S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Accordingly, we find that those parts of the world are most healthy, where they subsist by the chase; and that men lived longest when their lives were employed in hunting, and when they had little food besides what they caught. Blistering, cupping, bleeding, are seldom of use but to the idle and intemperate; as all those inward applications which are so much in practice among us, are for the most part nothing else but expedients to make luxury consistent with health.
If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too strange for your body when you shall need it; if you make it too familiar, it will work no extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons, than frequent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom; for those diets alter the body more, and trouble it less.
Most of the distempers are the effects of abused plenty and luxury, and must not be charged upon our Maker; who (notwithstanding) hath provided excellent medicines to alleviate those evils which we bring upon ourselves.
We quote only one days medicine, prescribed by a physician, and administered by an apothecary to a fever patient. The list of medicine given on each other day is quite as long, and every bolus is found in the same way duly specified in Mr. Parret the apothecarys bill, sent in to Mr. A. Dalley, who was a mercer on Ludgate Hill. We quote the supply for the fourth days illness:
August 10, 1615.
Another Pearl Julap
Another Hypnotick Draught
A Cordial Bolus
A Cordial Draught
A Cordial Pearl Emulsion
Another Pearl Julap
Another Cordial Julap
A Pearl Julap
A Cordial Draught
An Anodyne Mixture
A Glass of Cordial Spirits
A Cooling Mixture
A Blistering Plaister to the Neck
Two more of the same to the Arms
Spirit of Hartshorn
Plaister to dress the Blisters
One days medicinal treatment is here represented, as it was often to be met with in the palmy days of physic, when
Some fell by laudanum, and some by steel,
And death in ambush lay in evry pill.
Then truly might Dr. Garth write of his neighbours how
Were it my business to understand physic, would not the safe way be to consult nature herself in the history of diseases and their cures, than espouse the principles of the dogmatists, methodists, or chymists?
To Plato, the science of medicine appeared to be of very disputable advantage. [Platos Republic, Book 3.] He did not indeed object to quick cures for acute disorders, or for injuries produced by accidents. But the art which resists the slow sap of a chronic disease, which repairs frames enervated by lust, swollen by gluttony, or inflamed by wine, which encourages sensuality by mitigating the natural punishment of the sensualist, and prolongs existence when the intellect has ceased to retain its entire energy, had no share of his esteem. A life protracted by medical skill he pronounced to be a long death. The exercise of the art of medicine ought, he said, to be tolerated so far as that art may serve to cure the occasional distempers of men whose constitutions are good. As to those who have bad constitutions, let them die; and the sooner the better. Such men are unfit for war, for magistracy, for the management of their domestic affairs, for severe study and speculation. If they engage in any vigorous mental exercise, they are troubled with giddiness and fulness of the head, all which they lay to the account of philosophy. The best thing that can happen to such wretches is to have done with life at once. He quotes mythical authority in support of this doctrine; and reminds his disciples that the practice of the sons of Æsculapius, as described by Homer, extended only to the cure of external injuries.
Far different was the philosophy of Bacon. Of all the sciences, that which he seems to have regarded with the greatest interest was the science which, in Platos opinion, would not be tolerated in a well-regulated community. To make men perfect was no part of Bacons plan. His humble aim was to make imperfect men comfortable. The beneficence of his philosophy resembled the beneficence of the common Father, whose sun rises on the evil and the good, whose rain descends for the just and the unjust. In Platos opinion, man was made for philosophy: in Bacons opinion, philosophy was made for man; it was a means to an end; and that end was to increase the pleasures and to mitigate the pains of millions who are not and cannot be philosophers.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Lord Bacon, July, 1837.
For my part, I think of physick as much good or ill as any one would have me: for, thanks be to God, we have no great traffick together. I am of a quite contrary humour to other men, for I always despise it: but when I am sick, instead of recanting, or entring into composition with it, I begin yet more to hate, nauseate, and fear it, telling them who importune me to enter into a course of physick, that they must give me time to recover my strength and health, that I may be the better able to support and encounter the violence and danger of the potion: so that I still let nature work, supposing her to be sufficiently armd with teeth and claws to defend herself from the assaults of infirmity, and to uphold that contexture the dissolution of which she flies and abhors: for I am afraid lest, instead of assisting her when grappled, and struggling with the disease, I should assist her adversary, and procure new work, and new accidents to encounter. Now I say that, not in physick only, but in other more certain arts, fortune has a very great interest and share.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxiii.