Изображения страниц

standing all the advantages of climate and constitution. And let me observe, and it seems to be decisive, that the very establishment of this principle of the Egyptian physic, that all distempers arose from a too great repletion, fully evinces them to be a very luxurious people : for a nation accustomed to a simple and frugal diet, could never have afforded sufficient observations for the invention of such a theory.

It is true, (he owns) we hear of physicians in Joseph's family, who embalmed his father Jacob; but we do not read they gave him any physic while alive.—Nor do we read that Jacob had any other distemper than old age; and, I suppose, Hippocrates himself would scarce have prescribed to that—But we read of no sick persons in the early ages. A plain man would have thought this a good reason why we read of no medicines administered. Though no man, who considers the nature of Scripture history, will think this any proof that there were no sick persons in those early ages.—But further, the diseases of Egypt which the Israelites had been afraid of, were such as they had no cure for, Deut. xxviii. 27. and from hence is inferred the low estate of medicine in these early times. One would reasonably suppose the authority here quoted, to support this observation, had informed us that these were natural diseases, which submitted not to the rude practice of that time. But we are surprised to find that they are supernatural punishments which the Prophet is here denouncing in case of disobedience : And Providence would have defeated its own purpose, in suffering these to be treatable by the common rules of art :-“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, &c. whereof thou canst not be healed.” * That very Botch or Boyl, which God had, in their behalf, miraculously inflicted on the Egyptians, by the ministry of this Prophet; as appears by the following words of God himself: “If thou wilt” (says he) “ diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, &c. I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians : for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” -And all other sicknesses, this learned writer says, were then so little known, that they had no name for them. For which we are referred to the following words of the same denunciation, “ Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee 'till thou be destroyed.” I This seems as if the writer considered the law of Moses in the light of Salmon's Dispensatory, in which we reasonably suppose every disease and remedy without name or mention, to be unknown.–And still further, An early death (says he) was so unusual,

• Deut. xxviii. 15, 27. + Exod. xv. 26. Deut. xxviii, 61.

that it was generally remarked to be a punishment for some wickedness : and for this we are sent to the xxxviith chapter of Genesis.-It seems then it was the rarity of the fact, which made men believe the evil to be a punishment. 'Till now I imagined, it was the sense of their being under an extraordinary Providence: it is certain at least, that the book of Genesis as plainly represents the patriarchs, as the book of Deuteronomy represents their posterity to be under that dispensation : and I hope, ere long, to prove these representations true. If then we hear in Scripture of little sickness but what is delivered as the effect of divine vengeance, po believer, I persuade myself, will ascribe this opinion to ignorance, superstition, or an unusual appearance, though pagan writers be never so much accustomed to talk in that strain,* but will own it to be the necessary consequence of an extraordinary providence. The truth is, diseases were then, as now, common in the world at large; but the infliction of them, or an exemption from them, amongst the people of God, made part of the sanction of that æconomy under which they lived :—“Ye shall serve the Lord your God,” says Moses, “and he shall bless thy bread and thy water, and I will take SICKNESS away from the midst of thee.” † And again, “Thou shalt be blessed above all people,and the Lord will take away from thee all SICKNESS." I But there are of these Divines who read their Bible, and readily talk of the extraordinary Providence there represented, yet argue in all questions arising from sacred history as if there were indeed no such thing.

The learned writer goes on : The physicians embalmed Jacob, many of them were employed in the office, and many days time was necessary for the performance, and different persons performed different parts of it, some being concerned in the care of one part of the body, and some of the other.—This account is pretended to be taken from Diodorus : how the latter part came in, or how it can be true, unless the body were cut in pieces to be embalmed, is not easy to conceive : but we know it was embalmed intire ; and Diodorus says nothing of some being concerned in the care of one part of the body, and some of the other. His plain, intelligible account is this : That different persons performed different parts of the operation; one marked the place for incision ; another cut; a third drew out the entrails ; a fourth salted the body; a fifth washed; and a sixth embalmed it.But the learned Writer's addition to the account seems for the sake of introducing the extraordinary criticism which follows.

And I imagine, says he, this manner of practice occasioned Herodotus to hint that the Egyptians had a different physician for

• “ Fodem auctore (Homero) disci potest, morbos tum ad iram Deorum immortalium relatos esse; et ab iisdem opem posci solitam."..Celsus De Medicina, lib. i. Præf. + Exod. xxiii. 25. Dent. vii. 14, 15.



every distemper, or rather, as the subsequent words express, for each different part of the body : for so indeed they had, not to cure the diseases of it, but to embalm it when dead.—What he means by Herodotus's hinting I can hardly tell : for had the historian been to give his evidence in a court of justice, it is impossible he should have delivered himself with more precision. Let us hear him over again : “Every distinct DISTEM PER [NOTEO2] hath its own physician, who confines himself to the study and cure of that, and meddles with no other ; so that all places are crouded with physicians : for one class hath the care of the eyes, another of the head, another of the teeth, another of the region of the belly, and another of occuLT DISTEMPERS (AOANE 2N NOTEIN].” Notwithstanding all this, by every distemper, is meant, it seems, each part of a dead body : Death, indeed, has been often called a remedy, but never, I believe, a disease, before.--But the subsequent words, he says, lead us to this sense. The reader will suspect by this, that I have not given him the whole of the account : But the subsequent words, whereby our author would support his interpretation, are the beginning of a new chapter about funeral rites :—A8 to their mournings for the dead, and funeral rites, they are of this kind,* &-c. Now because Herodotus speaks next of their obsequies, which, methinks, was methodical enough, after his account of their physicians, this writer would have the foregoing chapter an anticipation of the following ; and the historian to treat of his subject before he comes to it.—He goes on :-For so indeed they had [i. e. a different physician for each different part of the body, not to cure the diseases of it, but to embalm it when dead. How comes he to know this? Doth Scripture inform him that they had a different physician for every different part of a dead body? No. They are only the Greek writers (in his opinion) misunderstood who are supposed to say it. But why will he depend so much upon them in their account of funeral rites, and so little in their account of physicians ? Scripture, which says they used embalming, and had many physicians, is equally favourable to both accounts : But it may be, one is, in itself, more credible than the other. It is so; but surely it is that which tells us they had a different physician to every different distemper ; for we see great use in this ; it being the best, nay perhaps the only expedient of advancing medicine into a science. On the other hand, what is said of the several parts assigned to several men, in the operation of embalming, appears, at first view, much more wonderful. 'Tis true, it may be rendered credible ; but then it is only by admitting the other account of the Egyptian practice of physic, which the learned writer hath rejected: for when each disorder of the body had a several physician, it was natural, it was expe

• pîvoi dè kal Tapal opów, cioi alde. - Lib. ii. cap. 85.

dient, that each of These who were the embalmers likewise should inspect that part of the dead corpse to which his practice was confined ; partly to render the operation on the dead body more compleat, but principally, by an anatomical inspection, to benefit the Living. On this account every interment required a number, as their work was to be divided in that manner which best suited the ends of their inspection. It is true, subsequent superstitions might introduce various practices in the divisions of this task amongst the operators, which had no relation to the primitive designs.

These, I imagine, concludes our writer, were the offices of the Egyptian physicians, in the early days ; they were an order of the ministers of religion.--He then employs some pages* to prove that the Egyptian physicians were an order of Religious ; and the whole amount comes to this, that their practice was intermixed with superstitions ; a circumstance which hath attended medicine through all its stages ; and shall be accounted for in the progress of this enquiry.

-But their office of embalming is likewise much insisted on; for this being part of the Egyptian funeral rites, and funeral rites being part of their religion ; the consequence is, that these were religious ministers. The physicians had indeed the care of embalming; and it was, as we have hinted above, a wise designation, if ever there was any : For, first, it enabled the physicians, as we have observed, to discover something of the causes of the ápavéw voúow, the unknown diseases, which was the district of one class ; and, secondly, to improve their skill by anatomical enquiries into the cause of the known, which was the business of the rest. Pliny expresly says, it was the custom of their kings to cause dead bodies to be dissected, to find out the origin and nature of diseases ; of which he gives a particular instance : + and Syncellus, from Manetho, relates, that books of anatomy were written in the reign of the second king of the Thinites.-But to make their employment, in a sacred rite, an argument of their being an order of Religious, would be just as wise as to make the priests of the church of Rome, on account of their administering extreme unction, an order of physicians. But though the learned writer's arguments to support his fanciful opinions be thus defective, yet what he imagined in this case is very true ; these physicians were properly an order of the ministers of religion ; which (though it make nothing for his point, for they were still as properly physicians) I shall now shew by better arguments than those of system-makers, the testimonies of antiquity.-In the most early times of the Egyptian monarchy there

