the doctor's miscarriages, and are not easily gulled at first sight, yet, when they see a man is never ashamed, in time, jump in to his assistance.”

There is much truth and pertinence in some of the above remarks, and they apply nearly to the general practice of the present day. The farces and whims of people require often as much discrimination on the part of the physician as the disease itself. Those who know best how to flatter such caprices, are frequently the best paid for their trouble. Nervous diseases are always in season, and it is here that some professional dexterity is pardonable. Nature, when uninterrupted, will often do more than art ; but our inability upon all occasions to appreciate the efforts of nature in the cure of diseases, must always render our notion, with respect to the powers faith, liable to numerous errors and deceptions. There is, in fact, nothing more natural, and at the same time more erroneous, than to lay the cure of a disease to the door of the last medicine that had been prescribed. By these means the advocates of amulets and charms, have ever been enabled to appeal to the testimony of what they are pleased to call experience in justification of their pretensions, and egregious superstitions; and cases which, in truth, ought to have been classed, or rather designated, as lucky escapes, have been triumphantly puffed off as skilful cures ; and thus, medicines and medical practitioners, have alike received the meed of unmerited praise, or the stigma of unjust censure. Of all branches of human science, medicine is one of the most interesting to mankind : and, accordingly as it is erroneously or judiciously cultivated, is evidently conducive to the prejudice or welfare of the public. Of how great consequence is it, then, that

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