• Pp. 361-364. ^ "Crudos (raphanos) Medici suadent ad colligenda acria viscerum dandos com sale jejunis esse, atque ita vomitionibus præparant meatum. Tradunt et præcordiis necessarium hunc succum: quando phthisim cordi intus inhæreutem, non alio potuisse depelli compertum sit in ÆGYPTO, REGIBUS CORPORA MORTUORUM AD SCRUTANDOS MORBOS INSECANTIBUS."--Nat. Hist. lib. xix. cap. 5.

was no accurate separation of science * into its distinct branches. The scholiast on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblus expresly tells us, that their ancient writings did not treat separately of medicine, astrology, and religion, but of all these together : and Clemens Alexandrinus says, that of forty-two books of Mercury, which were the Bible of the Egyptians, six and thirty contained all their philosophy; and were to be well studied by the several orders of the priesthood, which he before mentions; the other six, which related entirely to medicine, belonged to the wao topópos, i. e, such as wore the cloak ; 1 and these, as in another place he tells us, were an order of ministers of religion : $ and even in Greece, the art of medicine being brought thither from Egypt, went in partnership, during the first ages, with philosophy ; though the separation was made long before the time which Celsus assigns to it,|| as we shall see presently. Thus it appears that these artists were properly both priests and physicians, not very unlike the monk and friar physicians of the late ages of


Our author now proceeds to the general history of physic. Let us see if he be more happy in his imaginations here. We may be sure, says he, the physicians practised only surgery 'till after Homer's time.

- What must we say then to the story of Melampus, who learnt the art of physic and divination in Egypt ; ** and cured Prætus's daughters of an Atrabilaire disorder, with hellebore, a hundred and fifty years before the argonautic expedition ? But why not 'till after the time of Homer, who wrote not of his own time, but of the Trojan, near three hundred years before ; and this, in a kind of work which requires decorum, and will not suffer a mixture of later or foreign manners to be brought into the scene? The writer, therefore, at least should have said, 'till after the Trojan times. But how is even this supported? Why we read in Homer, that their WHOLE art consisted in extracting arrows, healing wounds, and preparing anodynes ; and again, where Idomeneus says to Nestor, That one physician is worth a many other men, for extracting arrows, and applying lenitives to the wound;

Ιητρός γαρ ανήρ σολλών αντάξιος άλλων,

lous q' éxtduveiv, én añarla oápuaka whorev.ft • See • Divine Legation,” vol i. book i. t Of AiyớmTuoi oỦc tốtạ này lacose, ιδία δε τα Αστρολογικά, και τα Τελεστικά, αλλά άμα πάντα συνέγραψαν. 1 Δύο μεν ούν και τεσσαράκοντα αι σάνυ αναγκαίαι τώ Ερμή γεγόνασι βίβλοι· ων τάς μεν λς, την σάσαν Αίγυπτίων περιεχούσας φιλοσοφίαν, οι προειρημένοι εκμανθάνουσα: Tàs dornas , o TATO OPOT, iatpinds odras, &c.—Lib. vi. Strom. SHAΤΟΦΟΡΟΣ δε, και τις άλλος των ιεροποιούντων σερί το τέμενος, σεμνόν δεδορκώς, &c.-

Pædagog. lib. iii. cap. 2. From this passage we understand, that it was an inferior order of the priesthood which practised physic; for such were those who sacrificed. 11 “ Hippocrates Cous, primus quidem ex omnibus memoria dignis, ab studio sapientiæ disciplinam hanc separavit."--De Med, lib. i. Præf. He adds, we see, to save his credit, ex omnibus memoria dignis; taking it for granted, that those who were not remembered, were not worth remembering.

See “ Divine Legation,” vol. i, book i. • See note M, at the end of this book. ft Ilias, lib. xi. 514, 515.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »