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l^vtstxxitb to 

Dr. Jabez H. Elliott, 

Professor of the History 
of Medicine 




A Guide to the Study of the Works of Robert Browning, with copious Ex- 
planatory Notes and References on all difficult passages. Second Edition. 
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Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh ; Member of the Royal College of 

Surgeons, England ; Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, London, etc., etc. 

Author of ' ' The Browning Cyclopcedia," etc, , etc. 


ILonticn ^' ^' ^ 





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The Selwood Printing Works, 

Frome, and London. 


The History of Medicine is a terra incognita to the general reader, 
and an all but untra veiled region to the great majority of medical men. 
On special occasions, such as First of October Addresses at the opening 
of the Medical Schools, or the Orations delivered before the various 
Medical Societies, certain periods of medical history are referred to, 
and a few of the great names of the founders of medical and surgical 
science are held up to the admiration of the audience. From time 
to time excellent monographs on the subject appear in the Lancet and 
British Medical Journal. But with the exception of these brilliant 
electric flashes, the History of Medicine is a dark continent to English 
students who have not made long and tedious researches in our great 
libraries. For it is a remarkable fact that the History of Medicine has 
been almost completely neglected by English writers. This cannot be 
due either to the want of importance or interest of the subject. Next 
to the history of religion ranks in interest and value that of medicine, 
and it would not be difficult to show that religion itself cannot be 
understood in its development and connections without reference to 
medicine. The priest and the physician are own brothers, and the 
Healing Art has always played an important part in the development 
of all the great civilisations. The modern science of Anthropology 
has placed at the disposal of the historian of medicine a great number 
of facts which throw light on the medical theories of primitive and 
savage man. But most of these have hitherto remained uncollected, 
and are not easily accessible to the general reader. 

Although English writers have so strangely neglected this important 
field of research, the Germans have explored it in the most exhaustive 
manner. The great works of Sprengel, Haeser, Baas, and Puschmann, 
amongst many others of the same class, sustain the claim that Germany 
has created the History of Medicine, whilst the well-known but incom- 


plete treatise of Le Clerc shows what a great French writer could do to 
make this terra incognita interesting. 

Not that Englishmen have entirely neglected this branch of literature. 
Dr. Freind, beginning with Galen's period, wrote a History of Physic 
to the Commencement of the Sixteenth Century. Dr. Edward Meryon 
commenced a History of Medicine^ of which Vol. I. only appeared 
(1861). In special departments Drs. Adams, Greenhill, Aikin, Munk, 
Wise, Royle, and others have made important contributions to the 
literature of the subject; but we have nothing to compare with the 
great German works whose authors we have mentioned above. The 
encyclopaedic work of Dr. Baas has been translated into English by 
Dr. Handerson of Cleveland, Ohio. 

Sprengel's work is translated into French, and Dr. Puschmann's 
admirable volume on Medical Education has been given in English by 
Mr. Evan Hare. 

None of these important and interesting works, valuable as they 
are to the professional man, are quite suitable for the general reader, 
who, it seems to the present writer, is entitled in these latter days to 
be admitted within the inner courts of the temple of Medical History, 
and to be permitted to trace the progress of the mystery of the Healing 
Art from its origin with the medicine-man to its present abode in our 
Medical Schools. 

With the exception of an occasional note or brief reference in his 
text-books of medicine and surgery, the student of medicine has Httle 
inducement to direct his attention to the work of the great pioneers of 
the science he is acquiring. 

One consequence of this defect in his education is manifested in the 
common habit of considering that all the best work of discoverers in 
the Healing Art has been done in our own times. " History of medi- 
cine ! " exclaimed a hospital surgeon a few months since. " Why, there 
was none till forty years ago ! " This habit of treating contemp- 
tuously the scientific and philosophical work of the past is due to 
imperfect acquaintance with, or absolute ignorance of, the splendid 
labours of the men of old time, and can only be remedied by devoting 
some little study to the records of travellers who have preceded us on 
the same path we are too apt to think we have constructed for ourselves. 
Professor Billroth declared, "that the great medical faculties should 
make it a point of honour to take care that lectures on the history of 
medicine are not missing in their curricula." And at several German 


universities some steps in this direction have been taken. In England, 
however — so far as I am aware — nothing of the sort has been attempted, 
and a young man may attain the highest honours of his profession with- 
out the ghost of an idea about the long and painful process through 
which it has become possible for him to acquire his knowledge. 

Says Dr. Nathan Davis,^ "A more thorough study of the history of 
medicine, and in consequence, a greater familiarity with the successive 
steps or stages in the development of its several branches, would enable 
us to see more clearly the real relations and value of any new fact, 
induction, or remedial agent that might be proposed. It would also 
enable us to avoid a common error of regarding facts, propositions, and 
remedies presented under new names, as really new, when they had 
been well known and used long before, but in connection with other 
names or theories." He adds that, "The only remedy for these popular 
and unjust errors is a frequent recurrence to the standard authors of the 
past generation, or in other words, an honest and thorough study of 
the history of medicine as a necessary branch of medical education." 

In these times, when no department of science is hidden from the 
uninitiated, especially when medical subjects and the works of medical 
men are freely discussed in our great reviews and daily journals, no 
apology seems necessary for withdrawing the professional veil and 
admitting the laity behind the scenes of professional work. 

Medicine now has no mysteries to conceal from the true student ot 
nature and the scientific inquirer. Her methods and her principles are 
open to all who care to know them ; the only passport she requires is 
reverence, her only desire to satisfy the yearning to know. In this spirit 
and for these ends this work has been conceived and given to the 
world. " The proper study of mankind is man." 


Tynemouth House, 

Victoria Park Gate, 

London, April 22nd, 1893. 

^ Provincial Medical [ournal^ March, 1892. 

Sprengel gives the following Table of the Great Periods in 
THE History of Medicine : — 


Expedition of the Argo- 

I273-I263 B.C. 1 


Peloponnesian War. 

432-404 B.C. 


Establishment of the 
Christian Religion. 

30 A.D. 


Emigration of the hordes 
of Barbarians. 



The Crusades. 

I 096- I 230 





Thirty Years War. 



Reign of Frederick the 

I 640- I 7 86 


T. First traces of Greek 
II. Medicine of Hippocrates. 
III. School of the Methodists. 

IV. Decadence of the Science. 

V. Arabian medicine at its 
highest point of splen- 
VI. Re - establishment of 
Greek medicine and 
VII. Discovery of the circula- 
tion of the blood and 
reform of Van Hel- 
VIII. Haller. 

Renouard ^ arranges the periods of the growth of the art of medicine 
as follows : — ist. The Primitive or Instinctive Period, lasting from 
the earliest recorded treatment to the fall of Troy. 2nd. The Sacred 
or Mystic Period, lasting till the dispersion of the Pythagorean Society, 
500 B.C. 3rd. The Philosophical Period, closing with the foundation 
of the Alexandrian Library, B.C. 320. 4th. The Anatomical Period, 
which continued till the death of Galen, a.d. 200. 

^ Histoire de Medicine depuis son Origine, etc. 


Expelling the Disease-Demon Frontispiece 

The Medicine-Dance of the North American Indians 7 o face p. 32 

Examples of Ancient Surgery „ 204 

Ancient Surgical Instruments „ 246 

Interior of a Doctor's House „ 34° 





I. Primitive Man a Savage ....... 3 

The Medicine and Surgery of the Lower Animals. —Poisons and 
Animals. — Observation amongst Savages. — Man in the Glacial 

II. Animism 7 

Who discovered our Medicines ? — Anthropology can assist us to 
answer the Question. — The Priest and the Medicine-man originally 
one. — Disease the Work of Magic. — Origin of our Ideas of the Soul 
and Future Life. — Disease-demons. 

III. Savage Theories of Disease 12 

Demoniacal. — Witchcraft. — Offended Dead Persons. 

IV. Magic and Sorcery in the Treatment of Disease . 26 

These originated partly in the Desire to cover Ignorance. — 
Medicine- men. — Sucking out Diseases. — Origin of Exorcism. — 
Ingenuity of the Priests. — Blowing Disease away. — Beelzebub cast 
out by Beelzebub. — Menders of Souls. — "Bringing up the Devil." 
— Diseases and Medicines. — Fever Puppets. — Amulets. — Totemism 
and Medicine. 
V. Primitive Medicine 33 

Bleeding. — Scarification. — Use of Medicinal Herbs amongst the 
Aborigines of Australia, South America, Africa, etc. 

VI. Primitive Surgery 40 

Arrest of Bleeding. — The Indian as Surgeon.— Stretchers, Splints, 
and Flint Instruments. — Ovariotomy. — Brain Surgery. — Massage. 
— Trepanning. — The Cesarean Operation. — Inoculation. 

VII. Universality of the Use of Intoxicants ... 46 

Egyptian Beer and Brandy. — Mexican Pulque. — Plant-worship. — 
Union with the Godhead by Alcohol. — Soma. — The Cow-religion. 
— Caxiri. — Murwa Beer. — Bacchic Rites. — Spiritual Exaltation by 
VIII. Customs connected with Pregnancy and Child-bear- 
ing 51 

The Couvade, its Prevalence in Savage and Civilized Lands. — 
Pregnant Women excluded from Kitchens. — The Deities of the 
Lying-in Chamber. ^ 

I. Egyptian Medicine 57 

Antiquity of Egyptian Civilization. — Surgical Bandaging. — Gods 
and Goddesses of Medicine. — Medical Specialists. — Egyptians 
claimed to have discovered the Healing Art. — Medicine largely 
Theurgic. — Magic and Sorcery forbidden to the Laity. — The Em- 
balmers. — Anatomy. — Therapeutics. — Plants in use in Ancient 
I'^gypt- — Surgery and Chemistry. — Disease-demons. — Medical 
Papyri. — Great Skill of Egyptian Physicians. 

Contents. ' 


II. Jewish Medicine . 73 

The Jews indebted to Egypt for their Learning. — The only Ancient ' 

People who discarded Demonology. — They had no Magic of their 
own. — Phylacteries. — Circumcision. — Sanitary Laws. — Diseases in 
the Bible. — The Essenes. — Surgery in the Talmud. — Alexandrian 
Philosophy. — Jewish Services to Mediaeval Medicine. — The Phoe- 

III. The Medicine of Chald^a, Babylonia, and Assyria . 86 

The Ancient Religion of Accadia akin to Shamanism. — Demon 
Theory of Disease in Chaldaean Medicine. — Chaldsean Magic. — 
Medical Ignorance of the Bal^ylonians. — Assyrian Disease-demons. 
— Charms. — Origin of the Sabbath. 

IV. The Medicine of the Hindus 96 

The Aryans.— Hindu Philosophy. — The Vedas. — The Shastres 
of Charakaand Susruta. — Code of Menu. — The Brahmans. — Medical 
Practitioners. — Strabo on the Hindu Philosophers. — Charms. — 
Buddhism and Medicine. — ^Jiwaka, Buddha's Physician. — The 
Pulse. — Knowledge of Anatomy and Surgery in Ancient Times. — 
Surgical Instruments. — Decadence of Hindu Medical Science. — 
Goddesses of Disease. — Origin of Hospitals in India. 

V. Medicine in China, Tartary, and Japan . . .125 

Origin of Chinese Culture. — Shamanism. — Disease-demons. — 
Taoism — Medicine Gods. — Mediums. — Anatomy and Physiology of 
the Chinese. — Surgery. — No Hospitals in China. — Chinese Medi- 
cines. — Filial Piety. — Charms and Sacred Signs. — Medicine in 
Thibet, Tartary, and Japan. 

VI. The Medicine of the Parsees . . . . . .141 

Zoroaster and the Zend-Avesta. — The Heavenly Gift of the Heal- 
ing Plants. — Ormuzd and Ahriman. — Practice of the Healing Art 
and its Fees. 



I. The Medicine of the Greeks before the Time of i 

Hippocrates 147 ! 

Apollo, the God of Medicine. — Cheiron. — ^sculapius. — Artemis. 
— Dionysus. — Ammon. — Hermes. — Prometheus. — Melampus. — 
Medicine of Homer. — Temples of ^Esculapius. — The Early Ionic 
Philosophers, — Empedocles. — School of Crotona. — The Pythago- 
reans. — Grecian Theory of Diseases.— School of Cos. — The Ascle- 
piads. — The Aliptse. 

II. The Medicine of Hippocrates and his Period . .172 
Hippocrates first delivered Medicine from the Thraldom of 
Superstition. — Dissection of the Human Body and Rise of i 

Anatomy. — Hippocrates, Father of Medicine and Surgery. — The j 

Law.— Plato. 

PosT-HipPOCRATic Greek Medicine. — The Schools of j 

Medicine 187 

The Dogmatic School. — Praxagoras of Cos. — Aristotle. — The 
School of Alexandria. — Theophrastus the Botanist. — The great ' 

Anatomists, Erasistratus and Hierophilus, and the Schools they / 

founded. — The Empiric School. 

IV. The Earlier Roman Medicine 205 

Disease-goddesses. — School of the Methodists. — Rufus and , 
Marinus. — Pliny. — Celsus. 



V. Later Roman Medicine \ 227 / 

The Eclectic and Pneumatic Sects. — Galen. — Neo-Platonism. — l -^ 

Oribasius and ^tius. — Influence of Christianity and the Rise of 
Hospitals. — Paulus /Egineta. — Ancient Surgical Instruments. 

VI. Amulets and Charms in Medicine 247 

Universality of the Amulet. — Scarabs. — Beads. — Savage Amu- 
lets. — Gnostic and Christian Amulets. — Herbs and Animals as 
Charms. — Knots. — Precious Stones. — Signatures. — Numbers. — 
Saliva. — Talismans. — Scripts. — Characts. — Sacred Names. — 
Stolen Goods. 


I. Medicine of the Druids, Teutons, Anglo-Saxons, and 

Welsh 269 >}|||^ 

Origin of the Druid Religion. — Druid Medicine. — Their Magic. ' t^ 

— Teutonic Medicine. — Gods of Healing. — Elves. — The Elements. 
— Anglo-Saxon Leechcraft. — The Leech-book. — Monastic Leech- 
doms. — Superstitions. — Welsh Medicine. — The Triads. — Welsh 
Druidism. — The Laws of the Court Physicians. — Welsh Medical 
Maxims. — Welsh Medical and Surgical Practice and Fees. 

II. Mohammedan Medicine 287 J|p 

Sources of Arabian Learning. — Influence of Greek and Hindu " 

Literature. — The Nestorians. — Baghdad and its Colleges. — The 
Moors in Spain. — The Mosque Schools. — Arabian Inventions and 
Services to Literature. — The great Arab Physicians. — Serapion, 
Rhazes, Ali Abbas, Avicenna, Albucasis, and Aven-oes. 

III. Rise of the Monasteries 300 

Alchemy the Parent of Chemistry. 

IV. Rise of the Universities 303 

School of Montpellier. — Divorce of Medicine from Surgery. 

V. The School of Salerno 308 

The Monks of Monte Cassino. — Clerical Influence at Salerno. — 
Charlemagne. — Arabian Medicine gradually supplanted the Grseco- 
Latin Science. — Constantine the Carthaginian. — Archimatthaeus. 
— Trotula. — Anatomy of the Pig. — Pharmacopoeias. — The Four 
Masters. — Roger and Rolando. — The Emperor Frederick. 

VI. The Thirteenth Century 319 

The Crusades. — Astrology. 

VII. The Fourteenth Century 325 

Revival of Human Anatomy. — Famous Physicians of the Cen- 
tury. — Domestic Medicine in Chaucer. — Fellowship of the Barbers 
and Surgeons. — The Black Death. — The Dancing Mania. — Phar- 

VIII. The Fifteenth Century 333 

Faith-healing. — Charms and Astrology in Medicine. — The Re- 
vival of Learning. — The Humanists. — Cabalism and Theology. — 
The Study of Natural Plistory. — The Sweating Sickness. — Taran- 
tism, — Quarantine. — High Position of Oxford University. 

IX. Medicine in Ancient Mexico and Peru . . . .341 
Hospitals in Mexico. — Anatomy and Human Sacrifices. — Mid- 
wives as Spiritual Mothers. — Circumcision. — Peru. — Discovery of 
Cinchona Bark. 




I. The Sixteenth Century 345 

The Dawn of Modern Science. — The Reformation of Medi- 
cine. — Paracelsus. — The Sceptics. — The Protestantism of Science. 
— Influenza. — Legal Recognition of Medicine in England. — The 
Barber-Surgeons. — The Sweating Sickness. — Origin of the Royal 
College of Physicians of London. — *' Merry Andrew." — Origin of 
St. Bartholomew's Hospital. — Caius. — Low State of Midwifery. — 
The Great Continental Anatomists. — Vesalius. — Servetus. — Pare. — 
Influence of the Reformation. — The Rosicrucians. — Touching for the 
Evil. — Vivisection of Human Beings. — Origin of Legal Medicine. 

II. The Seventeenth Century 377 

Bacon and the Inductive Method. — Descartes and Physiology. — 
Newton, — Boyle and the Royal Society. — The Founders of the 
Schools of Medical Science. — Sydenham, the English Hippocrates. 
— Harvey and the Rise of Physiology. —The Microscope in Medi- 
cine. — Willis and the Reform of Materia Medica. 

III. Skatological Medicine and the Reform of Pharma- 


Loathsome Medicines. — Sympathetical Cures. — Weapon Salve. — 

IV. Baths and Mineral Waters 400 

Miraculous Springs. — The Pool of Bethesda. — Herb-baths. 
V. Witchcraft and Medicine 403 

Comparative Witchcraft. — Laws against Sorcery. — Magic in Virgil 
and Horace. — Demonology. — Images of Wax and Clay. — Trans- 
ference of Disease. — Witchcraft in the Koran. — White Magic and 
Black. — Coral and the Evil Eye. — "Overlooking" People. — Exor- 
cism in the Catholic Church. 

VI. Medical Superstitions 413 

Death and the Grave. — Sorcerer's Ointment. — Teeth- worms. — 
Disease Transference. — Doctrine of Signatures. 

VII. The Eighteenth Century 418 

The Sciences accessory to Medicine. — The Great Schools of Medi- 
cal Theory. — Boerhaave and his System. — Stahl. — Hoffman. — 
Cullen. — Brown. — Hospitals. — Bichat and the New Era of 
Anatomy. — Mesmer and Mesmerism. — Surgery. — The Anatomists, 
Physiologists, and Scientists of the Period. — Inoculation and 


I. The Nineteenth Century.— Physical Science Allied 

TO Medicine 443 

Exit the Disease-demon. — Medical Systems again. — Homoeopathy. 
— The Natural Sciences. — Chemistry, Electricity, Physiology, 
Anatomy, Medicine and Pathology. — Psychiatry. — Surgery. — 

II. Medical Reforms . . . . . . . . . 464 

Discovery of Anaesthetics. — Medical Literature. — Nursing Re- 
form. — History of the Treatment of the Insane. 

III. The Germ Theory of Disease 471 

The Disease-demon reappears as a Germ. — Phagocytes. — Pto- 
maines. — Lister's Antiseptic Surgery. — Sanitary Science or Hygiene. 
— Bacteriologists. — Faith Cures. — Experimental Physiology and 
the Latest System of Medicine. 

On Some of the More Important Minerals Used in Medicine 486 






The Medicine and Surgery of the Lower Animals. — Poisons and Animals. — Observa- 
tion amongst Savages. — Man in the Glacial Period. 

There is abundant proof from natural history that the lower animals 
submit to medical and surgical treatment, and subject themselves in 
their necessities to appropriate treatment. Not only do they treat them- 
selves when injured or ill, but they assist each other. Dogs and cats 
use various natural medicines, chiefly emetics and purgatives, in the 
shape of grasses and other plants. The fibrous-rooted wheat-grass, 
Tritiaun caninuin^ sometimes called dog's-wheat, is eaten medicinally 
by dogs. Probably other species, such as Agrostis cani?ia^ brown 
bent-grass, are used in like manner.^ 

Mr. George Jesse describes another kind of "dog-grass," Cynosurus 
crisiaius, as a natural medicine, both emetic and purgative, which is 
resorted to by the canine species when suffering from indigestion and 
other disorders of the stomach. Every druggist's apprentice knows 
how remarkably fond cats are of valerian root ( Valeriana officinalis). 
This strong-smelling root acts on these animals as an intoxicant, and 
they roll over and over the plant with the wildest delight when brouglit 
into contact with it. Cats are extravagantly fond of cat-mint {Nepeta 
cataria). It has a powerful odour, like that of pennyroyal. There is 
no evidence, however, that these plants have any medicinal properties 
for which they are used by cats, they are merely enjoyed by them on 
account of their perfume. 

Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay, in his Mind in the Lower Animals, says that 
the Indian mongoose, poisoned by the snake which it attacks, uses the 
antidote to be found in the Mimosa ocfattdra.'^ 

*' Its value both as a cure and as a preventive is said to be well known 

^ Pratt's British Grasses, pp. 69, 125. ^ Vol. ii. p. 384. 



to it. Whenever in its battles with serpents it receives a wound, it at 
once retreats, goes in search of the antidote, and having found and 
devoured it, returns to the charge, and generally carries the day; seeming 
none the worse for its bite."^ This, however, is probably a fable of the 

"A toad, bit or stung by a spider, repeatedly betook itself to a plant 
of Plantago major (the Greater Plantain), and ate a portion of its leaf, 
but died after repeated bites of the spider, when the plant had been 
experimentally removed by man."^ 

The medicinal uses of the hellebore w^re anciently believed to have 
been discovered by the goat. 

"Virgil reports of dittany," says More, in his Antidote to Atheism^ 
" that the wild goats eat it when they are shot with darts." The ancients 
said that the art of bleeding was first taught by the hippopotamus, which 
thrusts itself against a sharp-pointed reed in the river banks, when it 
thinks it needs phlebotomy. 

If man had not yet learned the medicinal properties of salt, he 
could discover them by the greedy licking of it by buffaloes, horses, 
and camels. " On the Mongolian camels," says Prejevalsky, *' salt, in 
whatever form, acts as an aperient, especially if they have been long 
without it." Rats will submit to the gnawing off of a leg when caught 
in a trap, so that they may escape capture (Jesse). Livingstone says that 
the chimpanzee, soko, or other anthropoid apes will staunch bleeding 
wounds by means of their fingers, or of leaves, turf, or grass stuffed 
into them. Animals treat wounds by licking — a very effectual if tedious 
method of fomentation or poulticing. 

Cornelius Agrippa, in his first book of Occult Philosophy, says that we 
have learned the use of many remedies from the animals. " The sick 
magpie puts a bay-leaf into her nest and is recovered. The lion, if he 
be feverish, is recovered by the eating of an ape. By eating the herb 
dittany, a wounded stag expels the dart out of its body. Cranes medi- 
cine themselves with bulrushes, leopards with wolf s-bane, boars with ivy ; 
for between such plants and animals there is an occult friendship." ^ 

Some interesting observations relating to the surgical treatment of 
wounds by birds were recently brought by M. Fatio before the Physical 
Society of Geneva. He quotes the case of the snipe, which he has often 
observed engaged in repairing damages. With its beak and feathers it 
makes a very creditable dressing, applying plasters to bleeding wounds, 
and even securing a broken limb by means of a stout ligature. On one 
occasion he killed a snipe which had on the chest a large dressing com- 

^ Miss Gordon Gumming. ^ Science Gossip. 

^ Morley's Life of Cornelius Agrippa^ vol. i. p. 129. 


posed of down taken from other parts of the body, and securely fixed 
to the wound by the coagulated blood. Twice he has brought home 
snipe with interwoven feathers strapped on to the site of fracture of one 
or other limb. The most interesting example was that of a snipe, both 
of whose legs he had unfortunately broken by a misdirected shot. He 
recovered the animal only the day following, and he then found that 
the poor bird had contrived to apply dressings and a sort of splint to 
both limbs. In carrying out this operation, some feathers had become 
entangled around the beak, and, not being able to use its claws to get 
rid of them, it was almost dead from hunger when discovered. In a 
case recorded by M. Magnin, a snipe, which was observed to fly away 
with a broken leg, was subsequently found to have forced the fragments 
into a parallel position, the upper fragment reaching to the knee, and 
secured them there by means of a strong band of feathers and moss 
intermingled. The observers were particularly struck by the application 
of a ligature of a kind of flat-leafed grass wound round the limb in a 
spiral form, and fixed by means of a sort of glue. 

Le Clerc thought that the stories of animals teaching men the use of 
plants, herbs, etc., meant that men tried them first upon animals before 
using them for food or medicine. There is no probability of this having 
been so. If men had observed with Linnoeus that horses eat aconite 
with impunity, and had in consequence eaten it themselves, the result 
would have been fatal. Birds and herbivorous animals eat belladonna 
with impunity,! and it has very little effect on horses and donkeys. 
Goats, sheep, and horses are said by Dr. Ringer to eat hemlock with- 
out ill efl'ects, yet it poisoned Socrates. Henbane has little or no 
effect on sheep, cows, and pigs. Ipecacuanha does not cause vomiting 
in rabbits,^ and so on. 

Probably from the earliest times man would be led to observe the 
behaviour of animals when suffering from disease or injury. If he 
could not learn much from them in the way of medicine, they could 
teach him many useful arts. In savage man we must seek the 
beginnings of our civilization, and it is in the lowest tribes and 
those which have not yet felt the influences of superior races that we 
must search for the most primitive forms of medical ideas and the 
earliest theories and treatment of disease. 

Sir John Lubbock says:^ "It is a common opinion that savages 
are, as a general rule, only the miserable remnants of nations once 
more civiHzed ; but although there are some well-established cases of 

^ Ringer, Materia Medica, Fifth Edition, p. 454. 

2 Berdoe, 77ie Healins^ Art, \x 18. 

^ PreJiistoric Times, Fifth Edition, p. 430. 


natural decay, there is no scientific evidence which would justify us 
in asserting that this applies to savages in general." 

Dr. E. B. Tylor, in his fascinating work on Priniitive Cnltiire^ says :^ 
" The thesis which I venture to sustain, within limits, is simply this — 
that the savage state in some measure represents an early condition of 
mankind, out of which the higher culture has gradually been developed 
or evolved by processes still in regular operation as of old, the re- 
sult showing that, on the whole, progress has far prevailed over relapse. 
On this proposition the main tendency of human society during its long 
term of existence has been to pass from a savage to a civilized state. 
It is mere matter of chronicle that modern civihzation is a develop- 
ment of mediaeval civilization, which again is a development from civili- 
zation of the order represented in Greece, Assyria, or Egypt. Then 
the higher culture being clearly traced back to what may be called the 
middle culture, the question which remains is, whether this middle 
culture may be traced back to the lower culture, that is, to savagery." 

Providing we can find our savage pure and uncontaminated, it matters 
little where we seek him ; north, south, east, or west, he will be practi- 
cally the same for our purpose. 

Dr. Robertson says : '^' If we suppose two tribes, though placed 
in the most remote regions of the globe, to live in a climate nearly of 
the same temperature, to be in the same state of society, and to resemble 
each other in the degree of their improvement, they must feel the same 
wants, and exert the same endeavours to supply them. ... In 
every part of the earth the progress of man has been nearly the same, 
and we can trace him in his career from the rude simplicity of savage 
life, until he attains the industry, the arts, and the elegance of polished 
society." 2 

Writing of the primitive folk, the Eastern Inoits, Elie Reclus tells us 
that,^ " shut away from the rest of the world by their barriers of ice, 
the Esquimaux, more than any other people, have remained outside 
foreign influences, outside the civilization whose contact shatters and 
transforms. They have been readily perceived by prehistoric science 
to offer an intermediate type between man as he is and man as he was 
in bygone ages. When first visited, they were in the very midst of the 
stone and bone epoch,^ just as were the Guanches when they were 
discovered ; their iron and steel are recent, almost contemporary impor- 
tations. The lives of Europeans of the Glacial period cannot have 
been very different from those led amongst their snow-fields by the 
Inoits of to-day." 

^ Primitive Culture, vol. i, p. 32. ^ Hist. America, Book IV. chap. ii. 

^ Primitive Folk, p. 10. "• >Jordenskiold, Voyage of the Vega. 



Who discovered our Medicines ? — Anthropology can assist us to answer the Question. 
— The Priest and the Medicine-man originally one. — Disease the Work of Magic. 
— Origin of our Ideas of the Soul and Future Life. — Disease-demons. 

Cardinal Newman, in his sermon on " The World's Benefactors," asks 
" Who was the first cultivator of corn ? Who first tamed and domesti- 
cated the animals whose strength we use, and whom we make our food ? 
Or who first discovered the medicinal herbs, which from the earliest 
times have been our resource against disease ? If it was mortal man 
who thus looked through the vegetable and animal worlds, and dis- 
criminated between the useful and the worthless, his name is unknown 
to the millions whom he has thus benefited. 

" It is notorious that those who first suggest the most happy inventions 
and open a way to the secret stores of nature ; those who weary them- 
selves in the search after truth; strike out momentous principles of 
action ; painfully force upon their contemporaries the adoption of 
beneficial measures; or, again, are the original cause of the chief events 
in national histor)', — are commonly supplanted, as regards celebrity and 
reward, by inferior men. Their works are not called after them, nor 
the arts and systems which they have given the world. Their schools 
are usurped by strangers, and their maxims of wisdom circulate among 
the children of their people, forming perhaps a nation's character, 
but not embalming in their own immortality the names of their original 

The reflection is an old one ; the son of Sirach said, " And some 
there be, which have no memorial ; who are perished, as though they 
had never been ; and are become as though they had never been born ; 
and their children after them. But these were merciful men, whose 
righteousness hath not been forgotten" {Ecdesiasticus xliv. 9, 10). 
Cardinal Newman has framed his question, so far as the healing art is 
concerned, in a manner to which it is impossible to make a satisfactory 
answer. No one man first discovered the medicinal herbs ; probably the 
discovery of all the virtues of a single one of them was not the work of any 
individual. No man " looked through the vegetable and animal worlds 


and discriminated between the useful and the worthless " ; all this has 
been the work of ages, and is the outcome of the experience of thousands 
of investigators. The medical arts have played so important a part in 
the development of our civihzation, that they constitute a branch of study 
second to none in utiHty and interest to those who would know something 
of the work of the world's benefactors. Probably at no period in the 
world's history have medical men occupied a more honourable or a 
more prominent position than they do at the present time, and it would 
almost seem that the rewards which an ignorant or ungrateful civihza- 
tion denied in the past to medical men are now being bestowed on 
those who in these latter days have been so fortunate as to inherit the 
traditions and the acquirements of a forgotten ancestry of truth-seekers 
and students of the mysteries of nature. As the earliest races of man- 
kind passed by slow degrees from a state of savagery to the primitive 
civilizations, we must seek for the beginnings of the medical arts in the 
representatives of the ancient barbarisms which are to be found to-day 
in the aborigines of Central Africa and the islands of Australasian seas. 
The intimate connection which exists between the magician, the sor- 
cerer, and the " medicine man " of the present day serves to illustrate 
how the priest, the magician, and the physician of the past were so 
frequently combined in a single individual, and to explain how the 
mysteries of religion were so generally connected with those of medicine. 
Professor Tylor has explained how death and all forms of disease 
were attributed to magic, the essence of which is the belief in the 
influence of the spirits of dead men. This belief is termed Animism, 
and Mr. Tylor says : " Animism characterizes tribes very low in the 
scale of humanity, and thence ascends, deeply modified in its trans- 
mission, but from first to last preserving an unbroken continuity, into 
the midst of high culture. Animism is the groundwork of the philo- 
sophy of religion, from that of the savages up to that of civilized men ; 
but although it may at first seem to afford but a meagre and bare 
definition of a minimum of religion, it will be found practically sufficient; 
for where the roots are, the branches will generally be produced. The 
theory of animism divides into two great dogmas, forming parts of one 
consistent doctrine : first, concerning souls of individual creatures, 
capable of continued existence after death ; second, concerning other 
spirits, upward to the rank of powerful deities. Spiritual beings are 
held to affect or control the events of the material world, and man's 
life here and hereafter; and it being considered that they hold inter- 
course with men and receive pleasure or displeasure from human actions, 
the belief in their existence leads naturally, sooner or later, to active 
reverence and propitiation." There is no doubt that the belief in the 


soul and in the existence of the spirits of the departed in another 
world arose from dreams. When the savage in his sleep held converse, 
as it seemed to him, with the actual forms of his departed relatives and 
friends, the most natural thing imaginable would be the belief that these 
persons actually existed in a spiritual shape in some other world than 
the material one in which he existed. Those who dreamed most fre- 
quently and most vividly, and were able to describe their visions most 
clearly, would naturally strive to interpret their meaning, and would 
become, to their grosser and less poetical brethren, more important 
personages, and be considered as in closer converse with the spiritual 
world than themselves. Thus, in process of time, the seer, the prophet, 
and the magician would be evolved. 

How did primitive man come by his ideas ? When he saw the effects 
of a power, he could only make guesses at the cause ; he could only 
speak of it by some such terms as he would use concerning a human 
agent. He saw the effects of fire, and personified the cause. With the 
Hindus Agni was the giver of light and warmth, and so of the life of 
plants, of animals, and of men ; and so with thunder, lightning, and 
storui, primitive man looked upon these phenomena as the conflicts of 
beings higher and more powerful than himself. Thus it was that the 
ancient people of India formed their conceptions of the storm-gods, the 
Maruts, i.e. the Smashers. Amongst the Esthonians, as Max Miiller tells 
us,i prayers were addressed to thunder and rain as late as the seventeenth 
century. " Dear Thunder, push elsewhere all the thick black clouds. 
Holy Thunder, guard our seed-field." (This same thunder-god, Perkuna, 
says Max Miiller, was the god Fargcmya, who was invoked in India a 
thousand years before Alexander's expedition.) We say it rains, // 
thunders. Primitive folk said the rain-god poured out his buckets, the 
thunder-god was angry. 

What did primitive man think when he observed the germination of 
seeds ; the chick coming out of the Qgg; the butterfly bursting from the 
chrysalis ; the shadow which everywhere accompanies the man ; the 
shadows of the trees ; the leaves which vibrate in the breeze ; when he 
heard the roaring of the wind ; the moaning of the storm, and the 
strange, mysterious echo which, plainly as he heard it, ceased as he 
approached the mountain-side which he conceived to be its home ? 
He could but believe that all nature was living, like himself; and that, 
as he could not understand what he saw in the seed, the egg, the 
chrysalis, or the shadow, so all nature was full of mystery, of a life that 
he in vain would try to comprehend. Many savages regard their own 
shadows as one of their two souls, — a soul which is always watching 
^ India's Teaching, p. 192. 


their actions, and ready to bear witness against them. How should it 
be otherwise with them ? The shadow is a reality to the savage, and so 
is the echo. The ship which visits his shores, the watch and the com- 
pass, which he sees for the first time, are aUve ; they move, they must 
be living ! 

Mr. Tylor, in his chapter on Animism, in his Primitive Culture^ says 
(vohii. pp. 124, 125):— 

*' As in normal conditions the man's soul, inhabiting his body, is held 
to give it life, to think, speak, and act through it, so an adaptation 
of the self-same principle explains abnormal conditions of body or 
mind, by considering the new^ symptoms as due to the operation of a 
second soul-like being, a strange spirit. The possessed man, tossed 
and shaken in fever, pained and wrenched as though some live creature 
were tearing or twisting him within, pining as though it were devouring 
his vitals day by day, rationally finds a personal spiritual cause for his 
sufferings. In hideous dreams he may even sometimes see the very 
ghost or nightmare-fiend that plagues him. Especially when the 
mysterious, unseen power throws him helpless to the ground, jerks and 
writhes him in convulsions, makes him leap upon the bystanders with a 
giant's strength and a wild beast's ferocity, impels him, with distorted 
face and frantic gesture, and voice not his own, nor seemingly even 
human, to pour forth wild incoherent raving, or with thought and 
eloquence beyond his sober faculties,, to command, to counsel, to fore- 
tell — such a one seems to those who watch him, and even to himself, to 
have become the mere instrument of a spirit which has seized him or 
entered into him — a possessing demon in whose personality the patient 
believes so implicitly that he often imagines a personal name for it, 
which it can declare when it speaks in its own voice and character 
through his organs of speech ; at last, quitting the medium's spent and 
jaded body, the intruding spirit departs as it came. This is the savage 
theory of demoniacal possession and obsession, which has been for 
ages, and still remains, the dominant theory of disease and inspiration 
among the lower races. It is obviously based on an animistic interpre- 
tation, most genuine and rational in its proper place in man's intellectual 
history, of the natural symptoms of the cases. The general doctrine of 
disease-spirits and oracle-spirits appears to have its earliest, broadest, 
and most consistent position within the limits of savagery. When we 
have gained a clear idea of it in this its original home, we shall be able 
to trace it along from grade to grade of civilization, breaking away 
piecemeal under the influence of new medical theories, yet sometimes 
expanding in revival, and, at least, in lingering survival holding its place 
into the midst of our modern life. The possession-theory is not merely 


known to us by the statements of those who describe diseases in ac- 
cordance with it. Disease being accounted for by attacks of spirits, 
it naturally follows that to get rid of these spirits is the proper means of 
cure. Thus the practices of the exorcist appear side by side with the 
doctrine of possession, from its first appearance in savagery to its sur- 
vival in modern civilization ; and nothing could display more vividly 
the conception of a disease or a mental affliction as caused by a per- 
sonal spiritual being than the proceedings of the exorcist who talks to 
it, coaxes or threatens it, makes offerings to it, entices or drives it out 
of the patient's body, and induces it to take up its abode in some 


Demoniacal. — Witchcraft. — Offended Dead Persons. 

We find amongst savages three chief theories of disease ; that it is caused 

I. The anger of an offended demon. 

II. Witchcraft, or 

III. Offended dead persons. 

I. Anger of Offended Demons. 

Disease and death are set down to the influences of spirits in the 
Austrahan-Tasmanian district, where demons are held to have the power 
of creeping into men's bodies, to eat up their livers, and sometimes to 
work the wicked will of a sorcerer by inflicting blows with a club on the 
back of the victim's neck.^ The Mantira, a low race of the Malay 
Peninsula, believe in the theory of disease-spirits in its extreme form ; 
their spirits cause all sorts of ailments. The '^ Hantu Kalumbahan " 
causes small-pox ; the " Hantu Kamang " brings on inflammation and 
swelling of the hands and feet ; the blood which flows from wounds is 
due to the " Hantu-pari," which fastens on the w^ound and sucks. So 
many diseases, so many Hantus. If a new malady were to appear 
amongst the tribes, a new Hantu would be named as its cause." Wlien 
small-pox breaks out amongst these people, they place thorns and 
brush in the paths to keep the demons away. The Khonds of Orissa try 
to defend themselves against the goddess of small-pox, Jugah Pensu, 
in the same way. Among the Dayaks of Borneo, to have been ill is to 
have been smitten by a spirit ; invisible spirits inflict invisible wounds 
with invisible spears, or they enter bodies and make them mad. 
Disease-spirits in the Indian Archipelago are conciliated by presents 

^ Tr. Eth. Soc.^ vol. iii. p. 235. Grey, Australia, vol. ii. p. 337. Boniveh, 
Tasmaniansy pp. 183, 195. 

2 Joiirii, Ind. Arc/lip., vol. i. p, 307. 


and dances. In Polynesia, every sickness is set down to deities which 
have been offended, or which have been urged to afflict the sufferer by 
their enemies.^ In New Zealand disease is supposed to be due to a 
baby, or undeveloped spirit, which is gnawing the patient's body. 
Those who endeavour to charm it away persuade it to get upon a flax- 
stalk and go home. Each part of the body is the particular region of 
the spirit whose office it is to afflict it.^ 

The Prairie Indians treat all diseases in the same way, as they must 
all have been caused by one evil spirit.-'^ 

Among the Betschvaria disease may be averted if a painted stone or 
a crossbar smeared with medicine be set up near the entrance of the 
residence or approach to a town.'^ 

Amongst the Bodo and Dhimal peoples, wlien the exorcist is called 
to a sick man he sets thirteen loaves round him, to represent the gods, 
one of whom he must have offended ; then he prays to the deity, hold- 
ing a pendulum by a string. The offended god is supposed to cause 
the pendulum to swing towards his loaf." 

The New Zealanders had a separate demon for each part of the body 
to cause disease. Tonga caused headache and sickness ; Moko-Tiki 
was responsible for chest pains, and so on.^ 

The Karens of Burmah and the Zulus both say, " The rainbow is 
disease. If it rests on a man, something will happen to him."^ "The 
rainbow has come to drink wells." They say, " Look out ; some one or 
other will come violently by an evil death." 

The Tasmanians lay their sick round a corpse on the funeral pile, 
that the dead may come in the night and take out the devils that cause 
the diseases.^ 

The Zulus believe that spirits, when angry, seize a living man's 
body and inflict disease and death, and when kindly disposed give 
health and cattle. In Madagascar, Mr. Tylor tells us, the spirits of the 
Vazimbas, the aborigines of the island, inflict diseases, and the Mala- 
gasy accounts for all sorts of mysterious complaints by the supposition 
ihat he has given offence to some Vazimba. The Gold Coast negroes 
believe that ghosts plague the living and cause sickness. The Dayaks 
of Borneo think that the souls of men enter the trunks of trees, and the 
Hindus hold that plants are sometimes the homes of the spirits of the 
departed. The Santals of Bengal believe that the spirits of the good 

^ Joitrn. Ind. Archip., vol. iii. p. 1 10, vol. iv. p. 194. 

^ Taylor, A^cm Zealand, pp. 48, 1 37. 

^ Folk Medicine, p. 3. •* Fold., p. 7. 

* Hodgson, Abor. of India, p. 170 ; cited in Folk Med., p. 10. 

^ Folk Med., p. II. 7 jhiii,^ p. II. 

* Tylor, Frimilive Cidlitrc, vol. ii. p, 114. 


enter into fruit-bearing trees.^ It is but another step to the belief that 
beneficent medicinal plants are tenanted by good spirits, and poisonous 
plants by evil spirits. The Malays have a special demon for each kind 
of disease ; one for small-pox, another for swellings, and so on.^ 

The Dayaks of Borneo acknowledge a supreme God, although, as 
we have said, they attribute all kinds of diseases and calamities to the 
malignity of evil spirits. Their system of medicine consists in the ap- 
plication of appropriate charms or the offering of conciliatory sacrifices.'^ 
Yet they are an intelligent and highly capable race, and their steel in- 
struments far surpass European wares in strength and fineness of edge.'^ 

The Javanese, nominally Mahometans, are really believers in the pri- 
mitive animism of their ancestry. They worship numberless spirits ; all 
their villages have patron saints, to whom is attributed ail that happens 
to the inhabitants, good or bad. Mentik causes the rice disease ; Sawan 
produces convulsions in children ; Dengen causes gout and rheumatism/^ 

The religion of Siam is a corrupted Buddhism ; spirits and demons 
(nats or phees) are worshipped and propitiated. Some of these malig- 
nant beings cause children to sicken and die. Talismans are worked 
into the ornamentation of the houses to avert their evil influence.^ 

The Rev. J. L. Wilson"^ says: "Demoniacal possessions are com- 
mon, and the feats performed by those who are supposed to be under 
such influence are certainly not unlike those described in the New 
Testament. Frantic gestures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, feats 
of supernatural strength, furious ravings, bodily lacerations, grinding of 
teeth, and other things of a similar character, may be witnessed in most 
of the cases." 

In Finnish mythology, which introduces us to ideas of extreme anti- 
quity, we find the disease-demon theory in all its force. 

The Tkiajat, " the learned," and the Noijat, or sorcerers, claimed the 
power to cure diseases by expelling the demons which caused them, by 
incantations assisted by drugs; these magicians were the only phy- 
sicians of the nation. The Tietajat and the Noijat^ however, were not 
magicians of the same class : the former practised " white magic," or 
"sacred science"; the latter practised "black magic," or sorcery. 
Evil spirits, poisons, and malice were the chief aids to practice in 
the latter ; while Tietajat^ by means of learning and the assistance of 
benevolent supernatural beings, devote themselves to the welfare of the 
people. The three highest deities of Finnish mythology, Ukko, Wiiina- 

1 Hunter, Rural Bengal^ p. 210. 

2 Dr. E. B. Tylor, art. " Demonology," Ency. Brit. 

^ Ency. Brit., vol. iv. p. 58. "* Ibid. '^ Ibid., vol. xiii. p. 607. 

6 Ibid., vol. xxi. p. 853. "' Western Africa, p. 217. 


moinen, and Ilmarinen, corresponded to three superior gods of the 
Accadian magic collection, Ana, Hea, and Mut-ge. Wainamoinen was 
the great spirit of life, the master of favourable spells, conqueror of evil, 
and sovereign possessor of science. The sweat which dropped from his 
body was a balm for all diseases. It was he alone who could conquer 
all the demons. Every disease was itself a demon. The invasion of 
the disorder was an actual possession. Finnish magic was chiefly 
medical, being used to cure diseases and, wounds.^ The Finns be- 
lieved diseases to be the daughters of Louhiatar, the demon of diseases. 
Pleurisy, gout, colic, consumption, leprosy, and the plague were all dis- 
tinct personages. By the help of conjurations, these might be buried 
or cooked in a brazen vessel. When the priest made his diagnosis he 
had to be in a state of divine ecstasy, and then by incantation, assisted 
by drugs, he proceeded to exorcise the demon. The Finnish incanta- 
tions belonged to the same family as those of the Accadians. Professor 
Lenormant translates from the great Epopee of the Kalevala one oi 
the incantations : — 

" O malady, disappear into the heavens ; pain, rise up to the clouds ; 
inflamed vapour, fly into the air, in order that the wind may take thee 
away, that the tempest may chase thee to distant regions, where neither 
sun nor moon give their light, where the warm wind does not inflame 
the flesh. 

" O pain, mount upon the winged steed of stone, and fly to the moun- 
tains covered with iron. For he is too robust to be devoured by disease,, 
to be consumed by pains. 

" Go, O diseases, to where the virgin of pains has her hearth, where 
the daughter of Wainamoinen cooks pains, — go to the hill of pains. 

"These are the white dogs, who formerly hurled torments, who 
groaned in their sufferings." 

Another incantation against the plague was discovered by Ganander^ 
and is given by Lenormant : — 

"O scourge, depart ; plague, take thy flight, far from the bare flesh. 

" I will give thee a horse, with which to escape, whose shoes shall 
not slide on ice ; " and so on. 

The Jewish ceremony expelled the scapegoat to the desert ; the 
Accadian banished the disease-demons to the desert of sand ; the 
Finnish magician sent his disease-demons to Lapland. 

The goddess Suonetar was the healer and renewer of flesh : — 

" She is beautiful, the goddess of veins, Suonetar, the beneficent 
goddess ! She knits the veins wonderfully with her beautiful spindle,. 
her metal distaff, her iron wheel. 

^ Lenormant, Chaldean Ma^ic and Sorcery ^ pp. 258-262. 


" Come to me, I invoke thy help ; come to me, I call thee. Bring 
in thy bosom a bundle of flesh, a ball of veins to tie the extremity of 
the veins." ^ 

" All diseases are attributed by the Thibetans to the four elements, 
who are propitiated accordingly in cases of severe illness. The winds 
are invoked in cases of affections of the breathing ; fire in fevers and 
inflammations ; water in dropsy, and diseases whereby the fluids are 
affected ; and the god of ^arth when solid organs are diseased, as in 
liver complaints, rheumatism, etc. Propitiatory offerings are made to 
the deities of these elements, but never sacrihces." ^ 

Hooker tells of a case of apoplexy which was treated by a Lama, who 
perched a saddle on a stone, and burning incense before it, scattered 
rice to the winds, invoking the various mountain peaks in the neigh- 

In Hottentot mythology Gaunab is a malevolent ghost, who kills 
people who die what we call a " natural " death. Unburied men 
change into this sort of vampire.^ 

The demoniacal theory of at least one class of disease is found in 
the Bible, although the New Testament in one passage distinguishes 
between lunatics and demoniacs. In Matthew iv. 24 we read that they 
brought to Jesus '' those which were possessed with devils, and those 
which were lunatick." Epilepsy is evidently the disease described in 
Mark ix. 17-26, though the symptoms are attributed to possession by 
a dumb spirit. 

11. Witchcraft as a Cause of Disease. 

Sorcerers and magicians not only use evil words and cast evil glances 
at the persons whom they wish to afflict, but they endeavour to obtain 
possession of some article which has belonged to the individual, or 
something connected more closely with his personality, as parings of 
the nails or a few of his hairs, and through these he professes to be 
able to operate more effectually on the object of his malice. It is to 
this use of portions of the body that ignorant persons, even at the 
present day, insist that nail-parings, hair-cuttings, and the like, shall be 
at once destroyed by fire. Such superstitions are found at work all 
over the world. Mr. Black tells us'^ that the servants of the chiefs of the 

1 Kalevala, 15th runa. 

2 Sir Joseph Hooker, Himalayan Journals, Ed. 1891, p. 416. 
2 Lang, Custom aud Myth, p. 208. 

* Folk Medicine, pp. 17, 18. 


South Sea Islanders carefully collect and bury their masters' spittle in 
places where sorcerers are not likely to find it. He says also it is 
believed in the West of Scotland that if a bird used any of the hair of 
a person's head in building his nest, the individual would be subject to 
headaches and become bald. Of course the bird is held to be the 
embodiment of an evil spirit or witch. Images of persons to be 
bewitched are sometimes made in wood or wax, in which has been 
inserted some of the hair of the victim of the enchantment ; the image 
is then buried, and before long some malady attacks the part of the 
bewitched person corresponding to that in which the hair has been 
placed in his effigy. Disease-making is a profession in the island of 
Tanna in the New Hebrides; the sorcerers collect the skins and shells 
of the fruits eaten by any one who is to be punished, they are then 
slowly burned, and the victims sicken. Disease-demons are driven away 
from patients in Alaska by the beating of drums. The size of the drum 
and the force of the beating are directly proportioned to the gravity of 
the disease. A headache can be dispelled by the gentle tapping of a toy 
drum ; concussion of the brain would require that the big drum should 
be thumped till it broke ; if that failed to expel the evil spirit, there 
would be nothing left but to strangle the patient. 

The wild natives of Australia are exceedingly superstitious. Sorcery 
enters into every relation of life, and their great fear is lest they should 
be injured by the mysterious influence called boyl-ya. The sorcerers 
have power to enter the bodies of men and slowly consume them ; the 
victim feels the pain as the boyl-ya enters him, and it does not leave him 
till it is extracted by another sorcerer. While he is sleeping, he may be 
attacked and bewitched by having pointed at him a leg-bone of a kan- 
garoo, or the sorcerer may steal away his kidney-fat, where the savage 
believes that his power resides, or he may secretly slay his victim by a 
blow on the back of his neck. The magician may dispose of his victim 
by procuring a lock of his hair and roasting it with fat \ as it is consumed, 
so does his victim pine away and die. 

Wingo is a superstition which some Australian tribes have, that with 
a rope of fibre they can partially choke a man, by putting it round his 
neck at night while he is asleep, without waking him ; his enemy then 
removes his caul-fat from under his short rib, leaving no mark or wound. 
When the victim awakes he feels no pain or weakness, but sooner or 
later he feels something break in his inside like a string. He then goes 
home and dies at once.^ 

Dr. Watson thus describes the typical medicine-men : — 
" The Tla-guill-augh, or man of supernatural gifts, is supposed to be 
^ E. Palmer, Notes on Australian Tribes. 



capable of throwing his good or bad medicine, without regard to dis- 
tance, on whom he will, and to kill or cure by magic at his pleasure. 
These medicine-men are generally beyond the meridian of life ; grave, 
sedate, and shy, with a certain air of cunning, but possessing some skill 
in the use of herbs and roots, and in the management of injuries and 
external diseases. The people at large stand in great awe of them, and 
consult them on every affair of importance." ^ 

Dr. O. L. Moller, Medical Director-General of the Danish army, 
describes a certain wise woman near Logstor, who used in her prescrip- 
tions for the sick people who consulted her a charm of willow twigs 
tied together amongst other mystic things, and whose therapeutics were 
of a bloodthirsty character, as she would advise her patients to strike 
the first person they met after returning home, until they drew blood, 
for that person would be the cause of the disease. ^ 

The fact that ghosts and demons are everywhere believed to cause 
diseases, and that sorcery is practised more or less by most of the 
races of man in connection with the causation or cure of disease, has 
been used as a factor in the argument for the origin of primitive man 
from a single pair in accordance with the orthodox belief. Dr. Picker- 
ing, the ethnologist, says: "Superstitions also appear to be subject to 
the same laws of progression with communicated knowledge, and the 
belief in ghosts, evil spirits, and sorcery, current among the ruder East 
Indian tribes, in Madagascar, and in a great part of Africa, seems to 
indicate that such ideas may have elsewhere preceded a regular form 
of mythology." ^ 

There has long been practised in the West Indies a species ot 
witchcraft called Obeah or Obi^ supposed to have been introduced 
from Africa, and which is in reality an ingenious system of poisoning. 
Mr. Bowrey, Government chemist in Jamaica, connects Obeah-poisoning 
with a plant which grows abundantly in Jamaica and other West Indian 
islands, called the " savannah flower," or " yellow-flowered nightshade " 
(Urechites suberecta).^ 

Mr. Bowrey concludes that there is some truth in the stories told of 
the poisoning by Obeah-men, and that minute doses, frequently admin- 
istered, might cause death without suspicion being aroused. The 
British Medical Journal^ June i8th, 1892, has the following interesting 
notes on Obeah (p. 1296) : — 

" It is difficult to obtain detailed information regarding Obeah prac- 

^ The Medical Profession in Ancient Times (New York, 1856). 

2 Dentnark, its Hygiene and Demography, 1891, p. 57. 

^ The Races of Man, p. 292. 

* Proc. Roy. ^'^c, xxvii. 309, 1878. 


tices. They rest largely on the credence given to superstitious practices 
and vulgar quackery by the uneducated in every country, but there 
seems little doubt that among them secret poisoning is included. Ben- 
jamin Moseley {Medical Tracts^ London, 1800) states that Obi had its 
origin, like many customs among the Africans, from the ancient Egyp- 
tians, Ob meaning a demon or magic. Villiers-Stuart {Jamaica Revisited^ 
1 891) says that Obeah in the West African dialects signifies serpent, 
and that the Obeah-men in Jamaica carry (but in greatest secrecy, for 
fear of the penal laws) a stick on which is carved a serpent, the emblem 
being a relic of the serpent worship once universal among mankind, 
and also that they sacrifice cocks at their religious rites. Moseley gives 
the following account : ' Obi, for the purposes of bewitching people 
or consuming them by lingering illness, is made of grave-dirt, hair, 
teeth of sharks and other animals, blood, feathers,' and so on. Mixtures 
of these are placed in various ways near the person to be bewitched. 
* The victims to this nefarious art in the West Indies among the negroes 
are numerous. No humanity of the master nor skill in medicine can 
relieve the poor negro labouring under the influence of Obi. He will 
surely die, and of a disease that answers no description in nosology. 
This, when I first went to the colonies, perplexed me. Laws have been 
made in the West Indies to punish the Obian practice with death, but 
they have been impotent and nugatory. Laws constructed in the West 
Indies can never suppress the effect of ideas, the origin of which is in 
the centre of Africa.' ' A negro Obi-man will administer a baleful dose 
from poisonous herbs, and calculate its mortal effects to an hour, day, 
week, month, or year.' The missionaries Waddell {Twenty-nine Years 
in the West Indies and Central Africa.^ ^'^^Z) ^^^ Blyth {Reminiscences 
of Alissionary Life, 1851) confirm this account. They are all agreed 
that similar practices prevail in West and Central Africa, and that 
Jamaican Obeah-men use poisons. Mr. Bowrey informs me that he 
has examined many Obeah charms, and confirms Moseley's account of 
them. He thinks, however, that among the negroes the knowledge of 
poisons has been rapidly dying out, ' doctor's medicine ' and the much- 
advertised patent medicines having largely replaced the drugs of the 
native practitioners. The belief in Obeah is still, however, almost 
universal among the black population. According to Sir Spencer St. 
John {Hayti, or the Black Republic, second edition, London, 1889) 
secret poisoning is a lucrative occupation in the neighbouring island of 
Hayti, certain of the people having an intimate knowledge of indi- 
genous poisonous plants and being expert poisoners." 



III. Offence to the Dead as a Cause of Disease. 

How comes it that all the races of man of which we have any accurate 
information have some belief or other in spirits good or bad, and of 
some other life than the actual one which they live in their waking 
hours ? The theologian answers it in his own way, the anthropologist 
in his, and perhaps a simpler one. With the religious aspect of the 
question we are not here concerned, we have merely to consider the 
scientific points involved. When the most ignorant savage of the lowest 
type falls asleep, he is as sure to dream as his more favoured civilized 
brother. To his companions he appears as though he were dead, he 
is motionless and apparently unconscious. He awakes and is himself 
again. What has his spirit or thinking part been doing while his body 
slept ? The man has seen various things and places, has even com- 
versed with friend or foe in his slumbers, has engaged in fights, has 
taken a journey, has had adventures, and yet his body has not stirred. 
Naturally enough the explanation most satisfactory is, that his soul has 
temporarily left his body, and has met other souls in a similar condition. 
He has seen and conversed with his dead friends or relatives, has been 
comforted by their presence or alarmed at the visitation. Here, then, 
we have the anthropologist's " theory of souls where life, mind, breath, 
shadow, reflexion, dream, vision, come together and account for one 
another in some such vague, confused way as satisfies the untaught 
reasoner." ^ 

But the savage goes further than this : he has seen his horse, his dog, 
his canoe, and his spear in his dream, they too must have souls ; and 
thus he invests with a spiritual essence every material object by which 
he is surrounded. And so we find funeral sacrifices and ceremonies all 
over the world which testify to this universal belief of primitive man. 
The ornaments and weapons which are found with the bones of chiefs, 
the warrior's horses slain at his burial place, the food and drink and 
piece of money left with the dead, are intelligible on this theory, and on 
no other. The savage's idea of a demon or evil spirit is usually that of 
a soul of a malevolent dead man. The man was his enemy during life, he 
remains his enemy after death ; or he owed some acknowledgment and 
reward to a spirit who had helped him, he has neglected to pay his debt, 
and he has offended the spirit in consequence. In cases of fainting, 
delirium from fever, hysteria, epilepsy, or insanity, the savage sees the 
partial absence of the patient's soul from his body, or the work of a 
(tormenting demon. Demoniacal possession and the ceremonies of 
exorcism are theories readily explainable by facts with which the an- 
^ Tylor's Anthropology, p, 344. 



thropologist is familiar. " The sick Australian will believe that the 
angry ghost of a dead man has got into him, and is gnawing his liver ; 
in a Patagonian skin hut the wizards may be seen dancing, shouting, 
and drumming, to drive out the evil demon from a man down with 
fever." ^ 

When Prof. Bartrara, the anthropologist, was in Burma, his servant 
was seized with an apopleptic fit. The man's wife, of course, attributed 
the misfortune to an angry demon, so she set out^for him little heaps 
of rice, and was heard praying, " Oh, ride him not ! Ah, let him go ! 
Grip him not so hard ! Thou shalt have rice ! Ah, how good that 
tastes ! " 

The exorcist may so delude himself that he may believe that he has 
power to make the demon converse with him. There may be a falsetto 
voice like that of the mediums of modern civilization issuing from the 
patient's mouth, and the exorcist's questions and commands may be 
answered, and the evil spirit may consent to leave the sufferer in peace. 
In nervous or mental disorders, in cases of defective power of assimi- 
lating food, such a process may exert a soothing and highly beneficial 
influence on the patient who is actively co-operating by his faith in his 
own cure, and so the error both as to the cause of the malady and its 
treatment is perpetuated. 

Primitive folk think that life is indestructible ; what is called death 
is but a change of condition to them; even mites and mosquitos 
are immortal. ^ 

The Tasmanian, when he suffers from a gnawing disease, believes 
that he has unwittingly pronounced the name of a dead man, who, thus 
summoned, has crept into his body, and is consuming his liver. The 
sick Zulu believes that some dead ancestor he sees in a dream has 
caused his ailment, wanting to be propitiated with the sacrifice of an ox. 
The Samoan thinks that the ancestral souls can get into the heads and 
stomachs of living men, and cause their illness and death. These are 
examples of human ghosts having become demons.^ 

In the Samoan group people thought that if a man died bearing ill- 
will towards any one, he would be likely to return to trouble him, and 
cause sickness and death, taking up his abode in the sufferer's head, 
chest, or stomach. If he died suddenly, they said he had been eaten 
by the spirit that took him. In the Georgian and Society Islands evil 
demons cause convulsions and hysterics, or twist the bowels till the 
sufferers die writhing in agony. Madmen are thought to be entered 

^ Tylor's Anthropology^ p. 354. 

"^ Reclus, Primiiive Folk, p. 103. 

^ Dr. E. B. Tylor, art. *' Demonology," Ency. Brit. 


by a god, so they are treated with great respect ; idiots are considered 
to be divinely inspired.^ Many other races beheve in the inspiration 
of mentally feeble or insane persons. Amongst the Dacotas spirits 
of animals, trees, stones, or deceased persons are believed to enter the 
patient and cause his disease. The medicine-man recites charms over 
him, and making a symbolic representation of the intruding spirit in 
bark, shoots it ceremonially; he sucks over the seat of the pain to 
draw the spirit out, and fires guns at it as it escapes. 

This is just what happened in the West Indies in the time of Columbus. 
Friar Roman Paul tells of a native sorcerer who pretended to pull the 
disease from the legs of his patients, blowing it away, and telling it 
to begone to the mountain or the sea. He would then pretend to ex- 
tract by sucking some stone or bit of flesh, which he declared had been 
put into the patient to cause the disease by a deity in punishment for some 
religious neglect. ^ The Patagonians believed that sickness was caused 
by spirits entering the patient's body ; they considered that an evil demon 
held possession of the sick man's body, and their doctors always carried 
a drum which they struck at the bedside to frighten away the demons 
which caused the disorder.^ The Zulus and Basutos in Africa teach that 
ghosts of dead persons are the causes of all diseases. Congo tribes 
beheve also that the souls of the dead cause disease and death amongst 

The art of medicine in these lands therefore is, for the most part, 
merely an affair of propitiating some offended and disease-causing 
spirit. In several parts of Africa mentally deranged persons are wor- 
shipped. Madness and idiocy are explained by the phrase, " he has 
fiends." The Bodo and Dhimal people of North-east India ascribe all 
diseases to a deity who torments the patient, and who must be appeased 
by the sacrifice of a hog. With these people naturally the doctor is a 
sort of priest. As Mr. Tylor says, " Where the world-wide doctrine of 
disease-demons has held sway, men's minds, full of spells and cere- 
monies, have scarce had room for thought of drugs and regimen." * 

A forest tribe of the Malay Peninsula, called the Original People, 
are said to have no religion, no idea of any Supreme Being, and no 
priests ; yet their Puyung, who is a sort of general adviser to the tribe, 
instructs them in sorcery and the doctrine of ghosts and evil spirits. In 
sickness they use the roots and leaves of trees as medicines. Amongst 

1 Ellis, Polyn. Res.y vol. i. pp. 363, 395 ; vol.^ii. pp. 193, 274. Schoolcraft, part 
iv. p. 49. 

2 Roman Paul, xix., in Life of Colon. 

3 D'Orbigny, V Homme Americain, vol. ii. pp. 207, 231 (Caribs). 
* Primitive Culture^ vol. ii. p. 131. 


the Tarawan group of the Coral Islands, Pickering says : " Divination 
or sorcery was also known, and the natives paid worship to the manes 
or spirits of their departed ancestors." ^ Probably on careful investiga- 
tion we should find that in these cases the doctrine of ghosts and the 
worship of spirits has some connection with the causation of disease. 

The Malagasy profess a religion which is chiefly fetishism. They 
believe in the life of the spirit, which they call " the essential part of 
me," apart from the body \ and they believe that this spirit exists when 
the body dies. Such " ghosts " they consider can do harm in various 
ways, especially by causing diseases ; consequently they endeavour, as 
the chief means of cure, to appease the offended ghost. Witchcraft 
and belief in charms naturally flourish amongst these people.^ 

Mr. A. W. Howitt says that the Kurnai of Gippsland, Australia, 
believe that a man's spirit ( Yainbo) can leave the body during sleep, and 
hold converse with other disembodied spirits. Another tribe, the Woi- 
woriing, call this spirit Murup, and they suppose it leaves the body in a 
similar manner, the exact moment of its departure being indicated by 
the "snoring" of the sleeper. As a theory of the soul, Mr. Howitt says : 
" It may be said of the aborigines I am now concerned with, and pro- 
bably of all others, that their dreams are to them as much realities in one 
sense, as are the actual events of their waking life. It may be said that 
in this respect they fail to distinguish between the subjective and objec- 
tive impressions of the brain, and regard both as real events." ^ 

They believe that these ghosts live upon plants, that they can revisit 
their old haunts at will, and communicate with the wizards or medicine- 
men on being summoned by them. A celebrated wizard amongst the 
Woi-worung caught the spirit of a dying man, and brought it back under 
his 'possum rug, and restored it to the still breathing body just in time 
to save his life. The ghosts can kill game with spiritually poisoned 
spears. Even the tomahawk has a spirit, and this belief explains many 
burial customs. One of the Woi-worung people told Mr. Howitt that 
they buried the weapon with the dead man, " so that he might have it 
handy." Other tribes bury with the corpse the amulets and charms 
used by the deceased during life, in case they may be required in the 
spirit-world. The Woi-worung believe that their wizards could send 
their deadly magical yaruk, or rock crystal, against a person they desired 
to kill, in the form of a small whirlwind. They believe that their 
wizards " go up " at night to the sky, and obtain such information as 

* Races of Man ^ p. 61. 

2 Dr. G. W. Parker, on "The People of Madagascar," Joum. Anthrop. Inst,, 
1883, p. 478. 

^ Joum. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 187. 


they require in their profession. They can also bring away the magical 
apparatus by which some one of another tribe might be injuring the 
health of a member of his own tribe. It is highly probable that in these 
Australian beliefs we have the counterparts of those which were every- 
where held by primitive man. Good spirits are very little worshipped 
by savages ; they are already well disposed, and need no invocation ; it 
is the bad ones who must be propitiated by an infinite variety of rites 
and sacrifices. " Thus," as Professor Keane says, " has demonology 
everywhere preceded theology." ^ 

Mr. Edward Palmer, in Notes on So?ne Australian Tribes^ says that 
the Gulf tribes believe in spirits which live inside the bark of trees, and 
which come out at night to hold intercourse with the doctors, or 
" mediums." These spirits work evil at times. The Kombinegherry 
tribe are much afraid of an evil-working spirit called Tharragarry^ but 
they are protected by a good spirit, Coomboorah. The Mycoolon people 
believe in an invisible spear which enters the body, leaving no outward 
sign of its entry. The victim does not even know that he is hurt ; he 
goes on hunting, and returns home as usual ; in the night be becomes 
ill, delirious, or mad, and dies in the morning. Thimmool is a pointed 
leg-bone of a man, which, being held over a blackfellow when asleep» 
causes sickness or death. The Marro is the pinion-bone of a hawk, in 
which hair of an enemy has been fixed with wax. To work a charm on 
him a fire circle is made round it. With this charm they can make 
their enemy sick, or, by prolonging their magic, kill him. When they 
think they have done harm enough, they place the Marro in water, 
which removes the charm. ^ 

Mr. H. H. Johnstone says that the tribes on the Lower Congo bury 
with any one of consequence bales of cloth, plates, beads, knives, and 
other things required to set the deceased up in the spirit-life on which 
he has entered. The plates are broken, the beads are crushed, and the 
knives bent, so as to kill them, that they too may " die," and go to the 
spirit-land with their owner. ^ 
- This is a valuable confirmation of the doctrine of animism. 

As Mr. Herbert Spencer says : * "It is absurd to suppose that uncivil- 
ized man possesses at the outset the idea of 'natural explanation.'" 
At a great price has civilized man purchased the power of giving a 
natural explanation to the phenomena by which he is surrounded. As 
societies grow, as the arts flourish, as painfully, little by little, his 

^ A. H. Keane, On the Botocudos. 
^ Journ. Anthrop. Inst.y 1884, p. 293, 
' Ibid., p. 475. 
* Principles of Sociology ^sq\. i. p. 222. 


experiences accumulate, so does man learn to correct his earlier im- 
pressions, and to construct the foundations of science. It is the 
natural, or it would not be the universal, process for primitive man to 
explain phenomena by the simplest methods, and these always lead 
him to his superstitions. It is the only process open to him. The 
activity which he sees all around him is controlled by the spirits of the 
dead, and by spirits more or less like those which animate his fellow- 

Clement of Alexandria says that all superstition arises from the 
inveterate habit of mankind to make gods like themselves. The deities 
have like passions with their worshippers, " and some say that plagues, 
and hailstorms, and tempests, and the like, are wont to take place, not 
alone in consequence of material disturbance, but also through the 
anger of demons and bad angels. These can only be appeased by 
sacrifice and incantations. Yet some of them are easily satisfied, for 
when animals failed, it sufficed for the magi at Cleone to bleed their own 
fingers." ^ 

" The prophetess Diotima, by the Athenians offering sacrifice previous- 
to the pestilence, effected a delay of the plague for ten years." ^ 

^ Clem. Alex., Miscellanies^ book vi. ^ Ibid. 



These originated partly in the Desire to cover Ignorance. — Medicine-men. — Sucking 
out Diseases. — Origin of. Exorcism. — Ingenuity of the Priests. — Blowing Disease 
away. — Beelzebub cast out by Beelzebub. — Menders of Souls. — *' Bringing up the 
Devil." — Diseases and Medicines. — Fever Puppets. — Amulets. — Totemism and 

Dr. Robertson tells us that the ignorant pretenders to medical skill 
amongst the North American Indians were compelled to cover their 
ignorance concerning the structure of the human body, and the causes 
of its diseases, by imputing the origin of the maladies which they failed 
to cure to supernatural influences of a baleful sort. They therefore 
" prescribed or performed a variety of mysterious rites, which they gave 
out to be of such efficacy as to remove the most dangerous and 
inveterate malice. The credulity and love of the marvellous natural to 
uninformed men favoured the deception, and prepared them to be the 
dupes of those impostors. Among savages, their first physicians are a 
kind of conjurers, or wizards, who boast that they know what is past, 
and can foretell what is to come. Thus, superstition, in its earliest 
form, flowed from the solicitude of man to be delivered from present 
distress, not from his dread of evils awaiting him in a future life, and 
was originally ingrafted on medicine, not on religion. One of the first 
and most intelligent historians of America was struck with this alliance 
between the art of divination and that of physic among the people of 
Hispaniola. But this was not peculiar to them. The Alexis^ the 
Fiayas, the Aufmoins, or whatever was the distinguishing name of the 
diviners and charmers in other parts of America, were all physicians of 
their respective tribes, in the same manner as the Buhitos of Hispaniola. 
As their function led them to apply to the human mind when enfeebled 
by sickness, and as they found it, in that season of dejection, prone to 
be alarmed with imaginary fears, or assured with vain hopes, they easily 
induced it to rely with implicit confidence on the virtue of their spells 
and the certainty of their predictions." ^ 

The aborigines of the Amazon have a kind of priests called Pages, 

^ History of America, book iv. 7. 




like the medicine-men of the North American Indians. They attribute 
all diseases either to poison or to the charms of some enemy. Of 
course, diseases caused by magic can only be cured by magic, so these 
powerful priest-physicians cure their patients by strong blowing and 
breathing upon them, accompanied by the singing of songs and by 
incantations. They are believed to have the power to kill enemies, and 
to afflict with various diseases. As they are much believed in, these 
pagh are well paid for their services. They are acquainted with the 
properties of many poisonous plants. One of their poisons most fre- 
quently used is terrible in its effects, causing the tongue and throat, as 
well as the intestines, to putrefy and rot away, leaving the sufferer to 
linger in torment for several days.^ 

Amongst many savage tribes their medicine-men pretend to remove 
diseases by sucking the affected part of the body. They have previously 
placed bits of bone, stones, etc., in their mouths, and they pretend they 
have removed them from the patient, and exhibit them as proofs of their 
success. The Shaman, or wizard-priest of the religion still existing 
amongst the peoples of Northern Asia, who pretends to have dealings 
with good and evil spirits, is the successor of the priests of Accad ; 
thus is the Babylonian religion reduced to the level of the heathenism 
of Mongolia. 

The aborigines of the Darling River, New South Wales, believe that 
sickness is caused by an enemy, who uses certain charms called the 
Yountoo and Moke. The Ybuntoo is made from a piece of bone taken 
from the leg of a deceased friend. This is wrapped up in a piece of the 
dried flesh from the body of another deceased friend. The package is 
tied with some hair from the head of a third friend. When this charm 
is used against an enemy, it is taken to the camp where he sleeps, and 
after certain rites are performed it is pointed at the person to be injured. 
The doctor of the tribe attributes disease to this sort of enchantment, 
and pretends to suck out of his patient the piece of bone which he de- 
clares has entered his body and caused the mischief. The Molee is a 
piece of white quartz, which is pointed at the victim with somewhat 
similar ceremonies and consequences. The possessors of these power- 
ful charms take care to hide them from view. When the doctor, or 
Maykeeka, sucks out the Yountoo — bone chip — from his patient, he must 
throw it away. The Moke must be cast into water. 

Mr. F. Bonney read a paper on " Some Customs of the Aborigines of 

the River Darling," before the Anthropological Society of Great Britain, 

May 8th, 1883, in which the process of curing diseases is described. 

He says : ''On one occasion, when I was camped in the Purnanga 

^ Wallace, Travels on the Amazon, chap. xvii. 


Ranges, I watched by the light of a camp-fire a doctor at work, sucking 
the back of a woman who was suffering from pains in that part- 
While she sat on a log a few yards distant from the camp-fire, he moved 
about her, making certain passes with boughs which he held, and then 
sucked for some time the place where pain was felt ; at last he took 
something from his mouth, and, holding it towards the firelight, de- 
clared it to be a piece of bone. The old women sitting near loudly 
expressed their satisfaction at his success. I asked to be allowed to 
look at it, and it was given to me. I carelessly looked at it, and then 
pretended to throw it into the fire, but, keeping it between my fingers, 
I placed it in my pocket, when I could do so unobserved ; and on the 
following morning, when I examined it by daylight, it proved to be a 
small splinter of wood, and not bone. At the time the patient appeared 
to be very much relieved by the treatment." Another mode of treat- 
ment described by Mr. Bonney is that of sucking poison, supposed to 
have been sent into the patient by an enemy, through a string. The 
patient complained of sickness in the stomach ; the woman doctor 
placed the patient on her back on the ground, tied a string round the 
middle of her naked body, leaving a loose end about eighteen inches 
long. The doctress then began sucking the string, passing the loose 
end through her mouth, from time to time spitting blood and saliva into 
a pot. She repeated this many times, until the patient professed to be 

The people of Timor-laut, near the island of New Guinea, scar them- 
selves on the arms and shoulders with red-hot stones, in imitation of 
immense small-pox marks, in order to ward off that disease.^ 

Among the Kaffirs diseases are all attributed to three causes — either 
to being enchanted by an enemy, to the anger of certain beings whose 
abode appears to be in the rivers, or to the power of evil spirits.^ 

" Among the Kalmucks," says Lubbock, " the cures are effected by 
exorcising the evil spirit. This is the business of the so-called ' priests,^ 
who induce the evil spirit to quit the body of the patient and enter 
some other object. If a chief is ill, some other person is induced to 
take his name, and then, as is supposed, the evil spirit passes into his 
body." 3 

Pritchard tells us that " the priests of the Negroes are also the 
physicians, as were the priests of Apollo and ^sculapius. The notions 
which the Negroes entertain of the causes of diseases are very different.. 
The Watje attribute them to evil spirits whom they call Dobbo. When 

^ Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 10. 

^ Yoxxtil, Journ. Anthrop. Inst., vol. iii. p, 319. 

' Origin of Civilization, p. 26. 


these are very numerous, they ask of their sacred cotton-tree permission 
to hunt them out. Hereupon a chase is appointed, and they do not 
cease following the demons with arms and great cries until they have 
chased them beyond their boundaries. This chase of the spirits of 
disease is very customary among many nations of Guinea, who uni- 
versally believe that many diseases arise from enchantment, and 
others by the direction of the Deity." ^ 

It is interesting to note, as showing the ingenuity of the priests, that 
during the extremely dangerous rainy season the doctors' remedies are 
of very little use ; then the priests say this is because the gods at this 
particular season are obliged to appear at the court of the superior 
deity. During their absence at court, the priests cannot obtain access 
to them ; and as without their advice they could not efficaciously pre- 
scribe, such medicines as they offer have little good effect. 

The Antilles Indians in Columbus's time went through the pretence 
of pulling the disease off the patient and blowing it away, telling it to 
begone to the sea or the mountains. 

That the disease-demon may often be blown away by a plentiful 
supply of fresh air is now an article of every hygienist's creed. 

The Badaga folk, mountaineers of the Neilgherries, insure their 
children against accidents and sickness by talismans made of the earth 
and ashes of funeral pyres. They think the souls of the departed are so 
vexed at finding themselves in a novel condition that they are liable to 
kill people even without a motive. When an epidemic breaks out, they 
lay the blame on the person who died last, who is going about the 
country taking vengeance on his kindred. ^ 

Monier Williams says they endeavour to induce the demon of 
pestilence, of typhoid fever, of the plague of rats or caterpillars, to enter 
into the body of a dancer, who acts as a medium and has power to 
exorcise the angry spirit. He has power to let loose rot or farcy amongst 
the flocks and herds, so the medium has to be conciliated. The 
Corumba of these mountain people is a wizard, the sicknesses of men 
and animals are all set down to his account. *' Gratified by the evil 
reputation the Corumba enjoy, they offer to undo what they are sup- 
posed to have done, to remove the spells they are accused of having cast. 
The wheat is smutty, the flocks have the scab? Somebody's head 
aches, some one's stomach is out of order ? One of these rogues turns 
up, offers to eject the demon ; as it happens, the evil spirit is one of his 
particular cronies ! He will cast out Beelzebub by Beelzebub." ^ 

Amongst the Western Inoits, says Elie Reclus,^ the magician of the 

^ Nat. His. Man., p. 535. ^ Reclus, Primitive Folk, p. 232. 

^ Primitive Folk, p. 237. "* Ibid., p. 80. 


people is called Angakok^ signifying the "Great" or "the Ancient, "^ 
and he is guide, instructor, wonder-worker, physician, and priest. He 
accumulates in himself all influences ; " he is public counsellor, justice 
of the peace, arbitrator in public and private affairs, artist of all kinds, 
poet, actor, buffoon." Supposed to be in contact and close com- 
munication with the superior beings of the world of spirits, and to 
harbour in his body many demons of various kinds, he is supposed 
to be invested with omnipotence, he can chase away the disease- 
demons, and put even death itself to flight. The angakok defends his 
people from the demons who take the form of cancers, rheumatism, 
paralysis, and skin diseases. He exorcises the sick man with stale urine, 
hke the Bochiman poison-doctors.^ 

The Cambodians exorcise the small-pox demon with the urine of a 
white horse.^ 

Thiers {Des Superstitions), quoted by Reclus, says that Slavonic 
rustics asperse their cattle with herbs of St. John boiled in urine to 
keep ill-luck away from them ; and that French peasant women used 
to wash their hands in their own urine, or in that of their husbands 
and children, to prevent evil enchantments doing them harm. Reclus 
says : " When a diagnosis puzzles an angakok, he has recourse to a truly 
ingenious proceeding. He fastens to the invalid's head a string, the 
other end of which is attached to a stick ; this he raises, feels, balances 
on his hand, and turns in every direction. Various operations follow, 
having for their object the forcible removal of the spider from the luck- 
less wretch whose flesh it devours. He will cleanse and set to rights 
as much as he is able — whence his name * Mender of Souls.' A 
wicked witch, present though invisible, can undo the efforts of the 
conjurer, and even communicate to him the disease, rendering him the 
victim of his devotion ; black magic can display more power than white 
magic. Then, seeing the case to be desperate, the honest angakok 
summons, if possible, one or more brethren, and the physicians of 
souls strive in concert to comfort the dying man ; with a solemn voice 
they extol the felicities of Paradise, chanting softly a farewell canticle, 
which they accompany lightly upon the drum." ^ 

The superstitious natives of the Lower Congo have a singular custom, 
when anybbdy dies, of compelling some victim or other to drink a 
poison made from the bark of the Erythrophloeuin guineensis. It 
usually acts as a powerful emetic, and is administered in the hope that 
it may " bring up " the devil. Their medicine-man is called nganga^ 
and he is taught a language quite different from the ordinary tongue, 

^ Th. Halm, Globus, xviii. ^ Landas, Superstitions Annamites. 

^ Primitive Folk, pp. 83, 84. 


and this is kept secret from females. " No one," says Mr. H. H. 
Johnston ("On the Races of the Congo "),^ "has yet been able to examine 
into their sacred tongue." The use of Latin by civilized doctors is not 
unlike this African custom. 

The mountaineers of the Neilgherries endeavour to induce the demon 
they invoke to enter into the body of the " medium," a dancer who 
pretends to the intoxication of prophecy. If they can persuade the 
demon of pestilence or typhoid fever to enter into the medium, it 
becomes possible to act upon and influence him.^ 

The people of Tartary make a great puppet when fever is prevalent, 
which they call the Demon of Intermittent Fevers, and which when 
completed they set up in the tent of the patients. 

Mr. Forbes, in his account of the tribes of the island of Timor, says 
that the natives believe all diseases to be the result of sorcery, and they 
carry a variety of herbs and charms to avert its influence. He says : 
" I had as a servant an old man, who one morning complained of being 
in a very discomposed and generally uncomfortable state, and of being 
afraid he was going to die. He had seen, he said, the spirit of his 
mother in the night, she had been present by him and had spoken with 
him. He feared, therefore, that he was about to die. He begged of me 
some tobacco and rice to offer to her, which I gave him. He retired a 
little way to a great stone in the ground, and laying on it some betel 
and pinang, with a small quantity of chalk, along with a little tobacco 
and rice, he repeated for some eight or ten minutes an invocation which 
I did not understand. The rice and the chalk he left on the stone, which 
were very shortly after devoured by my fowls ; the tobacco, betel, and 
pinang he took away again, to be utilised by himself." ^ 

When the medicine-man of these tribes calls to see a patient, he 
looks very closely at him, to endeavour to perceive the sorcerer who is 
making him ill. Then he returns to his home and makes up some 
medicines, which the happy patient has not however to swallow, but the 
drugs having been packed by the doctor into a bundle with a small 
stone, are thrown away as far as possible from the sick man ; the stone 
|finds out the sorcerer and returns to the doctor, who gives it to his 
[patient and tells him it will cure him if he will wear it about his neck. 
This affords another illustration of the universal belief of the value of 
'amulets in medicine. 

Medicine amongst certain tribes has a connection with the adoration 
.of particular objects and animals believed to be related to each 

^- Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 473. 

2 Prof. Monier Williams, and Reclus, Primitive Folk, p. 234. 

^ Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 427. 


separate stock or blood-kindred of human beings, and which is known 
in anthropology as totemism. The Algonquin Indians use the name, 
Bear, Wolf, Tortoise, Deer, or Rabbit to designate each of a number ot 
clans into which the race is divided. The animal is considered as an 
ancestor or protector of the tribe. 

In considering the institutions of " totemism " and " medicine," we 
must not forget that savage " medicine " has a function somewhat dif- 
ferent from that of medicine in our sense of the word. Some doubt if 
there be any real distinction between the totem and the medicine.^ 

Schoolcraft says that among the Sioux a clan consists of individuals 
who use the same roots for medicine, and they are initiated into the 
clan by a great medicine-dance. The Sioux and other tribes make a 
bag out of the skin of the medicine (totem ? ) animal, which acts as a 
talisman, and is inherited by the son. Here we have an instance of the 
reverence inspired by an inherited medicine. It is a little surprising 
that we have so few evidences of the worship of heahng herbs and 

Demon-worship is the explanation of the mysteries of Dionysus 
Zagreus and the Chthonic and Bacchic orgies. M. Reclus says : " If 
we knew nothing otherwise of these orgies, we could obtain a sufficiently 
correct idea of them by visiting the Ghats, the Neilgherries, and the 
Vindhyas." 2 

^ Starcke, Fritnitive Family, p. 32. 2 Primitive Folk, p. 234. 



Bleeding. — Scarification. — Use of Medicinal Herbs amongst the Aborigines of Aus- 
tralia, South America, Africa, etc. 

The Healing Craft of many of the northern tribes of Australia is thus 
described by Mr. Palmer : — 

" Among the northern tribes many devices and charms are resorted 
to in the cases of pains and sickness. The doctors are men who, it is 
supposed, possess great powers of healing, some of which they obtain 
from the spirits. They use stones and crystals to put away sickness 
from any one, and sometimes they bandage the afflicted part with string 
tightly till no part of the skin is visible. One common plan of alle- 
viating pain is by bleeding, supposing that the pain comes away with 
the blood. For this minute cuts are made through the skin with pieces 
of broken flint, or the edge of a broken mussel-shell, over the part 
affected, and the blood is wiped off with a stick. Sometimes the doc- 
tor ties a string from the sick place, say the chest, and rubs the end of 
it across his gums, spitting into a kooliman of water, and passing the 
string through also ; he then points to the blood in the water as evi- 
dence of his skill in drawing it from the sick person. Stones are sucked 
out with the mouth, and exhibited as having been taken from the body. 
A good number of plants are used in sickness as drinks, and for ex- 
ternal application. A broken arm is cured with splints made of bark 
and wound round tightly. Snake-bite is cured by scarifying and suck- 
ing the wound, and by then using a poultice of box-bark, bruised and 
heated." ^ 

Mr. E. Palmer says that " the Australian aborigines possessed a con- 
siderable knowledge of indigenous plants, and their acquaintance with 
natural history was very accurate. They could only have obtained this 
knowledge by close observation and generations of experience. With 
the extermination of the blacks this information has completely died 
out, and it can only now be obtained in far-distant places like North 
Queensland, where the aborigines have not been killed off by contact 

^ /'ouni. Anthrop. Inst.^ 1 884, p. 299. ■ 

33 J) 


with civilization. They have much experience in the heahng virtues 
and properties of plants, as also of the kinds best suited for poisoning 
fish." ^ Great skill is exhibited by their mode of preparing plants by 
fire and water and other processes, before using them as food ; if par- 
taken of in their natural state, many of them would be very deleterious, 
if not actually poisonous. The Dioscorea sativa, or karro plant, has large 
tubers, which are first roasted, then broken in water and strained or 
squeezed through fine bags made of fibre into long bark troughs, then 
the product is washed in many waters, the sediment is well stirred 
while the water is poured in ; by this means the bitter principle is ex- 
tracted, and a yellow fecula like hominy is produced. Carey a australis 
has a root which is used to poison fish, though its fruit is eaten un- 
cooked by the natives. Manna is gathered from Eucalyptus terminalis. 
Cymbidiuin caniculatum is used for dysentery and other bowel dis- 
orders. The nuts of the Cycas media are very poisonous unless pre- 
pared by fire and water, and then they can be used as food. The seeds 
of Efitada scande7is are only fit for eating after baking and pounding, 
as is the case with many other plants cleverly manipulated by the 
blacks. The leaves of Ocimum sanctum are infused in water and 
drunk for sickness. A wash is made from the bruised bark of the 
gutta-percha tree, ExccEcaria parviflora. The leaves of Lorauthus 
quatidong^ the mistletoe of the Acacia henialophylla^ are infused in water 
and drunk for fevers, ague, etc. ; it is doubtful whether they have any 
virtue, but mistletoe was once a very highly prized medicine in Europe, 
though now wholly obsolete. The leaves of Melaleuca leucadendron 
are used in infusion for headache, colds, and general sickness. The 
vielaleuca is the cajeput tree, and cajeput oil is undoubtedly a valuable 
medicine. Stille says, " It is of marked utility in cases of nervous 
vomiting, nervous dysphagia, dyspnoea, and hiccup." ^ Externally it is 
valuable in nervous headache and neuralgia. 

The natives make great use medicinally of the various species of 
eucalyptus. The leaves of Eucalyptus tetradonfa are made into a drink 
for fevers and sickness with headache, etc. The Eucalyptus globulus re- 
cently introduced into civilized medicine comes from Australia. Flec- 
tranthus cons;estus, Pterocauloii glandulosus, GnapJialiuin luteo-album 
(several of this species are used in European medicine in bronchitis 
and diarrhoea, and one of them is called " Life Everlasting "), Helio- 
iropium ovalifolium^ and Moschosjua polystachium, are all used in the 
medical practice of these despised aborigines, and are probably quite 
as valuable as the majority of the herbs recommended in our old 
herbals and pharmacopoeias. 

1 lourn. Anthrof. Inst., 18S4, p. 310. ^ National Dispensatory, p. 986. 


The aborigines of the north-western provinces of South America have 
long been famous for their extensive knowledge of the properties of 
medicinal plants, and even now they possess secrets for which we may 
envy them.^ 

The arrow-poison used by the Indians of the interior is made from 
a plant of the strychnos family. Those of the Pacific coast prepare a 
poison from the secretion exuding from the skin of a small frog; this by 
a certain process of decomposition they convert into a powerful blood- 
poison. It is said that when these tribes were preparing poisons for 
use in time of war, it was their ancient practice to test their efficacy 
on the old women of the tribe, and not on the lower animals, exhibiting 
in this respect a superior knowledge of toxicology than is shown by 
those pharmacologists of our own day who test on animals the drugs 
they propose administering to man. Mr. R. B. White, in his notes on 
these aboriginal tribes, says that the Indians in the State of Antioquia 
were in the habit of poisoning the salt springs in the time of the 
Spanish invasion ; they covered the spring with brandies of a tree 
called the " Doncel," which imparted such venomous properties to the 
water that after a lapse of three hundred years it still retains its deadly 
properties ; when animals now get at the water, as many as three horses 
have been known to be killed in one night by drinking it.^ 

The study of the means of capturing fish by poisoning the water — a 
practice which is universal amongst savages — must have led to many 
observations on the properties of poisonous plants. Some considerable 
knowledge of the risks and uses of various leaves and berries must have 
been acquired in this way. The people of Timor-laut intoxicate fish 
with rice steeped in poisonous climbing plants.^ 

The aborigines of the River Darling, New South Wales, feed their 
very sick and weak patients upon blood drawn from the bodies of their 
male friends. It is generally taken raw by the invalid, sometimes how- 
ever it is slightly cooked by putting hot ashes in it.^ 

The practice is disgusting, but scarcely more so than one which was 
prescribed a few years ago by the great physicians of Paris, who ordered 
their ancemic patients to drink hot blood from the slaughtered oxen at 
the abattoirs. Mr. Bonney says that the aborigines referred to will- 
ingly bleed themselves till they are weak and faint to provide the food 
they consider necessary for the sick person. 

The acacias are very abundant in Australia, in India, and Africa. This 
order of plants produces gum arable and gum Senegal. The Tas- 
manians use the gum of Acacia sophora as a food. 

^ Jotirn. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 251. ^ Ibid., p. 251. 

3 Ibid. p. II. ^ Ibid., p. 132. 


The eucalyptus or blue-gum tree grows on the hills of Tasmania and 
in Victoria on the mainland of Australia ; it was introduced into Europe 
in 1856, and has been very extensively used as a remedy for intermittent 
fever, influenza, and as a powerful disinfectant. 

" As in all similar cases," says Stille, ** the discovery of its virtues was 
accidental. It is alleged that more than forty years ago the crew of a 
French man-of-war, having lost a number of men with * pernicious 
fever,' put into Botany Bay, where the remaining sick were treated with 
eucalyptus, and rapidly recovered. It is also said that the virtues of 
the tree were well known to the aboriginal inhabitants." 

A good illustration of the ways in which the properties of plants 
have been discovered, and of the relation of poisonous to harmless 
herbs, may be found in the practice of the American Indians in their 
use of the manioc^ a large shrub producing roots somewhat like parsnips. 
They carefully extract the juice, which is a deadly poison, and then 
grate the dried roots to a fine powder, which they afterwards convert 
into the cassava bread. How was this treatment of the root dis- 
covered ? It was simply due to the fact that one species of the shrub 
is devoid of any poisonous property, and has only to be washed and 
may then be eaten with impunity. No doubt this non-poisonous root 
was the first which was used for food; then when the supply ran 
short they were driven by necessity to find out the way to use the 
almost identical root of the poisonous variety, which when divested of 
its juice is even better for food than the harmless root. Probably this 
was only discovered after many experiments and fatalities. " Necessity, 
the mother of invention," in this as in most other things, ultimately 
directed the natives to the right way of dealing with this article of diet. 

The male fern is a very ancient remedy for tape -worm, and to the 
present day physicians have found nothing so successful for removing 
this parasite. The plant is indigenous to Canada, Mexico, South 
America, India, Africa, and Europe. The negroes of South America 
have long used worm-seed {Chejiopodium antJielminticuin) as a vermifuge 
for lumbricoid worms. The plant grows wild in the United States, and 
has been introduced into the Pharmacopoeia as a remedy especially 
adapted for the expulsion of the round-worms of children. Kousso 
{Brayera anthehnintica) has been employed from time immemorial in 
Abyssinia for the expulsion of tape-worm. It has been introduced 
into the British Pharmacopoeia. 

Some tribes of the Upper Orinoco, Rio Negro, etc., have been 
known to subsist for months on no other food than an edible earth, 
a kind of clay containing oxide of iron, and which is of a reddish-brown 


M. Cortambert, at a meeting of the Geographical Society in 1862, 
described this singular food, and said it seemed to be rather a stay for 
the stomach than a nourishment. Some white people in Venezuela 
have imitated the earth-eaters, and do not despise balls of fat earth. ^ 

Savages require much larger doses of drugs than civilized people. 
Mr. Bonney relates ^ that he usually gave the aborigines of New South 
Wales half a pint or more of castor oil for a dose. Another man took 
three drops of croton oil as an ordinary dose. 

Professor Bentley in 1862-63 contributed to the Pharmaceutical 
Journal a series of articles on New American Remedies which have 
been introduced into medical practice in consequence of their reputa- 
tion amongst the Indians. Yellow-root {Xajithorrhtza apiifolia) has 
long been employed by the various tribes of North American Indians 
as a tonic, and may be compared to quassia or calumba root. It is 
included in the United States Pharmacopoeia. Its active principle 
seems to be berhertJie. 

The blue Cohosh plant {Caulophyllum ihalictroides) has for ages 
been used by the aborigines of North America as a valuable remedy 
for female complaints. A tea of the root is employed amongst the 
Chippeway Indians on Lake Superior as an aid to parturition. The 
earliest colonists obtained their knowledge of the virtues of the blue 
cohosh from the natives, and it has for many years been a favourite 
diuretic remedy in the States. Its common names are pappoose-root, 
squaw-root, and blueberry-root. Its active principle is called caulo- 

Twin-leaf (^Jeffersonia diphylla) is a popular remedy in Ohio and 
other North American States in rheumatism. It is called rheumatism- 
root. In chemical composition it is similar to senega. 

Blood-root, or puccoon {Sanguinaria canadensis)^ has been used for 
centuries by North American Indians as a medicine. It has been 
introduced into the United States Pharmacopoeia. It is an alterative, 
and is useful in certain forms of dyspepsia, bronchitis, croup, and 
asthma. Its physiological action, however, bears no relation to its 
medicinal uses {Stille and Maisch). Its active principle is sanguin- 

Sar race fiia purpurea^ Indian cup, or side-saddle plant, is a native of 
North America, and much used by the Indians in dyspepsia, sick head- 
ache, etc. 

The valuable bitter stomachic and tonic calumba-root comes to us 
from the forests of Eastern Africa, between Ibo and the Zambesi. Its 

* W/i.Joiir.y vol. iv., 2nd sec, p. 519. 
2 lourn. Anthrop. Inst., 1884, p. 132. 


African name is kahimb ; it depends for its therapeutic value on the 
berberine which it contains, and which is found in several other plants. 
The natives of tropical Africa, the North American Indians, and the 
semi-barbarian tribes of Hindostan and China have all been impressed 
with the medicinal value of berberine. Before quinine was commonly 
used in medicine, this valuable drug was estimated most highly for its 
very similar properties. There can be no doubt that it was introduced 
into medicine by savages. 

Jalap comes to us from Mexico. It was named from the city of 

Cinchona bark was used by the savages of Peru long before it was 
introduced into European medicine. 

Guaiacum, so valuable in chronic rheumatism, was introduced into 
European medicine from the West India Islands and the northern 
coasts of South America. 

The excellent and popular tonic, quassia-wood, reaches us from 

Logwood, a valuable astringent, largely used in diarrhoea, is a native 
of Campeachy and other parts of Central America, and grows in the 
West India Islands and India. 

Copaiba, an oleo-resin from the copaiva tree, comes from the West 
Indies and tropical, parts of America, chiefly from the valley of the 
Amazon. It is one of our most valuable remedies in diseases of the 
genito-urinary organs. 

Turkey corn, or Turkey pea {Dicentra, Corydalis formosa) grows in 
Canada and as far south as Kentucky. It has a reputation as a tonic, 
diuretic and alterative medicine, and is used in skin diseases, syphilis, 

The negroes use the prickly ash, or tooth-ache shrub {Xanthoxylttm 
fraxineu)n\ as a blood purifier, especially in the spring. It has long 
been officinal in the United States Pharmacopoeia, and is considered 
highly serviceable in chronic rheumatism. 

The shrubby trefoil {Plelea trifoUata) is a North American shrub, 
much valued in dyspepsia, and as a stimulant in the typhoid state. Its 
active principle is berberine. 

The above are merely a few examples taken at random of the valu- 
able medicinal plants used by savages and primitive peoples. 

Thus, as might have been expected, the discovery of the Americas 
led to the introduction of many new drugs into medical practice. 

Savages eat enormously. 

Wrangel says each of the Yakuts ate in a day six times as many fish 
as he could eat. Cochrane describes a five-year-old child of this race 


as devouring three candles, several pounds of sour frozen butter, and a 
large piece of yellow soap, and adds : " I have repeatedly seen a Yakut, 
or a Yongohsi, devour forty pounds of meat in a day." ^ 

Yet the savage is less powerful than the civilized man. " He is un- 
able," says Spencer, " to exert suddenly as great an amount of force, 
and he is unable to continue the expenditure of force for so long a 

* IlerlDcrt Spencer's Principles of Sociology ^ vol. i. p. 50. 



Arrest of Bleeding. — The Indian as Surgeon. — Stretchers, Splints, and Flint Instru- 
ments. — Ovariotomy. — Brain Surgery. — Massage. — Trepanning.— The Csesarean 
Operation. — Inoculation. 

Primitive man, from the earliest ages, must have been a diligent 
student of medicine ; it has indeed been wisely said that the first man 
was the first physician. That is to say, he must have been at least as 
careful to avoid noxious things and select good ones as the beasts, 
and, as in the lowest scale, he must have been able in some degree to 
observe, reflect, and compare one thing with another, and so find out 
what hurt and what healed him, he would at once begin to practise 
the healing art, either that branch of it which is directed towards main- 
taining the health or that of alleviating suffering. When his fellow- 
men were sick and died, he would be led to wonder why they perished ; 
and when other men stricken in like manner recovered, he would 
speculate as to the causes of their cure. It is probable that at first little 
attention was paid to the loss of blood when an artery was severed. 
Soon, however, it would be remarked that under such conditions the 
man would faint, and perhaps die. In process of time it would be 
observed that when the injured blood-vessel was by any means, natural 
or artificial, closed, the man quickly recovered. Then some one wiser 
than the other would bind a strip of fibre or a piece of the skin of a 
beast around the bleeding limb, and the haemorrhage would cease, and 
the operator would gain credit and reward. He would then, naturally, 
give himself airs, and pretend, in course of time, to some importance, 
and so become a healer by profession. It would soon be noticed that 
those who, in the search for berries in the woods, ate of certain kinds, 
more or less promptly died, and those who had abstained from their 
use survived. It would be understood that such berries must not be 
eaten. Or again, a man suffering from some pain in his stomach would 
eat of a particular plant that seemed good for food, and his pain would 
be relieved: it might be ages before primitive man would arrive at 
the conclusion that there was some connection between the pain and 


its disappearance after eating of the plant in question ; but in process 
of time the two things would be associated, and everybody would 
use the curative plant for the particular pain. 

It is natural to suppose that many such things would happen, and 
we know as a fact that they have so happened in numberless instances. 

Probably empirical medicine, in the most ancient times and amongst 
the most savage tribes, had an armoury of weapons against pain and 
sickness not greatly inferior to our own Materia Medica. The origin 
of the use of most of our valuable medicines cannot be discovered. 

" As no man can say who it was that first invented the use of clothes 
and houses against the inclemency of the weather, so also can no in- 
vestigation point out the origin of medicine — mysterious as the sources 
of the Nile. There has never been a time when it was not." ^ 

The origin of surgery is probably much older than that of medicine, 
if by the term surgery we mean the application of herbs to wounds, either 
as bandages or on account of their healing properties, and the use of 
medicinal baths the like. Mr. Gladstone, in an address to a society of 
herbalists, which was reported in the Daily News, 27th March, 1890, 
said that an accident which occurred to himself, when cutting down a 
tree, illustrated the very beginning of the healing art. He cut his 
finger with the axe, and found that he had no handkerchief with him 
with which to bind up the wound, so he took a leaf of the tree nearest 
to him, and fastened it round his injured finger. The bleeding stopped 
at once, and the wound, he declared, healed much more quickly and 
favourably than previous injuries treated in a more scientific manner. 
There is no doubt whatever that this is a good example of the 
primitive manner of treating cuts and other flesh wounds. The cool- 
ing properties of leaves would be recognised by the most primitive 
peoples ; and as a cut or other wound, by the process of inflammation, 
at once begins to burn and throb, a cooling leaf would be the most 
natural thing to apply. Some leaves which possess styptic and resinous 
properties would staunch bleeding very effectually, and the mere act of 
binding round the cut an application like a leaf would serve to draw 
together the edges of the wound, and aff'ord an antiseptic plaster of 
the most scientific nature. It was, in fact, by just such means that 
the valuable styptic properties of the matico leaves were first discovered 
by Europeans. 

If, in the depths of the forest, an Indian breaks his leg or arm (said 

Dr. Kingston in his address at the British Medical Association meeting 

at Nottingham, 1892), spHnts of softest material are at once improvised. 

Straight branches are cut, of uniform length and thickness. These are 

* Sydenham's Works, vol. i. Preface to Medical Obsei-vations. 



lined with down-like moss, or scrapings or shavings of wood; or with 
fine twigs interlaid with leaves, if in summer; or with the curled-up 
leaves of tlie evergreen cedar or hemlock, if in winter ; and the whole 
is surrounded with withes of willow or osier, or young birch. Occa- 
sionally it is the soft but sutificiently unyielding bark of the poplar or 
the bass-wood. Sometimes, when near the marshy margin of our lakes 
or rivers, the wounded limb is afforded support with wild hay or reeds 
of uniform length and thickness. 

To carry a patient to his wigwam, or to an encampment, a stretcher 
is quickly made of four young saplings, interwoven at their upper ends, 
and on this elastic springy couch the injured man is borne away by 
his companions. When there are but two persons, and an accident 
happens to one of them, two young trees of birch or beech or hickory 
are used. Their tops are allowed to remain to aid in diminishing the 
jolting caused by the inequalities of the ground. No London carriage- 
maker ever constructed a spring which could better accomplish the 
purpose. A couple of crossbars preserve the saplings in position, and 
the bark of the elm or birch, cut into broad bands, and joined to either 
side, forms an even bed. In this way an injured man is brought by 
his companion to a settlement, and often it has been found, on arrival, 
that the fractured bones are firmly united, and the limb is whole again. 
This is effected in less time than with the whites, for the reparative 
power of these children of the forest is remarkable. In their plenitude 
of health, osseous matter is poured out in large quantity, and firm union 
is soon effected. 

The reparative power of the aborigines, when injured, is equalled 
by the wonderful stoicism with which they bear injuries, and inflict 
upon themselves severest torture. They are accustomed to cut into 
abscesses with pointed flint ; they light up a fire at a distance from the 
affected part (our counter-irritation); they amputate limbs with their 
hunting-knives, checking the haemorrhage with heated stones, as sur- 
geons were accustomed to do in Europe in the time of Ambroise Pare ; 
and sometimes they amputate their own limbs with more sajig froid 
than many young surgeons will display when operating on others. The 
stumps of limbs amputated in this primitive manner are well formed, 
for neatness is the characteristic of all the Indian's handiwork. 

The aborigines are familiar with, and practise extensively, the use of 
warm fomentations. In every tribe their old women are credited with 
the possession of a knowledge of local bathing with hot water, and 
of medicated decoctions. The herbs they use are known to a privi- 
leged few, and enhance the consideration in which their possessors are 


The Turkish bath, in a simpler but not less effective form, is well 
known to them. If one of their tribe suffers from fever, or from the 
effects of long exposure to cold, a steam bath is readily improvised. 
The tent of deer-skin is tightly closed ; the patient is placed in one 
corner : heated stones are put near him, and on these water is poured 
till the confined air is saturated with vapour. Any degree of heat and 
any degree of moisture can be obtained in this way. Europeans often 
avail themselves of this powerful sudatory when suffering from rheuma- 

The aborigines have their herbs — a few, not many. They have their 
emetics and laxatives, astringents and emollients— all of which are 
proffered to the suffering without fee or reward. The " Indian teas," 
'* Indian balsams," and other Indian "cure-alls" — the virtues of which 
it sometimes takes columns of the daily journals to chronicle — are not 
theirs. To the white man is left this species of deception. ^ 

Mr. E. Palmer says that there is a tribe of Australian aborigines, 
called " Kalkadoona," adjoining the Mygoodano tribe of the Cloncurry, 
who practise certain surgical operations at their Bora initiations of 
youths. They operate on the urethra with flint knives. The same 
custom can be traced from the Cloncurry River to the Great Australian 
Bight in the south. The females are in some of the south-western 
tribes operated on in some manner to prevent conception. It is 
supposed that the ovary is taken out, as in the operation of spaying.^ 

Such operations are sometimes performed with a mussel-shell. 

Sir John Lubbock says of the Society Islanders that "they had no 
knowledge of medicine as distinct from witchcraft ; but some wonderful 
stories are told of their skill in surgery. I will give perhaps the most 
extraordinary. ' It is related,' says Mr. Ellis, ^ although,' he adds with 
perfect gravity, ' I confess I can scarcely believe it, that on some occa- 
sions, when the brain has been injured as well as the bone, they have 
opened the skull, taken out the injured portion of the brain, and, having 
a pig ready, have killed it, taken out the pig's brains, put them in the 
man's head and covered them up.' " ^ 

Massage in one form or another has been practised from immemorial 
ages by all nations. Captain Cook tells us, in his narrative of the people 
of Otaheite, New Holland, and other parts of Oceania, that they practise 
massage in a way very similar to that which is employed by more 
civilized nations. For the relief of muscular fatigue they resort to a 
process which they call toogi-toogi, or light percussion regularly applied 

^ See British Medical Journal ^ July 30tli, 1892, p. 238. 

* Journ. AnthroJ>. Inst.y 1884, p. 295. 

^ Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, p. 483. Ellis, vol. ii. p. 277. 


for a long time. They also employ kneading and friction under the 
names of Miti and Fota. African travellers inform us that the medicine- 
men use these processes for the relief of injuries to the joints, fractures, 
and pain of the muscles. Our word shampooing is said to have been 
derived from the Hindu term chamboning. Dr. N. B. Emerson, in 
1870, gave an account of the lomi-lomi of the Sandwich Islanders. He 
says that, " when footsore and weary in every muscle, so that no posi- 
tion affords rest, and sleep cannot be obtained, these manipulations 
relieve the stiffness and soothe to sleep, so that the unpleasant effects 
of excessive exercise are not felt the next day, but an unwonted sup- 
pleness of joint and muscle comes instead."^ 

rWhen we receive a blow or strike our bodies against a hard sub- 
stance, we instinctively rub the affected part. This is one of the 
simplest and most effectual examples of natural surgery. When the 
emollient properties of oil were discovered, rubbing with oil, or inunc- 
tion, was practised. The use of oil for this purpose in the East is 
extremely ancient. Amongst the Greeks there was a class of rubbers 
who anointed the bodies of the athletes. The oil was very thoroughly 
rubbed in, so that the pores of the skin were closed and the profuse 
perspiration thereby prevented. After the contest the athlete was 
subjected to massage with oil, so as to restore the tone of the strained 
muscles. These aliptae came to be recognised as a sort of medical 
trainers. A similar class of slaves attended their masters in the Roman 
baths, and they were also possessed of a certain kind of medical know- 

Discussing the origin of the operation of trepanning, Sprengel says 
that "nothing is more instructive, in the history of human knowledge, 
than to go back to the origin, or the clumsy rough sketch of the dis- 
coveries to which man was conducted by accident or reflection, and to 
follow the successive improvements which his methods and his instru- 
ments undergo."^ The name of the inventor of this operation is lost in 
the night of time. Hippocrates gives us the first account of trepanning 
in his treatise on Wounds of the Head. We know, however, that it was 
performed long before his time. Dr. Handerson, the translator of 
Baas' History of Medicine^ says that human skulls of the neolithic period 
have been discovered which bear evidences of trepanning.^ 

The operation of cutting for the stone, like many other of the most 
difficult operations of surgery, was for a long time given over to 

* Massage,hy W. E. Green, M.R.C.S. {Prov. Med. Jour., May 2ncl, 1892, p. 242). 

* Hist, de la Mcd.^ vol. vii. p. i. 

3 See also Surgeon Fletcher's report in the U.S. Geographical and Geological Sur- 
vey of the Rocky Mountain Region, vol. v. 1882. 


ignorant persons who make a speciality of it. Sprengel attributes this 
injurious custom to the ridiculous pride of the properly instructed 
doctors, who disdained to undertake operations which could be suc- 
cessfully performed by laymen.^ 

The Bafiotes, on the coast of South Guinea, practise cupping. They 
make incisions in the skin, and place horns over the wounds, and then 
suck out the air, withdrawing the blood by these means. ^ 

" Felkin saw a case of the CjEsarean operation in Central x\frica per- 
formed by a man. At one stroke an incision was made through both 
the abdominal walls and the uterus ; the opening in the latter organ was 
then enlarged, the hsemorrliage checked by the actual cautery, and the 
child removed. While an assistant compressed the abdomen, the opera- 
tor then removed the placenta. The bleeding from the abdominal walls 
was then checked. No sutures were placed in the walls of the uterus, 
but the abdominal parietes were fastened together by seven figure-of- 
eight sutures, formed with polished iron needles and threads of bark. 
The wound was then dressed with a paste prepared from various roots, 
the woman placed quietly upon her abdomen, in order to favour perfect 
drainage, and the task of this African Spencer Wells was finished. It 
appears that the patient was first rendered half unconscious by banana 
wine. One hour after the operation the patient was doing well, and 
her temperature never rose above 101° F., nor her pulse above 108. 
On the eleventh day the wound was completely healed, and the woman 
apparently as well as usual." ^ 

The South Sea Islanders perform trepanning, and some Australian 
tribes perform ovariotomy.* 

The missionary d'Entrecolles was the first to inform the Western 
world of the method of inoculation for the small-pox, w^hich the Chinese 
have followed for many centuries.^ 

In many countries, and from the earliest times, says Sprengel,^ it has 
been customary to inoculate children with small-pox, because experience 
has shown that a disease thus provoked assumes a milder and more 
benign form than the disease which comes naturally. 

^ Hist, de la Med. , tome vii. p. 208. 

2 Baas, Hist. Med., p. 70. ^ Ibid. * Ibid., p. 'jS. 

5 lettres edifiantes et ctirieuses, torn, xxi, p. 5. Hottentots and negroes in Central 
Africa, according to Livingstone, have from remote times practised inoculation in a 
similar manner. 

^ Hist, de la Mai. ^ vol. vii. p. 34. 



Egyptian Beer and Brandy, — Mexican Pulque. — Plant-worship. — Union with the 
Godhead by Alcohol. — Soma. — The Cow-religion. — Caxiri. — Murwa Beer. — 
Bacchic Rites. — -Spiritual Exaltation by ^Yine. 

One of the strongest desires of human nature is the passion for some 
kind or another of alcohoHc stimulants. Intoxicating liquors are made 
by savages in primeval forests, and travellers in all parts of the world 
have found the natives conversant with the art of preparing some sort 
of stimulating hquor in the shape of beer, wine, or spirit. The ancient 
Egyptians had their beer and brandy, the Mexicans their aloe beer or 
pulque. Probably the art of preparing fermented drinks was in each 
nation discovered by accident. Berries soaked in water, set aside 
and forgotten, saccharine roots steeped in water and juices preserved 
for future use, have probably taught primitive man everywhere to 
manufacture stimulating beverages. The influence of alcoholic drinks 
on the development of the human mind must have been very great. If 
primitive man has learned so much from his dreams, what has he not 
learned from the exaltation produced by medicinal plants and alcoholic 
infusions ? If the savage conceives the leaves of a tree waving in the 
breeze to be influenced by a spirit, it is certain that a medicinal plant 
or a fermented liquor would be believed to be possessed by a bene- 
ficent or evil principle or being. A poison would be possessed by a 
demon, a healing plant by a good spirit, a stimulating liquor by a god. 
Plant- worship would on these principles be found amongst the earliest 
religious practices of mankind, and so we find it, although not to the 
extent we might have expected. 

Some savage peoples worship plants and make offerings to the 
spirits which dwell in certain trees. It would seem that it is not the 
plant or tree itself which is thus venerated, but the ghost which makes 
it its dwelling. In classic times " the ivy was sacred to Osiris and 
Bacchus, the pine to Neptune, herb mercury to Hermes, black hellebore 
to Melampus, centaury to Chiron, the laurel to Aloeus, the hyacinth to 
Ajax, the squill to Epimenes," etc.^ 

* Pettigrew's Medical Superstition, p. 24. 


Herbert Spencer thinks that plant-worsliip arose from the connec- 
tion between plants and the intoxication which they produce. It is 
very remarkable that almost all peoples of whom we have any know- 
ledge produce from the maceration of various vegetable substances 
some kind of intoxicating liquor, beer, wine, or spirit. As the excite- 
ment produced by fainting, fever, hysteria, or insanity is ascribed 
amongst savages and half-civiUzed peoples to a possessing spirit^ so 
also is any exaltation of the mind, by whatever means produced, attri- 
buted to a similar cause. Supernatural beings they consider may be 
swallowed in food or drink, especially the latter.^ 

Vambery speaks of opium-eaters who intoxicated themselves with 
the drugj that they might be nearer the beings they loved so well. 
The Mandingoes think that intoxication brings them into relation with 
the godhead. A Papuan Islander hearing about the Christian God 
said, ^'Then this God is certainly in your arrack, for I never feel 
happier than when I have drunk plenty of it." ^ 

Any one who reads the sacred books of the East for the first time, 
especially the Vedic hymns, will be puzzled to say whether the Soma, 
which is referred to so often, is a deity or something to drink. If we 
turn up the w^ord in the index volume of the Eiicyclopccdia Brltamiica, 
we are astonished to find such an entry as this : " Soma, a drink, in 
Brahminical ritual, iv. 205 ; as a deity, iv. 205 ; vii. 249." The soma, 
speaking scientifically, is an intoxicating liquor prepared from the juice 
of a kind of milk-weed, Asdepias acida^ sometimes called the moon- 
plant. In the Rig-Veda and the Zend Avesia (where it is called 
Haoina) it appears as a mighty god endowed with the most wonderful 
exhilarating properties. Herbert Spencer, in the chapter of the Soci- 
ology entitled " Plant- Worship," gives some of the expressions used in 
the Rig-Veda concerning this fermented soma-juice. 

" This [Soma] when drunk, stimulates my speech [or hymn] ; this 
called forth the ardent thought." (R.V. vi. 47, 3.) 

" The ruddy Soma, generating hymns, with the powers of a poet." 
(R.V. ix. 25, 5.) 

" We have drunk the Sonia, we have become immortal, we have 
entered into light, we have known the gods," etc. (R.V. viii. 48, 3.) 

" The former [priests] having strewed the sacred grass, offered up a 
hymn to thee, O Soma, for great strength and food." (R.V. Ix. no, 7.) 

" For through thee, pure Soma, our wise forefathers of old per- 
formed their sacred rites." (R.V. ix. 96, 11.) 

" Soma — do thou enter into us," etc. 

Dr. Muir calls Soma " the Indian Dionysus." 

* Principles of Sociology y Herbert Spencer, vol. i. p. 374. " Ibid. 


In Peru tobacco " has been called the sacred herb." 

Markham says, " The Peruvians still look upon coca with feelings of 
superstitious veneration." In the time of the Incas it was sacrificed to 
the sun. In North Mexico, Bancroft says that some of the natives 
'' have a great veneration for the hidden virtues of poisonous plants, 
and believe that if they crush or destroy one, some harm will happen to 
them." " And at the present time," says Mr. Spencer, " in the Phi- 
lippine Islands, the Ignatius bean, which contains strychnia and is used 
as a medicine, is worn as an amulet and held capable of miracles." 
The Babylonians seem to have held the palm-tree as sacred, doubtless 
because fermented palm-juice makes an intoxicating drink. 

The Palal, the supreme pontiff of the cow-religion of the Toda 
people of the Neilgherries, is initiated with incantations, and the smear- 
ing of his body with the juice of a sacred shrub called the tude.^ 

He also drinks some of the extract mixed with water. He is puri- 
fied by soaking himself with the juice of this plant, and in a week has 
become a god ; he is the supreme being of the Todas. This transmu- 
tation is suggestive of the sacred soma.^ 

The aborigines of the Amazon make an intoxicating drink from wild 
fruits, which they use at their dances and festivals.'"^ The people on the 
Rio Negro use a liquor called " xirac " for the same purpose. The 
Brazilian Indians have their " caxiri," which is the same thing ; it is a 
beer made from mandiocca cakes. This mandiocca is chewed by the 
old women, spat into a pan, and soaked in water till it ferments. The 
Marghi people of North Africa have an intoxicating liquor called 
"Komil," made of Guinea-corn, which Barth said tastes like bad beer, 
and is very confusing to the brain. ^ 

The Apaches make an intoxicating liquor from cactus juice, or with 
boiled and fermented corn. Their drunkenness is a preparation for 
religious acts.^ 

The Kolarians of Bengal believe that the flowers of the maowah 
tree {Bassia latifolid) will cure almost every kind of sickness. " Not a 
cot," says Reclus,^ " but distils a heady liquor from the petals ; nat a 
Khond man who does not get royally drunk." 

The people of the Nepal Himalayas make a beer from half-fermented 
millet, which they call Mitriva ; it is weak, but very refreshing. Hooker 
says the millet-seed is moistened, and ferments for two days ; it is then 
put into a vessel of wicker-work, lined with india-rubber gum to make 

^ Meliosma simplicifolia, or Millingtonia. ^ Reclus, Primitive Folk^ p. 222. 

3 Wallace, Travels on the Amazon, chap. xvii. 

* Barth, Travels in Africa^ Ed. 1890, p. 416. 

5 Reclus, Primitive Folk, p. 136. ^ Iln'd., p. 251. 


it water tight ; and boiling water is poured in it with a ladle of gourd, 
from a cauldron that stands all day over the fire. The fluid, when 
fresh, tasted hke negus.i 

The fermented juice of the cocoa-nut palm makes an intoxicating 
toddy, of which some birds in the forests round Bombay are as fond as 
are the natives themselves. ^ 

The natives of Tahiti made an intoxicating drink by chewing the fresh 
root of the "ava," a plant of the pepper tribe (^Piper methysticum), long 
before Europeans taught them to ferment the fruits of the country about 
the year 1796. The chewed root was rinsed in water, and by fermenta- 
tion a drowsy form of intoxicating liquor was produced of which the 
natives were extremely fond. They now prefer gin and brandy. The 
effects of ava or kava intoxication are said to be somewhat similar to 
those of opium. The Nukahivans drink kava as a remedy for phthisis; 
it would seem to be of real value in bronchitis, as a chemical examina- 
tion of the root shows it to contain an oleo-resin probably somewhat 
akin to balsam of Peru or tolu. It is an ally of the matico, and in its 
nature and operation closely resembles cubeb and copaiba, which are 
used to produce a constriction of the capillary vessels. 

Cascarilla bark and other barks of the various species of croton, of 
the Bahama and West India Islands, have valuable stimulant proper- 
ties universally recognised in modern medicine. They are used in the 
treatment of dyspepsia and as a mild tonic. 

The Carib races were fully conversant with the valuable properties of 
these drugs ; the native priests or doctors used the dried plants for fumi- 
gations and in religious ceremonies ; and curiously enough at the present 
day cascarilla bark is one of the ingredients of incense. An infusion 
of the leaves was used internally in Carib medicine, and the dried bark 
was mixed with tobacco and smoked, as is often done in civilized lands. 

Anacreontic poetry and Bacchic rites were merely intellectual de- 
velopments of sentiments which the savage feels and expresses in a 
coarse animal way, just as the alderman's sense of gratification and per- 
fect contentment after a civic banquet is not altogether different in kind 
from that felt by a replete quadruped. 

Alcoholic intoxication must have produced in primitive man visions 
far surpassing those of his pleasantest dreams, and his brain must have 
been filled with images, sometimes pleasant, sometimes horrible, of a 
more pronounced character than those which visited him in sleep. 
At such times would come some of the visitants from the world of 
imagination to the mind of primitive man which have had the most 

^ Hooker, Himalayan Journals, Ed. 1891, p. 204. 
^ Blavatsky, Caves and Jungles of Hindostan, p. 13. 


important influence on his intellectual development. The drinking 
customs of our working classes of the present day are in a great 
degree prompted by the longing which man in every condition has to 
escape for a while from the squalid, material surroundings of daily 
life into the ideal world of intellectual pleasures, however low these 
may often be. " A national love for strong drink," says a competent 
authority,^ "is a characteristic of the nobler and more energetic popu- 
lations of the world ; it accompanies public and private enterprise, 
constancy of purpose, liberality of thought, and aptitude for war." 
Tea, haschish, hops, alcohol, and tobacco stimulate in small doses and 
narcotise in larger; there have been cases known of tea intoxication.^ 

The desire of escaping from self into an ideal world, a world of 
novelty and pleasures unimaginable, had much to do with the festivals 
in Greece in honour of Dionysus ; it was in some places considered a 
crime to remain sober at the Dionysia ; to be intoxicated on such occa- 
sions was to show one's gratitude for the gift of wine. 

^ Quoted in the article on " Drunkenness " in Eiuy. Brit. 

^ See Third Annual Report of the Massachusetts Board of Health. 




he Couvade, its Prevalence in Savage and Civilized Lands. — Pregnant Women 
excluded from Kitchens. — The Deities of the Lying-in Chamber. 

R. Tylor ^ gives the following account of the Carib couvade in the 
West Indies from the work of Du Tertre : ^ — 

" When a child is born, the mother goes presently to her work, but 
the father begins to complain, and takes to his hammock, and there he 
is visited as though he were sick, and undergoes a course of dieting, 
which would cure of the gout the most replete of Frenchmen. How 
they can fast so much and not die of it," continues the narrator, " is 
amazing to me, for they sometimes pass the five first days without eat- 
ing or drinking anything, then up to the tenth they drink ouycou^ which 
has about as much nourishment in it as beer. These ten days passed, 
they begin to eat cassava only, drinking oilycou, and abstaining from 
everything else for the space of a whole month. During this time,, 
however, they only eat the inside of the cassava, so that what is left 
is like the rim of a hat when the block has been taken out, and all the 
cassava rims they keep for the feast at the end of forty days, hanging 
them up in the house with the cord. When the forty days are up they 
invite their relations and best friends, who being arrived, before they 
set to eating, hack the skin of this poor wretch with agouti-teeth, and 
draw blood from all parts of his body in such sort that from being sick 
by pure imagination they often make a real patient of him. This is, 
however, so to speak, only the fish, for now comes the sauce they 
prepare for him ; they take sixty or eighty large grains of pimento or 
Indian pepper, the strongest they can get, and after well washing it in 
water they wash with this peppery infusion the wounds and scars of 
the poor fellow, who I believe suffers no less than if he were burnt 
alive ; however, he must not utter a single word if he will not pass for 
a coward and a wretch. This ceremony finished, they bring him back 
to his bed, where he remains some days more, and the rest go and 

* Early Hist. Mankind, p. 288. 

^ Hist. Gen. des Antilles habitees par les Fran^ais : Paris, 1667, vol. ii. p. 371, etc. 


make good cheer in the house at his expense. Nor is this all ; f< 
through the space of six whole months he eats neither birds nor fish, 
firmly believing that this would injure the child's stomach, and that it 
would participate in the natural faults of the animals on which its father 
had fed ; for example, if the father ate turtle, the child would be deaf 
and have no brains like this animal, if he ate manati, the child would 
have little round eyes like this creature, and so on with the rest. It 
seems that this very severe fasting is only for the first child, that for the 
others being slight." 

Among the Arawaks of Surinam a father must kill no large game 
for some time after his child is born. When a wife has borne a child, 
amongst the Abipones, the husband is put to bed and well wrapped up 
and kept as though he had had the child. Among the Land Dayaks 
of Borneo, after the birth of his child the father is kept in seclusion 
indoors for several days and dieted on rice and salt to prevent the 
child's stomach from swelling. All this is due to a belief in a bodily 
union between father and child ; different persons with these savages 
are not necessarily separate beings. 

Tylor says ^ that Venegas mentions the couvade among the Indians 
of California ; Zuccheli in West Africa; Captain Van der Hart in Bouro, 
in the Eastern Archipelago ; and Marco Polo in Eastern Asia in the 
thirteenth century. In Europe even in modern times it existed in the 
neighbourhood of the Pyrenees. Strabo said,^ that among the Iberians 
of the North of Spain, the women, after the birth of a child, tend their 
husbands, putting them to bed instead of going themselves. Among 
the Basques, says Michel, " in valleys whose population recalls in its 
usages the infancy of society, the women rise immediately after child- 
birth and attend to the duties of the household, while the husband goes 
to bed, taking the baby with him, and thus receives the neighbours' 
compliments." Diodorus Siculus mentions the same thing of the 
Corsicans (v. 14). Hudibras says,^ — 

"For though Chineses go to bed 
And lie in, in their ladies' stead, 
And, for the pains they took before, 
Are nurs'd and pamper'd to do more." 

On this remarks Dr. Zachary Grey ^ : — 

*' The Chinese men of quality, when their wives are brought to bed^ 
are nursed and tended with as much care as women here, and are sup- 
plied with the best strengthening and nourishing diet in order to qualify 
them for future services." This is the custom of the Brazilians, if we 

^ Early Hist. Mankind, p. 294. ^ {{^ 4, 17. ^ Pt. iii., Canto i. 

^ Notes to his edition of Hudibras, i^AtAt ^oc. cit. 


may believe Masseus, who observes, *'that women in travail are de- 
livered without great difficulty, and presently go about their household 
business : the husband in her stead keepeth his bed, is visited by his 
neighbours, hath his broths made him, and junkets sent to comfbrt 

" Among the Iroquois, a mother who shrieks during her labour is 
forbidden to bear other children, and some of the South American In- 
dians killed the children of the mothers who shrieked, from the belief 
that they will grow up to be cowards." ^ 

The origin of the couvade is not to be traced to the father and 
mother, says Starcke ; it has to do simply with the well-being of the 
child. The father's powers of endurance, tested so severely as we 
have seen, are believed to be assured to the child.^ 

Max Miiller traces the origin of the couvade to the derision of friends 
of both sexes. 

DobrizhofFen says of the Abipones : ^ " They comply with this cus- 
tom with the greater care and readiness because they believe that the 
father's rest and abstinence have an extraordinary effect on the well- 
being of new-born infants, and is, indeed, absolutely necessary for 
them. For they are quite convinced that any unseemly act on the 
father's part would injuriously affect the child on account of the sympa- 
thetic tie which naturally subsists between them, so that in the event of 
the child's death the women all blame the self-indulgence of the father, 
and find fault with this or that act." 

Badaga nursing-women physic themselves with ashes and pieces of 
sweet-flag {Acorus calamus)^ an aromatic plant, with the idea of com- 
municating medicinal properties to the milk. They also administer 
to the baby assafoetida and a certain sacred confection taken from the 
entrails of a bull and similar to the bezoar stones so celebrated in the 
middle ages.* 

The Badaga folk do not permit a pregnant woman to enter the room 
where the provisions are kept and the fireplace stands ; it would be 
feared that her condition, her supposed uncleanness, might lessen the 
virtues of the fire or diminish the nutritious value of the food.^ 

Pliny says, " there is no limit to the marvellous powers attributed to 
females."^ At__certain times, according to him, a woman can scare ^'^XAiAl^JT 
away hailstorms, whirlwinds, and lightnings, by going about in scanty 
costume. If she walk round a field of wheat at such times, the cater- 
pillars, worms, beetles, and other vermin will fall from the ears of corn. 

1 Starcke, The Primitive Family, p. 52. ^ /^^-^^ 3 y^i^ j^^ p^ 275. 

* Reclus, Primitive Folk, p. 202. ^ Ibid., p. 192. 

* Natural History, Bookxxviii., ch. 23. 


If she touch " young vines, they are irremediably injured, and both rue 
and ivy, plants possessed of highly medicinal virtues, will die instantly 
upon being touched by her." Bees, he says, will forsake their hives if 
she touches them, linen boihng in a cauldron will turn black, and the 
edge of a razor will become blunted. The bitumen that is found in 
Judaea will yield to nothing but this, and Tacitus says the same thing. 
Marvellous to say, poisonous and injurious as Pliny and other writers, 
and even popular belief at the present day, consider the catamenial 
fluid to be, a host of writers on medical and magical subjects have 
attributed certain remedial properties to it. Pliny says it is useful, as a 
topical application, for gout, the bite of a mad dog (what has not been 
recommended for this !), for tertian or quartan fevers and for epilepsy. 
Reduced to ashes and mixed with soot and wax, it is a cure for ulcers 
upon all kinds of beasts of burden ; mixed in the same way with oil of 
roses and applied to the forehead, it cured the migraine of Roman 
ladies. Applied to the doorposts, it neutralises all the spells of the 
magicians — a set of men which even the credulous Pliny characterizes 
as the most lying in existence. 

Both savages and classical peoples had the same curious notions 
about the touch of catamenial women. There may possibly be some 
foundation in bacteriology to account for them. 

St. Augustine says : ^ " The woman in child-bed must have three gods 
to look to her after her deliverance, lest Sylvanus come in the night 
and torment her : in signification whereof, three men must go about the 
house in the night, and first strike the thresholds with an hatchet, then 
with a pestle, and then sweep them with besoms, that by these signs of 
worship they may keep Sylvanus out." 

Lying-in women in Germany in the seventeenth century were simply 
crammed with food about every two hours, and they seem to have 
taken no harm from the practice. 

1 Be Civ., Lib. vi. 9. 






Antiquity of Egyptian Civilization. — Surgical Bandaging. — Gods and Goddesses of 
Medicine. — Medical Specialists. — Egyptians claimed to have discovered the Heal- 
ing Art. — Medicine largely Theurgic. — Magic and Sorcery forbidden to the Laity. 
— The Embalmers. — Anatomy. — Therapeutics. — Plants in use in Ancient Egypt. 
—Surgery and Chemistry. — Disease-demons. — Medical Papyri. — Great Skill of 
Egyptian Physicians. 

So far as we are able to judge from the records of the past which recent 
investigations have made familiar to us, the civilization of Egypt is the 
most ancient of which we have accurate knowledge. The contending 
claims of India to a higher antiquity for its civilization cannot here be 
discussed, and for the purposes of this work the oldest place in the 
civilization of the world must be assigned to Egypt. 

It is highly probable that the first kingdom of Egypt existed eight 
thousand years back. The history of Egypt as we have it in her 
monuments and records is far more trustworthy than the stories which 
the Chinese and other ancient peoples tell of their past. Assyria, Baby- 
lonia, and Chaldaea have histories reaching back to the twilight of the 
ages ; but for practical purposes we must content ourselves with tracing 
the rise and progress of civilization as we decipher it on the banks of 
the Nile. So far as medicine and chemistry are concerned, we shall 
discover abundant matter to interest us. We require no other proof 
than the mummies in our museums to convince us that the Egyptians 
from the period at which those interesting objects date must have 
possessed a very accurate knowledge of anatomy, of pharmacy, and a 
skill in surgical bandaging very far surpassing that possessed now-a- 
days by even the most skilful professors of the art. Dr. Granville says : 
" There is not a single form of bandage known to modern surgery, of 
which far better and cleverer examples are not seen in the swathings of 
the Egyptian mummies. The strips of linen are found without one 
single joint, extending to looo yards in length." It is said that there 
is not a fracture known to modern surgery which could not have been 
successfully treated by the priest-physicians of ancient Egypt. The great 


divinities of Egypt were Isis and Osiris ; the former was the goddess oi 
procreation and birth. As it was she who decreed life and death, and 
decided the fate of men, it is not surprising to find her the chief of the 
divinities of the healing art ; she had proved her claims as the great 
chief of physicians by recalling to life her son Horus. 

The iEsculapius of the Egyptians was Imhotep ; he was the god of the 
sciences, and was the son of Ptah and Pakht. The gods of Egypt were 
worshipped in triads or trinities, and many of the great temples were 
devoted to the worship of one or other of these trinities, that of Memphis 
consisted of Ptah, Pakht, and Imhotep. Thoth or Tauut was similar 
to Imhotep ; he was the god of letters, and, as the deity of wisdom, he 
aids Horus against Set, the representative of physical evil. By many 
writers he is considered to be the Egyptian ^sculapius. He has some 
evident relationship to the Greek Hermes. " Thoth," says Dr. Baas 
{Hist. Med., p. 14), "is supposed to have been the author of the oldest 
Egyptian medical works, whose contents were first engraved upon pillars 
of stone. Subsequently collected into the book Ambre or Embre (a 
title based upon the initial words of this book, viz. ' Ha em re em 
per em hru/ i.e. ' Here begins the book of the preparation of drugs 
for all parts of the human body'), they formed a part of the so- 
called ^ Hermetic Books,' from whose prescriptions no physician might 
deviate, unless he was willing to expose himself to punishment in case 
the patient died. This punishment was threatened because the sub- 
stance of the medical, as well as the religious works of the Egyptians — 
and the science of the priests united in itself medicine, theology, and 
philosophy — was given, according to their view, by the gods themselves, 
and a disregard of their prescriptions would be nothing less than 
sacrilege." The Hermetic books, says Clement of Alexandria, were 
forty-two in number, of which six "of the pastophor" were medical. 
The famous Book of the Dead is supposed by Bunsen to have been 
one of the Hermetic books. The papyrus of Ebers, believed by that 
Egyptologist to date from the year 1500 B.C., is considered to have 
been of the number of the medical books of Hermes Trismegistus. 
The Papyrus Ebers is preserved in Leipsic, and, though at present only 
partially deciphered, abundantly shows the great advance already made 
at so distant a period as the fourth millennium before the Christian era 
in the arts of medicine and surgery. 

One of the authors mentioned in the papyrus is an oculist of Byblos 
in Phoenicia. This proves not only that there were specialists in 
diseases of the eye at that period, but that neighbouring nations con- 
tributed of their store of scientific knowledge to enrich that of the 


Dr. Baas informs us that this papyrus describes "remedies for 
diseases of the stomach, the abdomen, and the urinary bladder ; for the 
cure of swellings of the glands in the groin (buboes) and the ' kehn- 
mite ' ; ' the Book of the Eyes ' ; remedies for ulcers of the head, for 
greyness of the hair, and promotion of its growth ; ointments to heal 
and strengthen the nerves ; medicines to cure diseases of the tongue, to 
strengthen the teeth, to remove lice and fleas ; remedies for the hearing 
and for the organs of smell; the preparation of the famous Kyphi; 'The 
Secret Book of the Physician' (the science of the movement of the heart, 
and the knowledge of the heart, according to the priestly physician 
Nebsuchet); prescriptions for the eyes according to the views of the 
priest Chui, a Semite of Byblos ; ' Book 'of the Banishing of Pains,' 
recipes for mouth-pills for women, to render the odour of the mouth 
agreeable ; the various uses of the tequem tree, etc. The papyrus 
has marginal notes, like nefer (good), etc., which Lauth assigns to the 
year b.c. 1469— an evidence that its prescriptions had been tested in 
practice." ^ 

Osiris (who would appear to be the same deity as Apis or Serapis) 
and the goddess Isis, who was his wife and sister, were held by the 
Egyptians to have been the inventors of the medical arts. A very 
ancient inscription on a column says : " My father is Chronos, the 
youngest of all the gods. I am the king Osiris, who has been through 
all the earth ; even to the habitable lands of the Indies, to those which 
are under the Bear, even to the sources of the Danube, and besides to 
the Ocean. I am the eldest son of Chronos, and the scion of a beauti- 
ful and noble race; I am the parent of the day, there is no part of the 
world where I have not been, and I have filled all the world with my 
benefactions." Another column has these words : " I am Isis, queen 
of all this country, who has been instructed by Thoth; no one is able 
to unbind what I have bound ; I am the eldest daughter of Chronos, 
the youngest of the gods. I am the wife and the sister of King Osiris. 
It is I who first taught mankind the art of agriculture. I am the mother 
of King Horus. It is I who shine in the dog-star. It is I who built 
the city of Bubastis. Farewell, farewell, Egypt, where I have been 
reared." It appears from these inscriptions that Isis and Osiris were 
contemporary with Thoth or Hermes. 

Diodorus says that Isis was believed by the Egyptian priests to have 
invented various medicines and to have been an expert practitioner of 
the healing art, and that she was on this account raised to the ranks of 
the gods, where she still takes interest in the health of. mankind. She 
was supposed to indicate appropriate remedies for diseases in dreams, 
^ Hist. Med., Eng. Trans., p. 16. 


and such remedies were always efficacious, even in cases wher^ 
physicians had failed to do any good. 

The inscription informs us that Osiris had filled the earth with his 
benefactions. The Egyptian priests believed that Thoth was the in- 
ventor of the arts and sciences in general, and the king Osiris and the 
queen Isis invented those which were necessary to life. Isis therefore 
invented agriculture, and Osiris is credited with having invented 
medicine. Apis, who is evidently the same person as Osiris, is said by 
Clement of Alexandria to have discovered medicine before lo went to- 

Cyril of Alexandria says that Apis was the first to invent the art of 
medicine, or who exercised it with more success than his predecessors, 
having been instructed by ^sculapius.^ 

Plutarch says 2 that Apis and Osiris were, according to Egyptian tra- 
ditions, two names of one and the same person, and this is confirmed by 
Strabo and Theodoret. Others say that Serapis was a third name of 
Osiris, though some consider that Serapis was a name of ^sculapius. 

Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, was the Egyptian sun-god, and was 
the same as the Apollo of the Greeks. He was born with his finger on 
his mouth, indicative of mystery and secrecy ; and so, probably, was 
for this reason connected with medicine. In the mystical works of 
Hermes Trismegistus, he plays an important part. Diodorus attributes 
to Horus the invention of medicine. He says that Isis having found 
in the water her son Horus, who had been killed by the Titans, restored 
him to life and made him immortal. Diodorus adds that he was the 
same god as Apollo, and that he learned the arts of medicine and 
divination from his mother, in consequence of which instruction he had 
been of great service to mankind by his oracles and his remedies. It 
is difficult to see how on this account Horus can be considered as the 
inventor of medicine, a title which was surely due to his mother. 

In the judgment scene in the Book of the Dead on the papyrus of 
Ani we have the god Thoth, under the symbol of the cynocephalus, 
or dog-headed ape. Anubis examines the indicator of the Balance. 
Before Anubis stands Destiny, behind him are Fortune and the Goddess 
of Birth. Above Destiny is a symbol of the cradle. The human- 
headed bird is the soul of the deceased. On the right of the scene, 
Thoth, the medicine-god and scribe of the gods (with the head of 
an ibis), notes the result of the trial. Behind Thoth is the monster 
Amemit, the devourer, with the head of a crocodile, the middle parts 
of a lion, and the hind-quarters of a hippopotamus. Thoth pronounces 
judgment: "The heart of Ani is weighed, and his soul standeth in 
1 Le Clerc, Hist, dt la Medicine. ^ Lib. de Iside et Osiride. 


evidence thereof; his case is straight upon the great Balance." The 
^'ods reply, " Righteous and just is Osiris, Ani, the triumphant." ^ 

Eusebius, Psellus, and others say that Hermes Trismegistus was a 
wriest and philosopher who hved a little after the time of Moses. He 
:aught the Egyptians mathematics, theology, medicine, and geography. 
Of the forty-two most useful books of Hermes six treated of medicine, 
matomy, and the cure of disease. ^ 

Pliny says ^ that the Egyptians claimed the honour of having invented 
the art of curing diseases. Wilkinson points out * that " the study of 
medicine and surgery appears to have commenced at a very early 
period in Egypt, since Athothes, the second king of the country, is 
stated to have written upon the subject of anatomy, and the schools of 
Alexandria ^ continued till a late period to enjoy the reputation and dis- 
play the skill they had inherited from their predecessors. Hermes was 
said to have written six books on medicine, the first of which related to 
anatomy ; and the various recipes known to have been beneficial were 
recorded, with their peculiar cases, in the memoirs of physic, inscribed 
among the laws, which were deposited in the principal temple of the 
place, as at Memphis in that of Ptah, or Vulcan." We are told in 
Genesis 1. 2 that " Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to 
embalm his father : and the physicians embalmed Israel." It is not 
probable that the embalmers were regular practising physicians. The 
dissectors of the human body were not held in honour amongst the 
Egyptians, and for sanitary reasons it is highly improbable that doctors 
in attendance upon the sick would have engaged in this work ; but as 
the art of embalming demanded considerable anatomical knowledge, 
it is more likely that a class of men similar to our dissecting-room 
assistants at the medical schools and hospitals were employed for this 

The art of medicine in ancient Egypt consisted of two branches — the 
higher, which was the theurgic part, and the lower, which was the art of 
the physician proper. The theurgic class devoted themselves to magic, 
counteracting charms by prayers, and to the interpretation of the dreams 
of the sick who had sought their aid in the temples. The inferior class 
were practitioners who simply used natural means in their profession as 
healers. Amongst the Egyptian Platonists, theurgy was an imaginary 
science, which is thus described by Murdock : " it was supposed to have 

^ Official Guide Brit. Mus., " Egyptian Antiquities," pp. 107-8. 
2 Clem. Alex., Strom., lib. vi. p. 196. ^ vii. 56. 

* Ancient Egyptians, vol. ii. p. 358. 

5 Ammianus Marcellinus, i. 16, says, for a doctor to recommend his skill, it was 
^sufficient to say that he had studied at Alexandria. 


been revealed to men by the gods themselves in very ancient times, an< 
to have been handed down by the priests ; [it was] also the ability, bj 
means of certain acts, words, and symbols, to move the gods to impart 
secrets which surpass the powers of reason to lay open the future.' 
The higher physicians were priest-magicians, the lower class were priest 
who were called Pastophori ; as Isis and the priests were connected witK^ 
the healing art, the Pastophori were highly estemed for their medical 
skill apart from magic. These officials were so called from the fact 
that they had to bear, in the ceremonies in the temples, the Trao-ros, or 
sacred shawl, to raise it at appropriate times, and so discover the god in 
the adytum.^ 

It was their duty to study the last six of the Hermetic books, as it 
was that of the higher grade to study the first thirty-six. 

Professor Ebers explained to Dr. Puschmann ^ that the Pastophori 
" constituted a class of priests who held by no means so low a rank as 
is attributed to them in historical works. The doctors were bound to 
maintain a spiritual character, and allowed themselves therefore to rank 
with the Pastophori, although the higher priestly dignities probably 
remained open to them. On the other hand, the Pastophori were by 
no means likewise doctors, as many think, but had as a body quite other 
functions, as their name indeed indicates. The relation of the Pastophori 
to the doctors was doubtless the same as that of the scholar to the 
cleric in the Christian middle ages ; all scholars did not belong to 
the clergy, but at the same time all clergymen might be considered 

The principle of authority was paramount in Egyptian medicine. Sa 
long as the doctor faithfully followed the instructions of the ancient 
exponents of his art, he could do as he liked with his patient ; but if he 
struck out a path for himself, and his patient unhappily died, he forfeited 
his own life. Diodorus Siculus leads us to suppose that the physicians 
formed their diagnosis according to the position occupied by the patient 
in his bed. This is singularly like the method of diagnosing diseases in 
use amongst the ancient Hindus. Medicine in Egypt, after all, was only 
an art ; the absurd reverence for authority prevented any real progress. 
Kept back by these fixed regulations, its freedom was restricted on every 
side ; otherwise, with the unbounded faciHty for making post-mortem^ 
examinations, Egyptian medicine would have made immense advance. 

Concerning the specialism which prevailed amongst Egyptian doctors,. 

Herodotus says : " The art of medicine is thus divided amongst them ^ 

each physician applies himself to one disease only, and not more. All 

places abound in physicians ; some physicians are for the eyes, others 

1 Clem. Alex., Strom. ^ Hist. Med. Education, p. 24, 


for the head, others for the teeth, others for the parts about the belly, 
md others for internal disorders." ^ 

With reference to the teeth, it is interesting to observe that some of 
the dental work found in opening mummies is equal to our own. 

Sir J. Wilkinson says 2 that the embalmers were probably members 
of the medical profession as well as of the class of priests. Pliny states 
that, during this process, certain examinations took place, which enabled 
them to study the disease of which the patient had died. They appear 
to have been made in compliance with an order from the government,^ 
as he says the kings of Egypt had the bodies opened after death to 
ascertain the nature of their diseases, by which means alone the remedy 
for phthisical complaints was discovered. Indeed, it is reasonable to 
suppose that a people so advanced as were the Egyptians in know- 
ledge of all kinds, and whose medical art was so systematically arranged 
that they had regulated it by some of the very same laws followed by 
the most enlightened and skilful nations of the present day, would not 
have omitted so useful an inquiry, or have failed to avail themselves of 
the means which the process adopted for embalming the body placed 
at their disposal. And nothing can more clearly prove their advance- 
ment in the study of human diseases than the fact of their assigning 
to each his own peculiar branch, under the different heads of oculists, 
dentists, those who cured diseases in the head, those who confined 
themselves to intestinal complaints, and those who attended to secret 
and internal maladies. They must have possessed an intimate know- 
ledge of drugs, to have enabled them to select those of an antiseptic 
character suitable for the preservation of the mummies. That their 
practical knowledge of anatomy must have been considerable is proved 
by the skill with which they removed the more perishable parts of the 
body in the process of embalming. The embalmers, says Ebers, were 
all enrolled in a guild which existed down to Roman times, as is shown 
in various Greek papyri. 

In the wall-cases 30-33 in the upper floor of the second Egyptian 
room of the British Museum, there is a set of Canopic jars which held 
the intestines of the human body, which were always embalmed sepa- 
rately. They were placed near the bier and were four in number, each 
one being dedicated to one of the four children of Horus, the genii of 
the dead. The stomach and large intestines were dedicated to Amset, 
the smaller intestines to Hapi, the lungs and heart to Tuamavtef, and 
the liver and gall-bladder to Kebhsenuf. Poor people had to be con- 
tent with mere models of these vases."* 

^ Book ii. 84. 2 Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. p. 477- 

^ Plin. xix. 5. ■* Official Guide^ p. in. 


The dissectors were the paraschistes^ who cut open as much of the 
body as the law permitted with an Ethiopian stone. As soon as one of 
them had made the requisite incision he had to fly, pursued by those 
present, who cursed him bitterly, and flung stones at him. It was con- 
sidered hateful to inflict any wound on a human body ; and however 
necessary the act might be, the agent incurred the greatest odium. 

The Egyptian doctors knew very little of anatomy as a science ; they 
were, however, acquainted with the fact that the blood-vessels had their 
origin from the heart, and that the blood was distributed to the body 
from that organ. There is an interesting treatise on the heart in the 
Papyrus Ebers. In another medical papyrus we find the following 
anatomical details concerning the blood-vessels : — 

" The head of man has thirty-two vessels ; they carry the breath to 
his heart; they give inspiration to all his members. There are two 
vessels to the breasts ; they give warmth to the lungs — for healing them, 
one must make a remedy of flour of fresh wheat, herb haka, and 
sycamore teput — make a decoction and let the patient drink it ; she will 
be well. There are two vessels to the legs. If any one has a disease 
of the legs, if his arms are without strength, it is because the secret 
vessel of the leg has taken the malady, — a remedy must be made. . . . 
There are two vessels to the arms ; if a man's arm is suffering, if he has 
pains in his fingers, say that this is a case of shooting pains. . . . 
There are two vessels of the occiput, two of the sinciput, two of the 
interior, two of the eyelids, two of the nostrils, and two of the left ear. 
The breath of life enters by them. There are two vessels of the right 
ear ; the breath enters by them." 

It is uncertain whether by the term vessels the Egyptians understand' 
the arteries, the veins, the nerves, or some imaginary conduits.^ 

The ancient Egyptians were zealous students of medicine ; yet, as Dr. 
Ebers tells us, they also thought that the eflicacy of the treatment was 
enhanced by magic formulae. The prescriptions in the famous Ebers 
Papyrus are accompanied by forms of exorcism to be used at the same 
time; "and yet many portions of this work," says Ebers, "give evi- 
dence of the advanced knowledge of its authors." ^ 

Origen says ^ that the Egyptians believed there were thirty-six 
demons, or thirty-six gods of the air, who shared amongst them the 
body of man, which is divided into as many parts. He adds that the 
Egyptians knew the names of those demons, and believed that if they 
invoked the proper demon of the aflected part they would be cured. 
Magic and sorcery were arts which were forbidden to the laity. 

^ Chabas, Melanges ^gvptologiques^ p. 64. 2 Ebers, Egypt, vol. ii. p. 62. 
^ Contra Celstim, lib. 8. 


Many magical rites and animistic customs connected with the Egyptian 
jligion closely resemble those which prevail over the whole continent 
of Africa. The basis of the Egyptian religion is supposed by some 
authorities to be of a purely Nigritian character ; on which has been 
superimposed certain elevated characteristics due to Asiatic setders and 
conquerors. The worship of the negroes proper is simply fetishism 
combined with tree and animal worship and a strong belief in sorcery. 

The great and peculiar feature of Egyptian magic lay in the fact that 
its formulae were intended to assimilate to the gods those who sought 
protection from the evils of life. The incantation was not in the nature 
of a prayer. As M. Lenormant says i^ " The virtue of the formulae lay not 
in an invocation of the divine power, but in the fact of a man's pro- 
claiming himself such or such a god ; and when he, in pronouncing the 
incantation, called to his aid any one of the various members of the 
Egyptian Pantheon, it was as one of themselves that he had a right to 
the assistance of his companions." In the Harris Papyrus is a fragment 
of one of the magical tracts of the medicine-god Thoth, in which is an 
incantation for protection against crocodiles : — 

*' Do not be against me ! I am Amen. 
I am Anhur, the good guardian ; 
I am the great master of the sword. 
Do not erect thyself ! I am Month. 
Do not try to surprise me ! I am Set. 
Do not raise thy two arms against me ! I am Sothis. 
Do not seize me ! I am Sethu." ^ 

Disease-demons recognised the power of the gods, and obeyed their 
commands. An inscription on a monument of the time of Ramses XII. 
tells how the Princess Bint-resh, sister of Queen Noferu-ra, was cured 
in a serious illness by the image of the god Khonsu being sent to her 
after the " learned expert " Thut-emhib had failed to do her any good. 
When the god appeared at her bedside, she was cured on the spot ; 
the evil spirit of the disease acknowledged the superior power of 
Khonsu, and came out of her after making an appropriate speech. ^ 

In the records of a trial about a harem conspiracy in the reign of 
Ramses III., we learn that a house steward had used some improper 
enchantments. In some fragments of the Lee and RolHn Papyrus, we 
read : " Then he gave him a writing from the rolls of the books of 
Ramses III., the great god, his lord. Then there came upon him a 
divine magic, an enchantment for men. He reached [thereby ?] to the 
side of the women's house, and into that other great and deep place. 

^ Chaldcean Magic, p. 96. ^ Jbid., pp. 96, 97. 

^ Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs, vol. ii. p. 184. 



He formed figures of wax, with the intention of having them carried 
in by the hand of the land-surveyor Adiroma, to alienate the mind of 
one of the girls, and to bewitch others. . . . Now, however, he 
was brought to trial on account of them, and there was found in them 
incitation to all kinds of wickedness, and all kinds of villainy which 
it was his intention to do. . . . He had made some magic 
writings to ward off ill-luck ; he had made some gods of wax, and some 
human figures to paralyse the limbs of a man ; and he had put these 
into the hand of Bokakamon without the sun-god Ra having permitted 
that he should accomplish this," etc.^ 

The actual medicaments used in Egyptian medical practice were 
not considered effectual without combination with magical remedies. 
The prescription might contain nitre, or cedar chips, or deer horn, or 
it might be an ointment or application of some herbs ; but it would 
not be efficacious without some charm to deal with the spiritual mis- 
chief of the case. In administering an emetic, for example, it was 
necessary to employ the following appeal to the evil spirit of the 
disorder : " Oh, demon, who art lodged in the stomach of M., son of 
N., thou whose father is called Head-Smiter, whose name is Death, 
whose name is cursed for ever," etc. It was not the natural remedy 
which called the supernatural to its aid ; but in cultivated Egypt, this 
combination was due to the theurgic healer availing himself of natural 
remedies to assist his magic. Science was beginning to work for man's 
benefit, but could not yet afford to discar-d sentimental aids which, by 
calming the mind of the sufferer, assisted its beneficent work. The 
different parts of the human body were confided to the protection of a 
special divinity. A calendar of lucky and unlucky days was devised, 
by which it could be ascertained what was proper to be medically done, 
or left undone, at certain times. Earth, in his Travels in Africa, in 
the border region of the desert, tells of a native doctor who followed 
such a system. He used to treat his patients according to the days of 
the week on which they came : one day was a calomel day, another was 
devoted to magnesia, and a third to tartar emetic ; and everybody requir- 
ing medicine had to take that appropriate to the day. 

The Egyptians distinguished between black and white magic. The 
learned priests practised the curative acts of magic ; but it was held to 
be a great crime to use black magic whereby to injure men or assist 
unlawful passions. 

Homer sings the praises of the medicinal herbs of prolific Egypt, 
where Paeon imparts to all the Pharian race his healing arts ; ^ and in 

^ Hist. Egypt, by Brugsch-Bey, vol. ii. p. 163-4. 
* Odyssey, iv. 229-232. 



Jeremiah/ the daughter of Egypt is told that " in vain " she shall " use 
many medicines^' for she shall not be cured. 

The ancient Egyptians depended greatly upon clysters in the treat- 
ment of many diseases besides those of the intestines. They were 
composed of a mixture of medicinal herbs, with milk, honey, sweet 
beer, salt, etc. The use of clysters by the Egyptians was remarked by 
Pliny and Diodorus Siculus, and the invention was attributed by the 
former to the ibis, who, with its long bill, performed the necessary 
operation. 2 

This absurd idea arose from a confusion between the hieroglyph 
for the ibis, and the god Thoth, the name of each having the same 

A comparison of the prescriptions of the medical papyri with those 
of the ancient Greek physicians, especially Galen and Dioscorides, shows 
a considerable family likeness of the Greek system of therapeutics to 
that of the Egyptians. Chabas particularizes the following facts : — 
Honey was used in place of sugar in many recipes by Egyptians and 
Greeks. Wine was mixed with honey, and human milk was administered 
in the form of clysters by Egyptians and by Galen and Dioscorides. 
The use of barley 'drink, palm wine, nitre, or sal ammoniac, incense as 
an external application, blood mixed with wine, urine as a liniment, 
Lapis memphites.^ and several other drugs is prescribed for the same 
disorders and in the same manner in the land of the Pharaohs and in 
ancient Greece. 

The famous " Ebers Papyrus" was purchased in 1874 by Dr. Ebers, 
at Thebes. " This papyrus contains one hundred and ten pages, each 
page consisting of about twenty-two lines of bold hieratic writing. It 
may be described as an Encyclopaedia of Medicine, as known and 
practised by the Egyptians of the eighteenth dynasty ; and it contains 
prescriptions for all kinds of diseases — some borrowed from Syrian 
medical lore, and some of such great antiquity that they are ascribed 
to the mythologic ages, when the gods yet reigned personally upon earth. 
Among others, we are given the recipe for an application whereby Osiris 
cured Ra of the headache." * This is the oldest of all the medical 
papyri hitherto discovered. It comes down to us, says Dr. Ebers,^ from 
the eighteenth dynasty. The " Medical Papyrus " of BerHn is second in 
point of antiquity ; and a Hieratic MS. in London, the third. "^ 

In the Ebers Medical Papyrus is an example of old Egyptian 

1 Chap, xlvi., V. II. 2 pij^y^ j^^t. Hist., viii. 27. 

^ Chabas. loc. cit., p. 66. 

* Pharaohs and Fellahs, Amelia B. Edwards, p. 219. 

5 Uarda, vol. i. p. 32. * Ibid. 


diagnosis and therapeutics : " When thou findest any one with a hardj 
ness in his re-het (pit of the stomach), and when after eating he feels 
pressure in his intestines, his stomach {het) is swollen, and he feels ba 
in walking, like one who suffers from heat in his back ; then observe 
him when he lies stretched out, and if thou findest his intestines hot, 
and a hardness in his re-het, say to thyself, this is a disease of the liver. 
Then prepare for thyself a remedy, according to the secrets of the 
(botanical) science, from the p\a.ntpa-cke-test and dates ; mix them, and 
give in water" (Ebers).^ 

The famous medical papyrus roll in the Museum of Berlin is de- 
scribed by M. Chabas in the chapter on " The Medicine of the Ancient 
Egyptians," in his work entitled Melanges Egyptologiques. From this 
papyrus we learn that plaisters, ointments, liniments, and friction Were 
employed as external remedies. Many of the names of the herbs and 
medicaments employed cannot be translated, but are merely transcribed. 
We find a number of recipes for tumours of the breast, for pimples, 
for " dissipating divinely parts injured by bruises," for destroying the 
bites of vermin, for cuts (common salt the chief ingredient), etc. The 
prescriptions seem very simple and brief. 

Magical invocations were frequently employed in the treatment of 
disease. Chabas thinks that one of the maladies so treated was 
intestinal inflammation, with a feeling of heaviness, and hardness, and 
a griping pain. He translates the diagnosis of such a malady : " His 
belly is heavy, the mouth of his heart {ps veniriculi) is sick, his heart 
(his stomach) is burning, ... his clothes are heavy upon him. 
Many clothes do not warm him ; he is thirsty at night ; the taste of his 
heart is perverted, like a man who has eaten sycamore figs ; his flesh 
is deadened as a man who finds himself sick ; if he goes to stool, his 
bowels refuse to act. Pronounce on his case that he has a nest of 
inflammation in his belly ; the taste of his heart is sick, . . . if he 
raises himself, he is as a man who is unable to walk." The text of the 
papyrus gives the remedies to be used in such a case. " Apply to him 
the means of curing inflammation by warmth ; also the means of de- 
stroying the inflammation in the belly." The diagnosis and treatment 
here described apply very well to what we term peritonitis ; but Dr. 
Eaas suggests that gastric cancer may be indicated. 

There is a medical papyrus in the Berlin Museum, which was dis- 
covered in the necropolis of Memphis, and which is described by 
Brugsch ^ as containing a quantity of recipes for the cure of many dis- 
eases, including some of the nature of leprosy. There is also what the 

1 Baas' Hist. Med. (Eng. Trans.), p. 19. 

2 History of Egypt, vol. i. p. 58. 


great Egyptologists term "a simple, childisti exposition of the construc- 
tion and mechanism of the body. The writing explained the number 
and use of the numerous * tubes.' " The origin of part of this work is 
traced to the time of the fifth king of the table of Abydos, though the 
composition of the whole work is of the period of Ramses II. The text 
says of the more ancient portion : "This is the beginning of the collec- 
tion of recipes for curing leprosy. It was discovered in a very ancient 
papyrus, enclosed in a writing-case, under the feet (of a statue) of the 
god Anubis, in the town of Sochem, at the time of the reign of his 
majesty the defunct King Sapti. After his death, it was brought to the 
majesty of the defunct King Senta, on account of its wonderful value. 
And, behold, the book was placed again at the feet, and well secured 
by the scribe of the temple, and the great physician, the wise Noferhotep. 
And when this happened to the book at the going down of the sun, he 
consecrated a meat, and drink, and incense offering to Isis, the lady ; 
to Hor, of Athribis ; and the god Khonsoo-Thut, of Amkhit." 

Human brains are prescribed for a disease of the eyes in the Ebers 
Papyrus. Pharmacy must have made considerable progress at the time 
this work was written, as it contains two prescriptions for pills — one 
made with honey for women, and one without it for men. 

Chabas says that a severe discipline reigned in the schools of the 
ancient Egyptians, and that the eloquence of the master was frequently 
supplemented by the rod of his assistants. He gives in his translations 
of papyri one of the exhortations to a pupil. ^ 

" Oh, scribe,^ give not thyself to idleness, or thou shalt be smartly 
chastised j abandon not thy heart to pleasure, or thou wilt let thy books 
slip out of thy hands ; practise conversation ; discuss with those who 
are wiser than thyself; do the works of an elevated man. Yes, when 
thou shalt be advanced in years, thou wilt find this to be profitable. 
A scribe, skilful in every kind of work, will become powerful. Neglect 
not thy books ; do not take a dislike to them." 

Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, in his Manners and Customs of the Egypt- 
ians^ gives a list of plants (from Pliny) which were known to the 
Egyptians and used in medicine or the arts. Ladanum {Cistus lada- 
niferus) was introduced into Egypt by the Ptolemies. Myrobalanum 
{Moringa aptera ? ) produced a fruit from which an ointment was made. 
Cypros {Lawsonia spinosa et inermis) was cooked in oil to make the 
ointment called Cyprus ; the leaves were used to dye the hair. 

^ Melanges Egyptologiquesy Paris, 1862, p. 117. 

^ Priests and physicians were educated in high schools, the highest degree in 
which was that of the "scribes," who were maintained at the cost of the king. 
Ebers, Uarda, vol. i. p. 20. 


Elate (Abies?), palma or spathe was of use in ointments. Oil of bitter 
almonds. Olives and figs were much esteemed. The castor-oil plant 
(^Ricinus communis). A medicinal oil was extracted from what was pro- 
bably one of the nettle tribe ( Urtica piluliferd). Tea ( Triticum zea ?\ 
olyra {Holcus sorghum ?\ and tiphe {Triticum spelta)^ were used in 
decoctions ; opium was extracted from Papaver somniferum. 

Cnicus or atractylis ( Carthamum tinctorium ?) was a remedy against 
the poison of scorpions and other reptiles. PHny says : '^ Homer attri- 
butes the glory of herbs to Egypt. He mentions many given to Helen 
by the wife of the Egyptian king, particularly the Nepenthes, which 
caused oblivion of sorrow." Opium was well known to the ancients, as 
well as various preparations of that drug. Sir J. Wilkinson thinks that 
nepenthe was perhaps the burt or hasheesh^ a preparation of the Can- 
nabis sativa or Indian hemp. 

The Egyptians, says Ebers, thought that the kindly healing plants 
sprung up from the blood and tears of the gods.^ 

Upon the ceiUngs and walls of the temples at Tentyra, Karnac, 
Luxor, and other places, basso-relievos have been discovered repre- 
senting limbs that have been amputated with instruments very similar 
to those which are employed in such operations in our own time. 
Such instruments are also found in the hieroglyphics, and Larrey says ^ 
that there are vestiges of other surgical operations which have been 
discovered in Egyptian ruins which abundantly prove that the art of 
surgery was practised with great skill in the land of the Pharaohs. 

Mr. Flinders Petrie, excavating at the Pyramid of Medum, says of 
the skeletons he discovered there : " The mutilations and diseases that 
come to light are remarkable. One man had lost his left leg below the 
knee ; another had his hand cut off and put in the tomb \ others seem 
to have had bones excised, and placed separately with the body. In 
one case acute and chronic inflammation and rheumatism of the back 
had united most of the vertebrae into a solid mass down the inner side. 
In another case there had been a rickety curvature of the spine. To 
find so many peculiarities in only about fifteen skeletons which I 
collected is strange. These are all in the Royal College of Surgeons 
now, for study." ^ 

"Among the six hermetic books of medicine mentioned by Clement 
of Alexandria, was one devoted to surgical instruments ; otherwise the 
very badly set fractures found in some of the mummies do little honour 
to the Egyptian surgeons " (Ebers). 

^ Lefebure has treated the subject in Le My the Osirien. 
' S&Q QooY>tx's Surgical Diet., diXt. "Surgery." 
• Ten Years'' Digging in Egypt, p. 146. 


Flint instruments were always used for opening bodies, for circum- 
cision and other surgical operations. How far this was dictated by- 
religious respect for antiquity, or by sanitary reasons, cannot be said ; 
probably, however, the reverence for the ancient flint knife had much 
to do with its retention. 

Our word chemistry is derived from the name of Egypt, Khem or 
Khemit, the " Black Land," meaning the rich, dark soil of the Nile 
valley. The god Khem, also known as Min and Am, was the same as 
the Pan of the Greeks and Priapus of the Romans. He presided 
over productiveness and the kindly fruits of the earth. In this sense 
he was also the god of curative herbs and simples, and so became 
associated in the popular mind with the arts of healing.^ Thus we 
obtain the words chemist, chemistry, and alchemy. Plutarch says that 
the Greek word xvi^^^y ^^r Egypt, was bestowed on the land on account 
of the black colour of its soil. 

The Egyptians must have had considerable practical knowledge of 
chemistry, or they could not have succeeded so well in the manufacture 
of glass, in dyeing, and the use of mordants, etc. Metallurgy must have 
been understood, as is evidenced by their process of gold manufactures 
represented in several of the royal tombs. They made gold wire, and 
excelled in the art of gilding. Their methods of embalming also ex- 
hibit some chemical knowledge. Dr. Pettigrew says,^ his friend Pro- 
fessor Reuvens, of Ley den, examined a papyrus which contained upwards 
of one hundred chemical and alchemical formulae. 

In the Ebers Papyrus there are several recipes for the preparation 
of hair dye. " The earliest of all the recipes preserved to us is a pre- 
scription for dyeing the hair." ^ 

Recipes for exterminating vermin and noxious creatures are found in 
the same work. 

In anatomy, physiology, surgery, therapeutics, and chemistry it is 
evident that Egypt was far in advance of any other nation of the same 
period of which we have authentic accounts. 

The Persian kings were glad to employ the Egyptian physicians, 
whose skill gained them high renown in the ancient world. Dr. 
Brugsch, in his account of the Egyptians in the Persian service, gives 
a translation of the inscriptions of Uza-hor-en-pi-ris, of the period of 
the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses. '' O ye gods who are in Sais ! 
Remember all the good that has been done by the president of the 
physicians, Uza-hor-en-pi-ris. In all that ye are willing to requite him 

* Pharaohs and Fellahs, Amelia B. Edwards, p. 254. 
2 Superstitions of Medicine, etc., p. 7. 
8 Uarda, Ebers. 


for all his benefits, establish for him a great name in this land for ever.^ 
O Osiris ! thou eternal one ! The president of the physicians, Uza-hor- 
en-pi-ris, throws his arms around thee, to guard thy image ; do for him 
all good according to what he has done, (as) the protector of thy shrine 
for ever." ^ The last words addressed to Osiris refer to the form of 
the statue. The chief physician of Sais is standing upright, with his 
hands embracing a shrine which holds the mummy of Osiris. 

Whether the ancient Greeks derived their knowledge of medicine 
from Egypt or from India has often been debated ; the evidence seems 
to show that Greece was indebted to India rather than to Egypt in this 

Mr. Flinders Petrie concludes " that Europe had an indigenous 
civilization, as independent of Egypt and Babylonia as was the in- 
digenous Aryan civilization of India ; that this civilization has acquired 
arts independently, just as much as India has, and that Europe has 
given to the East as much as it has borrowed from there." ^ 

Amongst the Egyptian fellahs some curious observances, says Mr. 
Flinders Petrie, are connected with accidental deaths. " Fires of straw 
are lighted, one month after the death, around the ground where the 
body has lain ; and where blood has been shed, iron nails are driven 
into the ground, and a mixture of lentils, salt, etc., is poured out. 
These look like offerings to appease spirits, and the fires seem as if to 
drive away evil influences. Funeral ofiferings are still placed in the 
tombs for the sustenance of the dead, just as they were thousands of 
years ago." ^ 

Modern Egyptians, like the ancient, wear written charms against 
sickness and disease. ^' Magical preparations of all sorts are frequently 
Used as remedies in illness, and in even serious cases the patient is 
made to swallow pieces of paper inscribed with texts from the Koran, 
and to try various similar absurd means, before a physician is applied 
to." * 

^ Brugsch, Hist. Egypt, vol. ii. p. 296. 
2 Ten Years'* Digging in Egypt, p. 153. 
^ Ibid., p. 172. 
* Ebers, Egypt y vol. ii. p. 61. 



heJ^i5i:a-ie46fete4-te.-JEs^t for their Learniiig. — The only Ancient People who dis- 

carded Deqatinology.-4-They Jiad no Magfc of-their own.— ^Phylacteries. — Cir- 
c^if;in,C-i>}pnifaiyf^T.3ws.--ADiseases in the Bible. — The Essenes. — Surgery 
in the Talmuc[T=2trexandnan Philosophy. — ^Jewish Services to Mediaeval Medi- 
cine. — The Phoenicians. 

That division of the Hebrew peoples which afterwards developed into 
Israel, left its home in the extreme south of Palestine some fifteen cen- 
turies before the Christian era to occupy the pasture lands of Goshen, 
in the territory of the Pharaohs, where they continued to retain their 
nomadic habits, their ancient language and patriarchal institutions. 
In process of time, however, the Egyptian sovereigns began to deal 
severely with their self-invited guests ; they were forced to labour on 
the public works of Goshen ; and though bitterly resenting this attempt 
to destroy their identity and reduce them to mere slavery, the proud 
and noble race was powerless to resist, and continued to labour on in 
despair until a deliverer arose in Moses, who led them out of Egypt to 
the land of Palestine which they had originally left. Moses was a 
pupil of the Egyptian priests, versed in all their wisdom, and imbued 
with the loftiest sentiments of the religion of Egypt. We shall expect 
to find in the medicine of the Jews abundant traces of their long resi- 
dence in the land of the Pharaohs. Our sources for the history of the 
healing art and the theory of disease which obtained with the people of 
Israel are two — the Bible and the Talmud. Therein we shall see the 
influences, both external and internal, which made Jewish medicine 
what it was ; and we shall be astonished, on comparing the theory of 
disease with that of all the other nations and peoples of the earth, to 
find that it stands by itself, is absolutely unique in its loftiness of idea, 
its absolute freedom from the absurd and degrading superstitions of 
the great and civilized nations amongst which they dwelt or by which 
they were surrounded. When we reflect on the religions of Egypt, 
Assyria, and Chaldaea, and compare their many gods with the one God 
of the Jews, their demonology, sorcery, and witchcraft with the pure 
and elevated faith of these nomads of the Sinaitic Peninsula, and re- 



member that in all the earth at that time there was no other nation 
which had formulated such a pure theism, no other people which 
had broken away from the degrading and corrupting demonology 
which possessed the whole earth, we are compelled to recognise in 
God's ancient people the Jews the evidence of a teaching totally 
unlike anything which had preceded it. If the Bible, the Talmud, 
and the Koran are all three merely specimens of ancient literature, 
how comes it that the Bible is so infinitely superior, not only in its 
noble monotheism, but in its remarkable freedom from so many of the 
superstitions which, as we have seen, were everywhere intermixed with 
the noblest religious systems and the most advanced civilizations? 
Magic in the Bible is everywhere passed by with contempt. Whatever 
may be the precise date of the Psalms, they must have been written 
when all nations were sunk in the grossest superstition, and had resort 
to magical practices on the slightest pretence; yet there is a total 
absence of all superstition in the Psalms. Granting that the Book of 
Ecclesiastes is a mere piece of cynical philosophy, it contains no evi- 
dence of superstitious belief. The more ancient is a literature, the 
greater is the certainty that it will contain some reference to super- 
stitious usages ; yet how gloriously the oldest books of the Bible shine 
in their freedom from contamination with the demon-worship and con- 
juring arts of the nations surrounding the children of Israel. 

As the author of the learned article on " Medicine " in Smith's Dic- 
tionary of the Bible says : " But if we admit Egyptian learning as an 
ingredient, we should also notice how far exalted above it is the stan- 
dard of the whole Jewish legislative fabric, in its exemption from the 
blemishes of sorcery and juggling pretences. The priest, who had to 
pronounce on the cure, used no means to advance it, and the whole 
regulations prescribed exclude the notion of trafficking in popular super- 
stition. We have no occult practices reserved in the hands of the 
sacred caste. It is God alone who doeth great things — working by the 
wand of Moses or the brazen serpent ; but the very mention of such in- 
struments is such as to expel all pretence of mysterious virtues in the 
things themselves." It is always God alone who is the healer : " I am 
the Lord that healeth thee " (Exod. xv. 26) ; " Heal me, O Lord, and I 
shall be healed" (Jer. xvii. 14); "For I will restore health unto thee, 
and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord" (Jer. xxx. 17); 
" Who healeth all thy diseases " (Ps. ciii. 3) ; " He healeth the broken 
in heart, and bindeth up their wounds " (Ps. cxlvii. 3) ; " The Lord 
bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their 
wound " (Isa. xxx. 26). 

The priestly caste had no monopoly of the healing art ; it might be 


practised by any one who was competent to afford medical aid. Phy- 
sicians are mentioned in several passages. 

Although the Hebrews had no magic of their own, and notwithstand- 
ing the stern severity with which it was prohibited in their law, there 
would naturally be many who transgressed their law and imported the 
superstitious practices from the surrounding peoples. 

The teraphim of Laban which were stolen by Rachel ^ is the earliest 
example in the Bible of magical instruments. It seems that these 
objects were a kind of idols in the shape of a human figure ; their use 
was condemned by the prophets, but they were for ages used in popu- 
lar worship, both domestic and public. Hosea says:^ "The children of 
Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and 
without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and 
without teraphim." In this passage the teraphim and ephod are 
classed with the sacrifice, as though equally essential for worship. 
Some students think that the teraphim were the Kabeiri gods ; ^ what- 
ever they were, they were worshipped or used superstitiously by 
Micah, by the Danites, and others.'^ They were used magically for 
the purpose of obtaining oracular answers, and were associated with 
the practice of divination.^ 

The phylacteries of the Jews were charms or amulets in writing. 
They were believed to avert all evils, but were especially useful in driv- 
ing away demons. They put faith, also, in precious stones. To this 
day one may see at the door of every Jewish house the mezuza — a scrap 
of sacred writing — affixed diagonally on the right doorpost, enclosed 
in a metal case. The texts contained are inscribed on parchment, and 
the words are from Deuteronomy vi. 4-9 ; xi. 13-21. In the Targum 
on Canticles viii. 3, we learn that the phylactery and mezuza were sup- 
posed to keep off hurtful demons. This is merely the corruption of a 
perfectly innocent idea ; it is an example of the way in which harmless 
things become degraded to superstitious uses. The scapular of little 
squares of brown cloth worn by Catholics originally meant no more 
than the investiture, in a secret and unassuming manner, with the 
habit of the Carmelite order, and allowed pious persons living "in 
the world " to feel that they were affiliated to a famous and saintly 
community. When the Catholic wore it, he knew that he assumed the 
badge of the Blessed Virgin ; there was no more in it than that. 
Amongst the ignorant and superstitious it is now commonly believed 
that the wearer is protected from death by fire and drowning, and that 

^ Gen. xxxi. 19, 30. 2 Chap. iii. 4. 

^ his Unveiled^ V9I. i. p. 570. ■* Judges xvii.-xviii. 

^ Ezekiel xxi. 19-22. 


Our Lady will liberate him from purgatory on the first Saturday aft 
his arrival there. 

" To the mind of the Israelite," says Mr. Tylor, " death and pesti 
lence took the personal form of the destroying angel who smote the 
doomed." ^ 

God is plainly declared, in Exodus xv. 26, to send diseases upon 
men as a punishment for the breach of His commandments, and this 
has been adduced to show that the Jews traced their maladies to the 
anger of. an offended Deity; and thus it has been argued that their 
etiology of disease was not higher than that of the other nations. But 
this argument is unfair. The Mosaic law was to a great extent a 
sanitary code, and even in the light of modern science we are com- 
pelled to admire the wisdom of the laws which have for so many 
centuries made the Jews the healthiest and most macrobiotic of peoples. 

The rite of circumcision was not peculiar to the Jews ; and just as 
baptism was an initiatory rite borrowed from another religion, yet made 
distinctive of Christianity, so circumcision has come to be considered a 
peculiarly Jewish practice. It may have been with the IsraeHtes a pro- 
test against the phallus worship which is of such remote antiquity, and 
which was the foundation of the myth of Osiris. Wunderbar ^ asserts 
that it distinctly contributed to increase the fruitfulness of the race and 
to check inordinate desires in the individual. There are excellent 
surgical reasons for both these suppositions, in addition to which we 
may add that it contributed to cleanliness and prevented irritation. 
Wunderbar, moreover, seems to have established his statement that 
after circumcision there is less probabiHty of the absorption of syphi- 
litic virus, and he has instanced the fact that such specific disease is 
less frequent with Jewish than with Christian populations.^ 

" Circumcision," says Pickering, speaking of the Polynesian practice, 
" was now explained ; and various other customs, which had previously 
appeared unaccountable, were found to rest on physical causes, having 
been extended abroad by the process of imitation." * 

The same writer states that the practice is "common to the ancient 
inhabitants of the Thebaid, and also to the modern Abyssinians and 
their neighbours in the South. ^ 

Ewald*' says that circumcision was practised by various Arabian 
tribes, in Africa, amongst Ethiopic Christians and the negroes of the 
Congo. It was also practised on girls by Lydian, Arabian, and African 

^ Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 267. 2 Samuel xxiv. 16 ; 2 Kings xix. 35. 
2 3tes Heft, p. 25. ^ Ibid., p. 27. 

* Races of Man, p. 153. ^ Ibid., p. 293. 

* Antiquities of Israel, p. 90. 



iribes, as Philo and Strabo inform us. Ewald considers it originated as 
an offering of one's own flesh and blood in sacrifice to God, and may 
have been considered as a substitute for the whole body of a human 

Circumcision is practised amongst Australian savages on the Murray 
River, as also another incredible ceremonial, as Lubbock terms it.^ 

Castration is hinted at in Matthew xix. 12 as an operation well 

In hot climates extra precautions for cleanliness have to be adopted 
beyond those which would amply suffice in northern lands. Captain 
Burton says : ^ — 

However much the bath may be used, the body-pile and hair of the 
arm-pits, etc., if submitted to a microscope, will show more or less 
sordes adherent. The axilla hair is plucked, because if shaved the 
growing pile causes itching, and the depilatories are held to be dele- 

Sometimes Syrian incense or fir-gum, imported from Scio, is melted 
and allowed to cool in the form of a pledget. This is passed over the 
face, and all the down adhering to it is pulled up by the roots. He 
adds that many Anglo-Indians adopt the same precautions. 

Ewald, referring to the laws concerning women, says : ^ " The 
monthly period of the woman brought with it the second grade of un- 
cleanness, which lasted the space of seven days, but without rendering 
necessary the use of specially prepared water. Everything on which 
the woman sat or lay during this time, and every one who touched such 
things or her, incurred the uncleanness of the first grade." 

We find the demon-theory of disease in force in the time of Josephus. 
He says : *— 

" Now within this place there grew a sort of rue, that deserves our 
wonder on account of its largeness, for it was no way inferior to any fig- 
tree whatsoever, either in height or in thickness ; and the report is that 
it had lasted ever since the time of Herod, and would probably have 
lasted much longer had it not been cut down by those Jews who took 
possession of the place afterward ; but still in that valley which encom- 
passes the city on the north side, there is a certain place called Baaras, 
which produces a root of the same name with itself; its colour is like 
10 that of flame, and towards evening it sends out a certain ray like 
lightning ; it is not easily taken by such as would do it, but recedes 
i"rom their hands ; nor will yield itself to be taken quietly, until either 

* *' Finditur usque ad urethram a parte infera penis."— Eyre, vol. ii. p. 332. 

2 Arabian Nights, vol. ii. p. 160, note 3. 

3 Antiquities of Israel, p. 156. ' ^ Wars, vii. 6, 3. 


ovpov yvvaiKos ^ to efjLfjLrjvov at/xa be poured upon it ; nay, even then it is 
certain death to those that touch it, unless any one take and hang the 
root itself down from his hand, and so carry it away. It may also be 
taken another way, without danger, which is this : they dig a trench 
quite round about it, till the hidden part of the root be very small ; they 
then tie a dog to it, and when the dog tries hard to follow him that tied 
him, this root is easily plucked up, but the dog dies immediately, as if 
it were instead of the man that would take the plant away ; nor after 
this need any one be afraid of taking it into their hands. Yet, after all 
this pains in getting, it is only valuable on account of one virtue it hath 
— that if it be only brought to sick persons, it quickly drives away those 
called Demons, which are no other than the spirits of the wicked, that 
enter into men that are alive and kill them, unless they can obtain 
some help against them." 

If we may consider Josephus as a fair type of the learned and 
liberally educated men of his time, we are compelled to admit that 
the theory of disease held by the Hebrews of the period was not much, 
if at all, in advance of the rest of the world. It was undoubtedly 
largely the demoniacal theory of sickness. In the Antiquities of the 
Jews 1 Josephus, in his description of the sagacity and wisdom of 
Solomon, says : " God also enabled him to learn the skill that expels 
demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed 
such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left 
behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away 
demons so that they never return ; and this method of cure is of great 
force unto this day ; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, 
whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal." 
He goes on to describe the process of extracting the demon from the 
sick man through his nostrils. 

So again, in telling the story of Saul's possession by the evil spirit 
from the Lord, he says : ^ " The physicians could find no other remedy 
but this — that if any person could charm those passions by singing 
and playing upon the harp, they advised them to inquire for such a. 
one." He seems to imply that David cured Saul by an incantation ; and 
Spanheim, commenting upon the story, says that the Greeks had such 
singers of hymns, and that usually children or youths were picked out 
for that service, and that they were called singers to the harp.^ 

Whether David merely influenced Saul in the natural and touching 
way so beautifully described by Robert Browning in his poem^"Saul,''" 
we must bear in mind that an "incantation" was precisely of the 

^ Book VIII. chap. iii. 5. ^ Antiq., Book VI. chap. viii. 2. 

* Note to Whiston's Josephus, loc. cit. 


character of the Bible story, and that the demon theory of Saul's 
malady is plainly stated.^ 

Herzog ^ enumerates the following as the diseases of the Bible : — 
I. Fever and ague (Lev. xxvi. 16). 2. Dysentery (Acts xxviii. 8), with, 
"pxohdihXy J prolapsus ant, as in Jehoram's case (2 Chron. xxi. 15, 19). 

3. Inflammation of the eyes, due to heat, night dews, sea breeze, flying 
sand, injuries, etc. (Lev. xix. 14; Deut. xxvii. 18; Matt. xii. 22, etc.). 

4. Congenital blindness (John ix. i). 5. Disease of the liver. 6. 
Hypochondria. 7. Hysteria. 8. Rheumatism and gout (John v. 2, 3). 
9. Consumption, a general term, including hectic, typhoid, and other 
fevers (Lev. xxvi. 16 ; Deut. xxviii. 22, etc.). 10. Phthisis (?), indi- 
cated by leanness (Isa. x. 16). 11. Atrophy of muscles, "withered 
hand," being due either to rheumatism, plugging up of the main artery 
of the limb, or paralysis of the principal nerve, etc. (Matt. xii. 10 ; 
I Kings xiii. 4-6, etc.). 12. Fevers in general (Matt. viii. 14, etc.). 
13. Pestilence (Deut. xxxii. 24). 14. Oriental pest, the so-called 
" bubonenpest," characterised by swellings in the groins, armpits, etc. ; 
a very fatal disorder (Lev. xxvi. 25 ; Deut. xxviii. 21, 27, 60, etc.). 
15. Boils (2 Kings xx. 7, etc.). 16. Sunstroke (2 Kings iv. 19, etc.). 
17. Gonorrhoea (Lev. xv. 2). 18. Metrorrhagia, or uterine hemorrhage 
(Lev. XV. 25 ; Luke viii. 43, etc.). 19. Sterility (Gen. xx. 18, etc.). 
20. Asa^s foot disease, either oedema or gout (2 Chron. xvi. 12). 21. 
Elephantiasis (?) (Job ii. 7). 22. Dropsy (Luke xiv. 2). 23. Cancer 
(2 Tim. ii. 17). 24. Worms ; may have been phthiriasis (lice) (2 Mace, 
ix. 5-9). 25. Leprosy. 26. Itch and other skin diseases (Deut xxviii. 
27). 27. Apoplexy (i Sam. xxv. 37, etc.). 28. Lethargy (Gen. ii. 21 ; 
I Sam. xxvi. 12). 29. PaT^alysis, palsy (Matt. iv. 24; Acts iii. 2, etc.). 

30. Epilepsy, the so-called " possession of devils " (Matt. iv. 24, etc.). 

31. Melancholia, mdidntss (Deut. xxviii. 28, etc.). 32. Nervous exhaus- 
tion (i Tim. V. 23). 33. Miscarriage (Exod. xxi. 22). 34. ^^ Boils 
and blains,^^ erysipelatous (Exod. ix. 9). 35. Gangrene and mortification 
(2 Tim. ii. 17). 36. Poisoning by arrows (Job vi. 4). Poisoning front 
snake-bite (Deut. xxxii. 24). 37. Scorpions and centipedes (Rev. ix. 5, 
10). 38. Old age, as described in Eccles. xii. I am inclined to add to 
this list Syphilis, which seems to me to be clearly indicated by several 
verses in Proverbs xii., in the warnings against the strange woman, e.g. 
verses 22, 23, 26, and 27. 

The law forbade a Levite who was blind to act as a physician. 
Anatomy and pathology were not understood, as it was considered 
pollution even to touch the dead. 

The surgical instruments of the Bible are the sharp stone or flint 
^ I Sam. xvi. 15. 2 j^gUgious Encyclopcedia, vol. ii. p. 1454. 


knives with which circumcision was performed, and the awl with which 
a servant's ear was bored by his master (Exod. iv. 25 ; Josh. v. 2 ; 
Exod. xxi. 6). Roller bandages are referred to for fractures (Ezek. xxx. 
21). Job used a scraper when he was smitten with boils (Job ii. 8). 
The materia medica of the Bible is meagre. A poultice of figs — a 
favourite remedy in ancient times — is ordered in 2 Kings xx. 7. 

Fish galls (Tobit xi. 4-13) and fasting saliva are used (Mark viii. 23). 

The only regular prescription mentioned is that in Exodus xxx. 


Midwives were regularly employed to assist Hebrew mothers. 

The " bearing stool " was employed. 

There is a very beautiful figurative description of the disease of old 
age or senile decay given by Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes : — 

" Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the 
evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I 
have no pleasure in them ; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or 
the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain : in the 
day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men 
shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and 
those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be 
shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he 
shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick 
shall be brought low ; also when they shall be afraid of thai which is 
high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, 
and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail : because 
man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets : 
or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or 
the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the 
cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was : and the 
spirit shall return unto God who gave it." 

Dr. Mead, in his treatise on the diseases of old age,^ thus explains 
the curious figurative phrases. By the darkening of the sun, moon, and 
stars, he says we are to understand the obscuration of the mental faculties, 
which is so common in advanced life. The clouds returning after rain 
symbolise the cares and troubles which oppress the aged ; especially when 
the vigour of the mind is lessened^ so that they cannot cast them off. 
From the mind we pass to the body : " the keepers of the house shall 
tremble," etc. That is to say, the limbs which support the body grow 
feeble and relaxed, and are incapable of defending us against injuries. 
The grinders are the molar teeth. The failing sight is compared to the 
darkness which meets those who look out of the windows. By dimin- 
^ Medica Sacra, p. 40 et seq. 


ished appetite the mouth, which is the door of the body, is less fre- 
quently opened than in youth. The sound of the grinding of the teeth 
is low, because old people have, in the absence of them, to eat with 
their gums. The rising up at the voice of the bird signifies the short 
and interrupted sleep of the aged. By the daughters of music we are to 
understand the ears, which no longer administer to our pleasure in 
conveying harmonious sounds. The sense of feeling is diminished, and 
the aged are fearful of stumbling in the way. The early flowers of 
spring shall flourish in vain. The phrase, the grasshopper shall be- 
come a burden, according to Dr. Mead, is the modest Hebrew mode of 
describing the effects of scrotal rupture. He says the grasshopper is 
made up chiefly of belly, and when full of eggs bears some resemblance 
to a scrotum smitten by a rupture. " Desire shall be lost " is like 
Ovid's Turpe senilis amor, and does not refer to appetite for food. The 
loosened silver cord is the vertebral column ; the medulla oblongata is 
of a silver or whitish colour. The golden bowl expresses the dignity of 
the head, from which in old age come defluxions to the nose, eyes, and 
mouth. Incontinence of urine is a common trouble of the aged, well 
expressed by the figure of the pitcher broken at the fountain ; and the 
wheel at the cistern, to those who knew nothing of the circulation of 
the blood, fairly describes the failing heart, no longer capable of pro- 
pelling the stream of life through the vessels. 

Referring to the words, '' The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor 
the moon by night " (Psalm cxxi. 6), Captain Burton says ^ that he 
has seen a hale and hearty Arab, after sitting an hour in the moon- 
light, look like a man fresh from a sick-bed ; and he knew an English- 
man in India whose face was temporarily paralysed by sleeping with it 
exposed to the moon. 

The captivity at Babylon brought the Jews into contact with a nobler 
and very high civilization. In many ways there is no doubt that Jewish 
thought was greatly developed and enlarged by association with the 
peoples of Babylonia and Assyria. What precise influences the Jews 
became subject to in this captivity we have not the means to determine ; 
but the fact that the Greek physician Democedes visited the court of 
Darius, proves that Eastern lands had in some measure fallen under the 
influence of Greek thought, about the time of Ezra. The Book of 
Ecclesiasticus is supposed to belong to the period of the Ptolemies, 
and in that work we find practitioners of medicine held in high esteem. 
" Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which 
ye may have of him ; for the Lord hath created him. . . . The 
skill of the physician shall lift up his head ; and in the sight of great 

^ Arabian Nights, vol. ii. p. 4. 




men he shall be in admiration. The Lord hath created medicines out of 
the earth ; and he that is wise will not abhor them. . . . Then 
give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him ; let him 
not go from thee, for thou hast need of him." ^ 

A very interesting but mysterious sect of the Jews was the Essenes 
(n.c. 150). Our knowledge of this ancient community is chiefly derived 
from Josephus,2 who says that they studied the ancient writers principally 
with regard to those things useful to the body and the soul, that they 
thus acquired knowledge of remedies for diseases, and learned the 
virtues of plants, stones, and metals. Another name for the Essenes 
was the Therapeutists, or the Healers.^ 

They lived somewhat after the fashion of monks, and had a novitiate 
of three years. Some of their principles and rules suggest a con- 
nection with Pythagorism and Zoroastrianism. De Quincey finds in 
Essenism a saintly scheme of Ethics, a " Christianity before Christ, 
and consequently without Christ." * Recent scholarship, says Professor 
Masson, will not accept his conclusions concerning this remarkable 
secret society.^ 

The surgery of the Talmud includes a knowledge of dislocations of 
the thigh, contusions of the head, perforation of the lungs and other 
organs, injuries of the spinal cord and trachea, and fractures of the 
ribs. Polypus of the nose was considered to be a punishment for past 
sins. In sciatica the patient is advised to rub the hip sixty times with 
meat-broth. Bleeding was performed by mechanics or barbers. 

The pathology of the Talmud ascribes diseases to a constitutional 
vice, to evil influences acting on the body from without, or to the effect 
of magic. 

Jaundice is recognised as arising from retention of the bile, dropsy 
from suppression of the urine. The Talmudists divided dropsy into 
anasarca, ascites, and tympanites. Rupture and atrophy of the kidneys 
were held to be always fatal. Hydatids of the liver were more favour- 
ably considered. Suppuration of the spinal cord, induration of the 

^ Ecchsiasticus xxxviii. I, 3, 4, 12. From the many references to disease in this book, 
it has been supposed by some commentators that the author was a physician. The 
writer of the article on *' Medicine," in Smithes Dictiona)y of the Bible, remarks that 
*'if he was so, the power of mind and wide range of oliservation shown in this work, 
would give a favourable impression of the standard of practitioners ; if he was not, 
the great general popularity of the study and practice may be inferred from its thus 
becoming a common topic of general advice offered by a non-professional writer." 

2 Wars of l/iejeivs. Book II. chap, viii ; Antiq.^ xviii. I, 5. 

^ See Light foot on the Colossians. 

•* IVorks, vol. i. p. 10. 

■^ Ibid., vol. vii. p. 7. 


langs, etc., are incurable. Dr. Baas ^ says that these are " views which 
may have been based on the dissection of [dead] animals, and may be 
considered the germs of pathological anatomy." Some critical symp- 
toms are sweating, sneezing, defecation, and dreams, which promise a 
favourable termination of the disease. 

Natural remedies, both external and internal, were employed. Magic 
was also Talmudic. Dispensations were given by the Rabbis to permit 
sick persons to eat prohibited food. Onions were prescribed for 
worms ; wine and pepper for stomach disorders ; goat's milk for diffi- 
culty of breathing ; emetics in nausea ; a mixture of gum and alum for 
menorrhagia (not a bad prescription) ; a dog's liver was ordered for the 
bite of a mad dog. Many drugs, such as assafoetida, are evidently 
adopted from Greek medicine. The dissection of the bodies of animals 
provided the Talmudists with their anatomy. It is, however, recorded 
that Rabbi Ishmael, at the close of the first century, made a skeleton by 
boiling of the body of a prostitute. We find that dissection in the 
interests of science was permitted by the Talmud. The Rabbis counted 
252 bones in the human skeleton. 

It was known that the spinal cord emerges from the foramen 
magnum, and terminates in the cauda equina. The anatomy of the 
uterus was well understood. A very curious point in their anatomy was 
the assumption of the existence of a fabulous bone, called "Luz," 
which they held to be the nucleus of the resurrection of the body.^ 

(The Arabians call this bone " Aldabaran.") 

They discovered that the removal of the spleen is not necessarily 

According to the Talmudists, the elementary bodies are earth, air, 
fire, and water. Pregnancy, they held, lasts 270 to 273 days (280 days 
is the modern calculation), and that it cannot be determined before 
the fourth month. 

Alexandrian philosophic thought received a new impulse in conse- 
quence of the conciliatory policy which the Ptolemies pursued towards 
the Jews. Under Soter they were encouraged to settle in Alexandria, 
and soon their numbers became very great. Egypt at one time con- 
tained altogether some 200,000 Jews. Alexandria became for several 
centuries the centre of Jewish thought and learning. But the learning 

^ History of Aledkinc, p. 36. 

^ *' * How doth a man revive again in the world to come? ' asked Hadrian ; and 
Joshua Ben Hananiah made answer, ' From luz in the backbone.' He then went on 
to demonstrate this to him. He took the bone hiz, and put it into water, but the 
water had no action on it ; he put it in the fire, but the fire consumed it not ; he 
placed it in a mill, but could not grind it; and laid it on an anvil, but the hammer 
crushed it not." — Lightfoot. 


of the Rabbis became a shallow pedantry in the course of time, and 
their faith in the inspiration of their scriptures ultimately degenerated 
into a Cabalism, which in its turn lent itself to jugglery and magic- 
mongering, and infected the medicine of the Roman world, just as the 
healing art had emancipated itself from superstition, theurgy, and 
philosophical sophistries. 

Kingsley has told us how this Jewish magic arose.^ " If each word 
[of the Scriptures] had a mysterious value, why not each letter? And 
how could they set limits to that mysterious value ? Might not these 
words^ even rearrangements of the letters of them, be useful in protect- 
ing them against the sorceries of the heathen, in driving away these evil 
spirits, or evoking those good spirits who, though seldom mentioned in 
their early records, had, after their rcilurn from Babylon, begun to form 
an important part of their unseen world? " 

Jewish Cabalism formed itself into a system at Alexandria. It was 
there, as Kingsley goes on to say, that the Jews learnt to become the 
magic- mongers which Claudius had to expel from Rome as pests to 
rational and moral society. 

According to the Jewish doctors, three angels preside over the art of 
medicine. Their names, according to Rabbi Elias, are Senoi, Sansenoi, 
and Sanmangelof.2 

In the Middle Ages the Jews rendered the greatest services to the 
healing art, and had a large share in the scientific work connected with 
the Arab domination in Spain. The great names of Moses Maimonides 
and Ibn Ezra attest the dignity of Jewish intellectual life in the Dark 
Ages. The Golden Age of the modern Jews, as Milman ^ designates 
it, begins with the Caliphs and ends with Maimonides. The Hebrew 
literature was eminently acceptable to the kindred taste of the Saracens, 
and the sympathy between Arab and Jewish practitioners and students 
of medicine was fraught with the greatest benefit to the healing art. 
The Golden Age of the Jews was at its height in the time of Charle- 
magne, when kings could not write their names. Their intelligence 
and education fitted them to become the physicians and the ministers 
of nobles and monarchs. During the reign of Louis the Debonnaire 
tlie Jews were all-powerful at his court. His confidential adviser was 
the Jewish physician Zedekiah, who was a profound adept in magic. 
In an age when monkish historians could relate " with awe-struck sin- 
cerity," as Milman describes it,'^ the tales of his swallowing a cartload of 
hay, horses and all, it is not difficult to understand that an acquaintance 
with the best knowledge of his time would account for the estimation in 

^ Alexandria and her Schools, p, 74. - Le Clerc, /iist. de la Med., Pt. I. 2, 4. 
'^ //istory ofthcjcivs, Book xxiii. '* /bid. 


which a man of science was held. Maimonides lived at the court of 
the Sultan of Egypt as the royal physician, in the highest estimation. 

The Phoenicians were devoted to phallic-worship. Tlie instrument 
of procreative power was the chief symbol of their religion. Astarte 
was their great goddess. Baal-Zebub, the Beelzebub of the Bible, was 
their god of medicine, and the arbiter of health and disease. The 
Cabeiri, or Corybantes, considered by some authorities to be identical 
with the Titans, by others with the sons of Noah, were considered as 
the discoverers of the properties of the medicinal herbs, and the 
teachers of the art of healing to mortals.^ 

^ G. S. Faber, The Cabiri, vol. i. 



The Ancient Religion of Accadia akin to Shamanism. — Demon Theory of Disease in 
Chaldsean Medicine. — Chaldean Magic. — Medical Ignorance of the Babylonians. 
— Assyrian Disease-Demons. — Charms. — Origin of the Sabbath. 

Chald/EA was probably only second to Egypt in the antiquity of its 
civilization. The founders of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires 
were a Semitic tribe, and were the first people who worked in metals, and 
their knowledge of astronomy proves them to have been possessed of 
some amount of scientific attainments. Their practice of medicine was 
inextricably mixed with conjurations of spirits, magic, and astrology. 

The name now given to the primitive inhabitants of Babylon is 
Accadians. Sayce considers them to have been the earliest civilizers 
of Eastern Asia. From the Accadians, he thinks the Assyrians, Phoe- 
nicians, and Greeks derived their knowledge of philosophy and the arts. 
Their libraries existed seventeen centuries b.c. 

The ancient religion of Accad was very similar to the Shamanism 
professed by Siberian and Samoyed tribes at the present time. There 
was believed to be a spirit in every object. Good or bad spirits swarmed 
in the world, and there was scarcely anything that could be done which 
might not risk demoniacal possession. These good and bad spirits 
were controlled by priests and sorcerers. All diseases were caused 
by evil spirits, and the bulls and other creatures which guarded the 
entrance to houses were there to protect them from their power. 
The priests were magicians. There were at one period of the develop- 
ment of the Babylonian mythology three hundred spirits of heaven 
and six hundred spirits of earth ; the most dreadful of these latter 
were the *' seven spirits," who were born without father and mother, and 
brought plague and evil on the earth. Magic formulce for warding off 
the attacks of demons were commonly used, and charms and talismans 
were extensively employed. The phylacteries of the Jews were 
talismans, and were of Accadian origin. The sorcerer bound his charm, 
" knotted with seven knots, round the limbs of the sick man, and this, 


with the further application of holy water, would, it was believed, 
infalhbly produce a. cure ; while the same result might be brought about 
by fixing a sentence out of a good book on the sufferer's head as he lay 
in bed." 1 

Accadian literature, Mr. George Smith tells us, is rich in collections 
of charms and formulae of exorcism belonging to the very earliest period 
of Babylonian history. There are magic formulae of all kinds, some to 
ward off sorcery, some to bewitch other persons. 

The following is a specimen of the exorcisms used to drive away evil 
spirits, and to cure the diseases which were believed to be caused by 
their agency : — 

" The noxious god, the noxious spirit of the neck, the spirit of the 
desert, the spirit of the mountain, the spirit of the sea, the spirit of the 
morass, the noxious cherub of the city, this noxious wind which seizes 
the body (and) the health of the body : O, spirit of heaven, remember 1 
O, spirit of earth, remember ! 

"The burning spirit of the neck which seizes tlie man, the burning 
spirit which seizes the man, the spirit which works evil, the creation 
of the evil spirit : O, spirit of heaven, remember ! O, spirit of earth, 
remember ! 

"Wasting, want of health, the evil spirit of the ulcer, spreading 
quinsey of the gullet, the violent ulcer, the noxious ulcer : O, spirit of 
heaven, remember ! O, spirit of earth, remember ! 

"Sickness of the entrails, sickness of the heart, the palpitation of a 
sick heart, sickness of bile, sickness of the head, noxious colic, the 
agitation of terror, flatulency of the entrails, noxious illness, lingering 
sickness, nightmare : O, spirit of heaven, remember! O, spirit of earth, 
remember ! " ^ 

In the great magic collection of invocations copied by the order of 
Asurbanipal, we have a long litany on the " Spirit of Fever" ; the lords 
and ladies of the earth, stars, the light of life, the spirit of Hurki and 
his talismanic ship, the spirit of Utu, umpire of the gods, and many 
others are implored to " conjure it." ^ 

Professor Lenormant considers that the idea of punishment of sin 
by means of disease was a dogma of a later school of Chaldaean 
thought. The old religion of spirits upon which Chaldaean magic was 
originally founded was independently the doctrine of the priests of 
magic, so that there were two sets of priests in later Chaldaean civiliza- 
tion — the old class who composed incantations to the spirits who 

^ Art. on ''Babylon," by Rev. A. H. Sayce, in Ency. Brit. 
2 Hisi. Babylonia, Geo. Smith, pp. 21, 22. 
2 Lenormant, Chaldiran Magic, pp. 139, 140. 


fought with and replaced the disease-demons, and the theologi 
priests who urged repentance for sin as the only means of the cure of 

In the Accadian philosophy there was in everything a dualism of 
spirits. Innumerable hosts of them caused all the phenomena of 
nature, from the movements of the stars to the life and death, the health 
and disease of every human being. This dualism was as marked as 
that of the religion of Zoroaster ; everywhere and in everything the 
good spirits fought against the evil ones, discord prevailed throughout 
the universe ; and on this conception rested the whole theory of sacred 
magic. Man's only help against the attacks of bad spirits, and the 
plagues and diseases w^hich they brought upon him, lay in the invoca- 
tion of good spirits by means of priests, sacred rites, talismans, and 
charms. These could put to flight the demons by helping the good 
spirits in their constant warfare with them. Magic therefore became 
a system elaborated with scientific exactness, and a vast pantheon of 
gods became necessary. Hea was the great god of conjurational 
magic; he was the supreme protector of men and of nature in the 
war between good and evil. When neither word, nor rite, nor talis- 
man, nor help of the other divinities of heaven availed to help man- 
kind, Hea was all-powerful ; and this was because, as Lenormant says,^ 
Hea was alone acquainted with the awful power of the supreme name. 
" Before this name everything bows in heaven and in earth and in 
Hades, and it alone can conquer the Maskim (a species of evil demon), 
and stop their ravages. The gods themselves are enthralled by this 
name, and render it obedience." 

Images of demons were used by the Chaldasans as talismans against 
the attacks of demons. In a magical hymn to the sun against sorcery 
and witchcraft, and their influence on the worshipper, the sun is re- 
minded that the images of the bad spirits have been shut up in heaps 
of corn. The invocation concludes : — 

" May the great gods, who have created me, take my hand ! Thou 
who curest my face, direct my hand, direct it, lord, light of the 
universe, Sun." ^ 

In a hymn composed for the cure of some disease, the priest, address- 
ing the god, speaks of the invalid in the third person : — 

"As for me, the lord has sent me, the great loixl, Hea, has sent me. — — — 
Thou, at thy coming, cure the race of man, cause a ray of health to shine upon 
him, cure his disease. 

^ See on this the chapter on ** The Religious Systems of the Accadian Magic Books, " 
Lenormant, Chaldean Magic, chap. xi. 

2 Lenormant, Chaldaan Magic ^ p. 42. ^ Ibid., p. 179. 


The man, son of his god, is burdened with the load of his omissions and trans- 

His feet and his hands suffer cruelly, he is painfully exhausted by the disease. 

Sun, at the raising of my hands, come at the call, eat his food, absorb his victim, 
turn his weakness into strength." ^ 

In the " War of the Seven Wicked Spirits against the Moon," we 
have an incantation which was destined to cure the king of a disease 
caused by the wicked spirits.- 

In the Chaldaean creed all diseases were the work of demons. This 
is why Herodotus found no physicians in Babylon and Assyria. There 
was no science of medicine ; *' it was simply a branch of magic, and 
was practised by incantations, exorcism, the use of philters and en- 
chanted drinks." ^ 

Of course the priests made it their business to compound their 
drinks of such drugs as they had discovered to possess therapeutic 
virtue. In ancient times magic and medicine were thus closely united. 
It could not have been always faith alone which cured the patient, but 
fliith plus a little poppy juice would work wonders in many cases. It 
became therefore greatly to the interest of the priests and magicians to 
learn the properties of herbs, and the value of the juices and extracts 
of plants. Out of evil, therefore, mankind reaped this great and valuable 
knowledge. The two gravest and most fatal diseases with which the 
Chaldaeans were acquainted, says M. Lenormant,"^ were the plague and 
fever, the Namtar and the Jdpa. Naturally they were represented as 
two demons, the strongest and most formidable who afflict mankind. 
An old fragment says : — 

The execrable Idpa acts upon the head of man. 
The malevolent Namtar upon the life of man. 
The malevolent Utitg upon the forehead of man. 
The malevolent Alal upon the chest of man. 
The malevolent Gigim upon the bowels of man, 
The malevolent Telal Vi\)QVi the hand of man. ^ 

The use of magic knots as a cure for diseases was firmly believed in 
by the ancient Chaldees. M. Lenormant ^ gives a translation of one of 
the formulae supposed to have been used against diseases of the head. 

Knot on the right and arrange flat in regular bands, on the left 

a woman's diadem ; 
divide it twice in seven little bands ; . . . 

^ Lenormant, Chaldczan Magic, p. 181. " Ibid.^ pp. 204-209. 

3 Ibid., p. 35. 4 21,1^1^^ p^ 06. 5 jjji.l^^ p^ 35, 

^ Ibid., p. 41. 


gird the head of the invalid with it ; 

gird the forehead of the invaUd with it ; 

gird the seat of Hfe with it ; 

gird his hands and his feet ; 

seat him on his bed ; 

pour on him enchanted waters. 

Let the disease of his head be carried away into the heavens like 

a violent wind ; . . . 
may the earth swallow it up like passing waters ! 

Sir Henry Rawlinson has discovered that there were three classes of 
Chaldcean doctors, exactly in accordance with the enumeration of the 
prophet Daniel. These were the Khartiimim^ or conjurors, the Chak- 
amim, or physicians, and the Asaphim, or theosophists (see Daniel ii. 
2; v. 11). 

The Babylonian doctrine of disease was that the hosts of evil spirits 
in the air entered man's body, and could only be expelled by the incan- 
tations of the exorcist. These disease-demons were addressed as " the 
noxious neck spirit," " the burning spirit of the entrails which devours 
the man." Headache was caused by evil spirits which were commanded 
by the charmer to fly away " like grasshoppers " into the sky.^ 

Herodotus says of the Babylonians : " The following custom seems to 
me the wisest of their institutions. They have no physicians, but when a 
man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up 
to him, and if they have ever had his disease themselves, or have known 
any one who has suffered from it, they give him advice, recommending 
him to do whatever they found good in their own case, or in the case 
known to them ; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence 
without asking him what his ailment is." ^ 

A Babylonian exorcism of disease-demons has been found in the 
following terms : the translation is by Prof. Sayce."^ 

" On the sick man, by means of sacrifice, may perfect health shine 
like bronze ; may the sun-god give this man life ; may Merodach, the 
eldest son of the deep, give him strength, prosperity, and health ; may 
the king of heaven preserve, may the king of earth preserve." 

A curse against a sorcerer declares that " by written spells he shall 
not be delivered." 

The elementary spirits were supposed to be seven baleful winds, 
which were considered general causes of disease. One of the formulae 

^ See E. B. Tylor, art. " Demonology," Ency. Brit. ; Records of the Past, vols, i., 
iii.; Birch's trans. Book of the Dead ; Lenormant, Maspero, and others. 
- Herodotus, Book I. 197, tr. Rawlinson. 
^ Records of the Past, vol. i. p. 135. 


of exorcising these dreadful seven is translated by Mr. Smith from a 
<^reat collection of hymns to the gods which was compiled b.c. 2000. 

" Seven (are) they, seven (are) they. 
In the abyss of the deep seven (are) they. 
In the brightness of heaven seven (are) they. 
In the abyss of the deep in a palace (v/as) their growth. 
Male they (are) not, female they (are) not. 
Moreover the deep (is) their pathway. 
Wife they have not, child is not born to them. 
Law (and) kindness know they not. 
Prayer and supplication hear they not. 
(Among) the thorns of the mountain (was) their growth. 
To Hea (the god of the sea) (are) they hostile. 
The throne-bearers of the gods (are) they. 
Disturbing the watercourse in the canal are they set. 
Wicked (are) they, wicked (are) they. 
Seven (are) they, seven (are) they, seven twice again are they." ^ 

M. Lenormant gives a translation of a very long Accadian incantation 
against disease-demons ; it is in the form of a litany, and each verse 
ends with the words :— 

•' Spirit of the heavens, conjure it ! Spirit of the earth, conjure it ! " 

There are some twenty-eight verses in all, and a great number of 
diseases are mentioned. I have only space for a few of these. 

" Ulcers which spi-ead, malignant ulcers." 

" Disease of the bowels, the disease of the heart, the palpitation of the diseased 
Disease of the vision, disease of the head," etc. 

" Painful fever, violent fever, 
The fever which never leaves man, 
Unremitting fever. 

The lingering fever, malignant fever. 
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it," etc., etc. 

In the Assyrian version it seems to be hinted that the expectoration 
of phthisical patients was as dangerous as our modern bacteriologists 
declare it to be, for we have these words : — 

"The poisonous consumption which in the mouth malignantly ascends." ^ 

In the course of Layard's excavations at Nineveh, a divining cham- 
ber was discovered, at the entrance to which figures of the magi were 
found. One of the orders of these magicians was the " Mecasphim," 
translated by Jerome and the Greeks " enchanters," such as used 
noxious herbs and drugs, the blood of victims, and the bones of the 

* Hist. Bahylon, p. 22. 2 Lenormant, Chahhvan Magicy p. 6. 



dead for their superstitious rites. Another class was the " Casdim, 
who were a sort of philosophers, who were exempt from all employment 
except the duty of studying physic, astrology, the foretelling of future 
events, the interpretation of dreams by augury, etc.^ 

The Assyrians had different demons for different diseases — some 
injured the head, others attacked the hands and feet.^ 

The Assyrians believed that seven evil spirits might enter a man at 
the same time ; and there is a tablet which tells of the protection 
afforded by a god against such demons. When the deity stands at the 
sick man's bedside, " those seven evil spirits he shall root out, and 
shall expel them from his body, and those seven shall never return to 
the sick man again." ^ 

*' Sometimes images of the gods were brought into the sick-room, 
and written texts from the holy books were put on the walls, and bound 
round the sick man's brains. Holy texts were spread out on each side 
of the threshold." ^ 

In Mr. George Smith's History of Assyria from the Monuments, there 
is a translation of an Assyrian tablet from Assur-bani-pal's library. The 
tablet is on the charms to expel evil curses and spells. " It is supposed 
in it," says Mr. Smith, " that a man was under a curse, and Merodach, 
one of the gods, seeing him next to the god Hea, his father, enquired 
how to cure him. Hea, the god of wisdom, in answer related the 
ceremonies and incantations for effecting his recovery, and these are 
recorded in the tablet for the benefit of the faithful in after times. 

Translation of Tablet. 

1. The evil curse like a demon fixes on a man 

2. a raging voice over him is fixed 

3. an evil voice over him is fixed 

4. the evil curse is a great calamity 

5. that man the evil curse slaughters like a lamb 

6. his god from over him departs 

7. his goddess stands angry at his side 

8. the raging voice like a cloak covers him and bears him away 

9. the god Merodach saw him and 

10. to his father Hea into the house he entered and said 

1 1. My father, the evil curse like a demon fixes on a man 

1 Nineveh and its Palaces, Joseph Bononii, p. 164. 

2 Records of the Past, vol. iii. p. 140. 

* Assyrian Talismans and Exorcisms, trans, by II. F. Talbot. Records of the 
Pasty vol. iii. p. 143. 

* Folk Medicine, p. 165. 


12. And a second time he spake to him 

13. To cm-e that man I am not able, explain to me how to do it. 

14. Hea to his son Merodach answered 

15. My son, thou knowest not how, I will recount to thee how to 

do it, 

16. Merodach, thou knowest not how^ I will reveal to thee how to 

do it, 

1 7. What I know, thou shalt know. 

18. Go my son Merodach. 

19. pure — — — carry to him 

20. that spell break, and that spell remove. 

21. From the curse of his father 

22. from the curse of his mother 

23. from the curse of his elder brother 

24. from the curse of the incantation which the man does not know 

25. the spell in the words of the lips of the god Hea 

26. Like a plant break 

27. like a fruit crush 

28. like a branch split. 

29. For the spell the invocation of heaven may he repeat the invoca- 

tion of earth may he repeat 

30. Thus : Like unto this plant which is broken may be the spell. 

31. In the burning flames it burns 

32. in fragments it shall not be collected 
-^Ty. together or divided it shall not be used 

34. its fragments the earth shall not take 

35. its seeds shall not produce and the sun shall not raise them 

36. for the festival of god and king it shall not be used 

38. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 

the sinning, 

39. the evil which in my bod}', my limbs and my teeth is fixed, 

40. like this plant may it be broken and 

41. in this day may the burning flames consume, 

42. may it drive out the spell and I shall be free 

43. Thus : Like unto this fruit which is crushed may be the spell, 

44. in the burning flames it burns 

45. to its severed stalk it shall not return 

46. for the banquet of god and king it shall not be used 

47-— — — — — — — — — — — — — 

48. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 
the sinning. 


49. the evil which in my body, my limbs and my teeth is fixed 

50. like this fruit may it be crushed and 

51. in this day may the burning flames consume, 

52. may it drive out the spell and I shall be free 

53. Thus : Like unto this branch which is split may be the spell, 

54. in the burning flames it burns 

55. its fibres to the trunk shall not return 

56. to satisfy a wish it shall not come 

57- — — — — — — — ^— — — -^- — — 

58. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 

the sinning. 

59. the evil which in my body, my limbs and my teeth is fixed 

60. like this branch may it be split and 

61. in this day may the burning flames consume 

62. may it drive out the spell and I shall be free 

d-iy. Thus : Like unto this wool which is torn may be the spell, 

64. in the burning flames it burns 

65. to the back of the sheep it shall not return 

66. for the clothing of god and king it shall not be used 

67. _ 

68. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 

the sinning. 

69. the evil which in my body, my limbs and my teeth is fixed 

70. like this wool may it be torn and 

71. in this day may the burning flames consume 

72. may it drive out the spell and I shall be free 

73. Thus : Like unto this flag which is torn may be the spell, 

74. in the burning flames it burns 

75. on to its mast it shall not return 

76. to satisfy a wish it shall not come 

77-— — — — — — — ^— — — — ~ — 

78. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 

the sinning. 

79. the evil which in my body, my limbs and my teeth is fixed 

80. like this flag may it be torn and 

81. in this day may the burning flames consume 

82. niay it drive out the spell and I shall be free 

83. Thus : Like unto this thread which is broken may be the spell, 

84. in the burning flames it burns 

85. the weaver into a cloak shall not weave it 

86. for the clothing of god and king it shall not be used 

87. _ __ 


ZZ. the evil invocation, the finger pointing, the marking, the cursing, 
the sinning. 

89. the evil which in my body, my limbs and my teeth is fixed. 

90. like this thread may it be broken and 

91. in this day may the burning flames consume 

92. may it drive out the spell and I shall be free. 

The image of Hea placed in the doorway kept away the disease- 

In the Babylonian and Assyrian rooms of the British Museum there 
is a collection of bowls inscribed with charms in Chaldee, Syriac, and 
Mandaitie. It is supposed that they were used by sick persons, who 
drank their physic from them, trusting that it would thereby be more 
eflicacious. As they drank they recited the formulae and names of the 
archangels, Michael, Raphael, Ariel, Shaltiel, Malkiel, etc., which were 
inscribed upon them. The catalogue says that the earliest of these 
bowls were made about b.c. 200. Many are from Tell-Ibrahim 
(Cutha). It may be mentioned in this connection that Catholics fre- 
quently make the sign of the cross over medicinal potions before taking 

The origin of the Sabbaih as a day of cessation from all labour is 
evidently Accadian. In the following translation of an Assyrian tablet ^ 
we find the Sabbatarian principle in full force. 

*' The seventh day, feast of Merodach and Zir : Panibu, a great 
feast, a day of rest. The prince of the people will eat neither the flesh 
of birds nor cooked fruits. He will not change his clothing. He will 
put on no white robe. He will bring no offering. The king will not 
ascend into his chariot. He will not perform his duties as royal law- 
giver. In a garrison city the commander will permit no proclamations 
to his soldiers. The art of the physician will not be practised." 
This is another proof that the Jews derived many of their religious 
customs from the Assyrians and Accadians. The Assyrian Sabbath 
was evidently observed as strictly as under the Mosaic code. It is 
curious to note that the physician was not permitted to exercise his 
merciful calling on that day, and it throws light on the objection of the 
Jews to Christ that it was not lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day. 

1 From Baas' Hist. Med., p. 2S. 



The Aryans. — Hindu Philosophy. — The Vedas. — The Shastres of Charaka and 
Susruta. — Code of Menu. — The Brahmans. — Medical Practitioners. — Strabo on 
the Hindu Philosophers. — Charms. — Buddhism and Medicine. — Jiwaka, 
Buddha's Physician. — The Pulse. — Knowledge of Anatomy and Surgery in 
Ancient Times. — Surgical Instruments. — Decadence of Hindu ^ledical Science. 
— Goddesses of Disease. — Origin of Hospitals in India. 

The Hindus are considered by Max Miiller to be much older even 
as regards their civihzation than the Egyptians. This belief is based 
on his study of their language, which he says existed " before there 
was a single Greek statue, a single Babylonian bull, or a single Egyptian 
sphinx." According to him, the noble Indo-Germanic or Aryan people, 
from whom have descended the Brahman, the Rajput, and the English- 
man, had their earliest home, not in Hindustan, but in Central Asia. 
(Max Miiller's theory is now superseded by anthropological researches 
so far as the Europeans are concerned.) This splendid race drove 
before them into the mountains or reduced to slavery the Z>asyns, 
the obscure aborigines, the non-Aryan primaeval peoples. The earliest 
Aryan poets composed the Rig- Veda at least three thousand, perhaps 
even four thousand years ago. The handsome Aryan fair-complexioned 
conquerors spoke with the utmost contempt of " the noseless " or 
" flat-nosed " Mongolian aborigines, who, in the Vedic poems, from 
being ^' gross feeders on flesh," "lawless," "non-sacrificing" tribes, were 
afterwards described as " monsters " and " demons." ^ 

It is necessary, if we wish to understand the principles of Hindu 
medicine, to glance at the philosophy and religion of the Brahmans and 
Buddhists. The Aryan conquerors descending through the Himalayas 
were a sober, industrious, courageous people, who lived a pastoral life, 
and knowing nothing of the enervating attractions of great cities, re- 
quired no other medical treatment than simple folk medicine every- 
where affords. Their earliest literature is found in the "Vedic Hymns," 
the " Sacred Books of the Hindus," which were composed by the 
wisest and best of the men, who were warriors and husbandmen, and 

^ See Taylor, Origin of the Aryans^ chap. i. 


the priests and physicians of their own households. They gradually 
acquired priestly supremacy over a wider range. Thus arose the 
BrahmanSj the " Offerers of Potent Prayer." The Rig- Veda refers to 
physicians, and speaks of the healing power of medicinal herbs ; and 
the Atharva- Veda contains an invocation against the fever-demon, so 
that medical matters began very early to reoeive attention after the 
conquest of Indian by the Aryans. 

" Hinduism," says Professor Monier Williams, " is a creed which 
may be expressed by the two words, spiritual pantheism." ^ Of all 
beliefs this is the simplest. Nothing really exists but the One Universal 
Spirit; man's soul is identical with that Spirit. Separate existence 
apart from the Supreme is mere illusion ; consequently every man's 
highest aim should be to get rid for ever of doing, having, and being, 
and strive to consider himself a part of the One Spirit. This in a 
few words is esoteric Hinduism. When we attempt to study the end- 
less ramifications of the exoteric, or popular belief, the system, so 
far from being simple, is infinitely complicated. God may amuse 
Himself by illusory appearances. Light in the rainbow is one, but it 
manifests itself variously. All material objects, and the gods, demons, 
good and evil spirits, men, and animals are emanations from the One 
Universal Spirit ; though temporarily they exist apart from him, they 
will all ultimately be reabsorbed into their source. In the Sanskrit 
language, which is the repository of Veda^ or " knowledge," we have 
the vehicle of Hindu philosophy. The systems of Hindu philosophy 
which grew out of the third division of the Vedas^ called the 
Upa?iishads, are six, and are given in Professor Monier Williams' work 
already referred to as — 

1. The Nyaya, founded by Gotama. 

2. The Vais'eshika, by Kanada. 

3. The Sankhya, by Kapila. 

4. The Yoga^ by Pantanjali. 

5. The Mimansa, by Jaimini. 

6. The Vedanta, by Badarayana or Vyasa. 

We know neither the dates of these systems, nor which of them 
preceded the other. 

Oriental scholars tell us that, 500 years before Christ, in India, China, 
Greece, and Persia men began to formulate philosophical systems of 
religious belief, and to elaborate scientific ideas of the world in which 
they lived. Williams considers the Vais'eshika system of philosophy 
the most interesting of all the systems, from the parallels it offers to 
European philosophical ideas. This system goes more correctly than 

^ Indian Wisdom^ p. xxvi. 



the others into the qualities of all substances. It is therefore more 
scientific, as we should say. It is most interesting to discover how 
nearly the doctrine of the atoms approaches our Western teaching. 
The following is Professor Williams' account of these views : — 

" First, then, as to the formation of the world, this is supposed to 
be effected by the aggregation of Anus, or ' Atoms.' These are innu- 
merable and eternal, and are eternally aggregated, disintegrated, and 
re-integrated by the power of Adrishta. According to theKanadas 
Sutras, an atom is ' something existing, having no cause, eternal' 
They are, moreover, described as less than the least, invisible, in- 
tangible, indivisible, imperceptible by the senses, and as having each 
of them a Vis'esha or eternal essence of its own. The combination 
of these atoms is first into an aggregate of two, called Duy-anuka. 
Three of them, again, are supposed to combine into a Trasa-renu,. 
which, like a mote in a sunbeam, has just magnitude enough to be 

In the Sankhya philosophy we find something very like Darwinism. 
" There cannot be the production of something out of nothing ; that 
which is not cannot be developed into that which is. The production 
of what does not already exist (potentially) is impossible, like a horn, 
on a man ; because there must of necessity be a material out of which 
a product is developed; and because everything cannot occur every- 
where at all times ; and because anything possible must be produced 
from something competent to produce it." (^Aphorisms, i. 78, 114- 


The Upa- Vedas, or secondary Vedas, treat of various sciences, one 
of which, Ayur- Veda, is the '^ science of life," or medicine. By some 
this is considered to belong to the Atharva- Veda ; by others to the 
Rig- Veda. By Ayur- Veda we are to understand something derived 
immediately from the gods. The supplementary revelation known as 
Upa-Vedas dates about 350 b.c, and there we find Brahmanical 
medicine already developing. ^ 

" Of all ancient nations," says Elphinstone, " the Egyptians are the 
one whom the Hindus seem most to have resembled." * 

There is good reason for believing that the ancient Greeks derived 
much of their philosophy and religion from the Egyptians, who seem 
in their turn to have taken both in great measure from India. Says 
Elphinstone : "It is impossible not to be struck with the identity of 
the topics discussed by the Hindu philosophers with those which 
engaged the attention of the same class in ancient Greece, and with 

1 Indian Wisdom, p. 84. 2 jbid^^ p. 89. 

3 Asiatic Quarterly Review, Oct., 1892, p. 287. * Hist. India, 4th ed., p. 48.. 


the similarity between the doctrines of schools subsisting in regions of 
the earth so remote from each other." ^ 

Here we find the doctrines of the eternity of matter, the derivation 
of all souls from God and their return to Him, the doctrine of atoms 
and a whole system similar to that of Pythagoras. The Greek philo- 
sopher taught that intermediate between God and mankind are a host 
of aerial beings who exercise various influences on the condition of 
mankind and the affairs of the world. Enfield 2 and Stanley ^ say that 
Pythagoras learned his doctrine from the Magi or Oriental philosophers. 

Max Miiller says that Zarathustra and his followers, the Zoroastrians, 
had been settled in India before they immigrated into Persia. " That 
the Zoroastrians and their ancestors started from India during the 
Vaidik period, can be proved as distinctly as that the inhabitants of 
Massilia started from Greece. . . . Many of the gods of the Zoro- 
astrians come out . . . as mere reflections and deflections of the 
primitive and authentic gods of Veda" ^ 

The Hindus say that when their four immortal Vedas, named Rig^ 
Yajur, Sama, and Atharva, were originally given to man by Brahma, 
there was no disease or sin ; but when mankind fell away from this 
virtuous and happy state, hfe was shortened and disease introduced. 
Brahma, in his compassion for the sufferings of mankind, then gave a 
second class of sacred books, the Upavedas ; one of these, named 
Ayur- Veda, treats of the prevention and cure of diseases. Some say 
this work really came from Siva ; it is the sacred medical authority of 
the Hindus, and is of the highest antiquity. It was originally of great 
length, but Brahma in mercy to mankind shortened it. Fragments now 
only remain, and these in the works of commentators. Two divisions 
treat of surgery, ist, Salya treats of the surgery of the removal of 
foreign bodies, pus, and the dead child from the uterus; of healing 
wounds caused by knives, etc. ; of bandaging, operations, blistering, 
and the treatment of abscesses and inflammations. 2nd, Sdldkya treats 
of diseases of the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. 3rd, Kdyachikitsd 
describes diseases affecting the whole body, as fevers, dysentery, etc. 
This section may be considered as constituting the practice of medicine. 
4th, Bhutavidya deals with the art of restoring the deranged faculties 
of the mind produced by demoniacal possession, as by the anger of 
the gods, devils, giants, or spirits of dead men. They can only be 
removed by prayers, medicines, ablution, and offerings to the offended 
deity. 5th, Kaumdrabhritya comprises the treatment of infants and 
such diseases as in them were caused by the displeasure of demons. 

^ Hist. India, 4th ed., p. 123. ^ m^t. Philos., vol. i. p. 394. 

^ School of Philos., p. 547. * Max Miiller: Zend-Avesta, S3. 


6th, Agadatantra is concerned with the administration of antidotes/ 
7th, Rasdyanatantra treats of the medicines proper for restoring youth, 
beauty, and happiness ; it embraced chemistry or alchemy, and its 
intention was to discover the universal medicine. 8th, Vdjikarana- 
tantra deals with the best means of increasing the human race : an 
illusory research, which, like the search for the elixir of life, has even 
in modern times occupied the attention of physicians. The sacred 
Ayur- Veda contained a description of the structure of the human body 
as learned from dissection, and a complete system of preventive and 
curative medicine. 

In the Shastres (Charaka, Susruta), we learn that the Ashwins, or 
offspring of the Sun (Surja), were the physicians of the gods ; they 
wrote books on medicine, and wrought wonderful cures. When the 
fifth head of Brahma was cut off by Bayraba, it was united again by 
the Ashwins, so skilled were they in surgery. They also cured the 
wounds which the gods received in the battle with the giants. They 
healed also the paralysed arm of Indra. When mankind became 
wicked, and consequently diseased, Bharadwaja went to Indra in 
heaven to acquire a knowledge of medicine, and the thousand-eyed 
god taught him the healing art. With this knowledge the sage Bharad- 
waja returned to earth, and taught the Rishis the principles he had 
acquired. So the sages learned to distinguish diseases and the 
medicines suitable for their cure ; they lived to a very great age, writing 
books called by their own names. Charaka became the instructor 
of practitioners upon earth, and his is the most ancient and famous 
work on Hindu medicine. Charaka, whom we may term the Hindu 
Hippocrates, flourished at Benares, probably about B.C. 320. The 
most celebrated and ancient collection of Hindu laws and precepts 
is that which is known as " the Code of Menu," or " Institutes of 
Menu." It is probably the oldest and most sacred Sanskrit work after 
the Veda and its Sutras, and presents us with a faithful picture of the 
customs and institutions of the Hindus. 

The Code of Menu lays it down that diseases are the consequences 
of sinful acts in previous states of existence. "Men of evil manners 
receive an alteration of form, some through evil (deeds) committed 
(by them) in this life, some also through (acts) formerly committed. A 
thief of gold (receives) the disease of bad nails ; a drinker of intoxicating 
liquor (the disease of) black teeth ; a slayer of a Brahman, consumption ; 
he who violates the couch of the Guru, a skin disease ; a slanderer, a 
foul-smelling nose ; a false informer, a foul-smelling mouth ; a stealer ot 
grain, the loss of a limb, and one who mixes (grain) a superfluity (of 
limbs) \ one who takes food, dyspepsia ; a thief of the voice, dumbness ; 


a thief of (ilothes, leprosy ; a horse-thief, lameness ; a stealer of a lamp, 
would (in the next birth) become blind ; an extinguisher (of a lamp), one- 
eyed ; by (committing) injury (one would get) a condition of disease ; 
by not (committing) injury, the condition of not being diseased. Thus> 
according to the difference in their acts, (men who are) blamed by the 
good are born dull, dumb, blind, and deformed in appearance. Regu- 
larly, then, penance should be practised for purification, since those 
whose sins have not (thus) been done away with are (re)born with 
(these) disgraceful marks attached." ^ 

Physicians are referred to several times in the Ordinances of Menu. 
In Lect. iv. 179 we are advised that "we should never have a dispute 
with a physician." We are to avoid eating the " food of a physician and 
hunter, if a cruel man," etc. (Lect. iv. 212). " The food of a physician 
is pus" {Ibid. 220). In Lect. ix. 284, "A fine (is set) for all phy- 
sicians treating (a case) incorrectly : in (the case of creatures) not 
human (this is) the first, but in (the case of) human beings the medium 
(fine)." 2 

The Brahmans believed there was a remedy for every disease, in 
consequence of which they made a very careful examination of the vege- 
table kingdom, and so discovered a great number of medicines. If a 
medicine were efficacious in curing the patient, they invariably supposed 
it was due to the sanctity of the individual, and the divine pleasure 
which endowed him with it. It is therefore exceedingly difficult to 
obtain information, as it is believed that the medicine would lose its 
effect if the secret of the cure were divulged to others. From these 
selfish motives, the knowledge of the properties of many valuable 
remedies have been lost. Dr. Wise says, according to the Brahmans,. 
there are nine secrets which should not be revealed to any one : these 
are the age of a person ; his wealth ; family occurrences ; his bad actions, 
or those which reflect shame or dishonour upon him ; his relations with 
his wife ; his prayers to his tutelar gods ; his charities ; and the virtues 
of nostrums, the ingredients of which are known to him. 

Yet priests, says Baas, from the Brahman caste, and the sub-castes, 
the Vaisya and Vaidya, officiated for a long time as teachers of medicine 

^ Ordinances of Menu, Triibner's Oriental Series. Lect. xi. 48-54. 

^ The first fine is the lowest, i.e. two hundred and ^i\.y panas. In the Atharvaveda 
also physicians are spoken of in disrespectful terms. ' ' Various are the desires of 
men ; the wagoner longs for wood, the doctor for diseases, " A Brahman by the code 
of Menu was forbidden to follow the profession of a physician, as it was classed 
amongst those which were most impure.* At certain funeral ceremonies the same 
Code excluded such persons as " physicians, atheists, thieves, spirit drinkers, men 
with diseased nails or teeth, dancers, etc."t 

* Elphinstone, Hist, of India, 4th edition, p. 41. 
t Ordinances 0/ Menu, iii. 150-168. 


and as physicians. The Vaidyas, as the higher of the two sub-castes, 
included the physicians proper ; while the Vaisyas, or lower caste, 
furnished nurses. ^ 

When Buddhism passed into modern Hinduism (750-1000 a.d.)^ 
the rules of caste became stricter, and the old fetters were reimposed, 
and the Brahmans returned to their ancient principles which forbade 
them to contaminate themselves with blood or morbid matter ; they 
withdrew from all practice of medicine, and left it entirely to the 
Vaidyas. After a time these also shrank from touching dead bodies. 
Then public hospitals were aboHshed when Buddhism fell. The 
Mohammedan conquests which began about 1000 a.d. introduced 
foreign practitioners of physic, who derived their knowledge from 
Arabic translations of Sanskrit medical classics and monopolised the 
patronage of the Mohammedan aristocracy. ^ 

The only remains of the Buddhist hospitals now existing are the 
various institutions for animals, supported principally by the Jains, a 
sort of Protestants against Brahmanism.^ 

The Mohammedan medical practitioners were called " Hukeems," 
who followed the principles of Arabian medicine derived from Greek 
sources. As a rule these practitioners only attended on nobles and 
chiefs. There is no evidence even that the Mohammedan invaders 
employed medical men for their armies.* 

Dr. Benjamin Heyne, in his Tracts on India, says,^ — 

*' The medical works of the Hindus are neither to be regarded as 
miraculous productions of wisdom, nor as repositories of nonsense. 
Their practical principles, as far as I can judge, are very similar to our 
own ; and even their theories may be reconciled with ours, if we make 
allowance for their ignorance of anatomy, and the imperfections of 
their physiological speculations." 

In surgery they attained to high proficiency, and our modern 
surgeons have even been able to borrow from them the operation of 

Concerning the medicinal properties of minerals (stones and metals), 
plants, animal substances, and the chemical analysis and decomposition 
of these, we have also learned much that is extremely valuable from 
the Hindus. Their Materia Medica is so important, and has played 
so large a part in Western medical science, that we cannot afford to 
despise it, though the Hindus have contributed so little to the study 
of natural science.'^ Veterinary medicine, so far as the diseases of 

^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 41. ^ Hunter's Indian Empire, p. 109. 

^ Asiatic Quarterly Rev., Oct. 1892, p. 290. ■* Ibid. 

^ Tract vi. p. 125. '^ Weber, Hist. Ind. Lit., p. 270. ^ fbid. 


horses and elephants are concerned, has received special attention 
from the Hindus. 

Charaka counsels youths who desire to study medicine to "seek a 
teacher whose precepts are sound and whose practical skill is generally 
approved, who is clever, dexterous, upright, and blameless ; who knows 
also how to use his hands, has the requisite appliances, and all his 
senses about him ; is confident with simple cases, and sure of his treat- 
ment in difficult ones ; of genuine learning, unaffected, not morose or 
passionate, patient and kind to his pupils." The pupils should spring 
from a family of doctors, and should have lost none of their limbs 
and none of their senses. " They are to be taught to be chaste and 
temperate, to speak the truth, to obey their teacher in all things, and 
to wear a beard." They are advised to read medical treatises, attend 
to the personal instruction of their teacher, and to associate with 
other doctors. When the doctor visits his patient he should wear good 
clothes, incline his head, be thoughtful but of firm bearing, and observe 
all possible respect. Once within the house, word, thought, and 
attention should be directed to nothing else than the examination ot 
the patient and all that concerns his case. He must not be a boaster. 
"Many recoil even from a man of skill if he loves to boast." As 
medicine is difficult to learn, the doctor must practise carefully and 
incessantly. He must seek every opportunity for conversation with a 
colleague. This will remove doubts, if he have them, and fortify his 

When an operation is decided on, a fortunate moment, says Dr. Wise, 
is to be selected, and the Brahmans and the surgeons are to be 
'' propitiated " with gifts. The operating room is to be clean and well 
lighted, milk, oil, herbs, hot and cold water are to be at hand, and 
strong attendants to hold the patient. The knife should be wet with 
water before being used. The sky must be clear, and the time should 
be near the new moon. The surgeon must be strong and a rapid 
operator, and he must neither perspire, shake, nor make exclamations. 
The palms of the hands and soles of the feet, vessels, tendons, joints, 
and bones are to be avoided. During the operation, care must be 
taken to keep a fire burning in the patient's room, on which sweet- 
scented substances are to be burnt, in order to prevent devils entering 
the patient by the wound made by the surgeon. After the operation 
holy water is to be sprinkled on the sufferer, and prayer addressed to 
Brahma. The bandages are to remain till the third day, and clean ones 

Susruta was the son of Visdmitra^ a contemporary of Rama, and was 
^ Wise's Hindu Medicine, p. 184. 


chosen by Dhanwantari, who was the Hindu ^sculapius, to abridge th« 
Ayur-Veda for the cure of diseases and the preservation of the health, 
so that it might be more easily committed to memory. Susruta's book 
is still preserved, and after Charaka's it is the oldest book on medicine 
which the Hindus possess. Surgery was considered by Susruta to be 
" the first and best of the medical sciences ; less liable than any other 
to the fallacies of conjectural and inferential practice; pure in itself^ 
perpetual in its applicability j the worthy produce of heaven, and cer- 
tain source of fame." 

Wise says,^ " Dhanwantari asked his pupils, On what shall I first 
lecture ? They answered, On surgery ; because formerly there were no 
diseases among the gods, and wounds were the first injuries which 
required treatment. Besides, the practice of surgery is more respected, 
as affording immediate relief, and is connected with the practice of 
medicine ; although the latter has no connection with surgery." This 
was agreed to ; and we find the explanation of the eight parts of Ayur- 
Veda, in six books of Susruta, as follows : — 

I St. Surgery (Siitra Sthana), in which is considered the origin of 
medicine ; the rules of teaching, the duty of practitioners, the selection 
and uses of instruments and medicines, the influence of the weather on 
health, and the practice to be followed after surgical operations. Then 
follows the description of the diseases of the humours and surgical 
diseases ; the restoration of defective ears and noses ; and the removal 
of extraneous substances which have entered the body ; the different 
stages of inflammation, with their treatment ; different forms of wounds 
and ulcers, and the regimen of patients . labouring under surgical 
diseases ; the description of good and bad diet ; of prognosis ; the kind 
of messengers to be employed by the sick ; and of diseases produced by 
the deranged actions of the senses, and of incurable diseases. Then 
follows the preparations required for accompanying a rajah in war, the 
duty of practitioners, the difference of climates, the different classes 
of medicines according to their sensible qualities, a description of the 
fluids, and of the different preparations, and articles of food. These 
subjects are treated of in thirty-six chapters. 

2nd. Nosology (Nidana Sthana). The description and diagnosis of 
diseases produced by vitiated humous, or derangements of blood, bile, 
wind, and phlegm ; the symptoms and causes of rheumatic diseases, of 
piles, of stone, fistula-in-ano, leprosy, diabetes, gonorrhoea, and ascites ;, 
the symptoms of unnatural presentations in midwifery, large internal 
abscesses, erysipelas, scrofula, hydrocele, venereal diseases, and diseases 
of the mouth. These subjects are considered in sixteen chapters. 
* Hindu Medicine^ p. 8. 


3rd. Anatomy (Sarira Sthana), or structure of the body. The de- 
scription of the soul, and the elementary parts of the body ; of puberty ; 
of conception ; of the growth of the different parts of the body ; of 
bleeding ; of the treatment of pregnancy, and of infants. This division 
has ten chapters. 

4th. Therapeutics (Chikitsa Sthana), in which the exhibition of 
medicines, the history of inflammations, the treatment of fractures, 
rheumatic diseases, piles, fistula-in-ano, leprosy, diabetes, and dropsy are 
given ; the manner of extracting the child in unusual positions, the 
remedies for restoring health and strength, and for prolonging life ; the 
means of preventing diseases \ the use of clysters, and of errhines, and 
the use of the smoke of different substances. These are considered in 
forty chapters. 

5th. Toxicology (Kalpa Sthana). The means of distinguishing 
poisoned food, and descriptions of different mineral, vegetable, and 
animal poisons, with their antidotes, is given under this head. This 
division is treated of in eight chapters. 

6th. The supplementary section, Locales (Uttara Sthana), includes 
various local diseases ; as those of the eye, nose, ears and head, with 
their treatment ; the symptoms and treatment of fever, and its varieties ; 
dysentery, consumption ; gulma ; diseases of the heart ; jaundice ; 
discharges of blood, and fainting. This is followed by the treatment of 
intoxication, of cough, hiccough, asthma, hoarseness of voice, worms, 
stercoraceous vomiting, cholera, dyspepsia, and dysuria. It also treats 
of madness, epilepsy, apoplexy ; the different tastes of substances, with 
their effects ; the means of retaining health, and the different opinions 
of practitioners regarding the humours. These subjects are treated 
in sixty-six chapters. 

According to Susruta a pupil had to be initiated into the Science of 
Medicine. " A medical man should initiate a pupil who is either a 
Brahmana, Kshatriya, or Vaishya, the members of whose body are 
sound, of an amiable disposition, active, well-conducted, mild, healthy, 
vigorous, talented, courageous, of a retentive memory^ good judgment 
and rank, whose tooth-ends^ tongue, and lips are small, whose eyes, nose,, 
and mouth are straight, of a pleasant mind, talk, and behaviour, and 
able to bear fatigue ; other such should not be initiated." 

Many ceremonies follow ; an altar is to be erected having four angles 
in some conspicuous direction, which is to be washed with infusion of 
cow-dung and spread with kiisa grass ; precious stones and rice are to 
scattered upon it, and a fire is to be kindled with a number of 
precious woods, an oblation of ghee is to be made, and the mystic 
words Bhiir Bhuvah Svar and Om are to be said. "After this hail 



each divinity (Brahma, Agni, Dhanvantari, Prajapati, Asvins, an( 
Indra) and each Sage (the Rishis), and make the pupil do the same." 

Stenzler and others have thought it possible that Susruta borrowed 
his system of medicine largely from the Greeks, and they say that so 
far as chronology is affected by it there would be nothing surprising 
in the circumstance. But Weber asserts ^ that no grounds whatever 
exist for this supposition ; on the contrary, there is much to tell against 
such an idea. None of the contemporaries of Susruta has a name 
with a foreign sound, and the cultivation of medicine is assigned by 
Susruta and other writers to the city of Benares. The weights and mea- 
sures to be employed by the physician are those of the eastern provinces, 
which never came into close contact with the Greeks, and it was first 
in these parts where medicine received its special cultivation. 

In the general treatment of disease, the Hindus paid great attention 
•to diet, so as to promote the just balance of the elements and humours, 
as they considered that the generality of diseases are produced by 
derangements in the humours. Many of their statements on dietetics 
show a keen observation. If management of diet failed to cure the 
disorder, the patient was directed to abstain from food altogether for a 
time. Should this also fail, recourse was had to ejecting the corrupted 
humours by emetics, purgatives, or bleeding. Even the healthy were 
advised to take an emetic once a fortnight, a purgative once a month, 
and to be bled twice a year at the change of the seasons. The Hindus 
observed the " critical days " which have long been recognised by physi- 
cians everywhere. Pythagoras says the Egyptians observed them, and 
Hippocrates employed the term Kpacns when the humoral pathology 
was in vogue. The Hindus thought that all diseases divide naturally 
into two classes of the sthenic and asthenic types. In the one there was 
excess, in the other deficiency of excitement. Health consists in a 
happy medium. AH the Asiatic nations hold this opinion. Their 
remedies consequently were stimulating or cooling, as the type of the 
malady demanded. Pepper, bitters, and purgatives were stimulants. 
Stomachics, as chiraitd^ paun mixed with lime, bathing and cold were 
cooling remedies.^ 

The sages of antiquity have handed down to us the qualities which 
constitute a good physician. He must be strictly truthful, and of the 
greatest sobriety and decorum ; he must have no dealings with any women 
but his own wife ; he must be a man of sense and benevolence, of a 
charitable heart, and of a calm temper, constantly studying how to do 
good. Such a man is a good physician if, in addition to this, he con- 
stantly endeavours to improve his mind by the study of good books. 
^ Hist. Ind. Lit., p. 268. ^ Wise's Hindu Medicine, p. 213. 


He is not to be peevish with an irritable patient ; he must be courageous 
and hopeful to the last day of his patient's life ; always frank, communi- 
cative, and impartial, he is yet to be rigid in seeing that his orders are 
carried out. 

Hindu physicians make their prognosis a strong point in their practice ; 
there are, they say, certain signs which to the experienced eye enable 
the doctor to prognosticate the favourable or fatal termination of a 
disorder. And in the first place a good deal is to be learned from the 
messenger who summons him to the patient, and so he notes his 
appearance, his dress, his manner of speaking; he notes the time of 
day and other circumstances, as these are all considered to have an 
influence on the result of the illness. It is considered unfavourable if 
many people follow each other to call the doctor. If the messenger 
sees a man arrive riding on an ass, or if he has a stick, string, or fruit 
in his hand, if he is dressed in red, black, or net clothes, if he sneezes, 
is deformed, agitated, crying, or scratching himself, — all these are bad 
signs. Not less so is it unfavourable when the physician is called 
at noonday or midnight, when he has his face turned towards the 
south, when he is eating, or when he is asleep or fatigued.^ 

When the doctor arrives at the bedside, it is an unfavourable sign 
if the patient rubs one hand against another, scratches his back, or 
constantly moves his head. There are eight most severe forms of 
disease — the nervous class, tetanus and paralysis ; leprosy ; piles, fistula- 
in-ano, stone; unnatural presentations in labour; and dropsy of the 
abdomen. These are cured with great difficulty, say the Hindus. 

It is a good sign when the patient's voice remains unaltered, when he 
awakes from sleep without starting, when he remains cool after food, 
and when he does not forget his god, but is prayerful and resigned. 

" When the messenger finds the physician sitting in a clean place, 
with his face towards the east, and the messenger has in his hands 
a water-pot full of water, with an umbrella, they are favourable 

" In Ceylon it is affirmed by the Shastree Brahmans that the Science 
cf Medicine was communicated by Mdha Brahma to the Brahma 
Ddksha Prajapati ; by Prajapati it was communicated to the Aswins 
(the physicians of heaven) : the two Aswins communicated it to Satora, 
the chief of the gods inhabiting the six lower heavens, by whom it was 
communicated to the nine sages, mentioned, on their going to him 
with one accord to seek a remedy for the evils brought upon mankind 

^ There would seem to be an artful idea under these signs. Most of them have no 
relation whatever to the patient's condition, but are of great importance to the doctor's 
convenience, and are evidently arranged to suit his own purposes. 


by their iniquities ; they communicated it to the King of Casi {Benare 
whose descendants caused it to be committed to writing." ^ 

Arrianus, in his history of Alexander's expedition to India, says that 
" speckled snakes of a wonderful size and swiftness " are found in that 
country, and that "The Grecian physicians found no remedy against 
the bite of these snakes ; but the Indians cured those who happened to 
fall under that misfortune ; for which reason, Nearchus tells us, Alex- 
ander having all the most skilful Indians about his person, caused pro- 
clamation to be made throughout the camp that whoever was bit by 
one of these snakes, should forthwith repair to the royal pavilion for 
cure. These physicians also cure other diseases ; but as they have a 
very temperate clime, the inhabitants are not subject to many. How- 
ever, if any among them feel themselves much indisposed, they apply 
themselves to their sophists, who by wonderful, and even more than 
human means, cure whatever will admit of it." ^ 

Strabo speaks of the Hindu philosophers or sages, and the physicians. 
" Of the Garmanes, the most honourable," he says, " are the Hylobii, 
who live in the forests, and subsist on leaves and wild fruits ; they are 
clothed with garments made of the bark of trees, and abstain from com- 
merce with women and from wine. The kings hold communication 
with them by messengers concerning the causes of things, and through 
them worship and supplicate the Divinity. Second in honour to the 
Hylobii are the physicians, for they apply philosophy to the study of 
the nature of man. They are of frugal habits, but do not live in the 
fields, and subsist upon rice and bread, which every one gives when 
asked, and receive them hospitably. They are able to cause persons to 
have a numerous offspring, and to have either male or female children, 
by means of charms. They cure diseases by diet, rather than by medi- 
cinal remedies. Among the latter, the most in repute are ointments 
and plasters. All others they suppose partake greatly of a noxious 
nature."^ They had enchanters and diviners versed in the arts of 
magic, who went about the villages and towns begging. 

Arrianus said of the Hindus that their women were deemed marriage- 
able at seven years of age ; but the men, not till they arrive at the age 
of forty. * 

Many charms, imprecations, and other superstitious usages of ancient 
India are contained in the Atharva-veda-Samhita. This body of litera- 
ture dates, according to Max Miiller, from looo to 800 B.C. (the Mantra. 

^ Ainslie's Materia Indica, vol. ii. p. 525. 

2 Arrian's Indian History, vol. ii. p. 232 (ed. 1 729). 

^ Strabo, Geography, Book xv. c. i. 

* Indian History, vol. ii. p. 219. 


period).^ In this Samhita a number of songs are addressed to illnesses, 
and the healing herbs appropriate for their cure. Sarpa-vidya (serpent- 
science) possibly dealt with medical matters also.^ 

The oldest fragments (very poor ones, it must be confessed) of Hindu 
medical science are to be found in these relics of Vedic times. 

In a work on Indian medicine called the Kalpastanum described by 
Dr. Heyne," we read that the doctor's apparatus of mortars, scales, etc., 
must be kept in a place in the wall that has been consecrated for that 
purpose by religious ceremonies. In the middle of the medicine room 
the mystic sign must be set up, with images of Brahma, Vishnu, and 

Many ceremonies must be gone through in the preparation of medi- 
<:ines ; the physician must attend to the boiling of some of them him- 
self, and the spot round the fireplace must be smeared with cow-dung 
by a virgin, or by the mother of sons whose husband is alive ; at the 
same time, offerings must be made to the gods. Should any of the 
ceremonies be omitted, the patient will repent the neglect, for devils of 
all descriptions will defile the medicine and hinder its good effect. Be- 
fore the patient takes his potion, the god of physic is to be worshipped 
in the person of his deputy, the doctor, who naturally (and for the good 
of the patient) is to be well rewarded for his services. 

Buddhism, says Max Miiller, is the frontier between ancient and 
modern literature in India. He gives 477 b.c. as the probable date ot 
Buddha's death,^ and describes the religion of that great sage as stand- 
ing in the same relation to the ancient Brahmanism of the Veda as 
Italian to Latin, or as Protestantism to Catholicism. It is a develop- 
ment from Brahmanism, yet it is not the religion of India, though it has 
greatly influenced Hindu thought.^ 

Buddha's religious system recognised no supreme deity ; a Buddhist 
never really prays, he merely contemplates.^ 

Man can himself become the only god Buddha's system finds room 
for. God becomes man in Brahmanism ; man becomes a god in Bud- 

^ Hibbert Lectures, 1878, p. 150. 2 Weber, Sanskrit Literature, p. 265. 

^ Tracts on India, p. 139. * Hibbert Lectures, 1878, p. 134. 

^ Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom, p. 56. ^ Ibid.^ P- 57- 



dhism. All existence is an evil to the Buddhist ; " act " is to be got 
of as effectually as possible, for action means existence. The great end 
of the system is Nirvana^ or non-existence. " Of priests and clergy in 
our sense," says Professor Williams, " the Buddhist rehgion has none." 
Though there is no God, prayer is practised as a kind of charm against 
diseases ; for malignant demons, as we might have expected, are believed 
by Buddhists to cause these and other evils. These Buddhist prayers 
are used like the Mantras of the Brahmins as charms against evils of all 
kinds. The Buddhists have a demon of love, anger, evil, and deaths 
called Mara, the opponent of Buddha. He can send forth legions of 
evil demons like himself. Some of the precepts of Buddha are fully 
equal to those of the highest religions — Charity, Virtue, Patience^ 
Fortitude, Meditation, and Knowledge. The special characteristic of 
Buddhism is the perfection of its tenderness and mercy towards all 
living creatures, even beasts of prey and noxious insects not being out- 
side the circle of its sympathy. According to the Buddhist's belief, all 
our acts ripen and go to form our Karma. The consequences of our 
acts must inexorably be worked out. This is Brahminical as well as 
Buddhistic doctrine. " In the Sabda-kalpa-druma, under the head of 
Karma-vipdka" says Williams, " will be found a long catalogue of the 
various diseases with which men are born, as the fruit of evil deeds 
committed in former states of existence, and a declaration as to the 
number of births through which each disease will be protracted, unless, 
expiations be performed in the present life." ^ 

All our sufferings, our sicknesses, weaknesses, and moral depravity 
are simply the consequences of our actions in former bodies. When 
the Jews asked our Lord, " Who did sin, this man {i.e. in a former life) 
or his parents, that he was born blind ? " ^ they evidently had in their 
minds the Hindu doctrine of previous existences. The principles of 
the Brahminic religion do not appear to have embraced any care for or 
attention to the needs of sick people. Involved in philosophical specu- 
lations, and the perfecting of their system of caste, the founders of the 
Brahminic religion had no time to bestow on such mundane matters as 
disease and its cure. It was not until the rise of Buddhism and the 
political ascendency which it acquired over Brahmanism (from about 
250 B.C. to A.D. 600), that public hospitals were established for man 
and animals in the great cities of the Buddhist princes.-"^ Buddhism 
had a gospel for every living creature ; it taught the spiritual equality of 
all men, whose good works, without the mediation of priests and Brah- 
mins, would save them from future punishment. Medicine, under the 

^ Indian Wisdom, p, 66. ^ John ix. 2. 

•* Asiatic Quarterly Review, Oct. 1 892, p. 288. 


fostering care of Buddhism, was studied as any other science, and the 
noblest outcome of the movement was the establishment of pubUc 
hospitals. A great seat of medical learning was established at Benares, 
and Asoka, King of Behar or Putra, published fourteen Edicts, one of 
which devised a system of medical care for man and beast.^ 

Amongst the legends of Gotama Buddha is the history of Jiwaka, 
which is of great interest to the historians of medicine, as it illustrates 
the state of the science in India at that early age. The following ac- 
count is abbreviated from Mr. Spence Hardy's translation of Singhalese 

Jfwaka was a physician who administered medicine to Budha. He 
learned his profession in this way. When he was seven or eight years 
of age, he ran away from his parents, resolving that he would learn some 
science ; so he considered the character of the eighteen sciences and 
the sixty-four arts, and determined that he would study the art of 
medicine, that he might be called doctor, and be respected, and attain 
to eminence. So he went to the collegiate city of Taksala * and applied 
to a learned professor to take him into his school of medicine. The 
professor asked him what fees he had brought with him. Jiwaka said he 
had no money, but he was willing to work. The professor liked the 
manner of the lad, and agreed to teach him, though from other pupils 
he received a thousand masurans. At this moment the throne of Sekra 
trembled, as Jiwaka had been acquiring merit, and was soon to ad- 
minister medicine to Gotama Budha. The dewa resolved that as he 
was to become the physician of Budha, he would himself be his 
teacher ; and for this purpose he came to the earth, entered the mouth 
of the professor, and inspired him with the wisdom he needed to teach 
his pupil in the most excellent manner. 

Jiwaka made rapid progress, and soon discovered that he could treat 
the patients more successfully than his master. He learned in seven 
years as much about diseases as any other teacher could have taught 
him in sixteen. Then Jiwaka asked his preceptor when his education 
would be finished ; and the old man, wishing to test his knowledge, told 
him to take a basket and go outside the city for the space of sixteen 
miles, and collect all the roots, barks, leaves, and fruits which were use- 
less in the art of medicine. Jiwaka did as he was instructed, and after 
four days he returned and informed the professor that he had met with 
no substance which in some way or other was not useful in medicine ; 
there was no such thing on earth. Now when the teacher heard this 
reply, he said, there was no one who could teach the pupil any more, 

^ Asiatic Quarterly Review, Oct. 1892, p. 288. ^ A Manual of Budhism, pp. 238. 
^ Probably the Taxila of the Greeks. See Strabo, Book xv. c. i, § 61. 


and Sekra departed from his mouth. He knew that his pupil had bee 
taught by divine wisdom. Then Jiwaka journeyed to Saketu, where he 
found a woman who had a violent pain in her head, which for seven 
years many learned physicians had vainly tried to cure. He offered to 
cure her, but she said, " If all the learned doctors had failed to relieve 
her, it was useless to seek the aid of a little child." Jiwaka replied that 
" Science is neither old nor young. I will not go away till the headache 
is entirely cured." Then the woman said, ** My son, give me rehef for 
a single day : it is seven years since I was able to sleep." So Jiwaka 
poured a little medicine into her nose, which went into her brain, and 
behold, all her headache was gone ; and the lady and her relations each 
gave the physician 4,000 nila-karshas, with chariots, and other, and 
other gifts in abundance. After this he cured the king of a fistula-in- 
ano, for which he received a royal reward. There was in Raj ag aha a 
rich nobleman who had a pain in his head like the cutting of a knife. 
None of his physicians could cure him, so Jiwaka took the noble 
into a room, sat behind him, and taking a very sharp instrument, opened 
his skull ; and setting aside the three sutures, he seized the two worms 
which were gnawing his brain with a forceps, and extracted them entire. 
He then closed up the wound in such a manner that not a single hair 
was displaced. There was a nobleman in Benares who had twisted one 
of his intestines into a knot, so that he was not able to pass any solid 
food. Crowds of physicians came to see him, but none of them dare 
undertake his case ; but Jiwaka said at once he could cure him. He 
bound his patient to a pillar that he might not move, covered his face, 
and taking a sharp instrument, without the noble's being aware of what 
was going on, ripped open the abdomen, took out his intestines, undid 
the knot, and replaced them in a proper manner. He then rubbed 
ointment on the place, put the patient to bed, fed him on rice-gruel, and 
in three days he was as well as ever. Of course he had an immense 
fee. After performing other wonderful cures, Jiwaka administered 
medicine to Budha in the perfume of a flower. The narrative must be 
given in the words of the MS. : " In this way was the medicine given. 
On a certain occasion when Budha was sick, it was thought that if he 
were to take a little opening medicine he would be better ; and accord- 
ingly Ananda went to Jiwaka to inform him that the teacher of the 
world was indisposed. On receiving this information, Jiwaka, who 
thought that the time to which he had so long looked forward had 
arrived, went to the wihara, as Budha was at that time residing near 
Rajagaha. After making the proper inquiries, he discovered that there 
were three causes of the disease ; and in order to remove them he pre- 
pared three lotus flowers, into each of which he put a quantity of medi- 

n I 


cine. The flowers were given to Budha at three separate times, and by 
smelling at them his bowels were moved ten times by each flower. By 
means of the first flower the first cause of disease passed away, and by 
the other two the second and third causes were removed." 

This legend is instructive in many ways. It shows us that 500 B.C. 
there were colleges in which medicine was taught, and that by special 
professors of the art, who received large fees from their pupils and kept 
them under instruction for many years. We find that the profession of 
medicine brought great honours and rewards to its adepts. We learn 
that trephining the skull for cerebral diseases was in use, and that the 
operation of opening the abdomen for bowel obstructions was under- 
stood. It reveals the important fact that already the whole of nature had 
been ransacked for remedies, and that everything was more or less use- 
ful to the physician. The great efficacy which the ancients attributed 
to perfumes is exhibited in the lotus story, which reminds us that when 
Democritus was aware that he was dying, he desired to prolong his life 
beyond the festival of Ceres, and accomplished his wish by inhaling the 
vapour of hot bread. 

.Galen's description of the pulse in disease is very suggestive of the 
ancient Sanskrit treatises on the pulse : so much is this the case, it would 
seem, that either the Hindu physician must have copied from the 
Roman, or the Roman from the Indian. He speaks of the sharp-tailed 
or inyuri^ fainting myiirl^ recurrent luyuri, the goat-leap or dorcadissans, 
a term derived from the animal dorcas^ which, in jumping aloft, stops 
in the air, and then unexpectedly takes another and a swifter spring than 
the former. But if after the diastole it recur, and before a complete 
systole take place, strike the finger a second time ; such a pulse is called 
a i-everherating one, or dicrotos, from its beating twice. There is also 
the tmdulatory and vermicular pulse, the spasmodic and vibratory^ the 
ant-like or formicanSy from its resemblance to the ant (formica), on 
account of its smallness and kind of motion ; there is the hectic, the 
serrated, the fat and the lean kind. 

Medical etiquette amongst the Hindus was not overlooked. 
"A physician who desires success in his practice, his own profit, a 
good name, and finally a place in heaven, must pray daily for all living 
creatures, first of the Brahmans and of the cow. The physician should 
wear his hair short, keep his nails clean ^ and cut close, and wear a 
sweet-smelling dress. He should never leave the house without a cane 
or umbrella ; he should avoid especially any familiarity with women. 
Let his speech be soft, clear, pleasant. Transactions in the house 
should not be bruited abroad." - 

^ A doctrine re-discovered by our bacteriologists. ^ Haeser. 



The dissection and examination of the dead subject is not practised 
in India, it is contrary to the tenets of the Brahmans ; such knowledge 
of anatomy as the Hindus possess must therefore be little else than 
conjecture, formed by the study of the bodies of animals. Ainslie says ^ 
that tlie Rajah of Tanjore, in the year 1826, was a learned and enlight- 
ened prince, who was anxious to study the structure of the human body, 
but was too rigid a Hindu to satisfy his curiosity at the expense of his 
principles, so he ordered a complete skeleton made of ivory to be sent 
to him from England. Sir William Jones states that in a fragment of the 
Ayiir- Veda he was surprised to find an account of the internal structure 
of the human frame. ^ 

The ancient Hindus must have possessed considerable knowledge 
of surgery. In a commentary on Susruta made by Ubhatta, a Cash- 
mirian, which may be as old, Ainslie thinks, as the twelfth century, many 
valuable surgical definitions are distinctly detailed. According to the 
best authorities, says Ainslie, surgery was of eight kinds : chedhana^ 
cutting or excision ; lekhana, or scarification and inoculation ; vya- 
dhana, puncturing ; eshyam, probing or sounding ; aharya, extraction ot 
solid bodies ; visravana^ extracting fluids (by leeches and bleeding); 
sevana^ or sewing; and dhedana, division or excision.^ 

Twelve species of leeches are enumerated in some of the Sanskrit 
works on surgery, six of which are poisonous and six useful medicinally.* 

Dissection was practised in the most ancient times ; but now there is 
the greatest prejudice against touching the dead body, and modern 
practitioners of Hindu medicine, where they do not follow the ancient 
authors, are in a worse condition than they were, on account of the 
present ignorance of anatomy. All the sages are alleged to have 
learned their knowledge of medicine from the works of Charaka and 
Susruta. Those who were taught by Charaka became physicians ; 
those who were followers of Susruta, surgeons. Charaka's classification 
and plan of treating diseases are considered superior to those of Susruta, 
but the latter is prized for his anatomy and surgery. Babhata com- 
piled a compendium of medicine from the works of these great 
masters of the art, and some three hundred years ago a compilation 
was made from all the most celebrated works on medicine ; this was 
called Babopriikasa. It is clear and well arranged, and explains the 
difficulties and obscurities of the ancient Shastres. This was compiled 
as a text-book for practitioners, and is in high repute with them. Dr. 
Wise explains the ancient methods of dissecting the human body as 
;given in Hindu text-books. 

1 Materia Indica, vol. ii. p. vii. ' Ibid. ^ Jbid.^ p. viii. 

* Oriental Magazine, March, 1823. 


"The dejections are to be removed, and the body washed and 
placed in a framework of wood, properly secured by means of grass, 
hemp, sugar-cane reeds, corn- straw, pea-stalks, or the like. The body 
is then to be placed in still water, in a moving stream, where it will not 
be injured by birds, fish, or animals. It is to remain for seven days 
and nights in the water, when it will have become putrid. It is then to 
be removed to a convenient situation, and with a brush, made of reeds, 
hair, or bamboo bark, the surface of the body is to be removed so as to 
exhibit the skin, flesh, etc., which are each in their turn to be observed 
before being removed. In this manner, the different corporeal parts of 
the body will be exhibited ; but the life of the body is too ethereal to 
be distinguished by this process, and its properties must therefore be 
learned with the assistance of the explanations of holy medical practi- 
tioners, and prayers offered up to God, by which, conjoined with the 
exercise of the reasoning and understanding faculties, conviction will 
be certainly obtained." ^ 

The Hindus have been great observers of the natural qualities of 
plants, though they have contributed little or nothing to the study 
of botany. " The 7natena medica of the Hindus," says Hunter,- 
'' embraces a vast collection of drugs belonging to the mineral, vege- 
table, and animal kingdoms, many of which have been adopted by 
European physicians." They were ingenious pharmacists, and some of 
their directions for the administration of medicines are most elaborate. 
They paid scrupulous attention to hygiene, regimen, and diet. 

Hindu treatises on medicine inform the physician that man's con- 
stitution is occasioned by three dispositions born with him — waditm, 
piittim, and chestian^ or wind, bile, and slime, — and it is the physician's 
business to ascertain which of these predominate in any individual. 
These we may call the three morbiferous diatheses. The pulse is to be 
felt, not merely at the wrist as we feel it, but in ten different parts of 
the body. Some of the descriptions of the pulse are very curious. 
Sometimes, they say, it beats as a frog jumps, or as a creeping rain-worm, 
or hke the motion of a child in a cradle hung in chains ; at other tiines 
it is like a fowl when running or as a peacock when strutting, and so on. 

The Yantras or surgical implements known to Susruta were, accord- 
ing to Professor H. H. Wilson, one hundred and one, and are thus 
described by him in his most interesting paper on the " Medical and 
Surgical Sciences of the Hindus." ^ 

The instruments were classed as Swastikas, Sandansas, Talayantras,. 
Nadiyantras, Salakas, and Upayantras. 

^ Wise, Hist. Hind. Med., vol. i. pp. 131, 132. ^ Indian Empire, p. 106. 
2 Oriental Magazine, vol. i. (1823), pp. 349-356. 


The Swastikas are twenty-four in number ; they are metallic, about 
eighteen inches long, and fancifully shaped like the beaks of birds, etc. 
They were a sort of pincers or forceps. 

The Sa7idansas were a kind of tongs for removing extraneous sub- 
stances from the soft parts. 

The Tdlayantras were similar, and were used for bringing away 
foreign bodies from the ears, nose, etc. 

The Nddiyantras were tubular instruments, of which there were 
twenty sorts. They were similar to our catheters, syringes, etc. The 
Saldkds were rods and sounds, etc. Of these there were twenty-eight 
kinds ; some were for removing nasal polypi, so common and so 
troublesome in India. The Upayantras were such dressings as cloth, 
twine, leather, etc. The first, best, and most important of all imple- 
ments is declared to be the Hand. The Man'daldgra was a round 
]-)ointed lancet ; the Vriddhipatra a broad knife ; the Arddhadhdrds 
are perhaps knives with one edge ; the Trikurchaka may be a sort ot 
canular trochar, with a guarded point. The Vrihiimikha is a perfo- 
rating instrument. The KutJidnkd was probably a bistoury. The 
Vadisa is a hooked or curved instrument for extracting foreign sub- 
stances, and the Daiitasaiiku appears to be an instrument for drawing 
teeth. The Ard and Karapatra are saws for cutting through bones. 
The J?^//^;/V is a blunt straight instrument six or eight inches long— a 
sort of probe, in fact. The Siuhi is a needle. Then the Hindu surgeon 
had substitutes such as rough leaves that draw blood, pith of trees, 
skin, leeches, caustics, etc. It is evident that the surgeon of ancient 
India was not inefficiently armed. 

The student of surgery had many curious contrivances for acquiring 
manual dexterity. He practised the art of making incisions on wax 
spread out on a board; on flowers, bulbs, and gourds. Skins or 
bladders filled with paste and mire were used for the same purpose. 
He practised scarification on the fresh hides of animals from which the 
hair has not been removed ; puncturing, or lancing the vessels of dead 
animals ; extraction on the cavities of the same, or fruits with large 
seeds ; sutures were made on skin and leather, and ligatures and 
bandages on well-made models of the human limbs. Fourteen kinds 
of bandages are described by Vagbhatta. The cautery was applied by 
hot seeds, burning substances, or heated plates and probes. Frequently 
this treatment was used for headaches and for liver and spleen dis- 
orders. It was chiefly employed, however, as with the Greeks, for 
averting bleeding by searing the mouths of the divided vessels. The 
early Hindus could extract stone from the bladder, and even the foetus 
from the uterus. They must have been bold operators, many of their 


operations being actually hazardous. It is a subject deserving oi 
inquiry how they lost the information and skill which they once 
possessed in so high a degree. The books of medicine and surgery 
to which reference has been made are undoubtedly most ancient, and 
it must be remembered were considered as inspired writings. Pro- 
fessor Wilson says : " We must infer that the existing sentiments of 
the Hindus are of modern date, growing out of an altered state of 
society, and unsupported by their oldest and most authentic civil and 
moral, as well as medical institutes." 

Many surgical operations which we consider triumphs of our modern 
practice were invented by the ancient Hindus. They were skilled in 
amputation, in lithotomy (as we have seen), in abdominal and uterine 
operations ; they operated for hernia, fistula, and piles, set broken bones, 
and had specialists in rhinoplasty or operations for restoring lost ears 
and noses. It was a common custom in India for a jealous husband 
to mutilate the nose of his suspected wife, so that surgeons had oppor- 
tunities to practise this branch of their art. The ancient Indian 
surgeons invented an operation for neuralgia which was very similar 
to the modern division of the fifth nerve above the eyebrow. Veter- 
inary science was understood, and ancient treatises exist, says Hunter,^ 
on the diseases of elephants and horses. 

The best era of Hindu medicine was from 250 B.C. to 750 a.d. Its 
chief centres were found in such Buddhist monastic universities as 
that of Nalanda, near Gaya.^ Hunter thinks it probable that the 
ancient Brahmans may have derived their anatomical knowledge from 
the dissection of the sacrifices ; but there is no doubt that the true 
schools of Indian medicine were the great public hospitals which were 
established by Buddhist princes like Asoka, famous for his rock edicts, 
B.C. 251-249. Amongst the fourteen injunctions inscribed by this 
enlightened sovereign, the first was the prohibition of the slaughter of 
animals for food or sacrifice, and the second was the provision of a 
system of medical aid for men and animals and of plantations and wells 
on the roadside.^ 

Probably King Asoka's were the first real hospitals for general 
diseases anywhere established, as the institutions connected with the 
Greek temples were not exactly hospitals in our sense of the term ; 
they were more like camps round a mineral spring or spa. The 
Buddhist physicians would have in these merciful institutions abundant 
opportunity for the continuous study of disease. 

Whatever may have been the condition of ancient Hindu anatomy 
and surgery, in modern times both have now fallen to the lowest point. 
^ Indian Empire, p. loS. ^ j^^i^ 3 /^/^/.^ p. 146. 



Dislocated joints are replaced and fractured limbs set by a class of 
men similar to our bone-setters which are found in all nations. 
Certain of the Mohammedan doctors — Hakeems — sometimes bleed am 
couch for cataract in a clumsy manner. The village Kabirdj knov 
but a few sentences of Sanskrit texts, but he has "a by no means 
contemptible pharmacopoeia," says Hunter. The rest consists of spells 
fasts, and quackery. 

Physicians ( Vitia?is or Vydias) being Sudras are not allowed to read 
the sacred medical writings (Vedas) ; these are guarded with religious 
awe by the Brahmins ; they are permitted, however, access to certain 
commentaries upon the professional sacred books. 

When we reflect on the high position which the science and art of the 
Hindus had attained in very ancient times, it is surprising that we have 
apparently learned little or nothing from them in connection with the 
healing art. Max Muller believes that there was an ancient indigenous 
Hindu astronomy and an ancient indigenous Hindu geometry. Pro- 
bably the first attempt at solving the problem of the squaring of the 
circle was suggested, he thinks, by the problem in the Sutras how to 
construct a square altar that should be of exactly the same magnitude 
as a round altar. It is scarcely conceivable that so patient and shrewd a 
people as the Hindus, a people at once so observant and so profoundly 
speculative, should not have kept pace with the other enlightened 
nations of the world in the study of medicine and surgery. The vege- 
tation of India is so rich in medicinal herbs that its Materia Medica 
could hardly be equalled in any other country ; so that both by intellect 
and by location the Hindus should be amongst the foremost professors 
of the art of medicine. On the contrary, however, the West has every- 
where to instruct the East in the medical sciences ; and the young Brah- 
mins who flock to the medical schools and universities of Europe find 
that they have everything to learn from us in this direction. Is this an 
evidence of arrested development, a retrogression in civilization due to 
conservatism and a paralysis of the power to keep pace with the world's 
advance consequent on the influences of religion and custom ? Pro- 
bably it is. All the medicine of the Hindus is empiricism ; their systems 
exclude anatomy and surgery, without which, as Prof. H. H. Wilson 
observes,^ " the whole system must be defective. . . . We can 
easily imagine that these were not likely to have been much cultivated 
in Hindustan, and that local disadvantages and religious prejudices 
might have proved very serious impediments to their acquirement." 

As compared with other ancient nations, Egypt, Chaldaea, Greece, 
and Rome, we are at considerable disadvantage in the attempt to dis- 
^ Medical and Surgical Sciences of the Hindus. 


cover what was known and practised of the healing arts in the remoter 
ages. We have no papyri Hke the *' Book of the Dead " or the great 
medical papyrus of Ebers ; we have no inscriptions on such ancient 
monuments as Mesopotamia has preserved for us ; we have no Sanskrit 
treatises to be compared for their antiquity and scientific interest with 
those which have come down to us from ancient Greece. 

Max Miiller says ^ that "few Sanskrit MSS. in India are older than 
1000 after Christ, nor is there any evidence that the art of writing was 
known in India much before the beginning of Buddhism, or the very 
end of the ancient Vedic literature." 

Then, again, the Hindu treatises on medical subjects, whether fables 
or facts, have hitherto been little noticed by Sanskrit scholars.^ 

The subject is not of general interest, and a man would need to be 
not only a perfect Sanskrit scholar, but a physician as well, who should 
attempt such a task as the translation of these treatises in any useful 
manner. Although ancient India has little to show us in the way of 
actual written documents and inscriptions, it must not be supposed for 
a moment that she is deficient in ancient poetry and other works which 
have been preserved through the ages by the marvellously developed 
memory of her Brahmins and religious teachers. The ancient Vedic 
hymns, the Brahmanas, and probably the Sdtras, were handed down 
from before 1000 b.c. by oral tradition. Every, the minutest pre- 
caution was taken that not a word, not a letter, not an accent even 
should be omitted or altered ; and Max Miiller tells us " this was a 
sacred duty, the neglect of which entailed social degradation, and the 
most minute rules were laid down as to the mnemonic system that had 
to be followed." 

The people of India believe that small-pox is under the control of 
" the goddess Mata," in whose honour temples abound and fairs are 
held, where thousands of women and children attend with offerings. 
The declivities of most of the numerous conical hills present either a 
reddened stone or temple devoted to " Mata," with most probably an 
attendant Brahmin priest. Nearly every village has its goddess of 
small-pox in the immediate locality, and in many places a large piece of 
ground is esteemed holy and dedicated to " Mata." The people do 
not pray to escape the affection, unless in seasons when it occurs with 
more than ordinary violence. They do, however, petition for a mild 
visitation. But even the loss of an eye does not appear to be viewed 
as a very serious calamity ! " Is there not another eye sufficient 
for all our purposes ? " questioned one of these stoical philosophers. 

^ Ilibbej't Lectures, 1878, p. 153. 

" Prof. H. H. Wilson's Medical and Surgical Sciences of the Hindus. 


''If it were the leg or hand, it would be different, but an eye is ini 
material." ^ 

*' The small-pox goddess stands with two uplifted crooked daggers, 
threatening to strike on the right and left. Before her are a band of exe- 
cutors of her vengeance. Two of them wear red grinning masks, carry 
black shields, and brandish naked scimitars. White lines, like rays, issue 
from the bodies of the others, to indicate infection. On the right there 
is a group of men with spotted bodies, afflicted with the malady ; bells 
are hung at their cinctures, and a few of them wave in their hands black 
feathers. They are preceded by musicians with drums, who are sup- 
plicating the pity of the furious deity. Behind the goddess, on the 
right, there advances a bevy of smiling young women, who are carrying 
gracefully on their heads baskets with thanksgiving-offerings, in gratitude 
for their lives and their beauty having been spared. There is, besides, 
a little boy with a bell at his girdle, who seems to be conveying some- 
thing from the right arm of the goddess. This action may possibly be 
emblematic of inoculation. "^ 

Another small-pox deity of India described by Mr. Dubois, a mission- 
ary,^ is Mah-ry-Umma, who is supposed to incarnate herself in the 
disease. The natives, when vaccination was first introduced, objected 
to the practice for fear lest the goddess should be offended, as to pre- 
vent the small-pox would imply an objection to her becoming incarnate 
amongst them. The difficulty was overcome by the suggestion that the 
vaccination was a mild form of disease by which the goddess had chosen 
to visit her votaries, so that she might be worshipped with equal respect. 

" Even Siva is worshipped as a stone, especially that Siva who will 
afflict a child with epileptic fits, and then, speaking by its voice, will 
announce that he is Parchanana, the Five-faced, and is punishing the 
child for insulting his image." "^ 

Surgeon-General Sir W. J. Moore, in an article on " The Origin and 
Progress of Plospitals in India," •'' says that we may form a very good 
opinion of the condition of the whole of India in ancient times by re- 
calling what was the state of medical relief in most of the native States 
previous to the institution of medical relief and sanitation in British 

" Recently, in the Native States, there might be witnessed disease 

^ Brii. Me J. Joitni., ]vir\& 2$, 1892, p. 1382. 

2 Mocre, History of the Small-pox, p. 33, quoted in Peltigrew's Medical Supersti- 
tions, p. 81. 

^ Paris's Pharmacologia, p. 26. 

^ Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 1 50. 

^ Asiatic Quarterly Rev., Oct. 1892, p. 291. 



proceeding unchecked and uninterfered with, to a degree which certainly 
would not be allowed at present in civilized Europe. And especially 
was this evident in surgical disease, as illustrated by the following ex- 
tract from an official document : ^ — 

"'In former reports I have mentioned the extreme ignorance dis- 
played by native " hukeems " or " vaids " of surgical principles. As a 
rule, all surgical disease is either wrongly treated, or let alone until 
treatment is unavailable by these uneducated practitioners. Their 
errors of omission and commission are not so easily ascertained in their 
medical, as in their surgical, practice. But in the latter, there is a 
glaring ignorance, not only from things requisite not being attempted, 
but from things unnecessary being performed, leading to the serious 
injury and often to the death of the patient. Thus, during my last 
tour, I saw at one village, an open scrofulous sore of the neck with the 
carotid artery isolated, and apparently on the point of giving way. At 
another village I witnessed an advanced cancer rapidly killing a man. 
In another place a woman had remained for days with a dislocated jaw, 
which was easily put in situ. Other forms of dislocation and fracture 
neglected are almost daily sights. At Bikaneer I amputated the leg of 
a man who eight months before fell from a camel ; the bones of the 
leg protruding through the skin of the heel, and the foot being driven 
half-way up the front of the leg, in which position it had been permitted 
to heal! At the same place a woman was rapidly sinking from the 
results of extensive sinus of the breast, following abscess, and which 
only required free incisions for the restoration of health. I also saw 
a man dying of strangulated hernia, without the slightest idea of or 
attempt at reHef on the part of the native practitioners. And so on, 
throughout almost the whole range of surgery, I have from time to time 
witnessed the most lamentable results from the malpractices, or from 
the absence of practice on the part of the Native Doctors.' 

" As mentioned in the above extract, the errors of omission and com- 
mission are not so easily ascertained in medical as in surgical cases. 
But the great majority of those stricken by disease, such as inflamma- 
tions and fevers, derived as little benefit from medicine as did the 
Romans when, according to Pliny, physicians were banished from the 
Imperial City during many years. For few indeed of the higher class 
and comparatively better educated ' hukeems ' or * vaids ' would 
minister to the poor who were unable to pay their fees ; and of the 

^ Selections from the Records of the Government of India. Foreign Department. 
No. cviii. Rajputana Dispensary, Vaccination, Jail, and Sanitary Report for 1872- 
73. By Surgeon-Major (now Surgeon-General Sir W.) Moore, C. I.E., Honorary 
Surgeon to the Viceroy of India. 


populations of India the great majority are and always were poor. 
Steeped in continually augmenting superstition and ignorance, if the 
poor received medical aid at all, it was from the hands of the equally 
ignorant and superstitious village * Kabiraj,' who, unlike their more 
noble Aryan predecessors, did not even * draw physic from the fields/ 
although they may have used a charm, such as a peacock's feather tied 
round the affected part ! If the poor got well, they got well ; and as 
most diseases have a tendency to terminate in health, many did recover. 
If a fatal termination resulted, it was attributed to nusseeh or destiny, 
or the gods were blamed. Insane persons, if harmless, were allowed to 
ramble about the streets ; if violent, they were chained in the most 
convenient place. The jails of the Native States were also in an 
unparalleled unsanitary condition, for no medical aid whatever was 
provided ; as Coleridge said of Coldbath Fields, these jails might have 
given His Satanic Majesty a hint for improving Hades. Fatalism com- 
bined with ignorance, and a consequent utter unbelief in any measures 
of sanitation, resulted in the absence of all measures of precaution during 
epidemics of contagious disease. During the prevalence of small-pox^ 
children might be seen by scores, in every stage of the disease, playing 
or lying about the streets. During an epidemic of cholera, not one 
precautionary measure was ever adopted — except by the wild Bheels, 
who invariably moved, leaving their villages for a time for the open 
jungle ; thus forestalling the most approved method of preventing 
cholera adopted for British troops, viz., marching away from the infected 

" Not only were there no hospitals proper, or contagious hospitals, or 
asylums for the insane, but neither were there any asylums for lepers. 
Regarding the latter, difference of opinion would appear to have existed 
among scientific investigators, then as now, as to whether leprosy is a 
contagious disease or not. Then as now, in some parts of the country, 
lepers were permitted to live among the people ; in other localities they 
were thrust out from the towns or villages, generally forming a little 
colony on the adjoining plain. This expulsion of lepers from the towns 
and villages, then as now, was not so much the result of fear of conta- 
gion, as the Brahminical dread of contact with impurity. Then as now, 
these outcasts lived miserably in mud or grass huts, obtaining food by 
begging. When tired of life, or when being old or disabled their rela- 
tives were tired of keeping them, they often submitted to 'sumajh' or 
burial alive. But they more frequently threatened to perform ' sumajh ' 
with the view of extracting alms from the charitable, who were induced 
to believe that the death of the leper would be credited to them, unless 
they bought off the sacrifice. * Sumajh,' or leper burial alive, has 


been practised comparatively recently in more than one of the Native 

" The Native principalities are now much more advanced in most 
respects than they were only a few years back. By coming into con- 
tact with the progressive civilization of adjoining British districts, the 
Governments of Native States were forced to advance ; for they felt 
their existence would be imperilled. And this advance was most 
materially assisted by the successful endeavours made by the Indian 
Government to secure the better education of the young Indian princes 
and nobles. The Imperial Government also, and especially under 
Lord Mayo, enunciated care for the sick as one of the most urgent 
duties of the feudatory rulers of India. Owing to such measures, aided 
by the personal influence of the Political, and the assistance of the 
Medical Officers attached to the Native Courts, a hospital or dispensary 
has, amongst other features of civilization, been established at every 
large capital ; while in some States ramifications of such central estab- 
lishments have rendered the people almost as well off, in the matter of 
medical relief, as those in British territory. As it will not be necessary 
to refer again, except incidentally, to the Native States, I may here 
remark that all the medical institutions are supported at the cost of 
the Durbar or Government of each State. They are, as a rule, superin- 
tended by the European Medical Officer attached to the Political Resi- 
dency, aided by native assistants. 

"Although the recent condition of the Native States represents what 
formerly prevailed all over Hindustan, it must not be understood that 
the people were devoid of charity ; only the charity of the well-to-do 
classes did not take the form of medical relief. In the absence of a 
qualified medical profession recognised by the State, the confidence felt 
in the physic of the * vaids ' and * hukeems ' was something akin to 
the faith of Byron, who without any such excuse designated medicine 
as * the destructive art of healing.' Moreover, the organization of hos- 
pitals was not understood, and the necessary discipline of such estab- 
lishments was foreign to the habits and ideas of the people. The poor 
(who now throng the hospitals of India), having had no experience of 
the advantages of such institutions, would probably not have resorted 
thereto had hospitals and dispensaries been opened under native con- 
trol. So suspicious were the people on the first opening of a hospital 
in one of the Native States, that sweetmeats, of which they are very 
fond, were ordered to be given daily to each patient, as an encourage- 
ment to attend ! So in former times the charitable preferred spending 
their money in sinking wells, in constructing serais or rest-houses for 
travellers, in endowing temples, and in feeding the poor, particularly 


Brahmins. In this manner, enormous sums have been disbursed and 
are still expended, especially in food for the destitute. This laudable 
charity of the Indians, although often confined to their own caste peo- 
ple, and to occasions of family festival, is one of the reasons why it has 
never been thought necessary to establish any system of poor-law relief 
in British India. Of late years native charity has been often directed 
towards building and endowing medical institutions, and many Indian 
gentlemen have given most liberally for such purposes." 




Origin of Chinese Culture. — Shamanism. — Disease-Demons. — Taoism. — Medicine 
Gods. — Mediums. — Anatomy and Physiology of the Chinese. — Surgeiy. — No 
Hospitals in China. — Chinese Medicines. — Filial Piety. — Charms and Sacred 
Signs. — Medicine in Thibet, Tartary, and Japan. 

Chief amongst the Mongolian peoples are the Chinese. Prof. Max 
Miiller argues that the Chinese, the Thibetans, the Japanese, Coreans, 
and the Ural-Altaic or Turanian nations are in the matter of religion 
closely related. 

Chinese culture has recently been declared by Professor Terrien de la 
Couperie, Fran9ois Lenormant, and Sayce to be of Accadian origin. 
Hieratic Accadian has been identified with the first five hundred 
Chinese characters, and it is believed by Professor de la Couperie that 
the Chinese entered north-v/estern China from Susiana, about the 
twenty-third century before Christ.^ 

In the Finno-Tartarian magical mythology, we have not only the link 
which connects the religion of heathen Finland with that of Accadian 
Chaldsea, but we discover what is of more importance in tracing 
the origin of the magic and medicine of the old civilizations of the world 
from a primitive and coarse cosmogony, such as we have examined 
in so many savage peoples. 

As it is impossible to separate the ancient medical belief of a people 
from its religious conceptions, if we admit Prof. Max Miiller's theory, we 
must also hold that it embraces the medical notions of these peoples. 
And so we find that one of the striking characteristics of the Mongolic 
religions is an extensive magic and sorcery — Shamanism. Practically 
the gods and heroes of the poetry of these peoples are sorcerers, and 
their worshippers value above everything their magical powers. Taoism, 
a Chinese religion of great antiquity and respect, involves an implicit 
faith in sorcery; and the Chinese and Mongolians have degenerated 
Buddhism into Shamanism.- 

* See an article entitled *' A New Light on the Chinese," in Harper's Maqazine, 
December, 1892. 

2 Prof. Teile, in art. " Religions," Ency. Brit. 


Confucianism is the chief religion of the Chinese. It is simply a 
development of the worship of ancestors, which was the aboriginal 
religion of the country. All the Chinese are ancestor-worshippers, to 
whatever other native religion they may belong.^ 

The pure Confucian is a true Agnostic. 

Although Chinese civilization is without doubt extremely ancient, we 
are unable to study it as we study that of Egypt or Chaldaea, on account 
of the absence of monuments or a literature older than a few centuries 
before Christ, which would give us a reliable history. 

The Chinese attribute to Huang-ti (b.c. 2637) a work on medicine, 
which is still extant, entitled Nuy-kin, which is probably not older than 
the Christian era. They also attribute to the Emperor Chin-nung (b.c. 
2699) a catalogue of medicinal herbs.^ 

The demon theory of disease universally obtains throughout the 
Chinese empire. All bodily and mental disorders spring either from the 
air or spirits. They are sent by the gods as punishments for sins com- 
mitted in a previous state of existence. In a country where Buddhism is 
largely believed, it is natural to suppose that there is little sympathy 
with the suffering and afflicted. One might offend the gods by getting 
cured, or delay the working out of the effects of the expiatory suffering. 
Archdeacon Grey found a grievously afflicted monk in a monastery in 
the White Cloud mountains. He desired to take him to the Canton 
Medical Missionary Hospital ; but the abbot took him aside, and begged 
him not to do so, as the sufferer had doubtless in a former state of 
existence been guilty of some heinous crime, for which the gods were 
then making him pay the well-merited penalty.^ 

Nevertheless, when sick, the Chinese often have recourse to some 
deity, who is supposed to have caused the illness. If the patient dies, 
they do not blame the god, but they withhold the thank-offering which 
is customary in case of recovery. The death is declared to be in 
accordance with the " reckoning of Heaven" If the patient recovers, 
the deity of the disease gets the credit. Prayers and ceremonies are 
made use of to induce the " destroying " demon to banish the baneful 
influences under his control. Sudden illness is frequently ascribed to 
the evil influence of one of the seventy-two malignant spirits or gods. 
In very urgent cases an "arrow" is obtained from an idol in the temple. 
This "arrow" is about two feet long, and has a single written word, 
" Command," upon it. If the patient recovers, it must be returned to 
the temple with a present; if he dies, an offering of mock-money is 

^ Cummings, Wanderings in China, vol. i. p. 188. 

2 Baas, Hist. Med. 

3 " Doctoring in China," National Revieiv, May, 1889. 


made. The " arrow " is considered as the warrant of the god for the 
disease-spirit to depart.^ 

In L'ien-chow, in the province of Kwang-si, if a man hits his foot 
against a stone, and afterwards falls sick, it is at once recognised that 
there was a demon in the stone ; and the man's friends accordingly 
go to the place where the accident happened, and endeavour to appease 
the demon with offerings of rice, wine, incense, and worship. After 
this the patient recovers. ^ 

Sometimes it is difficult to find out what particular god has been 
offended. Then some member of his family asks, with a stick of burn- 
ing incense in his hand, that the offended deity will make known by the 
mouth of the patient how he has been offended. The disease is some- 
times, as amongst savage nations, ascribed to the spirit of a deceased 
person. The god of medicine is invited to the sick man's house in cases 
where malignant sores or inflamed eyes are prevalent. Ten men some- 
times become " security " for the sick person. After offerings and cere- 
monies, the names of the ten are written upon paper, and burned before 
the idol. When a patient is likely to die, the last resort is to employ 
Tauist priests to pray for him, and then the following ceremony is per- 
formed : — A bamboo, eight or ten feet long, with green leaves at the end, 
is provided, and a coat belonging to the sick man is suspended with a 
mirror in the place where the head of the wearer of the coat would be. 
The priest repeats his incantations, to induce the sick man's spirit to 
enter the coat, as it is supposed that the patient's spirit is leaving the 
body or has been hovering near it. The incantations are to induce the 
spirit to enter the coat, so that the owner may wear both together. 
vSometimes the family will hire a Tauist priest to climb a ladder of 
knives, and perform ceremonies for the recovery of the sick man. This 
is thought to have a great effect on the disease-spirits.^ 

The Emperor Fuh-Hi, who invented the eight diagrams, was the 
first physician whose name has come down to modern times. He is 
one of the Sang Huong, or *' Three Emperors," and is the deity of 

I Kiiang Till Uong'is the god of surgery. The people say he was a 
foreigner, of the Loochoo Islands, who came to the middle kingdom and 
practised surgery. As he was deaf whilst in the flesh, his worshippers 
consider he is thus afflicted now that he is a deity, so they pray into his 
ear, as well as offer him incense and candles.^ 

^ Doolittle's Social Life of the Chinese, vol. i. p. 145. 
2 Folk Medicine, p. 4 ; Dennys, Folklore of China, p. 96. 
^ Doolittle's Social Life of the Chinese, vol. i. p. 153. 
■* Ibid., vol. i. p. 275. 


Ling Chui Nd is the goddess of midwifery and children. If children 
are sick, their parents employ Tauist priests in some of her temples to 
perform a ceremony for their ciire.^ 

loh Uong C/iti Sil is the god of medicine. It is said that he was a 
distinguished physician who was deified after his death. He is now 
generally worshipped by dealers in drugs and by their assistants. On 
the third day of the third month, they make a feast in his honour, and 
burn candles and incense before his image at his temple. Practising 
physicians do not usually take any part in these proceedings. ^ 

The Chinese have goddesses of small-pox and measles, which are 
extremely popular divinities. Should it thunder after the pustules of 
small-pox have appeared, a drum is beaten, to prevent them breaking. 
On the fourteenth day ceremonies are performed before the goddess, to 
induce her to cause the pustules to dry up.*^ 

Mediums are often employed to prescribe for the sick. They behave 
precisely as our spiritualists do, and pretend that the divinity invoked 
casts himself into the medium for the time being, and dictates the medi- 
cine which the sick person requires.'* 

In the " Texts of Taoism " ^ we are informed that '• In the body 
there are seven precious organs, which serve to enrich the state, to give 
rest to the people, and to make the vital force of the system full to 
overflowing. Plence we have the heart, the kidneys, the breath, the 
blood, the brains, the semen, and the marrow. These are the seven 
precious organs. They are not dispersed when the body returns (to the 
dust). Refined by the use of the Great Medicine, the myriad spirits all 
ascend among the Immortals." 

Anatomy and physiology have made no progress in China, because 
there has never been any dissection of the body. The only books on 
the subject in the Chinese language are Jesuit translati(ms of European 
works. Briefly stated, Chinese ideas on the subject are as follows : — In 
the human body there are six chief organs in which "moisture" is 
located — the heart, liver, two kidneys, spleen, and lungs. There are six 
others in which " warmth " abides — the small and large intestine, the 
gall bladder, the stomach, and the urinary apparatus. They reckon 
365 bones in the whole body, eight in the male and six in the female 
skull, twelve ribs in men and fourteen in women. They term the bile 
the seat of courage ; the spleen, the seat of reason ; the liver, the 
granary of the soul ; the stomach, the resting-place of the mind. 

A familiar drug in Chinese materia medica, which is sold in all the 

^ Doolittle's Social Life of t/ie Chinese, vol. i. p. 265. * Ibid., vol. i. p. 275. 

^ Ibid., vol. i. p. 154. * Ibid., vol. ii. p. 1 1 6. 

° Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi. p. 272. 


drug-shops, is the Kou-Kouo, or bean of St. Ignatius. The horny 
vegetable is used, after bruising and macerating, in cold water, to whicli 
it communicates a strong bitter taste. "This water," says M. Hue/ 
" taken inwardly, modifies the heat of the blood, and extinguishes inter- 
nal inflammation. It is an excellent specific for all sorts of wounds and 
contusions. . . . The veterinary doctors also apply it with great 
success to the internal diseases of cattle and sheep. In the north ot 
China we have often witnessed the salutary effects of the Kou-Kouo." 

This bean is the seed of Strychnos Ignatia, and the plant is indigenous 
to the Philippine Islands. The action and uses of ignatia are identical, 
says Stillc, with those of nux vomica.- 

The medical profession is a very crowded one in China, as it is per- 
fectly free to any who choose to practise it. No diploma or certificate 
of any kind is necessary in order to practise medicine in China. The 
majority of the regular practitioners, if such they can be called, are men 
who have failed to pass their examinations as literates. There is one, 
and apparently only one, check on quackery. The Chinese have a 
special place in their second hell which is reserved for ignorant 
physicians who will persist in doctoring sick folk. In the fourth hell 
are found physicians who have used bad drugs, and in the seventh hell 
are tortured those who have taken human bones from cemeteries to 
make into medicines. In the very lowest hell are physicians who have 
misused their art for criminal purposes. These evil persons are cease- 
lessly gored by sows.^ 

Naturally, the sciences of anatomy and physiology are entirely 
neglected by these self-constituted native doctors. All the learning 
they require is the ability to copy out prescriptions from a medical book. 
Dr. Gould, a physician of long experience in China, tells us that the 
native physician is depicted in Chinese primers as a person between the 
heathen priest and the fortune-teller — his profession is looked upon as 
a combination of superstition and legerdemain."* 

The court physicians at Pekin are of a much superior class, and are 
compelled to pass examinations before their appointment. 

Astrology, charms, amulets, and characts enter largely into Chinese 
medical practice. The priests keep bundles of paper charms ready for 
emergencies. They are supposed to know which of the different 
methods of using them are most appropriate to each case. Masks are 
used by children at certain times to ward off the deity of small-pox. 

^ Travels in Tartary, vol. i. chap. vii. 

- National Dispensatory, p. 754. 

2 Gordon Cumming's lVa7icIc7-ings in C/iina, vol. i. p. 174. 

* " Doctoring in China," National Revieiv, May, 1889. 



The masks are very ugly, as the deity is believed only to afflict pretty 
children. 1 

" Isaac Vossius," says Southey, " commended the skill of the Chinese 
physicians in finding out by their touch, not only that the body is 
diseased (which, he said, was all that our practitioners knew by it), but 
also from what cause or what part the sickness proceeds. To make 
ourselves masters of this skill, he would have us explore the nature of 
men's pulses, till they became as well known and as familiar to us as a 
harp or lute is to the players thereon ; it not being enough for them to 
know that there is something amiss which spoils the tune, but they must 
also know what string it is which causes that fault." ^ 

Surgery has never made much progress in China ; the Chinese have 
too much respect for the dead to employ corpses for anatomical pur- 
poses, and they have the greatest unwillingness to draw blood or per- 
form any kind of operation on the living. Their ideas of the structure 
of the human frame are therefore purely fanciful. " The distinctive 
Chinese surgical invention is acupuncture, or the insertion of fine needles 
of hardened silver or gold for an inch or more (with a twisting motion) 
into the seats of pain or inflammation." ^ Rheumatism and gout are 
thus treated, and 367 points are specified where needles may be in- 
serted without injury to great vessels or vital organs. 

Dentistry and ophthalmic surgery are practised by specialists. 

There are no hospitals; the Chinese consider it would be a neglect of 
the duty which they owe to their relatives to send them when sick to 
such institutions. Chinese doctors often receive a fixed salary so long 
as their patient remains in good health ; when he falls sick, the pay is 
stopped till he gets well. The doctor must ask his patient no ques- 
tions, nor does the patient volunteer any information about his case. 
Having felt the sick man's pulse, looked at his tongue, and otherwise 
observed him, he is supposed to have completed his diagnosis, and must 
prescribe accordingly. Some of the Chinese prescriptions are very 
costly ; precious stones and jewels are often powdered up with musk 
and made into pills, which are considered specifics for small-pox and 
Severs. Another remedy is Kiuchiu, a bitter wine made of spirit, aloes, 
inyrrh, frankincense, and saffron, which is said to be. a powerful tonic. 
The profession of medicine is hereditary, receiving very few recruits 
from outside ; hence its complete stagnation.* 

One of the industries of the Foo-Chow beggars is the rearing of 

^ DooliUle's Social Life of t/ie Chinese, vol. ii. p. 321. 
2 Southey, Coitimon Place Book, ser. iv. p. 547. 
•^ Ency. Brit., art. "Surgery." 
"• Chambers' fournal, Dec. 29, 1888, p. 831. 


snakes, which are used by the druggists to prepare their medicines. 
Snake-wine is used as a febrifuge, and snake's flesh is considered a 
nutritious diet for invalids. Skulls, paws, horns, and skins of many 
animals, as bears, bats, crocodiles and tigers, are used in medicine. For 
fever patients physicians prescribe a decoction of scorpions, while 
dysentery is treated by acupuncture of the tongue. Pigeon's dung is 
the favourite medicine for women in pregnancy; and the water in which 
cockles have been boiled is prescribed for skin diseases, and for per- 
sons who are recovering from small-pox. Rat's flesh is eaten as a hair- 
restorer, and human milk is given to aged persons as a restorative. 
Crab's liver administered in decoction of pine shavings is used in a form 
of skin disease. In Gordon Cumming's Wanderhigs in China, from 
which many of the above facts are taken, it is stated that " dried red- 
spotted lizard, silkworm moth, parasite of mulberry trees, asses's glue, 
tops of hartshorn, black-lead, white-lead, stalactite, asbestos, tortoise- 
shell, stag-horns and bones, dog's flesh and ferns are all recommended 
as tonics." Burnt straw, oyster shells, gold and silver leaf, and the bones 
and tusks of dragons are said to be astringent. These dragons' bones 
are the fossil remains of extinct animals. Some of the medicines of 
standard Chinese works are selected purely on account of their loath- 
someness, such as the ordure of all sorts of animals, from man down to 
goats, rabbits, and silk-worm, dried leeches, human blood, dried toads, 
shed skins of snakes, centipedes, tiger's blood, and other horrors innu- 
merable hold a conspicuous place in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Nor, 
says Gordon Gumming, are these the worst. The physicians say that 
some diseases are incurable save by a broth made of human flesh cut 
from the arm or thigh of a living son or daughter of the patient.^ 

The same author tells us that a young girl who so mutilated herself 
to save her mother's life was specially commended in the Official 
Gazette of Peking for July 5th, 1870. 

Medicines prepared from the eyes and vitals of the dead are sup- 
posed to be efficacious. Leprosy is believed to be curable by drinking 
the blood of a healthy infant. Dr. Macarthy and Staff'-Surgeon Rennie 
were present at an execution in Peking, when they saw the executioner 
•soak up the blood of the decapitated criminal with large balls of pith, 
which he preserved. These are dried and sold to the druggists under 
the name of ** shue-man-tou " (blood-bread), which is prescribed for a 
•disease called " chong-cheng," which Dr. Rennie supposed to be pul- 
monary consumption. 2 

The Times says (October loth, 1892) that the character of the 
accusations made in the publications against Europeans has created 
^ Wanderings in China, vol. i. p. 173. * Ibid., vol. i. p. 173. 


as much astonishment amongst the foreign residents in China as it 
has in the West. Missionaries especially were charged —and the 
charges have been made frequently during the past thirty years — with 
bewitching women and children by means of drugs, enticing them to 
some secret place, and there killing them for the purpose of taking out 
their hearts and eyes. Dr. Macgowan, a gentleman who has lived for 
many years in China, has published a statement showing that from the 
point of view of Chinese medicine these accusations are far from pre- 
posterous. It is one of the medical superstitions of China that various 
portions of the human frame and all its secretions possess therapeutic 
properties. He refers to a popular voluminous Materia Medica — the 
only authoritative work of the kind in the Chinese language — which 
gives thirty-seven anthropophagous remedies of native medicine. Hu- 
man blood taken into the system from another is believed to strengthen 
it ; and Dr. Macgowan mentions the case of an English lady, now dead^ 
who devoted her fortune and life to the education of girls in Ningpo, 
who was supposed by the natives to extract the blood of her pupils for 
this purpose. Human muscles are supposed to be a good medicament 
in consumption, and cases are constantly recorded of children who 
mutilate themselves to administer their flesh to sick parents. 

Never, says Dr. Macgowan, has filial piety exhibited its zeal in this 
manner more than at the present time. Imperial decrees published in 
the Fekin Gazette, often authorising honorary portals to be erected in 
honour of men, and particularly women, for these flesh offerings, afford 
no indication of the extent to which it is carried, for only people of 
wealth and influence can obtain such a recognition of the merit of filial 
devotion. It is very common among the comparatively lowly, but 
more frequent among the literati. A literary graduate now in his own 
service, finding the operation of snipping a piece of integument from 
his arm too painful, seized a hatchet and cut off a joint of one of his 
fingers, which he made into broth mixed with medicine and gave to 
his mother. It is essential in all such cases that the recipient should 
be kept in profound ignorance of the nature of the potion thus pre- 
pared, and in no case is the operation to be performed for an inferior^ 
as by a husband for a wife, or a parent for a child. This belief in the 
medical virtues of part of the human body (of which a large number of 
instances which cannot be repeated here are given) has led to a: demand 
from native practitioners which can sometimes only be supplied by 
murder. Of this, too, examples are given from official records and 
other publications, some of them of quite recent date. 

Dr. Macgowan reminds us that men capable of these atrocities have 
been found in other civilized lands. He says : — 


" It was in a model Occidental city, not inaptly styled the ' Modern 
Athens,' that subjects were procured for the dissecting-room through 
murder, at about the same amount of money as that paid in China for 
sets of eyes and hearts for medicine. A remedy was found which 
})romptly suppressed that exceptional crime in the West. In China 
murder of this nature can also be prevented, but not speedily. Time is 
an indispensable factor in effecting the suppression of homicide, which 
is the outcome of medical superstition. That superstition is strongly 
intrenched in an official ^vork, the most common book, after the 
classics, in the empire. So long as the concluding chapter is retained 
in the materia medica, it will be futile to undertake the abolition of 
murder for medical purposes ; and so long as these abhorrent crimes 
prevail in China, so long will fomenters of riots against foreigners aim 
to make it appear that the men and women from afar are addicted to 
that form of murder, and thus precious lives will continue to be ex- 
posed to forfeiture." 

The most celebrated drug in Chinese Materia Medica is ginseng, 
the root of a species of Paiiax^ belonging to the natural ox^qv Araliacece. 
The most esteemed variety is found in Corea ; an inferior kind comes 
from the United States, the Panax qidnquefoUuni, and is often substi- 
tuted for the real article. All the Chinese ginseng is Imperial property, 
and is sold at its weight in gold. The peculiar shape of the root, like 
the body of man — a peculiarity which it shares with mandrake and 
some other plants — led to its employment in cases where virile power 
fails, as in the aged and debilitated. Special kinds have been sold at 
tlie enormous sum of 300 to 400 dollars the ounce. Europeans have 
liitherto failed, says the Encyclopcedla Britannica, to discover any won- 
derful properties in the drug. It is no doubt a remarkable instance 
of the doctrine of signatures {q.v.). In all cases of severe disease, 
debility, etc., the Chinese fly to this remedy, so that enormous quan- 
tities are used. The Hon. H. N. Shore, R.N., says that the export 
from New-Chang in Manchuria to the Chinese ports of this article for 
one year alone reached the value of ;^5 1,000. It seems to be simply 
a mild tonic, very much like gentian root. Some of the pharmacies are 
on a very large scale ; six hundred and fifty various kinds of leaves are 
commonly kept for medicinal purposes. 

When a Chinese physician is not able to procure the medicines he 
needs, he writes the names of the drugs he desires to employ on a piece 
of paper, and makes the patient swallow it ; the effect is supposed to be 
quite as good as that of the remedy itself, and certainly in many cases 
it would be infinitely more pleasant to take ! This custom of swallow- 
ing charms is seen again in the sick-room, some of the charms which 


are stuck round it being occasionally taken down, burned, and mixed 
with water, which the patient has to drink. Gongs are beaten and fire- 
crackers let off to frighten away the demons which are supposed to be 
tormenting the sick person. 

" The superstition as to the powers of the ' evil eye,' " says Denny, 
" may almost be deemed fundamental to humanity, as I have yet to rea 
of a people amongst whom it does not find some degree of credence.' 
In China a pregnant woman, or a man whose wife is pregnant, is 
called "four-eyed"; and children are guarded against being looked at 
by either, as it would probably cause sickness to attack them. 

One of the commonest diagrams to be met with in China is the 

mystic svastika, or "Thor's Hammer" i ■ ! ^ ' It is found on the 

wrappers of medicines, and is accepted as the accumulation of lucky 
signs possessing ten thousand virtues.^ 

The physicians of Thibet, says M. Huc,^ assign to the human body 
four hundred and forty diseases, neither more nor less. Lamas who 
practise medicine have to learn by heart the books which treat of these 
diseases, their symptoms, and the method of curing them. The books 
are a mere hotch-potch of aphorisms and recipes. The Lama doctors 
have less horror of blood than the Chinese, and practise bleeding and 
cupping. They pay great attention to the examination of a patient's 
water. A thoroughly competent Lama physician must be able to 
diagnose the disease and treat the patient without seeing him. It is 
sufficient that he make a careful examination of the water. This he 
does not by chemical tests, as in Western nations, but by whipping it 
up with a wooden knife and listening to the noise made by the bubbles. 
A patient's water is mute or crackling according to his state of health. 
Much of Chinese and Tartar medicine is mere superstition. "Yet," 
says M. Hue very judiciously, " notwithstanding all this quackery, there 
is no doubt that they possess an infinite number of very valuable 
recipes, the result of long experience. It were perhaps rash to imagine 
that medical science has nothing to learn from the Tartar, Thibetian, 
and Chinese physicians, on the pretext that they are not acquainted 
with the structure and mechanism of the human body. They may,, 
nevertheless, be in possession of very important secrets, which science 
alone, no doubt, is capable of explaining, but which, very possibly^ 
science itself may never discover. Without being scientific, a man 
may very well light upon extremely scientific results." The fact that 
everybody in China and Tartary can make gunpowder, while probably 

^ Folk Lore of China, p. 49. " Ibid. 

^ Travels in Tartary. 




none of the makers can chemically explain its composition and action 
is a proof of this fact. 

M. Hue says that every Mongol knows the name and position of 
all the bones which compose the frame of animals. They are exceed- 
ingly skilful anatomists, and are well acquainted with the diseases 
of animals, and the best means of curing them. They administer 
medicines to beasts by means of a cow-horn used as a funnel, and even 
employ enemas in their diseases. The cow-horn serves for the pipe, and 
a bladder fixed on the wide end acts as a pump when squeezed. They 
make punctures and incisions in various parts of the body of animals. 
Although their skill as anatomists and veterinary surgeons is so great, 
they have only the simplest and rudest tools wherewith to exercise this 

"Medicine in Tartary," says M. Huc,^ "is exclusively practised by 
the Lamas. When illness attacks any one, his friends run to the nearest 
monastery for a Lama, whose first proceeding, upon visiting the patient, 
is to run his fingers over the pulse of both wrists simultaneously, as the 
fingers of a musician run over the strings of an instrument. The 
Chinese physicians feel both pulses also, but in succession. After due 
deliberation, the Lama pronounces his opinion as to the particular 
nature of the malady. According to the religious belief of the Tartars, 
all illness is owing to the visitation of a Tchutgour, or demon ; but the 
expulsion of the demon is first a matter of medicine. The Lama 
physician next proceeds, as Lama apothecary, to give the specific 
befitting the case ; the Tartar pharmacopoeia rejecting all mineral 
chemistry, the Lama remedies consist entirely of vegetables pulverised, 
and either infused in water or made up into pills. If the Lama doctor 
happens not to have any medicine with him, he is by no means discon- 
certed ; he writes the names of the remedies upon little scraps of paper, 
moistens the paper with his saliva, and rolls them up into pills, which 
the patient tosses down wuth the same perfect confidence as though they 
were genuine medicaments. To swallow the name of a remedy, or the 
remedy itself, say the Tartars, comes to precisely the same thing. 

" The medical assault of the usurping demon being applied, the 
Lama next proceeds to spiritual artillery, in the form of prayers, adapted 
to the quality of the demon who has to be dislodged. If the patient 
is poor, the Tchutgour visiting him can evidently only be an inferior 
Tchutgour, requiring merely a brief, offhand prayer, sometimes merely 
an interjectional exorcism. If the patient is very poor, the Lama 
troubles himself with neither prayer nor pill, but goes away, recom- 
mending the friends to wait with patience until the sick patient gets 
^ Travels in Tartary. 


better or dies, according to the decree of Hormoustha. But where the 
])atient is rich, the possessor of large flocks, the proceedings are alto- 
gether different. First it is obvious that a devil who presumes to visit 
so eminent a personage must be a potent devil, one of the chiefs of 
the lower world ; and it would not be decent for a great Tchutgour 
to travel like a mere sprite ; the family, accordingly, are directed to 
prepare for him a handsome suit of clothes, a pair of rich boots, a line 
horse, ready saddled and bridled, otherwise the devil will never think 
of going, physic or exorcise him how you may. It is even possible, 
indeed, that one horse will not suffice ; for the demon, in very rich 
cases, may turn out upon inquiry to be so high and mighty a prince, 
that he has with him a number of courtiers and attendants, all of whom 
have to be provided with horses. 

" Everything being arranged, the ceremony commences. The Lama 
and numerous co-physicians called in from his own and other adjacent 
monasteries, offer up prayers in the rich man's tents for a week or a 
fortnight, until they perceive that the devil is gone, — that is to say, until 
they have exhausted all the disposable tea and sheep. If the patient 
recovers, it is a clear proof that the prayers have been efficaciously 
recited ; if he dies, it is a still greater proof of the efficaciousness of the 
prayers, for not only is the devil gone, but the patient has transmigrated 
to a state far better than that he has quitted. 

" The prayers recited by the Lamas for the recovery of the sick are 
sometimes accompanied with very dismal and alarming rites. The aunt 
of Tokoura, chief of an encampment in the Valley of Dark Waters, 
visited by M. Hue, was seized one evening with an intermittent fever. 
*I would invite the attendance of the doctor Lama,' said Tokoura, 'but 
if he finds there is a very big Tchutgour present, the expenses will ruin 
me.' He waited for some days, but as his aunt grew worse and worse, 
he at last sent for a Lama ; his anticipations were confirmed. The 
Lama pronounced that a demon of considerable rank was present, and 
that no time must be lost in expelling him. Eight other Lamas were 
forthwith called in, who at once set about the construction in dried 
herbs of a great puppet, which they entitled the Demon of Intermittent- 
Fever, and which, when completed, they placed on its legs by means of 
a stick, in the patient's tent. 

*' The ceremony began at eleven o'clock at night ; the Lamas ranged 
themselves in a semicircle round the upper portion of the tent with 
cymbals, sea-shells, bells, tambourines, and other instruments of the 
noisy Tartar music. The remainder of the circle was completed by the 
members of the family squatting on the ground close to one another, 
the patient kneeling, or rather crouched on her heels, opposite the 


Demon of Intermittent Fever. The Lama doctor in chief had before ' 
him a large copper basin filled with millet, and some little images made 
of paste. The dung-fuel threw amid much smoke a fantastic and 
quivering light over the strange scene. Upon a given signal, the clerical 
orchestra executed an overture harsh enough to frighten Satan himself, 
the lay congregation beating time with their hands to the charivari of 
clanging instruments and ear-splitting voices. The diabolical concert 
over, the Grand Lama opened the Book of Exorcisms, which he rested 
on his knees. As he chanted one of the forms, he took from the basin 
from time to time a handful of millet, which he threw east, west, north, 
and south, according to the Rubric. The tones of his voice as he 
prayed were sometimes mournful and suppressed, sometimes vehemently 
loud and energetic. All of a sudden he would quit the regular cadence 
of prayer, and have an outburst of apparently indomitable rage, abusing 
the herb puppet with fierce invectives and furious gestures. The exorcism 
terminated, he gave a signal by stretching out his arms right and left, and 
the other Lamas struck up a tremendously noisy chorus in hurried, dash- 
ing tones. All the instruments were set to work, and meantime the lay 
congregation, having started up with one accord, ran out of the tent 
one after the other, and tearing round it like mad people, beat it at their 
hardest with sticks, yelling all the while at the pitch of their voices in a 
manner to make ordinary hair stand on end. Having thrice performed 
this demoniac round, they re-entered the tent as precipitately as they 
had quitted it, and resumed their seats. Then, all the others covering 
their faces with their hands, the Grand Lama rose and set fire to the 
herb figure. As soon as the flames rose he uttered a loud cry, which 
was repeated with interest by the rest of the company. The laity 
immediately arose, seized the burning figure, carried it into the plain, 
away from the tents, and there, as it consumed, anathematized it with 
all sorts of imprecations ; the Lamas, meantime, squatted in the tent, 
tranquilly chanting their prayers in a grave, solemn tone. Upon the 
return of the family from their valorous expedition, the praying was 
exchanged for joyous felicitations. By-and-by each person provided 
with a lighted torch, the whole party rushed simultaneously from the 
tent, and formed into a procession, the laymen first, then the patient, 
supported on either side by a member of the family, and lastly, the 
nine Lamas, making night hideous with their music. In this style 
the patient was conducted to another tent, pursuant to the orders of the 
Lama, who declared she must absent herself from her own habitation 
for an entire month. 

" After this strange treatment the malady did not return. The pro- 
bability is that the Lamas, having ascertained the precise moment at 


which the fever-fit would recur, met it at the exact point of time by this 
tremendous counter-excitement and overcame it. 

"Tliough the majority of the Lamas seek to foster the ignorant 
creduUty of the Tartars, in order to turn it to their own profit, we have 
met some of them who frankly avowed that dupHcity and imposture 
played considerable part in all their ceremonies. The superior of a 
Lamasery said to us one day, ' When a person is ill the recitation 
of prayers is proper, for Buddha is the master of life and death ; it is 
he who rules the transmigration of beings. To take remedies is also 
fitting, for the great virtue of medicinal herbs also comes to us from 
Buddha. That the Evil One may possess a rich person is credible ; 
but that in order to repel the Evil One, the way is to give him dress, 
and a horse, and what not, this is a fiction invented by ignorant and 
deceiving Lamas, who desire to accumulate wealth at the expense of 
their brothers.' " 

M. Hue describes a grand solemnity he witnessed in Tartary, when a 
Lama Bokte cut himself open, took out his entrails, placed them before 
him, and then after returning them, closed the wound while the blood 
flowed in every direction ; yet he was apparently as well as before the 
operation, with the exception of extreme prostration. Good Lamas, says 
M. Hue, abhor such diabolical miracles ; it is only those of bad cha- 
racter who perform them. The good priest describes several other 
" supernaturalisms," as he calls them, of a similar kind, which are 
frequently performed by the Lamas. He sets them all down to dia- 
bolical agency.i 

The Turanian nations have their priests of magic, says M. Maury,^ 
who exercise great power over the people. He thinks this is partly due 
to the pains they take to look savage and imposing, but still more to 
the over-excited condition in which they are kept by the rites to which 
they have recourse; they take stimulants and probably drugs to cause 
hallucinations, convulsions, and dreams, for they are the dupes of their 
own delirium. 

"Amongst all nations," says Castren, "of whatever race, disease is 
always regarded as a possession, and as the work of a demon." ^ 

Says M. Maury : " The Baschkirs have their Shaitan-kuriazi, who expel 
devils, and undertake to treat the invalids regarded as possessed by means 
of the administration of certain remedies. This Shaitan, whose name 
has been borrowed from the Satan of the Christians, since the Baschkirs 
have come into contact with the Russians, is held by the Kalmuks to be 
the chief author of all our bodily sufferings. If they wish to expel him, 

^ Travels in Tartary, vol. i. chap. ix. ^ /;^ Magie et V Astrologie, p. 13. 
^ Varies tinmen iiber die Finnische MytJiologie, p. 173. 



they must resort not only to conjurations, but also to cunning. The aleyss 
places his offerings before the sick man, as if they were intended for 
the wicked spirit ; it being supposed that the demon, attracted by their 
number or their value, will leave the body which he is tormenting in 
order to seize upon the new spoil. According to the Tcheremisses, the 
souls of the dead come to trouble the living, and in order to prevent 
them from doing so, they pierce the soles of the feet, and also the heart 
of the deceased, thinking that, being then nailed into their tomb, the 
dead could not possibly leave it. . . . The Kirghis tribes apply to 
their sorcerers, or Baksy\ to chase away demons, and then to cure the 
diseases they are supposed to produce. To this end they whip the 
invalid until the blood comes, and then spit in his face. In their eyes 
every disease is a personal being. This idea is so generally received 
amongst the Tchuvaches also, that they firmly believe the least omission 
of duty is punished by some disease sent to them by Tchemen, a 
demon whose name is only an altered form of Shaitan. An opinion 
strongly resembling this is found again amongst the Tchuktchis ; these 
savages have recourse to the strangest conjurations to free from disease ; 
their Shamans are also subject to nervous states, which they bring on 
by an artificial excitement."^ 

Japanese Medicine. 

The Chinese, as early as 218 B.C., found their way amongst the 
Japanese doctors with medical books, dating back, it is alleged, to 
2737 B.C., and the influence of Chinese medicine upon Japanese 
medicine has continued to be a controlling one up to the recent intro- 
duction of European medicines now in vogue. The old style of things 
is, according to Dr. Benjamin Howard, still followed by 30,000 out of 
the 41,000 physicians now practising throughout the Empire. Of the 
30,000 of the old vernacular school, one of them is still on the list of 
the Court physicians, and maintains a high reputation. The impression 
throughout Europe that coloured papers, exorcisms, etc., are the basis 
of Chinese and Japanese medicine is erroneous. Dr. Howard has seen 
nearly 2,000 books by these people, covering most of the departments 
of medicine, but amongst which materia medica occupies the leading 
place. In these books are the doctrines of the successive schools, 
strikingly like some of those which in past centuries existed amongst 
our own ancestors. The successive medical colleges have always had 
a professor of astrology, but the solid fact remains that the materia 

^ La Magie ct V Astrologie, p. 283, and foil. ; also Lenormant, Chaldccan Magicy 

p. 212. 


medica has included amongst its several hundred remedies a large 
number of those used by ourselves, and these are not only vegetable, 
but animal and mineral, in the latter class mercury being prominent. 
Surgery became a separate brancli as long since as the seventh or eighth 
century. 1 

^ National Druggist. 



Zoroaster and the Zend-Avesla. — The Heavenly Gift of the Healing Plants. — Ormuzd 
and Ahriman. — Practice of the Healing Art and its Fees. 

Zoroaster, or more correctly Zarathustra, was the founder, or at least 
the reformer of the Magian religion, and one of the greatest teachers 
of the East. The date of Zoroaster is involved in obscurity, but all 
classical antiquity agrees that he was an historical person. Neither do 
we know his birthplace. Duncker gives looo B.C. as his period ; others 
consider that he was possibly a contemporary of Moses. In the^ 
Zend-Avesta and the records of the Parsees he is said to have lived in 
the reign of Vitagpa or Gushtap, whom most writers recognise as Darius 
Hystaspis. Pliny notices works of Zoroaster treating of Nature and 
of precious stones. He is credited with the invention of magic ; and as 
ancient medicine was closely connected with magic, we may, in this sense, 
consider him as a physician. Aristotle and Eudoxus stated that he lived 
six thousand years before Plato. It is hopeless, however, to attempt to 
settle a question so involved in obscurity. The most characteristic 
feature of Zoroaster's teaching is the dualistic conception of the scheme 
of the universe, according to which two powers — a good and an evil — 
are for ever contending for the mastery — Ormuzd against Ahriman. 
Ormuzd is of the light, and from this emanate the good spirits whose 
laws are executed by Izeds, who are angels and archangels. 

Ahriman is of the darkness, and from this emanate Daevas, powers 
by whom mankind are led to their destruction — evil powers, false gods, 
devils. From these Daevas proceed all the evil which is in the world ; 
they are agents of that higher evil principle Druj, or falsehood and de- 
ception, which is called Ahriman, the spirit enemy. These Daevas send 
to men, and are the causes of all diseases, which can only be cured by 
the good spirits. Man belongs either to Ormuzd or to Ahriman accord- 
ing to his deeds. If he offers sacrifice to Ormuzd and the gods, and 
helps them by good thoughts, good deeds, and spreads life over the 
world and opposes Ahriman by destroying evil, then he is a man of 



Asha, who drives away fiends and diseases by spells. He wlio does 
the contrary to this is a Dravant, — " demon," a foe of Asha. The 
man of Ormuzd will have a seat near him in heaven.^ 

According to the Zend-Avesta Thrita was the first physician who 
drove back death and disease. Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda) brought him 
down from heaven ten thousand healing plants which had grown around 
the tree of eternal life, which is the white Haoma (the Indian Soma), 
or Gaokerena, which grows in the middle of the sea, Vouru-kasha. 
These are the Haomas, says Darmesteter.^ 

One is the yellow, or earthly Haoma, and is the king of healing- 
plants ; the other, or white, is that which, on the day of resurrection, 
will make men immortal. Thrita was one of the first priests of Haoma, 
the life and health-giving plant, and thus he obtained his skill in 
medicine. Darmesteter says that Thrita was originally the same as 
Thraetaona of the Rig- Veda.^ 

" We see that Thraetaona fulfilled the same functions as Thrita. 
According to Hamza he was the inventor of medicine. The Tavids 
(formulas of exorcism) against sickness are inscribed with his name, 
and we find in the Avesta itself the Fravashi of Thraetaona invoked 
' against itch, hot fever, humours, cold fever, vavareshi ; against the 
plagues created by the serpent.' We learn from this passage that disease 
was understood as coming from the serpent ; in other words, that it was 
considered a sort of poisoning, and this is the reason why the killer of 
the serpent was invoked to act against it. Thus Thrita Thraetaona had 
a double right to the title of the first of the healers, both as a priest of 
Haoma and as the conqueror of the serpent." 

Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda) said that Thrita " asked for a source of 
remedies — he obtained it from Khshathia-Vaivya " — to withstand the 
diseases and infection which Angra-Mainyu had created by his witch- 
craft. As Ahriman had created ten thousand diseases, so Ormuzd gave 
mankind the same number of healing plants. This idea is firmly fixed 
in the minds of every one of us to this day : for every disease there 
must of necessity somewhere be a remedy, and that usually with the 
common people is supposed to be a plant. The Soma is the king of the 
healing plants in India and that also came down from heaven. " Whilst 
coming down from heaven the plants said, ' He will never suffer any 
wound the mortal whom we touch.' " ^ 

Ormuzd, having given man the healing plants, said : " To thee, O 
Sickness, I say, avaunt ! To thee, O Death, I say, avaunt ! To thee, 

* Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta. 

2 Zend-Avesta ; Vendiddd, Sacred Books of the East ^ vol. iv. p. 219. 

^ Ibid. * Rig- Veda ^ x. 97, 17. 


O Pain, I say, avaunt ! To thee, O Fever, I say, avaunt ! To thee, 
O Disease, I say, avaunt ! " ^ 

In the Vendidad (Fargard vii. a) ^ it is demanded, " If a worshipper 
of Mazda want to practise the art of heahng, on whom shall he first 
prove his skill? On worshippers of Mazda or on worshippers of 
the Daevas ? " 

Ahura Mazda answered : " On worshippers of the Daevas shall he 
first prove himself, rather than on worshippers of Mazda. If he treat 
with the knife a worshipper of the Daevas, and he die ; if he treat with 
the knife a second worshipper of the Daevas, and he die; if he treat 
with the knife for the third time a worshipper of the Daevas, and he die, 
he is unfit to practise the art of healing for ever and ever. Let him 
therefore never attend any worshipper of Mazda ; let him never treat 
with the knife any worshipper of Mazda, nor wound him with the 
knife. If he shall ever attend any worshipper of Mazda; if he shall 
ever treat with the knife any worshipper of Mazda, and wound him with 
the knife, he shall pay for it the same penalty as is paid for wilful 
murder. If he treat with the knife a worshipper of the Daevas, and he 
recover ; if he treat with the knife a second worshipper of the Daevas, 
and he recover ; if for the third time he treat with the knife a wor- 
shipper of the Daevas, and he recover, then he is fit to practise the art 
of healing for ever and ever. He may henceforth at his will attend 
worshippers of Mazda ; he may at his will treat with the knife wor- 
shippers of Mazda, and heal them with the knife." 

Naturally, the rising surgeons would seek their clinical material 
amongst the heretics. 

We learn from the Zend-Avesta that the doctrine of Zoroaster teaches 
that not only real death makes one unclean, but partial death also. The 
demon claims as his property everything which goes out of the body of 
man, and that because it is dead. The breath which leaves the mouth 
is unclean, so that fire, which is sacred, must not be blown with it. Nail 
parings and cuttings of the hair are unclean, and unless protected by 
spells are likely to become the weapons of the demons. Whatever 
alcered the body in its nature was demon's work. On this principle the 
menstruation of women causes their uncleanness. The menses are 
sent by Ahriman ; the woman is possessed by a demon while they last ; 
she has to be kept apart ; she cannot even receive food from hand to 
hand ; she may not eat much lest she feed the demon. So utterly un- 
clean is a woman who has borne a dead child that she is not allowed to 
drink water unless in danger of death. Logic compelled that a sick 
man should be treated as one possessed. Sickness was sent by Ahriman, 
^ Vendtdddy Fargard xx. 7. 2 Sac7-ed Books of the East, vol. iv. p. 83. 


and is to be cured by washings and spells. The most powerful there 
fore of all medical treatment is magic. It was always more highly 
esteemed by the faithful than treatment by drugs and the lancet.' Hair 
and nails, which having been cut off have at once become the property 
of Ahriman, may be withdrawn from his power by prayer, and by being 
deposited in the earth in consecrated circles, which, being drawn round 
them, intrench them against the fiend.^ 

In the Zend-Avesta it is laid down that a woman who has been just 
delivered of a child is unclean. When delivered of a dead child, she 
must drink gomez. Says Darmesteter : ^ "So utterly unclean is she, 
that she is not even allowed to drink water, unless she is in danger of 
death ; and even then, as the sacred element has been defiled, she is 
liable to the penalty of a Perhotanu. It appears from modern customs 
that the treatment is the same when the child is born alive ; the reason 
of Avhich is that, in any case, during the first three days after delivery 
she is in danger of death. A great fire is lighted to keep away the 
fiends, who use then their utmost efforts to kill her and her child. She 
is unclean only because the death-fiend is in her." 

The Saddar i6 says : "When there is a pregnant woman in a house, 
one must take care that there be fire continually in it ; when the child 
is brought forth, one must burn a candle, or, better still, a fire, for three 
days and three nights, to render the Devs and Drugs unable to harm 
the child ; for there is great danger during those three days and nights 
after the birth of the child." 

A table of physician's fees is given in the Vendidad. The healer is to 
attend a priest and get him well for his blessing ; the master of a house 
is to pay the value of a cheap ox for the same service ; but the lord of a 
province is to pay the value of a chariot and four. The wife of the 
master of a house pays the value of a she-ass for her healing, but the 
wife of the lord of a province pays the value of a she-camel. 

It declared that, " If several healers offered themselves together, 
O Spitama Zarathustra ! namely, one who heals with the knife, one 
who heals with herbs, and one who heals with the holy word {i.e. by 
spells), it is this one who will best drive away sickness from the faithful." 

1 Herod., i. 138. 

2 Zend-Avesta. Translated by J, Darmesteter in Sacred Books of the East, vol. iv. 
p. 187. This throws a curious light on a custom which has been observed in opera- 
tion all over the world, of taking care not to throw about hair or nail-cuttings, lest the 
devil should get hold of them. 

' Zend-Avesta, Introduction, v. xciii. § 13. 




Apollo, the God of Medicine. — Cheiron. — ^sculapius. — Artemis. — Dionysus. — ■ 
Amnion. — Hermes. — Prometheus. — Melampus. — Medicine of Homer. — Temples 
of ylisculapius. — The Early Ionic Philosophers. — Empedocles, — School of Cro- 
tona. — The Pythagoreans. — Grecian Theory of Diseases. — School of Cos. — The 
Asclepiads. — The Aliptie. 

Gods of Medicine. 

The origin of Greek medicine is intermixed with the Hellenic myth- 
ology. We must begin, not with ^sculapius (Asclepios), but with the 
sun itself. Apollo (P^ean), as the god who visits men with plagues 
and epidemics, was also the god who wards off evil and affords help to 
men. He was constantly referred to as " the Healer," as Alexicacus^ 
the averter of ills. He is the saviour from epidemics, and the pceaii 
was sung in his honour {Iliads I. 473, XXH. 391). 

Apollo promoted the health and well-being of man, and was the god 
of prolific power, the trainer of youth, and thus he was the chief deity 
of healing. As the god of light and purity he was truly the health-god ; 
and as light penetrates the darkness, he was the god of divination and 
the patron of prophecy, acting chiefly through women when in a state 
of ecstasy. Homer says that Posan ^ was the physician of the Olympian 
gods {Iliad, V. 401, 899). 

Next we find Cheiron, the wise and just centaur {Iliad, XI. 831), who 
had been instructed by Apollo and Artemis, and was famous for his 
skill in medicine. He was the master and instructor of the most cele- 
brated heroes of Greek story, and he taught the art of healing to 
^sculapius (b.c. 1250). This god of medicine was said to be the son 
of Apollo. Pausanius^ explains the allegory thus : "If Asclepius is the 
air — indispensable to the health of man and beast, yet Apollo is the 
sun, and rightly is he called the father of Asclepius, for the sun, by his 
yearly course, makes the air wholesome." 

^ Our word Peony derives its Latin name (Pteoaia) from the name of Apollo 
the Healer. Pie cured the gods of their diseases, and healed their wounds by means 
of this root. 2 y^^ 23. 



In the Homeric poems ^sculapius is not a divinity, but merely a 
human being. Homer, however, calls all those who practise the art of 
healing descendants of Paean ; his healing god is Apollo, and never 

Legend tells that ^^sculapius was the son of Apollo by Coronis, who 
was killed by Artemis for unfaithfulness, and her body was about to be 
burnt on the pyre, when Apollo snatched the boy out of the flames and 
handed him over to the centaur Cheiron, who taught him how to cure 
all diseases. Pindar tells the story of his instruction in the art of 
medicine : — 

" The rescued child he gave to share 
Magnesian Centaur's fostering care ; 
And learn of him the soothing art 
That wards from man diseases' dart. 

Of those wliom nature made to feel 
Corroding ulcers gnaw their frame ; 

Or stones far hurled, or glittering steel, 
All to the great physician came. 
By summer's heat or winter's cold 

Oppressed, of him they sought relief. 
Each deadly pang his skill controlled, 
And found a balm for every grief. 
On some the force of charmed strains he tried, 
To some the medicated draught applied ; 
Some limbs he placed the amulets around. 
Some from the trunk he cut, and made the patient sound," ^ 

It was believed that he was even able to restore the dead to life. 
According to one tradition, .^sculapius was once shut up in the house 
of Glaucus, whom he was to cure, and while he was absorbed in thought 
there came a serpent, which twined round his staff, and which he killed. 
Then he saw another serpent, which came carrying in its mouth a herb, 
with which it recalled to life the one that had been killed ; and the 
physician henceforth made use of the same herb to restore dead men 
to life, the popular belief, even in these early times, evidently being 
that what would cure serpents would be equally efficacious for men. 
We may therefore consider the snake-entwined staff of the healing 
god as the symbol of the early faith in the efficacy of experiments on 
animals, though in this instance the experiment was on a dead one. 

^sculapius was only too successful a practitioner ; for when he was 
exercising his art upon Glaucus, Zeus killed the physician with a flash 
of lightning, as he feared that men might gradually escape death alto- 
gether. Others say the reason was that Pluto complained that by such 
medical treatment the number of the dead was too much diminished. 

^ Wheelwright's translation of Pindar. Third Pythian Ode, 80-95. 


On the request of Apollo, Zeus placed vEsculapius amongst the stars. 
His wife was Epione (the soother). Homer mentions Podalirius and 
Machaon as sons of ^sculapius, and the following are also said to have 
been his sons and daughters — Janiscus, Alexenor, Aratus, Hygeia, ^gle, 
laso, and Panaceia. Most of these, as Hygeia, the goddess of health, 
and Panaceia, the all-heaUng, it will be seen, are merely personifications 
of the powers ascribed to their father. There is no doubt that facts are 
the basis of the ^sculapian story. The divinity was worshipped all over 
Greece. His temples were for the most part built in mountainous and 
healthy places, and as often as possible in the neighbourhood of a 
medicinal spring ; in a sense they became the prototypes of our hospitals 
and medical schools. Multitudes of sick persons visited them, and 
the priests found it to their interest to study diseases and their reme- 
dies ; for though faith and religious fervour may do much for the sick, 
the art of the physician and the hand of the surgeon are adjuncts by 
no means to be despised even in a temple clinic. The chief of the 
^sculapian temples was at Epidaurus ; there no one was permitted to 
die and no woman to give birth to a child. The connection of the 
serpent with the divinity probably arose from the idea that serpents 
represent prudence and renovation, and have the power of discover- 
ing the secret virtues of healing plants. 

The idea of the serpent twined round the rod of ^sculapius is that 
" as sickness comes from him, from him too must or may come the 
healing."^ The knots on the staff are supposed to symbolize the many 
knotty points which arise in the practice of physic. 

Minerva was the patroness of all the arts and trades ; at her festivals 
she was invoked by all who desired to distinguish themselves in medi- 
cine, as well as by the patients whom they failed to cure. As the 
goddess of intelligence and inventiveness, she was the Greek patroness 
of physicians, and was the same deity as Pallas Athene, who bestows 
health and keeps off sickness. 

Artemis, or Diana, as the Romans called the Greek goddess, was a 
deity who, inviolate and vigorous herself, granted health and strength to 
others. She was the sister of Apollo, and though a dispenser of life 
could, like her brother, send death and disease amongst men and animals. 
Sudden deaths, especially amongst women, were described as the effect 
of her arrows. She was B^h. crwrccpa, who assuaged the sufferings of 
mortals. When ^neas was wounded, she healed him in the temple 
of Apollo.^ Yet Artemis ravjooTroAos produced madness in the minds 
of men.3 

^ Sacred Boohs of the East, vol. iv. p. 219 note. 
2 //., V. 447. 3 Sophoc, Ajax. 


She was the Cretan Diktynna, and that goddess wore a wreath of 
the magic plant dikiaimion or dkLn/uiiis, called by us dittany {dictainmis 
ruber^ or albiis) ; it grows in abundance on Mounts Dicte and Ida in 

The Cretan goddess Britomartis was sometimes identified with 
Artemis. She too was a goddess of health as also of birth, and was 
supposed to dispense happiness to mortals. 

Bacchus, or, as he was called by the Greeks, Dionysus, as the god of 
wine, and an inspired and an inspiring deity, who revealed the future by 
oracles, cured diseases by discovering to sufferers in their dreams their 
appropriate remedies. The prophet, the priest, and the physician are so 
often blended in one in the early history of civilization, that the same 
ideas naturally clustered round Bacchus as around Apollo, and other 
great benefactors of mankind. The giver of vines and wine was the 
dispenser of the animating, exalting, intoxicating powers of nature. As 
wine restores the flagging energies of the body and mind, and seems 
to have the power of calling back to life the departing spirit, and inspir- 
ing the languishing vitality of man, Bacchus would naturally enough be 
a god of medicine. The intoxicating properties of wine would be con- 
nected with inspiration, and so Bacchus had a share in the oracles of 
Delphi and Amphicleia. He was invoked as a ^eos (jiiiry]^ against raging 

Ammon was an Ethiopian divinity whose worship spread over Egypt, 
and thence to Greece, and was described as the spirit pervading the 
universe, and as the author of all life in nature. 

Hermes Trismegistus of the Greeks was identified in the time of 
Plato with Thoth, Thot, or Theut of the Egyptians.^ 

The Egyptian Thoth was considered the father of all knowledge, and 
everything committed to writing was looked upon as his property ; he 
was therefore the embodied A.oyo?, and so rpt? /xeyto-ros, or the superla- 
tively greatest. He was identified by the Greeks more or less com- 
pletely with their own Hermes, or Mercury as he was known to the 
Romans ; he was the messenger of the gods ; as dreams are sent by 
Zeus, it was his office to convey them to men, and he had power to 
grant refreshing sleep or to deny the blessing. As the gods revealed 
the remedies for sickness in dreams, Hermes became a god of 

Thoth, the ibis-headed, was the Egyptian god of letters, the deity of 

wisdom in general, who aided Horus in his conflict with Seth, and 

recorded the judgments of the dead before Osiris. Hermes KpLO(fi6po<;, 

the averter of diseases, was worshipped in Boeotia. Hermes, the Greek 

^ Cicero, De Nat. Deor.^ iii. 22. 



deity, was king of the dead and the conductor of souls to their future 
home. Probably, therefore, we may rightly look upon Thoth, Hermes, 
and Hermes Trismegistus as the same person. By many Thoth is con- 
sidered to be the Egyptian ^Esculapius, as he was the inventor of the 
iiealing art ; the Phoenician god Esmun, one of the ancient Cabiri, was 
i a vested with similar attributes, and was worshipped at Carthage and 
Berytus. The authorship of the oldest Egyptian works on medicine is 
ascribed to Thoth. These were engraved on pillars of stone. The 
v/orks of Thoth were ultimately incorporated into the so-called " Her- 
metic Books.'' Clement of Alexandria, who is our only ancient 
authority on these Hermetic works, says they were forty-two in number. 

Prometheus (the man of freethought) is considered by -^schylus as 
the founder of human civilization. 

.^schylus, in his Prometheus Chained, makes the god say how he had 
taught each useful art to man. As regards medicine, he says : — 

" Hear my whole story ; thou wilt wonder more 
What useful arts, what science 1 invented. 
This first and greatest ; when the fell disease 
Preyed on the human frame, relief was none, 
Nor healing drug, nor cool, refreshing draught. 
Nor pain-assuaging unguent ; but they pined 
Without redress, and wasted, till I taught them 
To mix the balmy medicine, of power 
To chase each pale disease, and soften pain." ^ 

Melampus, who was famous for his prophetic powers, was believed 
by the Greeks to have been the first mortal who practised the art of 
medicine, and established the worship of Dionysus in Greece. As 
doctors are frequently expected to exercise the art of prophecy in 
cQnjunction with their profession, it is unfortunate that we have retro- 
graded from the Melampian type. The eminent physician who tells 
the over-inquisitive friends of his patients that he is *' a doctor and not 
a prophet," might be answered that originally the two functions were 
combined. Melampus taught the Greeks to mix their wine with water. 
He is fabled to have learned the language of the birds from some young 
serpents who had been reared by him, and who licked his ears when he 
was asleep. When he awoke he found that he understood what the 
birds said, and that he could foretell the future. 

Iphiclus had no children, and he asked Melampus to tell him how he 
could become a father. He advised him to take the rust from a knife, 
and drink it in water during ten days. The remedy was eminently 
successful, and is the first instance in which a preparation of iron is 
known to have been prescribed in medicine. He cured the daughters 
! ^ Prometheus. Plays of /Eschylus, Morley's Ed. 



of Prcetus by giving them hellebore (which has been called Melam 
podium by botanists), and he received the eldest of the princesses in 
marriage. He cured the women of Argos of a severe distemper which 
made them insane, and the king showed his gratitude by giving him 
part of his kingdom. He received divine honours after his death, and 
temples were raised to him. 

The Medicine of Homer. 

As Homer is supposed to have lived about 850 B.C., a study of such 
references as are to be found in the Iliad and Odyssey which relate to 
medicine and surgery will throw an important light on the state of the 
heaUng art as it was practised at that early period of Greek history. 

There is little mention of disease in Homer. We read of sudden 
death, pestilence, and the troubles of old age, but there is hardly any 
fixed morbid condition noticed. 

Although the poet exhibits considerable acquaintance with medical 
lore, and the human body in health and disease, he could have had 
little or no acquaintance with anatomy, because amongst Greeks, as 
amongst Jews, it was considered a profanation to dissect or mutilate 
the human corpse. 

It was not till the rise of the Alexandrian school in the golden age 
of the Ptolemies that this sentiment was overcome. Still Homer must 
have known that it was the custom of the Egyptians to embalm their 
dead, as he refers to the process in the Iliad} where Thetis poured into 
the nostrils of the corpse red nectar and ambrosia to preserve it from 
putrefaction. Ambrosia is referred to by Virgil as useful for healing 
wounds, and nectar was supposed to preserve flesh from decay. 
Homer's heroes seem to have been singularly healthy folk ; their only 
demand for the services of the army surgeons arose from the accidents 
of war. Machaon distinguished himself in surgery, and Podalirius is 
reputed to have been the first phlebotomist. Their services would be 
chiefly required for extracting arrow-heads and spear-heads, checking 
haemorrhage by compression and styptic applications, and laying sooth- 
ing ointments on wounded and bruised surfaces. Beyond these minor 
duties of the army surgeon, we find little record of their work. Mention 
is not made of amputations, of setting of fractures, or tying of arteries. 
Wounds were probed by Machaon, surgeon to Menelaus (Book IV.). 

Whatever may have been the surgical skill of Machaon, we have 
proof that the art of dieting the wounded was not at all understood in 
the Homeric days. The wine and cheese was not the kind of refresh- 
ment which found favour in Plato's time with the Greek physicians. 

^ Book XIX. 



Plato^ in the Reptiblic (Book III.), deals with the question at some 
length. He says that the draught of Pramnian wine with barley meal 
and cheese was an inflammatory mixture, and a strange potion for a 
man in the state of Eurypylus. 

But he excuses the sons of Asclepius for their treatment, explaining 
that their method was not intended for coddling invalids, but for such 
as had not time to be ill, and that the healing art was revealed for 
the benefit of those whose constitutions were naturally sound, and 
that doctors used to expel their disorders by drugs and the use of the 
knife without interrupting their customary avocations, declining alto- 
gether to assist chronic invalids to protract a miserable existence by 
a studied regimen. 

Le Clerc says ^ that Plato is wrong in this explanation of the Homeric 
treatment, and that the true one is that in those days the dietary of the 
sick was not understood. Modern medicine will decline to accept 
either theory. The fact is, Homer's physicians were right. Good old 
wine was the best thing possible to restore a man fainting from the loss 
of blood ; as for the cheese it was grated fine, and therefore was a 
peculiarly nutritious food in a fairly digestible condition. The barley 
water at all times was at least irreproachable. Although there is little 
evidence in the Homeric poems of any medical treatment which passes 
the limits of surgery, this is by no means conclusive against the 
possession of the higher art by Podalirius. In an epic poem, as Le 
Clerc points out, the subject is altogether too exalted to admit of 
medical discourses on the treatment of colic and diarrhoea. 

Neither must we be surprised, that when the pestilence appeared 
in the camp of Agamemnon, Podalirius and Machaon did nothing to 
avert it. Such a disease was at that time considered beyond all human 
skill, and as the direct visitation of the gods. Homer clearly explains 
that the pestilence was due to their anger. Galen adduces evidence 
to prove that yEsculapius did really practise medicine, by music and 
by gymnastics, or exercises on foot and horseback. 

As Le Clerc says,^ this may have been patriotic exaggeration on the 
part of Galen. To Podalirius is attributed the invention of the art of 
bleeding. As he returned from the Trojan war, he was driven by a 
tempest on the shores of Caria, where a shepherd, having learned that 
he was a physician, took him to the king, whose daughter was sick. He 
cured her by bleeding from both arms ; the king gave her to him in 
marriage, with a rich grant of land. This is the oldest example which 
we have of bleeding. 

Podalirius had a son Hippolochus^ of whom the great Hippocrates was 
1 Hist, de la Medicine, Pt. I., liv. i., cli. xiv. ^ 7^/^/, 


a descendant. Le Clerc devotes a chapter of his History of Medicin 
to reflections on the antiquity of the practice of venesection, and 
speculates on the manner of its discovery. He says, the fact that 
Homer is silent on. the subject makes neither for nor against the 
theory that it was known in his time ; in such works as those of the 
poet he was under no obligation to specify particularly the remedies 
employed by the doctors. He speaks, for example, of soothing medi- 
cines and bitter roots without further definition. It would be as reason- 
able to agree that purgation was unknown from Homer's silence on 
the matter. 

Homer knew something of the parts of the body where wounds are 
most fatal. He says (Book IV., 1. 183), "The arrow fell in no such 
place as death could enter at," and (Book VIII., 1. 326), where the 
arrow struck the right shoulder 'twixt the neck and breast, " the wound 
was wondrous full of death." 

He knew much of drugs and medicinal plants : cjidpixaKov (pharma- 
kon) in the I/i'ad is a remedy, an unguent or application, and is 
mentioned nine times ; in the Odyssey it is a drug or medicinal herb, 
and is referred to twenty times. In Book XI., Eurypylus, when 
wounded, is treated with the "wholesome onion," a potion is confected 
with good old wine of Pramnius, with scraped goat's-milk cheese and 
fine flour mixed with it. Later on in the same book, we read of the 
bruised, bitter, pain-assuaging root being applied to a wound ; it was 
some strong astringent bitter plant, probably a species of geranium. 

Then in the Odyssey (Book IV. 200) occurs the reference to ne- 
penthe, a drug which has puzzled commentators exceedingly ; some say 
it was poppy juice, others hashish ; we have also the magic moly, which 
Mercury gave to Ulysses against the charms of Circe. By some this is 
thought to have been the unpoetical garlic, by others to be wild rue, 
such as Josephus refers to. It was more probably the mandrake. 

There is a very curious and important reference to sulphur, as a dis- 
infectant fumigation in the Odyssey (Book XXII. 481): — 

*' Bring sulphur straight, arid fire " (the monarch cries). 
" She hears, and at the word obedient flies, 
With fire and sulphur, cure of noxious fumes, 
He purged the walls and blood-polluted rooms." 

This is precisely what the sanitary authorities do with fever dens at 
the present day. 

Homer several times refers to Machaon : — 

*' And great Machaon to the ships convey . 
A wise physician, skilled our wounds to heal, 
Is more than armies to the public weal." 

(///^t/,Xr. 614.) 



With Podalirius, his brother, also a '' famed surgeon," he went to 
Troy with thirty ships. Homer calls them " divine professors of the 
healing arts" {Iliad, II. 728), and to them was committed the care of 
the medical work of the expedition. 

When Menelaus had been wounded by the spear of Pandarus^ Ma- 
chaon, we are told by Homer {Iliad, IV. 218) — 

" Sucked the blood, and sovereign balm infused, 
Which Cheiron gave, and ^sculapius used." 

Agamede is referred to by Homer {Iliad, XI. 739) as acquainted with 
the healing properties of all the plants that grow on the earth. She was 
a daughter of Angelas, and wife of Mulius. The poet refers to her as — 

" She that all simples' healing virtues knew, 
And every herb that drinks the morning dew." ^ 

Hesiod lived about the same time as Homer. He wrote the famous 
Works and Days, a species of farmer's calendar, and the Theogony. 

On account of the knowledge he possessed of the properties of plants, 
Theophrastus, PHny, and others ranked him amongst the physicians. ^ 

Both Podalirius and Machaon were held in great honour, not only 
as combatants, but as medical advisers, and Homer's account of them 
exhibits the medical profession of his time as one that was very highly 
esteemed. In the fragment of Arctinus which remains to us, we fmd 
thus early the distinction made between the arts of medicine and 
surgery, the two principal divisions of medical science : " Then Ascle- 
pius bestowed the power of healing upon his two sons ; nevertheless, he 
made one of the two more celebrated than the other ; on one did he 
bestow the lighter hand, that he might draw missiles from the flesh, and 
sew up and heal all wounds ; but he other he endowed with great pre- 
cision of mind, so as to understand what cannot be seen, and to heal 
seemingly incurable diseases," ^ 

This very interesting extract not only shows the early separation of 
the arts of medicine and surgery, but it exhibits very clearly how it arose 
that the former was always held to be the higher branch of the medical 
profession. To sew up a laceration, or extract an arrow or a thorn 
from the flesh, demanded only manual dexterity ; but " to understand 
that which cannot be seen," and heal internal organs that cannot even 
be touched, required a skill and a mental precision that men even in 
those early times were able to appreciate as much the higher of the 

^ I am indebted to an article on "The Medicine of Homer" in The British 
Medical Journal for much of the information in this section. 
- Le Clerc, Hist, de la Med., Pt. I., liv. ii., ch. ix. 
^ Arctinus, Ethiopis. Translated in Puschmann's Hist. Med. Education, p. 35. 


two arts. There seems, however, some confusion of the two branches 
in the Hnes : — 

"A wise physician, skilled our wounds to lieal, 
Is more than armies to the public weal." 

If we suppose that the account of venesection which attributes its 
discovery to Podalirius is fabulous, this would only serve to prove the 
antiquity of the practice. Hippocrates is said to be the first medical 
writer who has spoken of bleeding,^ yet we must not suppose it was 
unknown before his time. He advises blood-letting from the arm, from 
the temporal vessels, from the leg, etc., in some cases even to fainting. 
He is familiar with cupping and other methods of abstracting blood ; 
it is not probable, therefore, that the operation was a new one in his 

The discovery of the practice of purging as a remedy was attributed 
to Melampus. But we know that the Egyptians made use of purgative 
and emetic medicines. There were many purgatives in use in the time 
of Hippocrates, as hellebore, elaterium, colocynth, and scammony. 
All these medicines could not have been discovered at once, as Le 
Clerc points out; mankind, therefore, must have gradually acquired 
their use. When persons were overloaded in the stomach and consti- 
pated, nothing was more natural than that they should seek relief by 
removing the mechanical causes of their distress. Some one had taken 
some herb which had caused him to vomit or to be purged, and had 
experienced the benefit of the evacuation; he told his friends, and 
they perhaps had been aided by similar means. Or again, some illness 
had been alleviated by the supervention of diarrhoea, and art was called 
in to imitate the beneficial effect of nature's cure. In this way, says 
Le Clerc, bleeding may reasonably have been discovered : a severe 
headache is often relieved by bleeding from the nose, what more 
natural than that the process of relief should be imitated by opening a 


Pliny, indeed, in his usual manner, introduces a fable to account for 
the discovery of venesection. He says ^ that the hippopotamus having 
become too fat and unwieldy through over-eating, bled himself with a 
sharp-pointed reed, and when he had drawn sufficient blood, closed the 
wound with clay. Men have imitated the operation, says Pliny. This 
is matched by the story of the ibis with her long bill being the inventor 
of the clyster. Most of the medical beast stories are probably on a 
level with these. 

1 Le Clerc, Hist, de la MM., Pt. I., bk. i., ch. xviii. 

2 Lib. VIII., cap. 26. 


Hygeta, the wife of ^sculapius, and her children, bore names which 
show the same poetic fancy as that which constituted Apollo the author 
of medicine. yEscnlapius is the air. Hygeia is health ; ^gle is bright- 
ness or splendour, because the air is illumined and purified by the sun. 
laso is recovery. Panacea the universal medicine, Roma is strength. 

The ancients everywhere believed that the healing art was taught to 
mankind by the gods. " The art of medicine," says Cicero, " has been 
consecrated by the invention of the immortal gods." ^ 

Hippocrates ^ attributed the art of medicine to the Supreme Being. 
As the Greeks believed that the arts in general were invented by the 
gods, it was a natural belief that the knowledge of medicine should 
liave been taught by the heavenly powers. The mysteries of life, dis- 
ease, and death were peculiarly the province of supernatural beings, and 
man has ever attributed to such powers all those things which he could 
not comprehend. 

The Temples of ^sculapius. 

The worship of Asclepius or ^sculapius is so closely associated with 
the practice of Greek medicine that it is impossible to understand the 
one without knowing something of the other. Sick persons made pil- 
grimages to the temples of the god of healing, just as now they go to 
Lourdes, St. Winifred's Well, or other famous Christian shrines for the 
recovery of their health. After prayers to the god, ablutions, and sacri- 
fices, the patient was put to sleep on the skin of the animal offered at 
the altar, or at the foot of the statue of the divinity, while the priests 
performed their sacred rites. In his sleep he would have pointed out 
to him in a dream what he ought to do for the recovery of his health. 
Sometimes the appropriate medicine would be suggested, but more 
commonly rules of conduct and diet would suffice. Wlien the cure took 
place, which very frequently happened by suggestion as in modern 
hypnotism, and by the stimulus to the nervous system consequent upon 
the journey, and the hope excited in the patient, a record of the case 
and the cure was carved on the temple walls. Thus were recorded the 
first histories of cases, and their study afforded the most valuable treatises 
on the healing art to the physicians who studied them. The priests of 
-.^sculapius were sometimes called Asclepiads, but they did not them- 
selves act as physicians, nor were they the actual founders of Greek 
medicine. The true Asclepiads were healers and not priests. Anathe- 
mata (di/ci^c/ta, anything offered up) were offerings of models in gold, 
silver, etc., of diseased legs, feet, etc., or of deformed limbs consecrated 

^ Cic, Tusc. Dis.^ III. i. ^ Ilippocr., De Frisca Medic. 



to the gods in the temples by the devotion of the patients who had 
received benefit from the prayers to the deities who were worshipped 
therein. The priests of the temples sold these again and again to fresh 

The Early Ionic Philosophers. 

The various schools of Greek philosophy were intimately associated 
with the study of medicine. They endeavoured to fathom the mystery 
of life, and the relationship of the visible order of things to the unseen 
world. The philosophers were therefore not only physicists, but meta- 
physicians, and the unhappy science of medicine, a homeless wanderer, 
had to shelter herself now with the natural philosophers and again with 
the metaphysicians. Probably the philosophers never really practised 
physic, but merely speculated about it, as did Plato. A brief notice of 
the various philosophers of the Ionic, Italian, Eleatic, and Materialistic 
schools who were more or less associated with the study of medicine 
must suffice as an introduction to Greek medicine proper, which had its 
origin with Hippocrates. 

Thales of Miletus (about 609 b.c), the Ionian philosopher, intro- 
duced Egyptian and Asiatic science into Greece. He had probably in 
his travels in the land of the PhaYaohs devoted himself to mathematical 
pursuits, and if not a scientific inquirer was a deep speculator on the 
origin of things. He held that everything arises from water, and every- 
thing ultimately again resolves itself into water. Everything, he said, is 
full of gods ; the soul originates motion (the magnet has a soul, accord- 
ing to him), and so the indwelling power or soul of water produces the 
phenomena of the natural world. He must not, however, be understood 
as teaching the doctrine of the Soul of the Universe, or of a Creating 
Deity. Thales was the first writer on physics and the founder of the 
philosophy of Greece. Le Clerc connects him with medicine by his 
converse with the priest-physicians of Egypt, and that he had performed 
certain expiatory or purifying ceremonies for the Lacedaemonians which 
could only be done by such as were divines and physicians.^ 

Pherecydes, the Syrian, a philosopher who lived about the same 
time as Thales, is said by Galen to have written upon diet. 

Epimenedes was a sort of Greek Rip Van Winkle, who purified 
Athens in the time of a plague by means of mysterious rites and sacri- 
fices. He excelled as a fasting man, so that he was said to have been 
exempt from the ordinary necessities of nature, and could send out his 
soul from his body and recall it like the Mahatmas. He was of the ' 

1 Le Clerc, Hist, de la Med., Tt. L, liv. ii., c. iv. 


class of priestly bards, a seer and prophet who was well acquainted with 
the virtues of plants for medicinal purposes, and as he was believed to 
have gone to sleep in a cave for fifty-seven years, he was credited 
with the possession of supernatural medicinal powers.^ 

Anaximander, born B.C. 610, is said to have been a pupil of Thales. 
He taught that a single determinate substance having a middle nature 
between water and air was the infinite, everlasting, and divine, though 
not intelligent material from which all things had their origin. This 
he called the aireipoi', the chaos. All substances were derived thence by 
the conflict of heat and cold and the electric affinities of the particles. 
The atomic theory is foreshadowed here. 

Anaximenes was the friend of Thales and Anaximander, and all 
three were born at Miletus. He considered that air was the first cause 
of all things, or primary condition of matter ; all finite things were 
formed from the infinite air by compression or rarefaction produced by 
eternal motion. Heat and cold are produced by the varying density 
of the primal element. He held the eternity of matter like his brother 
philosophers, and believed that the soul itself is merely a form of air. 
He held no Divine Author of the Universe, motion being a necessary 
law of the universe, and with motion and air he required nothing else 
for the constitution of all things. 

Heracleitus of Ephesus, born about 556 b.c, embodied his system 
of philosophy in his work On Nature. He held that the ground of all 
phenomena is a physical principle, a living unity, pervading everything, 
inherent in all things — fire, that is, as he explains, a clear light fluid 
" self-kindled and self-extinguished." The world was not created by 
God, but evolved from the rational intelligence which guides the uni- 
verse — fire. Fire longs to manifest itself in various forms ; from its 
pure state in heaven it descends, assumes the form of earth, passing in 
its progress through that of water. Man's soul is a spark of the divine 

Anaxagoras, born about 499 b.c, was the friend of Pericles and 
Euripides at Athens. Seeking to explain the world and man by a 
higher cause than the physical ones of his predecessors, he postulated 
nous — that is, mind, thought, or intelligence. As nothing can come out 
of nothing, he did not attribute to this nous the creation of the world, 
but only its order and arrangement. Matter is eternal, but existed as 
chaos till nous evolved order from the confusion. Baas ^ says his 
physiological and pathological views may be thus described :" The 
animal body, by means of a kind of affinity, appropriates to itself from 
the nutritive supply the portions similar to itself. Males originate in 
1 Laertius, Lib. I., c. 113. 2 ///^/^ j/^^^^ p^ gS, 


the right, females in the left side of the uterus. Diseases are occasion 
by the bile which penetrates into the blood-vessels, the lungs, and the 
pleura." He undertook the dissection of animals, remarked the exist- 
ence in the brain of the lateral ventricles, and was the first to declare 
that the bile is the cause of acute sickness.^ 

Diogenes of Apollonia, the eminent natural philosopher, lived at 
Athens about 460 B.C. He was a pupil of Anaximenes, and wrote 
a work entitled On Nature, in which he treated of physical science 
generally. Aristotle has preserved for us some of the few fragments 
which remain. The most important is the description of the origin 
and distribution of the veins, and is inserted in the third book of Aris- 
totle's History of Animals. Diogenes Laertius gives an account of the 
philosophical teaching of the philosopher : " He maintained that air 
was the primal element of all things; that there was an infinite num- 
ber of worlds, and an infinite void ; that air, densified and rarefied, 
produced the different members of the universe ; that nothing was 
produced from nothing, or was reduced to nothing ; that the earth was 
round, supported in the middle, and had received its shape from the 
whirling round of the warm vapours, and its concretion and hardening 
from cold." ^ 

Diogenes recognised no distinction between mind and matter, yet he 
considered air possessed intellectual energy. 

We find in this philosopher many indications that the vascular system 
was in some degree beginning to be understood.^ Mr. Lewes and Mr. 
Grote agree that Diogenes deserves a higher place in the evolution of 
philosophy than either Hegel or Schwegler. 

Empedocles of Agrigentum, born about 490 b.c, now bears forward 
the flaming torch of medical science, and in his hands it burns more 
brightly still. Aristotle mentions him among the Ionian physiologists, 
and ranks him with the atomistic philosophers and Anaxagoras. These 
all sought to discover the basis of all changes and to explain them. 
According to Empedocles : " There are four ultimate kinds of things, 
four primal divinities, of which are made all structures in the world — 
fire, air, water, and earth. These four elements are eternally brought 
into union, and eternally parted from each other, by two divine beings 
or powers, love and hatred — an attractive and a repulsive force which 
the ordinary eye can see working amongst men, but which really per- 
vade the whole world. According to the different proportions in which 
these four indestructible and unchangeable matters are combined with 

^ Puschmann, Hist. Med. Education, p. 46. 

2 See on this Dr. Greenhill's remarks in Smith'' s Diet. Greek and Roman Biography ^ 
loc. cit. ^ Aristotle, Hist. Animal., iii. 2. 



each other is the difference of the organic structure produced ; e.g., flesh 
and blood are made of equal parts of all four elements, whereas bones 
are one-half fire, one-fourth earth, and one-fourth water. It is in the 
aggregation and segregation of elements thus arising that Empedocles, 
like the atomists, finds the real process which corresponds to what is 
popularly termed growth, increase, or decrease. Nothing new comes 
or can come into being ; the only change that can occur is a change in 
the juxtaposition of element with element." ^ 

He considered that men, animals, and plants are demons punished 
by banishment, but who, becoming purified, may regain the home of 
the gods. It is hardly necessary to say that he held the demoniacal 
possession theory of disease, and treated all complaints by means 
appropriate to the theory. Anticipating the modern opinions of the bac- 
teriologists, he banished epidemics by building great fires and draining 
the water from marshy lands. He understood something of the causes 
of infectious diseases, and in their treatment usurped the province of 
the gods who had sent them.^ He believed the embryo was nourished 
through the navel. We owe to him the terms amnion and chorion {i.e., 
the innermost and outer membranes with which the foetus is surrounded 
in the womb). He believed that death was caused by extinction of 
heat, that expiration arose from the upward motion of the blood, and 
inspiration from the reverse. He is said to have raised a dead woman 
to life.^ 

Empedocles believed in the doctrine of re-incarnation. '^ I well re- 
member," he says, " the time before I was Empedocles, that I once was 
a boy, then a girl, a plant, a glittering fish, a bird that cut the air." To 
his disciples he said : " By my instructions you shall learn medicines 
that are powerful to cure disease, and re-animate old age — you shall 
recall the strength of the dead man, when he has already become the 
victim of Pluto." ^ Further speaking of himself, he says: " I am revered 
by both men and women, who follow me by ten thousands, inquiring 
the road to boundless wealth, seeking the gift of prophecy, and who 
would learn the marvellous skill to cure all kinds of diseases." ° 

The School of the Pythagoreans at Crotona. 

Although in ancient Greece the art of medicine, as we have already 
shown, was closely connected with the temples, if not actually with 
religion, its entanglement with philosophy was a scarcely less unfortu- 
nate connection, and it was not able to make any real progress till 

^ Ency. Brit., Ninth Ed., vol. iii. p. 178. 

2 Baas, Hist. Med., p. 88. ^ y^^-^^ p g^^ 

^ Laertius, c. 77, c. 59. ^ Ibid., c. 62. 



Hippocrates liberated it from both priests and philosophers. 582 
years before Christ Pythagoras was born, the ideal hero or saint whom 
we faintly discern through the mythical haze which has always en- 
veloped him. Philosopher, prophet, wonder-worker, and physician, he 
gathered into his mind as into a focus the wisdom of the Brahmans, the 
Persian Magi, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Chaldaeans, the Jews, 
the Arabians, and the Druids of Gaul, amongst whom he had travelled, 
if we may believe what is reported of him. He may have visited 
Egypt,^ at any rate, besides acquainting himself with the countries of 
the Mediterranean. His authentic history begins with his emigration 
to Crotona, in South Italy, about the year 529. There he founded a 
kind of religious brotherhood or ethical-reform society, and " appeared 
as the revealer of a mode of life calculated to raise his disciples above 
the level of mankind, and to recommend them to the favour of the 
gods." 2 Grote believes that the removal to Crotona was prompted by 
the desire to study medicine in its famous school, probably combined 
with the notion of instructing the pupils in his philosophy. He ren- 
dered great services to the healing art by insisting on the necessity of 
a thorough comprehension of the organs, structure, and functions of 
the body in their normal, healthy condition ; this must be conceded, 
though his visionary philosophy did much to destroy the scientific value 
of his medical teaching. 

The founder of the healing art amongst the Greeks and Hellenic 
peoples generally was Pythagoras. He was imbued with Eastern 
mysticism, teaching that the air is full of spiritual beings, who send 
dreams to men and cause to men and cattle disease and health. He 
taught that these spirits must be conciliated by lustrations and invo- 
cations. Pliny says ^ that he taught that holding dill {anethum) in the 
hand is good against epilepsy. The health of the body is to be main- 
tained by diet and gymnastics. It is interesting to find that this great 
philosopher recommended music to restore the harmony of the spirits. 
Besides the magic virtues of the dill, he held that many other plants 
possessed them, such as the cabbage (a food in great favour with the 
Pythagoreans), the squill, and anise. He held that surgery was not to 
be practised, as it is unlawful, but salves and poultices were to be 
permitted. His disciples attributed the union between medicine and 
philosophy to him. 

The Pythagorean philosophy turns upon the idea of numbers and 

the mathematical relations of things. '' All things are number ; " 

"number is the essence of everything." The world subsists by the 

principle of ordered numbers. The spheres revolve harmoniously ; the 

^ Diodor,, i. 69, 98. ^ Grote, vol. iv. p. 529. * Book xx. 73. 


seven planets are the seven golden chords of the heavenly heptachord. 
As a corollary to this notion we have the theory of opposites. We 
have the odd and even, and their combinations. The even is the un- 
limited, the odd the limited ; so all things are derived from the com- 
bination of the limited and the unlimited. Then we get the limited 
and the unlimited, the odd and the even, the one and many, right 
and left^ masculine and feminine, rest and motion, straight and 
crooked, light and darkness, good and evil, square and oblong. When 
opposites unite, there is harmony. The number ten comprehends all 
other numbers in itself; four was held in great respect, because it is the 
first square number and the potential decade (1 + 2 + 3 + 4=1 o). Py- 
thagoras was the discoverer of the holy rerpaKrvs, " the fountain and 
root of ever-living nature." Five signifies marriage, one is reason be- 
cause unchangeable, two is opinion, seven is called Trap^cVos and 'AOrjvr], 
because within the decade it has neither factors nor product,* 

The doctrine of transmigration of souls, metempsychosis, is Pytha- 
goras's. He probably borrowed it from the Orphic mysteries ; originally 
no doubt it came from Asia. Asceticism, mysticism, and Neoplatonism 
sprang from this noble and lofty philosophy. Closely connected with 
his theory of numbers he held that from these points are produced, 
from these lines, from lines figures, and from figures solid bodies. The 
elements fire, water, earth, and air, account in his conception for the 
formation of the world. He understood the structure of the body, its 
procreation and development. He believed that the animal soul is an 
emanation from the world-soul ; the universal soul is God, author of 
himself. Demons are an order of beings between the highest and the 
lowest. Striving for the good brings moral health. Bodily health 
means harmony, disease means discord. Diseases are caused by 
demons, and are to be dispelled by prayers, offerings, and music. He i 
first among the Greeks taught the immortaUty of the soul ; he held 
a doctrine of rewards and punishments, and taught that of metem- 
psychosis. For many succeeding ages the Pythagorean doctrine had 
the greatest influence on the art of medicine. ^ 

Le Clerc says that Pythagoras obtained his ideas of the climacteric 
years from the Chaldaeans. The term is applied to the seventh year of 
the life of man, and it was anciently believed that at each change we 
incur some risk to life or health, on account of the bodily changes 
undergone at that time.^ Celsus says that the medical sentiment with 

1 See " Pythagorean Philosophy," Encjf. Brit. 

^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 89. Meryon, Hist. Med., p. 14. Dr. Adams, Intr»d, 
Hippoc, vol. i. p. 134. 

^ Histoirc de la Medicine, Pt. I. , liv. i. , c. i v. 


respect to the septenary number in diseases, and that of the odd and 
even days, is of Pythagorean origin.^ The Pythagoreans had a great 
respect for the number four. The quaternary number was sacred to the 
Egyptians ; they burned in the temples of Isis a kind of resinous gum, 
myrrh, and other drugs," in the preparation of which they had regard to 
the number four. The Israelites imitated them in this respect (Exod. 
XXX. 2). 2 

The sacred bean of Pythagoras was the object of religious venera- 
tion in Egypt ; the priests were commanded not to look upon it. It 
is thought to have been the East Indian Nelumbium? 

Zamolxis, who was a god to the Getans, is supposed by some to 
have been a slave and disciple of Pythagoras ; by others he is considered 
an altogether mythical personage. He is credited by those who believe 
him to have been a physician with having said that " A man could not 
cure the eyes without curing the head, nor the head without all the 
rest of the body, nor the body without the soul." Plato said much the 
same thing when he remarked, " To cure a headache you must treat 
the whole man." Zamolxis cured the soul, not by the enchantments of 
magic, but by wise discourse and reasonable conversation. " These dis- 
courses," said Plato, " produce wisdom in the soul, which having once 
been acquired it is easy after that to procure health both for the head 
and all the rest of the body." 

Democedes was a celebrated physician of Crotona, in Magna Grecia, 
who lived in the sixth century b.c. He went to practise at ^gina, 
where he received from the public treasury a sum equal to about ;£"344 
a year for his services. The next year he went to Athens at a salary 
equal to ^406, and the following year he went to the island of Samos. 
The tyrant Polycrates gave him the salary of two talents. He was 
carried prisoner to Susa to the court of Darius, where he acquired a 
great reputation and much wealth by curing the king's foot and the 
breast of the queen. It is recorded that Darius ordered the surgeons 
who had failed to cure him to be put to death, but Democedes inter- 
ceded for and saved them. He ultimately escaped to Crotona, where 
he settled, the Persians having in vain demanded his return.^ He 
wrote a work on medicine. 

Democritus, of Abdera, was a contemporary of Socrates; he was 
born between 494 and 460 B.C., and was one of the founders of the 
-— Atomic philosophy. He was profoundly versed in all the knowledge 
of his time. So ardent a student was he, that he once said that he pre- 
ferred the discovery of a true cause to the possession of the kingdom of 

» Lib. 3, cap. 4. 2 Sprengel, Hist. Med.^ p. 36. 

' Pratt, Flowering Plants, vol. i. p. 57- * Herod., iii. 137. 



Persia. The highest object of scientific investigation he held to be 
the discovery of causes. He wrote on medicine, and devoted himself 
zealously to the study of anatomy and physiology. PHny says that he 
composed a special treatise on the structure of the chameleon.^ He 
wrote on canine rabies, and on the influence of music in the treatment 
of disease. He is, however, best known to science on account of his 
cosmical theory. All that exists is vacuum and atoms. The atoms 
are the ultimate material of all things, even of spirit. They are un- 
caused and eternal, invisible, yet extended, heavy and impenetrable. 
They are in constant motion, and have been so from all eternity. By 
their motion the world and all it contains was produced. Soul and fire 
are of the same nature, of small, smooth, round atoms, and it is by 
inhaling and exhaling these that life is maintained. The soul perishes 
with the body. He rejected all theology and popular mythology. 
Reason had nothing to do with the creation of the world, and he said, 
" There is nothing true ; and if there is, we do not know it." " We 
know nothing, not even if there is anything to know." He died in 
great honour, yet in poverty, at an advanced age (some writers say at 
109 years). His knowledge of nature, and especially of medicine, caused 
him to be considered a sorcerer and a magician. There was a tradi- 
tion that he deprived himself of his sight in order to be undisturbed in 
his intellectual speculations. He probably became blind by too close 
attention to study. Another story was that he was considered to be 
insane, and Hippocrates was sent for to cure him. 

The great philosophers of ancient Greece believed that all the ele- 
ments are modifications of one common substance, called the primary 
matter, which they demonstrated to be devoid of all quality and form, 
but susceptible of all qualities and forms. It is everything in capacity, 
but nothing in actuality. Matter is eternal ; the elements are the first 
matter arranged into certain distinguishing forms. Some of the early 
philosophers held that all the materials which compose the universe 
existed in a fluid form ; they understood by fire, matter in a highly 
refined state, and that it is the element most intimately connected with 
life, some even considering it the very essence of the soul. " Our souls 
are fire," says Phornutus. " What we call heat is immortal," says 
one of tHe Hippocratic writers, "and understands, sees, and hears all 
things that are or will be." ^ 

Bacon explains the ancient fable of Proteus as signifying matter, a 
something which, being below all forms and supporting them, is yet 
different from them all. • 

^ Hist. AW., jcxviii. c. 29. * De Carnibus. 


Sir Isaac Newton is not widely different from Strabo when lie says 
that all bodies may be convertible into one another. 

Commenting upon these opinions of the Greek philosophers, Dr. 
Adams says, in his introduction to the works of Hippocrates : ^ " If 
every step which we advance in the knowledge of the intimate structure 
of things leads us to contract the number of substances formerly held to 
be simple, I would not wonder if it should yet turn out that oxygen, 
carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen are — like what the ancients held the 
elements to be — all nothing else but different modifications of one ever- 
changing matter." 

The theories of the Greek philosophers on the elements are poetically 
summed up in Ovid's Metamorphoses : — 

'* Nor those which elements we call abide, 
Nor to this figure nor to that are ty'd : 
For this eternal world is said of old 
But four prolific principles to hold, 
Four different bodies ; two to heaven ascend. 
And other two down to the centre tend. 
Fire first, with wings expanded, mounts on high, 
Pure, void of weight, and dwells in upper sky ; 
Then air, because unclogged, in empty space 
Flies after fire, and claims the second place ; 
But weighty water, as her nature guides, 
Lies on the lap of earth ; and mother Earth subsides. 
All things are mixed of these, which all contain, 
And into these are all resolved again ; 
Earth rarifies to dew ; expanding more. 
The subtle dew in air begins to soar ; 
Spreads as she flies, and, weary of the name, 
Extenuates still, and changes into flame. 
Thus having by degrees perfection won. 
Restless, they soon untwist the web they spun. 
And fire begins to lose her radiant hue, 
Mixed with gross air, and air descends in dew ! 
And dew condensing, does her form forego, 
And sinks, a heavy lump of earth, below. 
Thus are their figures never at a stand, 
But changed by Nature's innovating hand. " ^ 

Greek Theories of Disease. 

As the Greeks believed that all diseases were the consequences of 
the anger of the gods, it was in their temples that cures were most 
likely to take place. Faith was the sine qua non in the patient, and 
everything aboilt the temple and its ceremonies was calculated to 

^ Vol. i. p. 151. 

^ Ovid's Metamorph.^ Dryden's translation. Book XV. 


excite religious awe and to stimulate faith. Preliminary purifications, 
fasting, massage, and fomentations with herbs, were necessary parts of 
the initiatory ceremonies, and the imagination was excited by every- 
thing that the sufferer saw around him. He heard the stories of the 
marvellous cures which had taken place at the sacred fane. Tablets round 
the walls, placed there by grateful worshippers who had been cured in 
the past,^ served to fill the mind with hope, when, as was the practice, 
the patient lay down in the holy place by the image of the healing god, 
that in the incubatory sleep the remedies which were to cure him might 
be revealed. Sometimes no such revelation was vouchsafed, then sacri- 
fices and prayers were offered ; if these failed, the priests themselves 
would appear in the mask and the dress of the healing god, and in the 
darkness and mystery of the night reveal the necessary prescriptions. 
To interpret the dreams was the task of the priests at all times, just as it 
was in the temples of ancient Egypt. Divination, magic, and astrology 
largely assisted in the work of discovering the requisite remedies. If 
all failed, it was due not to any defect on the part of the divinity or 
his servants, but simply to the want of faith on the part of the patient. 
The festivals of ^sculapius were called Asclepia, and the presiding 
priests of the healing god were named Asclepiades. The schools of 
the Asclepiades were a sort of medical guild, and their doctrines were 
divided into exoteric and esoteric. They naturally became possessed 
of a great body of medical teaching, which was preserved as a precious 
secret and handed down from generation to generation. The Ascle- 
piadae thus became the hereditary physicians of Greece. Medicine 
at this period was not a science to be taught to all comers, but was a 
mystery to be orally transmitted. These men pretended to be descend- 
ants of ^sculapius, just as now the imitators of medicines, perfumes, 

* The following are translations of some of the tablets suspended in the temples, as 
given in Hieron Mercurialis {De Art. Gymnast., Amstel., 4to, 1672, pp. 2, 3) : — 

" Some days back a certain Caius, who was blind, learned from an oracle that he 
should repair to the temple, put up his fervent prayers, cross the sanctuary from right 
to left, place his five fingers on the altar, then raise his hand and cover his eyes. He 
obeyed, and instantly his sight was restored, amidst the loud acclamations of the 
multitude. These signs of the omnipotence of the gods were shown in the reign of 

" A blind soldier, named Valerius Apes, having consulted the oracle, was informed 
that he should mix the blood of a white cock with honey, to make up an ointment to 
be applied to his eyes for three consecutive days. He received his sight, and returned 
public thanks to the gods." 

"Julian appeared lost beyond all hope from a spitting of blood. The gods 
ordered him to take from the altar some seeds of the pine, and to mix them with 
honey, of which mixture he was to eat for three days. He was saved, and came to 
thank the gods in presence of the people." — (Smith's Z>zV/. Greek and Roman Ajit.^ 
art. "Medicina.") 


etc., which have become celebrated, give out that they belong to tb 
family of the inventor, and thus know the secrets of the preparation 

This professional class was quite distinct from the priests of the 
i^sculapian temples, though many writers have confused them. Pro- 
bably the truth is this : — Certain students from reading the votive tablets 
in the temples, and examining the persons who came to be cured, gave 
their attention to the art of medicine, and established themselves as 
physicians in the neighbourhood of the temples ; for it does not appear 
that the priests themselves pretended to medical skill. They were the 
instruments of the divine revelation, the mediums of the healing power 
of the god ; they suggested remedies, but did not attempt their applica- 
tion or the treatment of cases. In process of time the pilgrims to the 
temples would require human aid to supplement the often disappointing 
divine assistance, and this the Asclepiadae were appointed to supply. 
i Hypnotism was probably practised ; music, and such drugs as hemlock 
were also employed which soothe the nervous system and relieve pain. 
The Asclepiadae took careful notes of the symptoms and progress of 
each case, and were particular to observe the effect of the treatment 
prescribed ; they became, in consequence, exceedingly skilful in prog- 
nosis. Galen says that little attention was paid to dietetics by the 
Asclepiads ; but Strabo speaks of the knowledge which Hippocrates 
derived from the documents in the Asclepion of Cos.^ Exercise, 
especially on horseback, was one of the measures used by the Ascle- 
piads for restoring the health.'^ 

Schools of the Asclepiades. 

The three most famous schools of the Asclepiades were those of 
Rhodes, Cos, and Cnidos. There were also that of Crotona, in Lower 
Italy, established by Pythagoras, and the school of Cyrene, in the 
North of Africa. Famous temples of ^sculapius existed at Titanae, 
Epidaurus, Orope, Cyllene, Tithorea, Tricca, Megalopolis, Pergamus, 
Corinth, Smyrna, and at many other places.* 

A spirit of healthy emulation existed in these different schools, which 
was most advantageous for the progress of medical science. The tone 
existing at this early period amongst the different medical societies at 
these institutions is shown in the famous oath which the pupils of the 
Asclepiadse were compelled to subscribe on completing their course of 
instruction in medicine. It is the oldest written monument of the 
Greek art of healing. ^ 

^ The multitude of " Eau de Cologne" makers calling themselves '* Farina " is a 
case in point. ^ Adams, Hippocrates, vol. i. p. 7. ^ Galen, De Sanitate tuenda. 
■* Meryon, Hist. Med., p. 11. ^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 91. 



The Oath. 

** I swear by Apollo, the physician, and ^sculapius, and Health, and 
Panacea,^ and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability 
and judgment, I will keep this oath and this stipulation — to reckon 
him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share 
my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required ; to look 
upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to 
teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipu- 
lation ; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, 
I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my 
teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according 
to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system 
of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for 
the benefit of my patient, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and 
mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor 
suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a 
woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness 
I will pass my life and practise my art. I will not cut persons labour- 
ing under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are 
practitioners of this work.^ 

" Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit 
of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and 
corruption ; and, further, from the seduction of females or males, of 
freemen or slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional 
practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men^ 
which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning 
that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this 
oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice 
of the art, respected by all men, in all times ! But should I trespass 
and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot ! " 

Ancient authorities differ as to the respective order in which the 
schools of the Asclepiads should be esteemed. Rhodes, Cos, and 
Cnidos continually disputed for the pre-eminence, Cos and Cnidos 

1 All-heal. 

^ Dr. Puschmann, in his Histoiy of Medical Education, p. 42, translates this 
passage : " Castration will I not carry out even on those who suffer from stone, but 
leave this to those people who make a business of it." The words in the Greek are 
ov T€/x4(a 5^ ov5^ fxrjv \i.dtu)VTas, and much controversy has been excited by them. 
Some commentators of great authority think the passage forbids castration, as disgrace- 
ful things are being spoken of, such as giving poisons and procuring abortion. Cer- 
tainly there is no reason for supposing that the doctors of the period would object to 
perforni. itfhotornj^ though it is the fact that there was a class of operators who were 
^«"§ort ofunscientific specialists in the practice. 



acquiring great fame by their conflicting opinions. According to 
Galen, the first place must be conceded to Cos, as having produced the 
greatest number oi excellent disciples, amongst whom was Hippocrates ; 
he ranks Cnidos next. Cos (b.c. 600) was the objective school, and 
devoted its studies chiefly to symptomatology. It asked, what can we 
see of the patient's disorder ? of what does he complain ? what, in fact, 
are his symptoms ? This is practical medicine, though not so much in 
accordance with modern scientific medicine as the method of Cnidos, 
the subjective school. There the aim was to make a correct diagnosis ; 
to find out what was behind the symptoms, what caused the morbid 
appearances ; what it was that the sensations of the patient indicated ; 
and its aim was not to treat symptoms so much as to treat vigorously 
the disorder which caused them. Auscultation, or the art of scientifi- 
cally listening to the sounds of the chest, those of the lungs in breathing, 
and of the heart in beating, was to some extent understood and prac- 
tised at Cnidos. The medical school of Crotona was in the highest 
repute 500 b.c, probably on account of its connection with the Pytha- 
goreans. The school of Rhodes does not seem to have had a long life. 

That of Cyrene was famous on account not only of its medical 
teaching, but from the fact that mathematics and philosophy were indus- 
triously pursued there. The teaching in all these schools must have 
been of a very high order; for, though unfortunately little of it has 
descended directly to us, we have sufficient evidence of its importance 
in such fragments as are to be found incorporated with the works of 
Hippocrates, such as the Coan Prognostics and the Cnidian Sentences ; 
the former, a miscellaneous collection of the observations made by 
the physician of Cos, and the latter, a work attributed to Euryphon, 
a celebrated physician of Cnidos (about the former half of the fifth 
century b.c). 

Experiment and observation were insisted upon in the study of 
anatomy and physiology. Galen tells us in his second book. On 
Anatomical Manipulations : " I do not blame the ancients, who did not 
write books on anatomical manipulations; though I praise Marinus, 
who did. For it was superfluous for them to compose such records for 
themselves or others, while they were, from their childhood, exercised by 
their parents in dissecting, just as familiarly as in writing and reading; 
so that there was no more fear of their forgetting their anatomy than of 
their forgetting their alphabet. But when grown men, as well as chil- 
dren, were taught, this thorough discipline fell off; and, the art being 
carried out of the family of the Asclepiads, and declining by repeated 
transmission, books became necessary for the student." 

The method of the Asclepiadse was one of true induction ; much was 


imperfect in their efforts to arrive at the beginning of medical science. 
They had little, light, and often stumbled; but they made the best use of 
what they had, and with all their deviations they always returned to the 
right path, and kept their faces towards the light. Hippocrates was 
of them ; and Bacon of Verulam, in the centuries to come, followed 
and developed the same method. Dr. Adams remarks the assiduous 
observation and abundant rational experience which led them to 
enunciate such a law of nature as this : " Those things which bring 
alleviation with bad signs, and do not remit with good, are troublesome 
and difficult." 

Ctesias, of Cnidus, in Caria, was a physician at the court of King 
Artaxerxes Mnemon. He may be called a contemporary of Herodotus. 
It is possible that, according to Diodorus, he was a prisoner of war 
while in Persia, though the well-known fact that Greek physicians were 
in great request, and were always received there with favour, is quite 
sufficient to account for his presence in that country. He wrote a 
history of Persia and a treatise on India, containing many statements 
formerly considered doubtful, but now proved to be founded on facts. 

The persons who anointed the bodies of the athletes of ancient 
Greece, preparatory to their entering the gymnasia, were called AliptvE. 
These persons taught gymnastic exercises, practised many operations 
of surgery, and undertook the treatment of trifling diseases. The 
external use of oil was intended to close the pores of the skin, so as 
to prevent excessive perspiration. The oil was mixed with sand, and 
was well rubbed into the skin. After the exercises, the athletes were 
again anointed, to restore the tone of the muscles. The aliptae would 
naturally acquire considerable knowledge of the accidents and maladies 
to which the human body was subject ; accordingly, we find that they 
not only undertook the treatment of fractures and dislocations, but be- 
came the regular medical advisers of their patrons. I ecus of Tarentum 
devoted himself to dietetics. They were probably a superior class of 
trainers. Herodicus of Selymbria, a teacher of Hippocrates, treated 
diseases by exercises. He is said to have been the first to demand a 
fee in place of the presents which were given by patients formerly to 
their doctors.^ The gymnasia were dedicated to Apollo, the god of 
physicians.^ The directors of the institutions regulated the diet of the 
young men, the sub- directors prescribed for their diseases. ^ The 
inferiors, or bathers, bled, gave clysters, and dressed wounds.'* 

^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 93. * Plut., Symp., viii, 4, § 4. 

« Plato, De Ug., xi. * Ibid., iv. 



Hippocrates first delivered Medicine from the Thraldom of Superstition. — Dissection 
of the Human Body and Rise of Anatomy. — Hippocrates, Father of Medicine and 
Surgery. — The Law. — Plato. 

Hippocrates, the " Father of Medicine," was bom at Cos,^ 460 b.c. 
On his father's side he was beheved to be descended from yEsculapius, 
and through his mother from Hercules. A member of the family of the 
Asclepiadae, of a descent of three hundred years^ he had the advan- 
tage of studying medicine under his father, Heraclides, in the Asclepion 
of Cos. Herodicus of Selymbria taught him medical gymnastics, 
and Democritus of Abdera and Gorgias of Leontini were his masters in 
literature and philosophy. He travelled widely, and taught and prac- 
tised at Athens, dying at an age variously stated as 85, 90, 104, and 
109. Fortunate in the opportunities offered by his birth and position, 
he was still more fortunate in his time — the age of Pericles — in which 
Greece reached its noblest development, and the arts and sciences 
achieved their greatest triumphs. It was the age of Socrates, Plato, 
Xenophon, Euripides, Sophocles, ^schylus, Pindar, Aristophanes, 
Herodotus, Thucydides, and Phidias. Philosophy, poetry, literature, 
and sculpture found in these great minds their most perfect exponents. 
Medicine, in the person of Hippbc^es, was to find its first and most 
distinguished author-physician. | 

The Father of Medicine was therefore the worthy product of his re- 
markable age. The genius which culminated in the works of the golden 
age of Greece could scarcely have left medicine without her Hippo- 
crates ; the harmony otherwise would have been incomplete. 

The following genealogy of Hippocrates has been given by Tzetzes, 
but Mr. Grote says it is wholly mythical : — 

^sculapius was the father of Podalirius, who was the father of Hip- 
polochus, who was the father of Sostratus, who was the father of 
Cleomyttades, who was the father of Theodorus, who was the father of 

^ Cos gave birth to Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second of the Greek kings of Egypt, 
to Ariston the philosopher, and to Apelles the painter. 



Sostratus 11. , who was the father of Theodorus 11. , who was the father 
of Sostratus III., who was the father of Nebrus, who was the father of 
Gnosidicus, who was the father of Hippocrates I., who was the father 
of Heraclides, who was the father of Hippocrates II., otherwise called 
the Great Hippocrates. 

Hippocrates was the first physician who delivered medicine from the/ 
thraldom of superstition and the sophistries of philosophers, and gave iu 
an independent existence. It was impossible that our science should 
make progress so long as men believed that disease was caused by 
an angry demon or an offended divinity, and was only to be cured by 
expelling the one or propitiating the other. Hippocrates, with a dis- 
cernment and a courage which was marvellous, considering his time, 
declared that no disease whatever came from the gods, but was in 
every instance traceable to a natural and intelligible cause. Before the 
Asclepiadae there was no medical science ; before Hippocrates there 
was no one mind with vision wide enough to take in all that had been 
done before — to select the precious from the worthless and embody it 
in a literature which remains to the present time a model of conciseness 
and condensation, and a practical text-book on all that concerns the 
art of healing as it was understood in his time. The minuteness of his 

^H^IYRti^^Sj -^ rpti^nal pnrj ^(-rnrafp intprprptatinn nf all hp paw and 

his simple, methodical, truthful, and lucid descriptions of everything 
which he has recorded excite the admiration and compel the praise of 
all who havestudied the works which he has left. Nor are his candour, 
honesty, caution, and experience less to be extolled. He confessesJiis 
errors, fully explains the measures adopted to cure his cases, and 
candidly admits that in one series of forty-two patients whom he 
attended only seventeen recovered, the others having perished in spite 
of the means he had proposed to save them. He was probably the 
.first pubHc teacher of the healing art ; his counsels were not whispered 
in the secret meetings of sacerdotal assemblies. He was the first tq 
disclose the secrets of the art to the world ; to strip it of the veil of 
mystery with which countless generations of magicians, thaumaturgists, 
and priestly healers had shrouded it, and to stand before his pupils ♦-- 
give oral instruction in anatomy and the other branches of his profe-^id so, | 
Had he not been the Father of Medicine, he would have been • The 
as one of the greatest of the philosophers. He first recognised -^ioiij but 
Nature in the treatment of disease. Nature, he declared, AH was 
sufficient for our healing. She knows of herself all that is nee 
us, and so he called her "the just." He attributed to her -St learned 
Avva/At?; physicians are but her servants. The governin^pelled to 
AvVa/xi9, nourishes, preserves, and increases all things. 


Galen states that the greater part of Aristotle's physiology was taken 
from Hippocrates. It has been the custom to make light of his 
anatomical knowledge, and to say that in face of the difficulty, if not 
impossibility, of procuring subjects for dissection, he could have had 
but little exact knowledge of the human body ; but it is certain that by 
some means or other he must have dissected it. In proof of this it is 
only necessary to mention his treatise On the Articulations^ especially 
that part of it which relates to the dislocation of the shoulder 
joint. Dr. Adams, in one of his valuable notes on the works of Hip- 
pocrates,^ says : " The language of our author in this place puts it 
beyond all doubt that human dissection was practised in his age." In 
Ashurst's International Encydopcedia of Surgery ^ his descriptions of 
all dislocations are declared to be wonderfully accurate ; and the writer 
adds that it is the greatest error imaginable to suppose, with the com- 
mon conceit of our day, that all ingenious and useful improvements in 
surgery belong to the present age. In the treatise on the Sacred Disease 
(epilepsy), his description of the brain in man proves that he was ac- 
quainted with its dissection. 

In the treatise on the heart, again, the construction of that organ in 
the human body is referred to. Other allusions to the internal structure 
of the human frame in the Hippocratic treatises serve to confirm our 
opinion ; and if it be objected that some of these are probably not 
genuine, they must at least be as old as his period, and it was far more 
likely that^e should have written or inspired them than that they should 
have emanated from an inferior source. Those who argue to the con- 
trary do so on the same grounds as the Greek commentators, who say 
that the Iliad and Odyssey were not written by Homer, but by some 
other poet of the same name. Dr. Adams is confident, from his 
familiarity with the works of Hippocrates, that the knowledge of human 
anatomy exhibited therein had its origin in actual dissection, and he 
adds that : " I do not at present recollect a single instance of mistake 
committed by him in any of his anatomical descriptions, if we except 
that with regard to the sutures of the head, and even in that case I 
a|?,aye endeavoured to show that the meaning of the passage is very 
crates '^^^^•" ^ There is no doubt, in fact, that a great deal more human 

The J^^ went on than the Greek doctors dared to acknowledge for 
but Mr. -xciting popular prejudice. Less than a hundred years after the 

^scuk Hippocrates there was abundant and open dissection of the 
polochus ^^y '^^ ^^^ schools of Alexandria, and it is incredible that the 
Cleomyttat^^y received popular sanction at that particular time. Yet the 

1 Cos gav ' Vol. ii. p. 569. 2 Vol. vi. p. 1 152. 

to Ariston t; ^ ^orks of Hippocrates, Syd. Soc, vol. ii. p. 565. 


anatomy of Hippocrates was very imperfect. The nerves, sinews, and 
ligaments were confounded together, all being classed as vcvpoi/ or 

The blood-vessels were supposed to contain both blood and air, and 
were called (^AeySc? ; the trachea was called an "artery." 

The brain was considered as merely a gland which condenses the 
ascending vapours into mucus. The office of the nerves was to convey 
the animal spirits throughout the body. We must not forget that the 
science of anatomy was extremely imperfect even at the beginning of 
the present century. 

" When," says Littre,^ " one searches into the history of medicine and 
the commencement of the science, the first body of doctrine that one 
meets with is the Collection of writings known under the name of the 
works of Hippocrates. The science mounts up directly to that origin^ 
and there stops. Not that it had not been cultivated earlier, and had 
not given rise to even numerous productions ; but everything that had 
been made before the physician of Cos has perished. We have only 
remaining of them scattered and unconnected fragments. The works 
of Hippocrates have alone escaped destruction ; and by a singular 
circumstance there exists a great gap after them as well as before them. 
The medical works from Hippocrates to the establishment of the school 
of Alexandria, and those of that school itself, are completely lost, ex- 
cept some quotations and passages preserved in the later writers ; so 
that the writings of Hippocrates remain alone amongst the ruins of 
ancient medical literature." 

It is vain to inquire how Hippocrates acquired a knowledge which 
seems to us so far in advance of his age. Was Greek wisdom derived 
from the East, or was its philosophy the offspring of the soil of Hellas ? 
Such questions have often been discussed, but to little purpose. There 
would seem to be every reason to suppose that Greek medicine was 
indigenous. We have no means of knowing how long philosophy and | 
medicine had been united before the time of Hippocrates. The honour \ 
of affecting the alliance has been ascribed to Pythagoras. ' 

Several of the Greek philosophers speculated about medicine. We\ 
have seen that besides Pythagoras, Empedocles and Democritus did so, \ 
although it is not probable that they followed it as a profession. The 
Asclepiadse probably brought medicine to a high state of perfection, but 
the work these priest-physicians did is a sealed book to us. All was 
darkness till Hippocrates appeared. 

In his treatise On Ancient Medicine^ he says that men first learned 
from experience the science of dietetics ; they were compelled to 
^ CEuvres Complies cCHippocrate, Tom. I., Introd., ch. i. p. 3. 


ascertain the properties of vegetable productions as articles of food. 
Then they learned that the food which is suitable in health is unsuit- 
able in sickness, and thus they applied themselves to the discovery of 
the proper rules of diet in disease ; and it was the accumulation of the 
facts bearing on this subject which was the origin of the art of medicine. 
" The basis of his system was a rational experience, and not a blind 
empiricism ; so that the empirics in after ages had no good grounds for 
claiming him as belonging to their sect." ^ 

He assiduously applied himself to the study of the natural history 
of diseases, especially with the view to determine their tendencies to 
death or recovery. In every case he asked himself what would be the 
probable end of the disorder if left to itself. Progm^ sis. then, is one of 
the chief characteristics of Hippocratic medicine. He hated all char- 
latanism, and was free from all popular superstition. When we reflect 
on the medicine of the most highly civilized nations which we have 
considered at length in the preceding pages, and remember how full 
of absurdities, of magic, amulet lore, and other things calculated to 
impose on the credulity of the people, were their attempts at healing, 
we shall be inclined to say, that the most wonderful thing in the 
history of Hippocrates was his complete divorce from the evil tradi- 
tions of the past. Although he forsook philosophy as an ally of medi- 
cine, his system was founded in the physical phifosophy of the elements 
J which the ancient Greeks propounded, and which we have attempted 
To explain. There was an all-pervading spiritual essence which is ever 
striving to maintain all things in their natural condition ; ever rectifying 
their derangements ; ever restoring them to the original and perfect 
pattern. He called that spiritual essence Nature. " Nature is the 
physician of diseases." ^ Here, then, we have the enunciation of the 
doctrine of the Vis Medicatrix Naturce. In his attempts to aid Nature, 
the physician must regulate his treatment " to do good, or at least, to 
do no harm " ; ^ yet he bled, cupped, and scarified. In constipation 
he prescribed laxative drugs, as mercury (not the mineral, of course, 
but Mercurialis perennis), beet, and cabbage, also elaterium, scammony, 
and other powerful cathartics. He used white hellebore boldly, and 
when narcotics were required had recourse to mandragora, henbane, 
and probably to poppy-juice. 

He is said to have been the discoverer of the principles of derivation 
and revulsion in the treatment of diseases.* 

1 Adams, Hippocrates, vol. i. p. 1 8. ^ Epidem., vi. ^ jud,^ i. 

* Derivation is the drawing of humours from one part of the body to another, as 
from the eye by a blister on the neck ; revulsion differs from this only by the force of 
the medicine and the distance of the disorder from the part to which it is applied. He 


Sydenham called Hippocrates *' the Romulus of medicine, whose 
heaven was the empyrean of his art. He it is whom we can never duly 
praise." He terms him " that divine old man," and declares that he 
laid the immovable foundations of the whole superstructure of medicine 
when he taught that our natures are the physicians of our diseases ^ 

He was Father of Surgery as well as of medicine. Eight of his seven- 
teen genuine works are strictly surgical. By an ingenious arrangement 
of apparatus he was enabled to practise extension and counter-exten- 
sion. He insisted on the most exact co-aptation of fractured bones, 
declaring that it was disgraceful to allow a patient to recover with a 
crooked or shortened limb. His splints were probably quite as good 
as ours, and his bandaging left nothing to be desired. When the ends 
of the bones projected in cases of compound fractures, they were care- 
fully resected. In fracture of the skull with depressed bone the trepan 
was used, and in cases where blood or pus had accumulated they were 
skilfully evacuated. He boldly and freely opened abscesses of the liver 
and kidneys. The thoracic cavity was explored by percussion and 
auscultation for detection of fluids, and when they were discovered 
paracentesis (tapping) was pevformed. This was also done in cases 
of abdominal dropsies. The rectum was examined by an appropriate 
speculum, fistula-in-ano was treated by the ligature, and haemorrhoids 
were operated upon. Stiff leather shoes and an admirable system of 
bandaging were employed in cases of talipes. The bladder was ex- 
plored by sounds for the detection of calculi ; gangrenous and mangled 
limbs were amputated ; the dead foetus was extracted from the mother. 
Venesection, scarification, and cupping were all employed. ^ 

He resected bones at the joints. In the treatment of ulcers he used 
sulphate of copper, sulphate of zinc, verdigris, lead, sulphur, arsenic, 
alum, etc. He came very near indeed to the antiseptic system in 
surgery when he made use of "raw tar water" (a crude sort of carbolic 
acid, in fact) in the treatment of wounds. Suppositories were employed. 

In Dr. Adams' Life of Hippocratesj^ he says : " In surgery he was a 
bold operator. He fearlessly, and as we would now think, in some 
cases unnecessarily, perforated the skull with the trepan and the tre- 
phine in injuries of the head. He opened the chest also in empyema 
and hydrothorax. His extensive practice, and no doubt his great 

treated fevers by preparations which increase the amount of fluid in the blood, as by- 
water, buttermilk, whey, etc. This was called the diluent system. At the same time 
he used mild aperients and sometimes venesection. 

^ Nouo-oji' (pvcries l-qxpoi. Epid.^ vi. 5, l.t. iii. p. 606. 

^ See for all this surgical information Ashurst's International Encyclopcedia of 
Surgery, vol. vi. 

' Genuine Works of Hippocrates y\Q\. i. pp. 20, 21. 



familiarity with the accidents occurring at the public games of his 
country, must have furnished him with. ample opportunities of becoming 
acquainted with dislocations and fractures of all kinds ; and how well 
he had profited by the opportunities which he thus enjoyed, every page 
of his treatises On Fractures and On the Articulations abundantly testi- 
fies. In fact, until within a very recent period, the modern plan of 
treatment in such cases was not at all to be compared with his skilful 
mode of adjusting fractured bones, and of securing them with waxed 
bandages. In particular, his description of the accidents which occur 
at the elbow and hip-joints will be allowed, even at the present day, to 
display a most wonderful acquaintance with the subject. In the treat- 
ment of dislocations, when human strength was not sufficient to restore 
the displacement, he skilfully availed himself of all the mechanical 
powers which were then known. In his views with regard to the nature 
of club-foot, it might have been affirmed of him a few years ago that 
he was twenty-four centuries in advance of his profession, when he 
stated that in this case there is no dislocation, but merely a declination 
of the foot ; and that in infancy, by means of methodical bandaging, a 
cure may in most cases be effected without any surgical operation. In 
a word, until the days of Delpecli and Stromeyer, no one entertained 
ideas so sound and scientific on the nature of this deformity as Hippo- 

Dr. Adams, recapitulating the general results of the investigations as 
to the genuineness of the Hippocratic books, states that a considerable 
portion of them are not the work of Hippocrates himself. The works 
almost universally admitted to be genuine are : The Prognostics^ On 
Airs, etc., O71 Regimen in Acute Diseases, seven of the books of 
Aphorisms, Epidemics, I. and III., On the Articulations, On Fractures, 
On the Instriunents of Reduction, The Oath. 

Tiie following are almost certainly genuine : On Ancient Medicine, 
On the Surgery, The Law, On Ulcers, On Fistuhe, On LLcemorrhoids, 
On the Sacred Disease.^ 

The Law. 

I. Aledicine is of all the arts the most noble; but owing to the 
ignorance of those who practise it, and of those who, inconsiderately, 
form a judgment of them, it is at present far behind all the other arts. 
Their mistake appears to me to arise principally from this, that in the 
cities there is no punishment connected with the practice of medicine 
(and with it alone) except disgrace, and that does not hurt those who 

1 Adams, Genuine Works of Hippocrates, yo\.\. pp. 129, 130, 


are familiar with it. Such persons are like the figures ^ which are 
introduced in tragedies, for as they have the shape, and dress, and 
personal appearance of an actor, but are not actors, so also physicians 
are many in title but very {^^^ in quality. 

2. Whoever is to acquire a competent knowledge of medicine, ought 
to be possessed of the following advantages : a natural disposition ; 
instruction; a favourable position for the study; early tuition; love of 
labour; leisure. First of all, a natural talent is required'; for when 
nature opposes, everything else is vain ; but when nature lea'ds the way 
to what is most excellent, instruction in the art takes place, which the 
student must try to appropriate to himself by reflection, becoming an 
early pupil in a place well adapted for instruction. He must also bring 
to the task a love of labour and perseverance, so that the instruction 
taking root may bring forth proper and abundant fruits. 

3. Instruction in medicine is like the culture of the productions of 
the earth. For our natural disposition is, as it were, the soil; the 
tenets of our teacher are, as it were, the seed ; instruction in youth is 
like the planting of the seed in the ground at the proper season ; the 
place where the instruction is communicated is like the food imparted 
to vegetables by the atmosphere ; diligent study is like the cultivation 
of the fields ; and it is time which imparts strength to all things and 
brings them to maturity. 

4. Having brought all these requisites to the study of medicine, 
and having acquired a true knowledge of it, we shall then, in travelling 
through the cities, be esteemed physicians not only in name but in 
reality. But inexperience is a bad treasure, and a bad friend to those 
who possess it, whether in opinion or reality, being devoid of self- 
reliance and contentedness, and the nurse both of timidity and auda- 
city. For timidity betrays a want of power, and audacity a want of 
skill. There are, indeed, two things, knowledge and opinion, of which 
the one makes its possessor really to know, the other to be ignorant. 

5. Those things which are sacred are to be imparted only to sacred 
persons ; and it is not lawful to impart them to the profane until they 
have been initiated in the mysteries of the science. 

The "Hippocratic collections" of works which have been attributed 
to Hippocrates, but the greater part of which were neither written by 
him, nor compiled from notes taken by his students, consists of eighty- 
seven treatises. 

Hippocrates believed in the influence of the imagination of pregnant 
women on the child in the womb. He forbad nurses to eat food of an 

^ Probably masks or inanimate figures (Adams). 


acrid, salt, or acid nature, and observed that infants during the period 
of (ientition were liable to fevers, bowel troubles, and convulsions, espe- 
cially if there was constipation. He mentions thrush as one of the 
diseases of dentition i^Dc Dent.). He recommends friction for con- 
tracting or relaxing the body according as it is applied in a hard or 
soft manner. Very fully he discourses on the evil effects of plethora, 
and recommends purging, emetics, warm baths, and bleeding, for re- 
ducing the system {De Dietol.^ iii. \Q> ei seq,). He constantly advises 
gentle purgatives as a means of keeping the body in health. His 
favourite laxative medicine was the herb mercury. The administration 
of clysters is recommended ; this treatment was evidently derived from 
the Egyptians. What are called errhines or sternutatories — i.e., medi- 
cines which, applied to the nose, excite sneezing — were described by 
Hippocrates as medicines which purge the head. Though he fully de- 
scribes the effects of baths, he speaks unfavourably of thermal springs 
as being hard and heating. He insists that the diet should be full in 
winter and spare in summer {Aphor., i. i8). He disapproves of the 
habit of eating a full dinner (De Vet. Med.). He condemns the use of 
new bread. The nutritious properties of pulse in general are insisted 
upon. He calls the flesh of fowls one of the lightest kinds of food 
{De J feet., 46), and says that eggs are nutritious, and strengthening, 
but flatulent. He remarks that the flesh of wild animals is more di- 
gestible than that of domesticated. He objects to goat's flesh as having 
all the bad qualities of beef, which he calls a strong, astringent, and 
indigestible article of diet. Milk, he says, sometimes causes the forma- 
tion of stones in the bladder {De ^r. Aqtiis et Locis, 24). Dr. Francis 
Adams says this opinion was adopted by all the ancient physicians. 
Cheese he considers flatulent and indigestible. Fishes are light food ; 
sea fish are lighter and better for delicate persons than fresh-water 
fish {De Afft'ct., 46). Honey, when eaten with other food, is nutritious, 
but is injurious when taken alone. 

Hippocrates opposed all hypothesis in medicine, and grounded his 
opinions on disease on actual observation. He insisted that the essence 
of fever is heat mixed up with noxious qualities. He was the great 
master of prognostics. His work Prorrhetica and CoaccE, says Dr. Francis 
Adams, " contains a rich treasure of observations which cannot be too 
much explored by the student of medicine. His prognostics are 
founded upon the appearance of the face, eyes, tongue, the voice, 
hearing, the state of the hypochondriac region, the abdomen, the 
general system, sleep, respiration, and the excretions. We can do 
little more, in this place, than express our high sense of the value of 
the Hippocraiic Treatises on Prognostics, and recommend the study of 


them to all members of the profession who would wish to learn the 
true inductive system of cultivating medicine." {The Seve?t Books of 
Faubis yEgineta, by Francis Adams.) The state of the countenance 
which immediately precedes death is called by physicians the Fades 
Hippocraiica^ because Hippocrates described it, calling it TrpoVwTrot 
8La<l>6oprj {Coac. Prcenot.^ 212). The nose is sharp, the eyes hollow, 
the temples sunk, the ears cold and contracted, and their lobes inverted ; 
the skin about the forehead hard, tense, and dry ; the countenance pale, 
greenish, or dark. In fevers he was greatly attached to the importance 
of the critical days. Galen adopted his list of critical days with little 
alteration. Hippocrates does not seem to have paid much attention to 
the pulse, or if he did he attached little importance to it; even in de- 
scribing epidemical fevers he neglects to mention the characteristics of 
the pulse. Galen, however, affirms that he was not altogether ignorant 
of it. He quite correctly described the characteristics of healthy stools, 
and pointed out that they should in colour be yellowish, if too yellow 
there is too much bile, if not yellow at all there was a stoppage of the 
passage of bile to the intestines. His indications from the state of the 
urine are not less valuable. How wise are his observations on the 
treatment of febrile diseases ! " To be able to tell what had preceded 
ihem ; to know the present state and foretell the future ; to have two 
objects in view, either to do good or at least do no harm " {Epideni., i. 7). 
He it was who formulated the rule all physicians have since followed 
that a fluid diet is proper in all febrile affections. He advised cold 
sponging in ardent fevers — a method of treatment recently revived and 
of great value {De Rat. Vict. Acut.), He laid it down that diseases in 
general may be said to arise either from the food we eat or the air Vv'e 
breathe. In cases of fever he allowed his patients to drink freely of 
barley-water and cold acidulated drinks. In this he was much in ad- 
vance of the medical science of the time. He has described cases of 
'' brain fever," one of the few complaints which novelists permit their 
heroes to suffer from. They appear to have been cases of remittent 
fever rather than true inflammation of the brain. We may estimate the 
wonderful extent of the medical science of Hippocrates by the fact that 
he vigorously opposed the popular beHef of the period, that epilepsy 
was due to demoniacal influence. He explains that the lower animals 
are subject to the same disorder, and that in them it is often associated 
with water in the brain. There is really no doubt that the morbus sacer 
of the ancients and the cases of demoniacal possession of which we read 
were cases of epilepsy {Hippoc. de Morho Sacro). Concerning apoplexy 
he says that a slight attack is difficult to cure, and a severe one utterly 
incurable. The cause of the attack he considered was turgidity of the 


veins. AVe know it to be often associated with cerebral hocmorrhage or 
sanguineous apoplexy and sometimes with effusion of serum = serous 
apoplexy. Hippocrates therefore came very near the truth. He advised 
bleeding, which is still recommended but is not often practised in 
England ; and he very justly said that the malady occurs most fre- 
quently between tiie age of forty and sixty {Aphoris., ii. 42). In certain 
forms of ophthalmia he advises free purgation, bleeding, and the use of 
wine ; and this accords with the best modern practice, if for venesection, 
we substitute vesication. His treatment of nasal polypus by the liga- 
ture is not unlike our own ; and nothing could be better than his plan 
for dealing with quinsey and allied complaints, viz., hot fomentations, 
warm gargles and tinctures, with free purgation. He disapproves of a 
practice too often followed by surgeons to-day, of scarifying the tonsils 
when swollen and red. In cases of inflammation of the lungs he ad- 
vised bleeding, purging, and cooling drinks. Laennec, the great French 
physician, who invented the stethoscope, highly praises Hippocrates for 
his knowledge of phthisis, and the diagnostic value of his tests of the 
nature of the sputa in that disease. In cases of empyema, or the forma- 
tion and accumulation of pus in the chest, he directs us to make an 
incision into the pleural cavity — an operation which has been revived in 
modern times under the name of "paracentesis thoracis." 

He declares the loss of hair and the diarrhoea of phthisis to be fatal 
signs, and his description of hydrothorax, or dropsy of the chest, 
has been highly praised by the greatest authorities. He says that 
phthisis is most common between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six 
(see Hippoc. de Morbis, ii. 45 ; Coaca. Frcenot., et alibi). For pleurisy 
his treatment is practically the same as that followed at the present 
day. He advised the administration of flour and milk in diarrhoea — an 
exceedingly useful remedy — and treated the pains of colic by warm 
injections, warm baths, fomentations, soporifics and purgatives, as the 
case might require. He was wise enough to know that stone of the 
bladder was a product of a morbid condition of the urine, and said 
that when it had fairly formed nothing but an operation for its removal 
was of any value. He recognised the disease known as hydatids of the 
liver, and directed that abscesses of that organ should be opened by 
the cauter}^ His account of the causes and treatment of dropsy is 
fairly accurate according to our present knowledge. He approved of 
paracentesis abdominis (tapping) in cases of ascites, and describes the 
operation: He recognised the incurability of true cancer. Many of 
his treatises on the disorders of women prove that they were well under- 
stood in his day, and on the whole were properly treated. Difficult 
labour was managed not so differently from our modern methods as 


might be supposed. His account of hip-joint disease is remarkably 
accurate. Gout was well understood by our author, and probably his 
treatment by purgation and careful dieting was on the whole as success- 
ful as our own. 

Hippocrates speaks of leprosy as more a blemish than a disease ; 
it is probable, however, that the works in which he is supposed to 
allude to it are not genuine. He points out the danger of opening the 
round tumour on tendons, called a ganglion. In his book called Prog- 
nostics, he refers to the danger of an erysipelas being translated to 
an internal part. Cold apphcations, he says, are useful in this disease 
when there is no ulceration, but prejudicial when ulceration is present. 
Struma or scrofula is described by Hippocrates {De Glandulis) as being 
one of the worst diseases of the neck. In the treatise {^De Ulceribus) 
on ulcers, he particularly praises wine as a lotion for ulcers, and there is 
good reason to believe that we might advantageously revert to this treat- 
ment. Some of the drugs which he recommends for foul ulcers, such 
as frankincense and myrrh, are excellent, and owe their efficacy to their 
"newly discovered" antiseptic action. He recommends also arsenic 
and verdigris. The actual cautery or burning applied freely to the 
head is recommended in diseases of the eyes and other complaints. 
He describes water on the brain in the treatise De Morbis, ii. 15, and 
even recommends perforation of the skull or trephining quite in the 
modern way. Opening the temporal veins is advised for obstinate head- 
aches. Although no express treatise on bleeding is found amongst the 
works of Hippocrates, he practised venesection freely in various diseases. 
He forbids the surgeon to interfere with non-ulcerated cancers, adding 
that if the cancer be healed the patient soon dies, while if let alone he 
may live a long time {Afih., vi. 2>^). He warns us that the sudden 
evacuation of the matter of empyema or of the water in dropsy proves 
fatal. He speaks of evacuating the fluid with an instrument similar to 
that which we call a trochar. He approves of scarification of the 
ankles in dropsy of the lower extremities ; this is quite modern treat- 
ment. In cases of dislocation of the hip-joint from the formation of a 
collection of humours, he recommends burning so as to dry up the 
redundant humours. He minutely describes the cure of fistula with 
the ligature in his work De Fistulis, which, even if not a genuine 
treatise of Hippocrates, is extremely ancient, and was considered 
authentic by Galen. Haemorrhoids or piles are to be ligatured with 
very thick thread, or destroyed with red-hot irons. Varicose veins are 
to be treated by small punctures, not freely opened {De CJIceriduSy 16). 
Hippocrates considered the extraction of weapons to be one of the 
most important departments of surgery. In his treatise De Medico, 


he says that surgery can only be properly learned by attaching one's 
self to the army. Homer said, — 

** The man of medicine can in worth with many warriors vie, 
Who knows the weapons to excise, and soothing salves apply." 

Hippocrates treats of fractures in his books De Fractitris {De Articulis ; 
De Vulner. Capit. ; Officina Medici). He insists that no injuries to the 
head are to be considered as trifling ; even wounds of the scalp may 
prove dangerous if neglected. Fissures, contusions, and fractures of the 
cranium are minutely explained and appropriate treatment suggested. 
He describes the trephine under the name of rpviravoy^ i.e. the tre- 
])an. He says that convulsions are the frequent consequence of head 
injuries, and that they occur on the opposite side of the body to that in 
which the brain injury is seated. One of the most valuable legacies of 
the ancients is this profoundly learned treatise of the Father of Medicine, 
and it pioves to us how high a point the surgery of ancient Greece had 
reached. He noticed a certain movement of the brain during respira- 
tion, a swelling up in expiration and a falling down during inspiration ; 
and although several great authorities of the past denied the accuracy 
of this observation, it has since been shown to be perfectly correct. 
(See Paulus yEgineta, Dr. F. Adams' edit, vol. ii. p. 442.) In cases of 
fracture of the lower jaw, our author directs that the teeth separated at 
the broken part are to be fastened together and bound with gold wire. 
So accurately does he describe this fracture that Paulus ^^gineta tran- 
scribes it almost word for word from the De Articulus. His method of 
treating fracture of the clavicle is admirable ; in fracture of the ribs 
he observes that when the broken ends of the bone are not pushed 
inwards, it seldom happens that any unpleasant symptoms supervene. 
In fractures of the arm he minutely and precisely indicates the correct 
principles on which they are to be treated, and insists strongly on the 
necessity of having the arm and wrist carefully suspended in a broad 
soft sling, and that the hand be placed neither too high nor too low. 
Hippocrates could learn very little from our modern surgeons in the 
treatment of such injuries. In cases of broken thigh he has indicated all 
the dangers and difficulties attending the management of this accident; 
his splints and bandages are applied much as we apply them at the 
present time, and his suggestions for ensuring a well-united bone without 
deformity of the limb are invaluable. In fractures of the thigh and leg- 
bones he lays great stress on the attention necessary to the state of the 
heel. In those of the foot he warns against the danger of attempting to 
walk too soon. In compound fractures compresses of wine and oil are 
to be used, and splints are not to be applied till the wound puts on a 


healthy appearance. He is fully aware of the peculiarly dangerous 
character of such injuries, and his observations read like extracts from a 
modern text-book of surgery. " No author/' says Dr. Francis Adams, 
tlie learned translator of the works of Paulus yEgineta, " has given so 
complete a view of the accidents to which the elbow joint is subject 
as Hippocrates." 

Plato (b.c. 427-347) in its philosophical aspect studied medicine, I 
not with any idea of practising the art, but merely as a speculative con- ( 
templation. The human soul is an emanation from the absolute intelli- 
gence. The world is composedof the four elements. Fire consists of 
pyramidal, earth of cubical, air of octagonal, and water of twenty-sided 
atoms. Besides these is the aether. Everything in the body has in 
view the spirit. The heart is the seat of the mind, the lungs cool the 
heart, the liver serves the lower desires and is useful for divination. 
The spleen is the abode for the impurities of the blood. The intestines 
serve to detain the food, so that it might not be necessary to be con- 
stantly taking nourishment. The inward pressure of the air accounts 
for the breathing. The muscles and bones protect the marrow against 
heat and cold. The marrow consists of triangles, and the brain is the 
most perfect form of marrow. When the soul is separated from the 
marrow, death occurs. Sight is caused by the union of the light which 
flows into and out of the eyes, hearing in the shock of air communicated 
to the brain and the blood. Taste is due to a solution of sapid atoms 
by means of small vessels, which vessels conduct the dissolved atoms to 
the heart and soul. Smell is very transitory, not being founded on any 
external image. The uterus is a wild beast exciting inordinate desires. 
Disease is caused by a disturbance of the quantity and quality of the|/ 
fluids. Inflammations are due to aberrations of the bile. The various 
fevers are due to the influence of tlie elements. Mental diseases are 
the results of bodily maladies and bad education. Diseases fly away 
before appropriate drugs. Physicians must be the rulers of the sick in 
order to cure them, but they must not be money-makers.^ 

In the Republic of Plato, Book III., we find that medical aid was 
largely in request in Greece to relieve the indolent and voluptuous from 
the consequences of self-indulgence. It was thought by Socrates dis- 
graceful to compel the clever sons of Asclepius to attend to such diseases 
as flatulence and catarrh ; it seemed ridiculous to the philosopher to pay 
so much attention to regimen and diet as to drag on a miserable exist- 
ence as an invalid in the doctor's hands. When a carpenter was ill, he 
expected his doctor to cure him with an emetic or a purge, the 
cautery or an operation ; if he were ordered a long course of diet, he 
1 BaaS; Hist. Med., Eng. Trans., pp. in, 112. 


would tell his doctor that he had no time to be ill, and he would go about 
his business regardless of consequences, ^i^sculapius, it was maintained, 
revealed the healing art for the benefit of those whose constitutions 
were naturally sound ; he expelled their disorders by drugs and the use 
of the knife, without interfering with their usual avocations ; but when 
he found they were hopelessly incurable, he would not attempt to pro- 
long a miserable life by rules and diet, as such persons would be of no 
use either to themselves or the state. Constitutionally diseased persons 
and the intemperate livers were to be left to be dealt with by Nature, 
so that they might die of their diseases. 


nnr^r* /i -r^^ ^ 



The Dogmatic School. — Praxagoras of Cos. — Aristotle. — The School of Alexandria. 
— Theophrastus the Botanist. — The great Anatomists, Erasistratus and Hiero- 
philus, and the Schools they founded. — The Empiric School. 

The Dogmatic School. 

It was only natural that the philosophical Greeks should discuss medi- 
cine at as great a length as they discussed philosophy ; accordingly, we 
find that no sooner had our art taken its place amongst the subjects 
worthy of being seriously considered by the Greek intellect, than it was 
as much talked about as practised, and wrangled over as though it were 
a system of religion. Sects arose which opposed each other with the 
greatest vehemence ; and Hippocrates had not long formulated his 
teaching when his disciples elevated his principles into a dogmatism 
which challenged, and shortly provoked, opposition of various kinds. 
Then arose the schools of medicine which ultimately became famous, as 
those of the Dogmatists, Empirics, Methodists, Pneumatists, etc. 
The Dogmatists boasted of being the Rational and Logical school. 
They held that there is a certain connection between all the arts and 
sciences, and that it is the duty of the physician to avail himself of all 
sorts of knowledge on every subject which bears any relationship to his 
own. They made, therefore, the most careful inquiry into the remote, 
and proximate causes of disease. They examined the influence on the 
human body of airs, waters, places, occupations, diet, seasons, etc. 
They formulated general rules, not of universal application, but modified 
their treatment according to circumstances, availing themselves of what- 
ever aid they could obtain from any source. Hippocrates had said, 
" The physician who is also a philosopher is equal to the gods," and 
the Dogmatists elevated this into an article of their creed. Hippocrates, 
Galen, Qribasius, y^^tius, Paulus ./Egineta, and the Arab physicians 
were dogmatists. The founders of the school were the sons of Hippo- 
crates — Tiiessalus and Draco. The former was the eldest son of the 

great physician, and was the more famous of the two. He passed a 


1 88 A ^FaPVL/iK 'UTj-rcTiv. ap: ^i.rdicine. 

great part of his life as physician in the court of Archelaus, king of 
Macedonia.! His brother, Draco, was physician to Queen Roxana, 
wife of Alexander the Oreat. 

We may say, therefore, that the oldest, most famous, and worthy of 
the ancient medical sects arose about 400 B.C., and retained its power 
over the medical profession till the rise of the Empirical sect in the 
Alexandrian school of philosophy. We are indebted to Celsus for a 
lucid and admirable exposition of the doctrines professed by these two 
medical parties.^ 

The Dogmatists maintained that it was not enough for the physician 
to know the mere symptoms of his patient's malady. It does not suffice 
to know the evident causes of the disorder, but he must acquaint himself 
with the hidden causes. To acquire this knowledge of the hidden causes, 
he must study the hidden parts^ and the natural actions and functions of 
the body in health. He must know the principles on which the human 
machinery is constructed before he can scientifically treat the accidents 
and disturbances to which it is liable. It was not, therefore, a mere 
subject of philosophical interest to hold with some physicians that 
diseases proceed from excess or deficiency of one or other of the four 
elements, or with others, that the various humours or the respiration 
were at fault. It was not of merely academic interest to suppose that 
the abnormal flow of the blood caused inflammations, or that corpuscles 
blocked up the invisible passages. The doctor must do more than 
speculate on these things in his discussions. He must have a theory 
upon them which he could apply to the treatment of his patients, and 
the best physician would be the one who best knew how the disease 
originated. Experiments without reasoning were valueless ; their chief 
use was to inform the experimenter whether he had reasoned justly or 
conjectured fortunately. Wlien the physician is confronted by a new 
form of disease for which no remedy has been discovered, he must 
know its cause and origin, or his practice will be mere guess-work. 
Anybody can discover the evident causes — heat, cold, over-eating. 
These things the least instructed physician will probably know. It is 
the knowledge of hidden causes which makes the superior man. He 
who aspires to be instructed must know what we now call physiology — 
why we breathe, why we eat, what happens to tlie food which we 
swallow, why the arteries pulsate, why we sleep, etc. The man who 
cannot explain these phenomena is not a competent doctor. He must 
have frequently inspected dead bodies, and examined carefully their 
internal parts ; but they maintained that it was much the better way to 

^ Le Clerc, Hist, de la Med., Pt. I., bk. iv. 
2 Celsus, De Medic. ^ Proefat, in lib. i. 


open living persons, as Herophiliis and Erasistratus did, so that they 
could acquaint themselves in life with the structures whose disturbance 
or disease causes the sufferings which they were called upon to alleviate. 
What is known as the " Humoral Pathology " formed the most essential 
part of the system of the Dogmatists. 

Humoral pathology explains all diseases as caused by the mixture of 
the four cardinal humours ; viz., the blood, bile, mucus or phlegm, and 
water. Hippocrates leaned towards it, but it was Plato who developed 
it. The stomach is the common source of all these humours. When 
diseases develop, they attract these humours. The source of the bile 
is the liver ; of the mucus, the head ; of the water, the spleen. Bile 
causes all acute diseases, mucus in the head causes catarrhs and 
rheumatism, dropsy depends on the spleen. 

DiocLES Carystius, a famous Greek physician, said by Pliny ^ to 
have been next in age and fame to Hippocrates himself, lived in the 
fourth century b.c. He wrote several treatises on medicine, of which the 
titles and some fragments are preserved by Galen, Ccelius Aurelianus, 
Oribasius, and others. His letter to King Antigonus, entitled " An 
Epistle on Preserving Health," is inserted at the end of the first book of 
Paulus y^^gineta, and was probably addressed to Antigonus Gonatus, 
king of Macedonia, who died b.c. 239. This treatise is so valuable a 
summary of the medical teaching of the time that it will be useful to 
insert it in this place. " Since of all kings you are the most skilled in 
the arts, and have lived very long, and are skilled in all philosophy, and 
have attained the highest rank in mathematics, I, supposing that the 
science which treats of all things that relate to health is a branch of 
philosophy becoming a king and befitting to you, have written you this 
account of the origin of diseases, of the symptoms which precede them, 
and of the modes by which they may be alleviated. For neither does a 
storm gather in the heavens but it is preceded by certain signs which 
seamen and men of much skill attend to, nor does any disease attack 
the human frame without having some precursory symptom. If, then, 
you will only be persuaded by what we say regarding them, you may 
attain a correct acquaintance with these things. We divide the human 
body into four parts : the head, tlie chest, the belly, and the bladder. 
When a disease is about to fix in the head, it is usually announced 
beforehand by vertigo, pain in the head, heaviness in the eyebrows, 
noise in the ears, and throbbing of the temples ; the eyes water in the 
morning, attended with dimness of sight ; the sense of smell is lost, and 
the gums become swelled. When any such symptoms occur, the head 
ought to be purged, not indeed with any strong medicine, but, taking 

1 Hist. Nat., xxvi. 6. 


the tops of hyssop and sweet marjoram, pound them and boil them in a 
pot, with half a hemina of must or rob ; rinse the mouth with this in the 
morning before eating, and evacuate the humours by gargHng. There 
is no gentler remedy than this for affections of the head. Mustard in 
warm, honied water also answers the purpose very well. Take a 
mouthful of this in the morning before eating, gargle and evacuate the 
humours. The head also should be warmed by covering it in such a 
manner as that the phlegm may be readily discharged. Those who 
neglect these symptoms are apt to be seized with the following dis- 
orders : inflammations of the eyes, cataracts, pain of the ears as if from 
a fracture, strumous affections of the neck, sphacelus of the brain, 
catarrh, quinsy, running ulcers called achores, caries, enlargement of the 
uvula, defluxion of the hairs, ulceration of the head, pain in the teeth. 
When some disease is about to fall upon the chest, it is usually 
announced by some of the following syftiptoms : There are profuse 
sweats over the whole body, and particularly about the chest, the tongue 
is rough, expectoration saltish, bitter, or bilious, pains suddenly seizing 
the sides or shoulder-blades, frequent yawning, watchfulness, oppressed 
respiration, thirst after sleep, despondency of mind, coldness of the 
breast and arms, trembling of the hands. These symptoms may be 
relieved in the following manner : Procure vomiting after a moderate 
meal without medicine. Vomiting also when the stomach is empty 
will answer well ; to produce which first swallow some small radishes, 
cresses, rocket, mustard and purslain, and then by drinking warm water 
procure vomiting. Upon those who neglect these symptoms the 
following diseases are apt to supervene : pleurisy, peripneumony, 
melancholy, acute fevers, frenzy, lethargy, ardent fever attended with 
hiccough. When any disease is about to attack the bowels, some of the 
following symptoms announce its approach : In the first place, the belly 
is griped and disordered, the food and drink seem bitter, heaviness of 
the knees, inability to bend the loins, pains over the whole body 
unexpectedly occurring, numbness of the legs, slight fever. When any 
of these occur, it will be proper to loosen the belly by a suitable diet 
without medicine. There are many articles of this description which 
one may use with safety, such as beets boiled in honeyed water, boiled 
garlic, mallows, dock, the herb mercury, honied cakes ; for all these 
things are laxative of the bowels. Or, if any of these symptoms 
increase, mix bastard saffron with all these decoctions, for thereby they 
will be rendered sweeter and less dangerous. The smooth cabbage 
boiled in a large quantity of water is also beneficial. This decoction, 
with honey and salt, may be drunk to the amount of about four 
hemince, or the water of chick-peas and tares boiled may be drunk in 


the same manner. Those who neglect the afore-mentioned symptoms 
are apt to be seized with the following affections : diarrhoea, dysentery, 
lientery, ileus, ischiatic disease, tertian fever, gout, apoplexy, haemor- 
rhoids, rheumatism. When any disease is about to seize the bladder, 
the following symptoms are its usual precursors : A sense of repletion 
after taking even a small quantity of food, flatulence, eructation, pale- 
ness of the whole body, deep sleep, urine pale and passed with difficulty, 
swellings about the privy parts. When any of these symptoms appear, 
their safest cure will be by aromatic diuretics. Thus, the roots of 
fennel and parsley may be infused in white fragrant wine, and drunk 
every day when the stomach is empty in the morning, to the amount of 
two cyathi, with water in which carrot, myrtle, or elecampane has been 
macerated (you may use any of these you please, for all are useful) ; and 
the infusion of chick-peas in water in like manner. On those who 
neglect these symptoms the following diseases are apt to supervene : 
dropsy, enlargement of the spleen, pain of the liver, calculus, inflam- 
mation of the kidney, strangury, distension of the belly. Regarding all 
these symptoms, it may be remarked that children ought to be treated 
with gentler remedies, and adults with more active. I have now to give 
you an account of the seasons of the year in which each of these com- 
plaints occur, and what things ought to be taken and avoided. I begin 
with the winter solstice. Of the winter solstice: This season disposes 
men to catarrhs and defluxions until the vernal equinox. It will be 
proper then to take such things as are of a heating nature, drink wine 
litde diluted, or drink pure wine, or of the decoction of marjoram. 
From the winter solstice to the vernal equinox are ninety days. Of 
the vernal equinox : This season increases phlegm in men, and the 
sweetish humours in the blood, until the rising of the pleiades. Use 
therefore juicy and acrid things, take labour, ... To the rising of 
the pleiades are forty-six days. Of the rising of the pleiades: This 
season increases the bitter bile and bitter humours in men, until the 
summer solstice. Use therefore all sweet things, laxatives of the belly. 
. . . To the summer solstice are forty-five days. Of the summer 
solstice: This season increases the formation of black bile in men, until 
the autumnal equinox. Use therefore cold water, and everything that 
is fragrant. ... To the autumnal equinox are ninety-three days. 
Of the autumnal equinox: This season increases phlegm and thin 
rheums in men until the setting of the pleiades. Use therefore remedies 
for removing rheums, have recourse to acrid and succulent things, take 
no vomits, and abstain from labour. ... To the setting of the 
pleiades are forty-five days. Of the setting of the pleiades : This season 
increases phlegm in men until the winter solstice. Take therefore all 


sour things, drink as much as is agreeable of a weak wine, use fat 
things, and labour strenuously. To the winter solstice are forty-five 
days." 1 

Praxagoras of Cos, who lived in the fourth century b.c, shortly after 
Diodes, was a famous physician of the Dogmatic sect, who especially 
excelled in anatomy and physiology. He placed the seat of all diseases 
in the humours of the body, and was one of the chief supporters of 
what is known as the " humoral pathology." Sprengel ^ and others 
state that he was the first who pointed out the distinction between 
the arteries and the veins ; but M. Littre denies this, and seems to prove 
that the differences were known to Aristotle, Hippocrates, and other 
writers.^ His knowledge of anatomy must have been very considerable, 
and his surgery was certainly bold ; so that he even ventured, in cases of 
intussusception of the bowel, to open the abdomen in order to replace 
the intestine. In hernia he practised the taxis,* i.e. replaced the bowel 
by the hand ; and he amputated the uvula in affections of that organ. 
He had many pupils, amongst others Herophilus, Philotimus, and Plis- 

Aristotle, the founder of comparative anatomy and the father of 
the science of natural history, was the son of Nichomachus, physician 
to Amyntas H., king of Macedonia. He was born at Stageira, B.C. 
334. His father was a scientific man of the race of the Asclepiads, 
and it was the taste for such pursuits and the inherited bent of mind 
which early inclined the son to the investigation of nature. He went 
to Athens, where he became the disciple of Plato, and remained in his 
society for twenty years. In his forty-second year he was summoned 
by Philip of Macedon to undertake the tuition of Alexander the Great, 
who was then fifteen years old. Of his philosophical works it is not 
here necessary to speak ; it is his scientific labours, which had so impor- 
tant an influence on medical education, which chiefly concern us. He 
wrote Researches about Animals^ On Sleep a?id Wakings On Longevity 
and ShortUvedness^ On Respiration^ On Parts of Ajii/nals^ On Locotno- 
tion of Animals^ On Generation of Animals. Aristotle inspired Alex- 
ander with a passion for the study of natural history, and his royal 
pupil gave him abundant means and opportunity to collect materials 
for a history of animals. The science of comparative anatomy, so 
important in relation to that of medicine, was thus established. He 

1 On the question of the authenticity of this epistle see Dr. Adams' commentary 
in his Paulus JEglneta, vol. i. p. 186. 

2 Hist, de la Med. , vol. i. pp. 422-3. 

* (Euvres d''Hippocr. , vol. i. p. 202, etc. 

* Gael. Aurel., Dc Morb. Aa/f., iii. 17. 


pointed out the differences which exist between the structure of men 
and monkeys ; described the organs of the elephant, and the stomach 
of the ruminant animals. The anatomy of birds and the development of 
their eggs during incubation were accurately described by him; he dis- 
sected reptiles, and studied the habits of fishes. He investigated the 
action of the muscles, regarded the heart as the origin of the blood- 
vessels, named the aorta and the ventricles, described the nerves which 
he thought originated in the heart, but he confused the nerves with the 
ligaments and tendons. The heart he considered as the centre of 
movement and feeling ^ and nourishment, holding that it contains the 
natural fire, and is the birthplace of the passions and the seat of the 
soul; the brain he thought was merely a mass of water and earth, and 
did not recognise it as nervous matter. The diaphragm he considered 
had no other office than to separate the abdomen from the thorax and 
protect the seat of the soul (the heart) from the impure influences of 
the digestive organs. Superfoetation (or the conception of a second 
embryo during the gestation of the first) he held to be possible, and he 
first pointed out the pimctum saliens. 

Theophrastus, whose real name was Tyrtamus, was born at Eresa 
in the island of Lesbos, 371 B.C., fourteen years after Aristotle. He 
was the originator of the science of plants ; he first learned the details 
of their structure, the uses of their organs, the laws of their reproduc- 
tion, — in a word, the physiology of the vegetable world. When Aristotle 
retired to Chalcis, he chose Theophrastus, to whom he gave that name, 
signifying " a man of divine speech," as his successor at the Lyceum. 
This distinguished philosopher devoted himself alike to the exact and 
speculative sciences. The greater part of his works have perished ; 
what is preserved to us consists of treatises on the history of the 
vegetable kingdom, of stones, and some fragments of works on physics, 
medicine, and some moral works. His History of Plants enumerates 
about five hundred different kinds, many of which are now difficult to 
identify. He made some attempts at a vague kind of classification, and 
has chapters on aquatic, kitchen, parasite, succulent, oleaginous, and 
•cereal plants. He carefully explains the principles of the reproduction 
of vegetables, and the fecundation of the female flowers by the pollen 
of the male. He recognises hermaphrodite and unisexual flowers, and 
points out how the fecundation of the latter is effected by the wind, 
insects, and by the water in the case of aquatic plants. He knew that 
double flowers were sterile. He devotes a chapter to the diseases of 
the vegetable kingdom ; he almost recognised the characteristics which 
distinguish the monocotyledonous from the dicotyledonous plants. In a 
1 Le Clerc, Hist, de la Med. Meryon, Hist. Med., p. 35. 



word, he laid the foundations on which our modern botanists have 
erected their science.^ 

The School of Alexandria. 

"In the year 331 B.C.," says Kingsley,- "one of the greatest in- 
tellects whose influence the world has ever felt, saw, with his eagle 
glance, the unrivalled advantages of the spot which is now Alexandria ; 
and conceived the mighty project of making it the point of union of 
two, or rather of three worlds. In a new city, named after himseU, 
Europe, Asia, and Africa were to meet and to hold communion." 
When Greece lost her intellectual supremacy with her national inde- 
pendence, the centre of literature, philosophy, and science was shifted 
to this unique position. With all the treasures of Egyptian wisdom 
around her, with all the stores of Eastern thought on the one hand and 
those of Europe on the other, Alexandria became in her schools the 
rallying-point of the world's thought and activity. If we turn to an 
atlas of ancient geography, we shall be struck with the unrivalled facili- 
ties possessed by this city for gathering to itself the treasures, intel- 
lectual and material, of the conquered world of Alexander the Great. 
From the Danube, Greece, Plioenicia, Palestine, Persia, Asia Minor, 
India, Italy, and the Celtic tribes, there came embassies to Egypt to 
seek the protection and alliance of Alexander of Macedon, and each 
must have contributed something to the greatness of the city which he 
had founded. Just as every traveller in after years who passed through 
the place was compelled to leave a copy of any work which he had 
brought with him, to the Alexandrian library, so from the first founda- 
^iion of the town was every visitor a donor of some idea to its stores of 

At the dismemberment of Alexander's vast empire, after his death, 
the Egyptian portion fell to the share of Ptolemy Soter. It was this 
sovereign who founded the famous Alexandrian Library ; a great patron 
of the arts and sciences, he placed this institution under the direction 
of Aristotle. He also established the Schools of Alexandria, and 
encouraged the dissection of the human body. 

Chrysippus, the Cnidian, who lived in the fourth century b.c, was 
the father of the Chrysippus who was physician to Ptolemy Soter, and 
he was tutor to Erasistratus. Pliny says that he reversed the practice 
of preceding physicians in the most extraordinary manner. He would 
not permit bleeding, because the blood contains the soul ; did not prac- 

^ Etudes Biographiqnes par Paul-Antoine, Cap. p. 26. The Treatise on Stones by 
Theophrastus is one of the first works we possess on the study of minerals. 
"^ Alexandria and her Schools ^ p. 6. 


tise purging, though he sometimes permitted the use of enemata and 
emetics. He wrote on herbs arid their uses, and drove the blood out of 
hmbs previous to their amputation on the principles recently re-intro- 
duced by Esmarch. He introduced the use of vapour baths in the 
treatment of dropsy. As there were several physicians of the name of 
Chrysippus, and as their works are lost, it is very difficult to distinguish, 
their maxims. Amongst the disciples of the Cnidian physician of this 
name were Medius, Aristogenes, Metrodorus, and Erasistratus, 
as we have said. 

Herophilus, of Chalcedon in Bithynia, a pupil of Chrysippus 
of Cnidos and Praxagoras of Cos, was one of the most famous 
physicians of the ancient world. He was a great anatomist and physio- 
logist, and a contemporary of the philosopher Diodorus Cronos, and 
of Ptolemy Soter in the fourth and third centuries B.C. He settled at 
Alexandria, which under Ptolemy I. became the most famous centre of 
the science of the ancient Greeks. Here Herophilus founded with 
other physicians of the city the great medical school which ultimately 
became distinguished above all others, so that a sufficient guarantee of 
a physician's ability was the fact that he had received his education at 
Alexandria. The foundation of the Alexandrian School formed a great 
epoch in the history of medicine. The dissection of the human body 
was of the utmost importance to the healing art. While the practice was 
forbidden, it could only have been performed furtively and in a hasty 
and unsatisfactory manner. The science of anatomy, on which that of 
medicine to be anything but quackery must be founded, now took its 
proper place in the education of the doctor. The bodies of all male- 
factors were given over for the purposes of dissection.^ Herophilus is, 
accused of having also dissected alive as many as six hundred criminals. 
This fact has been denied by some of his biographers, and others 
have attempted to explain it away; but it is charged against him by 
Tertullian,2 and Celsus mentions it^ as though it were a well-known 
fact, and without the least suspicion that it was an unjust accusation. 

Asked who is the best doctor, he is said to have replied, " He who 
knows how to distinguish the possible from the impossible." 

In the course of his anatomical researches he made many discoveries 
and gave to parts of the human body names which remain in common 
use to this day. Dr. Baas thus sums up his anatomical and physio- 
logical knowledge. He knew the nerves, that they had a capacity for 
sensation, and were subject to the will, were derived from the brain, in 
which he discovered the calamus scriptorius, the tela choroidea, the 

^ Galen, De Uteri Dissect. y c. 5, vol. ii. p. 895. 

2 De Anima, c. 10, p. 757. '^ De Medic. ^ i. Praef., p. 6. 


venous sinuses, and torcular Herophili. He believed the fourth ven- 
tricle to be the seat of the soul. He discovered the chyliferous and 
lactiferous vessels. He described accurately the liver and Fallopian 
tubes, the epididymis and the duodenum, to which he gave its name, and 
also the os hyoides, the uvea, the vitreous humour, the retina, and the 
ciliary processes. He called the pulmonary artery the vena arteriosa, 
and the pulmonary vein the arteria venosa. He distinguished in respi- 
ration a systole, a diastole, and a period of rest. He founded the doc- 
trine of the pulse, its rhythm, the bounding pulse and its varieties 
according to age. The pulse is communicated by the heart to the 
walls of the arteries. He distinguished between arteries and veins, and 
admitted that the arteries contain blood. He taught that diseases are 
caused by a corruption of the humours. Paralysis is due to a lack of 
nerve influence. He laid great stress upon diet, bled frequently, and 
practised ligation of the limbs to arrest bleeding. He was the first to 
administer cooking salt as a medicine. A good botanist, he preferred 
vegetable remedies, which he termed the " Hands of the gods." He 
possessed considerable acquaintance with obstetric operations,^ and 
wrote a text-book of midwifery.^ 

Erasistratus, of lulis in the island of Cos, a pupil of Chrysippus 
was one of the most famous physicians and anatomists of the Alexan- 
drian school. Plutarch says that when he was physician to King Seleu- 
cus, he discovered that the young prince Antiochus had fallen in love 
with his step-mother Stratonice by finding no physical cause for the 
illness from which he was suffering, and that his heart palpitated, he 
trembled, blushed, and perspired when the lady entered the room. By 
»adroit management he induced the king to confer on the prince the 
object of the young man's passion. Similia siinilibus ciirantiir. So 
successful was the treatment that the physician received a fee of loo 
talents, which supposing the Attic standard to be meant would amount 
to ;^24,375, perhaps the largest medical fee on record.^ He lived for 
some time in Alexandria, and gave up medical practice in his old age, 
that he might devote his whole time to the study of anatomy. 

Dr. Baas, in his account of the Anatomy, Physiology, and Medicine 
of Erasistratus, says that he divided the nerves into those of sensation 
and those of motion. The brain substance is the origin of the motor 
and the brain membranes that of the sensory nerves."* Like Herophilus, 

1 Baas, Hist, of Med., pp. 1 21-123. 

2 Puschmann, Hist. Med. Ediic., p. 76. 
2 Plutarch's Life of Demetrius. 

^ He modified his opinions on the nerves by careful dissections, and greatly improved 
his physiology. 


he confounded the nerves and ligaments. He described accurately the 
structure, convolutions, and ventricles of the brain. He thought that 
the convolutions, especially those of the cerebellum, are the seat of 
thought, and located mental diseases in the brain. He knew the lymph 
and chyle vessels, and the chordae tendineae of the heart. He assumed 
the anastomoses of the arteries and veins. The pneuma in the heart is 
vital spirits, in the brain is animal spirits. Digestion is due to the fric- 
tion of the walls of the stomach. He thought that the bile is useless, 
as is the spleen and other viscera. He shows some acquaintance with 
pathological anatomy, as he describes induration of the liver in dropsy. 
His idea of the cause of disease is plethora and aberration of the 
humours. Inflammation is due to the detention of the blood in the 
small vessels by the pneuma driven from the heart into the arteries ; 
fever occurs when the pneuma is crowded back to the heart by the 
venous blood, and blood gets into the large arteries. Dropsy always 
proceeds from the liver. He discarded bleeding and purgation ; recom- 
mended baths, enemeta, emetics, friction, and cupping. He was, thinks 
Dr. Baas, a forerunner of Hahnemann in the doctrine of small doses, as 
he prescribed three drops of wine in bilious diarrhoea. He opened the 
abdomen to apply remedies directly to the affected part, and invented 
a kind of catheter. ^ 

Erasistratus was the first to describe a species of hunger, to which he 
gave the name Boulimia — a desire for food which cannot be satisfied. 
In his account of the complaint he mentions the Scythians, who, when 
obliged to fast, tie bandages round their abdomens tightly, and this 
stays their hunger.^ 

The ancient apologists for the human vivisections of Herophikis and 
Erasistratus used to say that these anatomists were thus '' enabled to 
behold, during life, those parts which nature had concealed, and to con- 
template their situation, colour, figure, size, order, hardness or softness, 
roughness or smoothness, etc. They added that it is not possible, when 
a person has any internal illness, to know what is the cause of it, unless 
one is exactly acquainted with the situation of all the viscera; nor can 
one heal any part without understanding its nature : that when the in- 
testines protrude through a wound, a person who does not know what is 
their colour when in a healthy state cannot distinguish the sound from 
the diseased parts, nor therefore apply proper remedies ; while, on the 
contrary, he who is acquainted with the natural state of the diseased 
parts will undertake the cure with confidence and certainty ; and that, 
in short, it is not to be called an act of cruelty, as some persons suppose 

^ Baas, Hist, of Med. ^ pp. 1 21-123. 

2 Le Clerc, Hist, de la Med., Pt. II. c. iii. 


it, to seek for the remedies of an immense number of innoceiit persons 
in the sufferings of a few criminals^ ^ 

Ammonius of Alexandria, surnamed Lithotomus, pro])ably Hved 
in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (b.c. 283-247). He is celebrated 
as having been the first surgeon who thought of crushing a stone within 
the bladder when too large for extraction entire ; for this reason he was 
called XiOoTofxos. Celsus describes his method.^ 

Of the Herophilists we may mention Demetrius of Apam^a (b.c. 
276), who named and described diabetes, and was distinguished as an 

Mantias, who, B.C. 250, first collected the preparations of medicines 
into a special book. 

Demosthenes Philalethes, who, under Nero, was the most cele- 
brated oculist of his time, wrote a work on diseases of the eye, which 
was the standard authority until about a.d. iooo. The work has 
perished, but^tius and Paulus yEgineta have preserved some fragments 
of it. He wrote also on the pulse. 

Hegeton was a surgeon of Alexandria who was mentioned by Galen 
as having lived there as a contemporary of several physicians who were 
known to have resided in that city at the end of the second or the be- 
ginning of the first century b.c. He was a follower of Herophilus, and 
wrote a book on the causes of diseases entitled Ilept Amtoj/, which has 

Of the school of Erasistratus we may mention Xenophon of Cos, 
who wrote a work on the names of the parts of the human body, and on 
botany and the diseases of women. Nicias of Miletus, a friend of 
the poet Theocritus; Philoxenos, who, according to Celsus, wrote 
several valuable books on surgery ; and Martialis the Anatomist, who 
visited Rome about a.d. 165. He knew Galen, and wrote works on 
anatomy which were in great repute long after his death. 

The followers of Herophilus and Erasistratus, though they founded 
schools, did not greatly influence the art of medicine, nor did they con- 
tribute much to its advancement beyond the point in which it was left 
by their great masters. They fell into fruitless speculations instead of 
pursuing their science by accumulating facts; in the words of Pliny, it 
was easier " to sit and listen quietly in the schools, than to be up and 

^ Dr. W. A. Greenhill, art. " Dogmatici," Smith's Dia. Class. Ant. Briefly, this 
was as much as to say that a man could not be an educated doctor who had not prac- 
tised, or at least seen, human vivisection. As these have not been performed since the 
fifteenth century, when, as we shall learn, they were practised by Italian anatomists, 
it follows, according to the argument, that the Alexandrian physicians were better 
educated than our own ! 

^ De Med., vii. 26. See also Smith's Did. Ant., p. 220. 


wandering over deserts, and to seek out new plants every day." ^ 
So Dogmatism fell into disrepute and made way for the advent of 

School of the Empirics. 

The School of the Empirics was the outcome of the system of Scepti- 
cism, introduced by Pyrrho and extended by Carneades, who taught 
that there is no certainty about anything, no true knowledge of pheno- 
mena, and that probability alone can be our guide, ^nesidemus 
carried this scepticism into the medicine of the Empirics, but the school 
was originally established under the title of the Teretics or Mnemo- 
neutics. The Empirics rested their system on what was called the 
" Empiric tripod," — that is, accident, history, and analogy. Remedies 
have come to us by chance, by the remembrance of previous cures, 
and by applying them to similar cases. 

The sect of the Empiricists was founded by Serapion of Alex- 
andria and Philinus of Cos in the third century B.C. They were in 
opposition to the Dogmatists, professing to derive their knowledge only 
from experience ; they held that the whole art of medicine consisted in 
observation, experiment, and the application of known remedies which 
have constantly proved valuable in the treatment of one class of 
diseases to other and presumably similar classes. Celsus,- in his 
account of the principles of this sect, says that " they admit that the 
evident causes are necessary, but deprecate inquiry into them because 
nature is incomprehensible. This is proved because the philosophers 
and physicians who have spent so much labour in trying to search out 
these occult causes cannot agree amongst themselves. If reasoning 
could make physicians, the philosophers should be the most successful' 
practitioners, as they have such abundance of words. If the causes of 
diseases were the same in all places, the same remedies ought to be 
used everywhere. Relief from sickness is to be sought from things 
certain and tried, that is from experience, which guides us in all other 
arts. Husbandmen and pilots do not reason about their business, but 
they practise it. Disquisitions can have no connection with medicine, 
because physicians whose opinions have been directly opposed to one 
another have equally restored their patients to health ; they did not 
derive their methods of cure from studying the occult causes about 
which they disputed, but from the experience they had of the remedies 
which they employed upon their patients. Medicine was not first 
discovered in consequence of reasoning, but the theory was sought 
for after the discovery of medicine. Does reason, they ask, prescribe 
^ riin., nist. Nat., xxvi. 6. 2 £,^ j/^^,^ Priefat. 


the same as experience, or something different ? If the same, it must 
be needless ; if different, it must be mischievous. 

" But what remains is also cruel, to cut open the abdomen and 
praecordia of living men, and make that art, which presides over the 
health of mankind, the instrument, not only of inflicting death, but of 
doing it in the most horrid manner; especially if it be considered 
that some of those things which are sought after with so much bar- 
barity cannot be known at all, and others may be known without any 
cruelty : for that the colour, smoothness, softness, hardness, and sucl) 
like, are not the same in a wounded body as they were in a sound one ; 
and further, because these qualities, even in bodies that have suffered 
no external violence, are often changed by fear, grief, hunger, indiges- 
tion, fatigue, and a thousand other inconsiderable disorders, which 
makes it much more probable that the internal parts, which are far 
more tender, and never exposed to the light itself, are changed by the 
severest wounds and mangling. And that nothing can be more 
ridiculous than to imagine anything to be the same in a dying man, nay, 
one already dead, as it is in a living person ; for that the abdomen may 
indeed be opened while a man breathes, but as soon as the knife has 
reached the praecordia, and the transverse septum is cut, which by a kind 
of membrane divides the upper from the lower parts (and by the Greeks 
is called the diaphragm), the man immediately expires ; and then the 
praecordia, and all the viscera, never come to the view of the butcher- 
ing physician till the man is dead ; and they must necessarily appear 
as such of a dead person, and not as they were while he lived ; and 
thus the physician gains only the opportunity of murdering a man 
/:ruelly, and not of observing what are the appearances of the viscera 
in a living person. If, however, there can be anything which can be 
observed in a person which yet breathes, chance often throws it in the 
way of such as practise the healing art ; for that sometimes a gladiator 
on the stage, a soldier in the field, or a traveller beset by robbers, is so 
wounded that some internal part, different in different people, may be 
exposed to view ; and thus a prudent physician finds their situation, 
position, order, figure, and the other particulars he wants to know, not 
by perpetrating murder, but by attempting to give health ; and learns by 
compassion that which others had discovered by horrid cruel ry. That 
for these reasons it is not necessary to lacerate even dead bodies ; 
which, though not cruel, yet may be shocking to the sight; since most 
things are different in dead bodies ; and even the dressing of wounds 
shows all that can be discovered in the living" (Futvoye's Translation).* 

Philinus of Cos, the reputed founder of the school, was a pupil of 

^ Celsus, Of Medicine. 


Herophilus, and lived in the third century B.C. He declared that all 
the anatomy his vivisecting master had taught him had not helped him 
in the least in the cure of his patients. He has been compared with 

Serapion of Alexandria was also of the third century b.c. He 
must not be confounded with the Arabian physician of this name. 
He wrote against Hippocrates. He discarded all hypotheses. He 
was the first to prescribe sulphur in chronic skin diseases ; and he used 
some singular and disgusting remedies in his treatment. One of these 
was crocodiles' dung, which in consequence became scarce and costly. 
Glaucias, who invented the " Empiric Tripod," Zeuxis and Hera- 
CLIDES of Tarentum, lived about this period. The latter wrote com- 
mentaries on Hippocrates, and used opium to procure sleep. He 
mentions strangulated hernia in one of his treatises. 

Many commentaries were written about this time on Hippocrates ; 
and the art of pharmacy, especially the preparation of poisons, was 
much studied in the second century b.c. Botanic gardens were estab- 
lished, and men began to experiment with antidotes for poisons. 
"Mithridaticum," so called after Mithridates the Great of Pontus, 
was a famous antidote which was used even to recent times. Nican- 
DER OF Colophon wrote poems on poisons, and antidotes, leeches, 
and emetics for the first time appeared in poetry, and the symptoms of 
opium and lead-poisoning were not beneath the attention of the muse. 
Attalus HI., king of Pergamos, was in constant fear of being poisoned, 
says Plutarch,^ amused himself with planting poisonous herbs, not only 
henbane and hellebore, but hemlock, aconite, and dorycnium. He 
cultivated these in the royal gardens, gathered them at the proper 
seasons, and studied their properties and the qualities of their juices 
and fruits. 

Cleopatra is said by Baas^ to have written a work on the diseases of 
parturient and lying-in women, etc. She paid special attention, it 
would seem, to maladies of a specific character. 

Le Clerc gives a list of the women who have exercised the profession 
of medicine in ancient times.^ 

Cleopatra treated the diseases of women. Artemisia, Queen of 
Caria, Isis, Cybele, Latona, Diana, Pallas, Angita, Medea, 
Circe, Polydamna, Agameda, Helen, CEnone. Hippo, Ocryoe, 
Epione, Eriopis, Hygeia, ^gle, Panacea, Jaso, Rome, and Aceso 
are the ladies of classic story who had more or less acquaintance with 
medicine for good or evil purposes. That women, subject to many 

1 Life of Demetrius. 2 jji^t, Med., p. 129. 

3 Hist, cie la Med. ; Pt. II., bk. iii., ch. xiii. 


disorders for which in any state of society their natural modesty would 
make it difficult for them to consult men, should become proficient in 
the treatment of complaints which are peculiar to their sex, is the most 
natural thing in the world, and it is probable that very much of our 
knowledge of the treatment of these cases may be due to feminine 
wisdom. An ancient law of the Athenians forbade women and slaves 
to exercise the art of medicine, so that even midwifery, which they 
considered a branch of it, could only be practised by men. Some 
Athenian ladies preferred to die rather than be attended by men in 
their confinements. Women acted as accoucheuses in Egypt, Greece, 
and Rome, and some of them in classic times wrote books on medicine, 
.^tius gives some fragments in his works from a doctress named 


Although the Greek physicians did not know anything of the circula- 
tion of the blood as we understand it, they were not wholly ignorant 
of the phenomena of the vascular system. 

The arteries were so called by the ancients because they thought they 
contained air, as they were always found empty after death. Hippo- 
crates and his contemporaries called the trachea an artery. Some of 
the ancient anatomists, however, knew that they contain blood, and 
they knew that when an artery is divided it is more dangerous and 
entails a longer recovery than the division of a vein. They knew also 
of the pulsation in the arteries which does not exist in the veins, and 
they were fully avvare of the importance of tliis fact in its relation 
to diagnosis and treatment. 

^'The ancients chiefly regarded the odd days, and called them 
critical (Kpto-t/Aot), as if on these a judgment was to be formed con- 
cerning the patient. These days were the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, 
eleventh, fourteenth, and twenty-first ; so that the greatest influence 
was attributed to the seventh, next to the fourteenth, and then to the 
twenty-first. And therefore, with regard to the nourishment of the 
sick, they waited for the fits of the odd days ; then afterwards they gave 
food, expecting the approaching fits to be easier ; insomuch that Hippo- 
crates, if the fever had ceased on any other day, used to be apprehen- 
sive of a relapse." ^ 

These critical days were believed by Hippocrates and most of the 
other ancient physicians to be influenced by the moon. 

Greek medicine was divided into five parts, and to this day these 

divisions are still maintained. They were (i) Physiology and Anatomy 

considered together; (2) ^Etiology, or the doctrine of the causes of 

disease; (3) Pathology; (4) Hygiene, or the art of preserving the 

* Celsus, Of Medicine, chap. iv. Futvoye's Trang. 


health ; (5) Semeiology, or the knowledge of the symptoms of disease 
and diagnosis, and Therapeutics, or the art of curing diseases. 

As to the contending claims of the various Greek schools ot 
medicine, Dr. Adams says, — 

" There is no legitimate mode of cultivating medical knowledge 
which was not followed by some one or other of the three great sects 
into which the profession was divided in ancient times." ^ 

With respect to the professional income of Greek physicians, Hero- 
dotus states 2 that the ^ginetans, about 532 b.c, paid Democedes 
one talent a year from the public treasury for his services, i.e. about 
^344. From the Athenians he afterwards received a sum amounting 
to about ;^4o6 per annum. When he removed to Samos, Polycrates 
paid him a salary of two talents, or £,Af^i \os. A difficulty arises, 
however, as to this statement of Herodotus, and there may have been 
an error in the sums mentioned.-'^ 

The procuring of abortion was not in ancient Greece always con- 
sidered a very great crime, and amongst the Romans it seems to have 
been unnoticed originally. It is related by Cicero that he knew of a 
case in Asia where a woman was put to death for having procured the 
abortion of her own child. Under the emperors, the punishment was 
exile or condemnation to the mines. 

The Scythians. 

Of medicine as practised amongst the Scythians, little is known. 

Herodotus says * that when the king of the Scythians was sick he 
sent for three soothsayers, who proceeded to discover by divination the 
cause of his majesty's malady. The prophets generally said that such 
or such a citizen had sworn falsely by the royal hearth, mentioning 
the name of the citizen against whom they brought the charge. The 
accused, having been arrested, was charged with causing the king's ill- 
ness. When he denied it, the king sent for twice as many more prophets ; 
if these confirmed the charge, the offender was promptly executed ; if 
they failed to do so, the first prophets were put to death. Abaris, the 
Hyperborean priest of Apollo, cured diseases by incantations, and 
delivered the world from a plague, according to Suidas. Anarcharsis, 
the Scythian philosopher, flourished 592 b.c. ; if he knew anything of 
medicine, as has been said, he was probably acquainted with such know- 
ledge of the art as was possessed by the Greeks. 

^ Dr. Francis Adams. Preface to Works of Paiilus ALgineta^ p. xii. 

' iii. 131. 

^ Smith's Did. Ant., p. 611. 

* Herodotus, iv. 68. 


The ancient physicians seemed to have had no idea of the necessity 
for observing any order in their interpretation of diseases ; even in the 
middle ages, says Sprengel/ they merely followed the position of the 
parts of the body, " passing from the head to the chest, from the thorax 
to the abdomen, and from the belly to the extremities." 

In that branch of modern medical science which treats of the classifi- 
cation of diseases, and which is termed Nosology, a systematic arrange- 
ment is followed, and the prominent symptoms are taken as the basis 
of that classification. 

Greek Medical Literature. 

The following is Dr. Greenhill's probably complete list of the ancient 
treatises on Therapeutics now extant.^ 

Hippocrates : Seven Books (see p. 178 of this work). Aretseus, 
Ilcpt 0€pa7r€tas 'O^ewj/ koI Xpovcoiv IlaOwv, De Cuj'aimie Aaitoriuii et 
Diuturnorwn Morborum, in four books. Galen, Te^rT; 'larpi/cT;, Ars 
Medica ; Id. ©cpaTreurtKr; Mc^oSo?, Methodits Mede7idi ; Id. To, Trpos 
VXavKiova @€f)a7r€VTLKd, Ad Glaticoiiem de Mederidi Methodo ; Id. ITept 
^X^^oTon.iix% 7rpo9 'Epao-io-rparov, De Vencesectione adversits Erasistrahim ; 
Id. Hcpt ^Ac/JoTo/xtas TTpos 'Epao-to-rparciou? rov<i iv 'V(jiix.rj, De Vencesectione 
adversus Erasistraieos Romce Degetites ; Id. Ilc/al ^Xe/SoTo/xias ©cpa- 
TrevTiKov Bi/3Atov, De Ctiraiidi Ratione per VencEsectioneni ; Id. ITcpt 
BSc/VXcov, 'AvTto-TTacrtco?, ^iKva%, koX 'Ey;(apa^€(U9, koX KaTa^aa/xov, De Hiru- 
dinibus, Ramlsione, Cucurbitnla^ Jnciswne, et Scartficatione. Alexander 
Aphrodisiensis, Ilcpt Ilvpcraii', De Febribus. Great part of the ^waywyat 
larpiKat, Collecta Medicinalia^ of Oribasius, and also of his ^woi/^t?, 
Synopsis ad Eustat/iiu?n, treat of this subject. Palladius, Ilept nvperwi/ 
^vvToixo% 2vi'oi/^t5, De Febribus Concisa Synopsis. Aetius, Bi^Xia 'larpiKo. 
'EKKtttSeKa, Libri Mediciiiales Sedecim. Alexander Trallianus, Bt^A-ta 
'larptKoc AvoKaiSeKa, Libri de Re Medica Duodecim. Paulus ^gineta, 
'ETTtTo/x^s 'larpi/cTys Bi^Xta "Etttu, Compendii Medici Libri Septem^ of 
which great part relates to this subject. Theophanes Nonnus, 'Ettito/xt) 
T^s Tarpi/c^s 'A7rao->7s l^iyyy]<i^ Compendium Totius Artis Medicice. Synesius, 
IIcpl IIvpcToir, De Febribus. Joannes Actuarius, Methodiis Medendi. 
Demetrius Pepagomenus, Ilcpt IloSaypas, De Podagra. Celsus, De 
Medicina^ in eight books. Caslius Aurelianus, Celerum Fassionwny 
Libri iii. Id. Tardarwn Fassionum, Libri v. Serenus Samonicus, De 
Mediciita Frcecepta Saluberrima^ a poem on the art of Healing. 
Theodorus Priscianus, Reruni Medicarum^ Libri iv. 

^ Hist, de la Med., vol. vi. p. 28. 

^ Smith's Z>/W. Ant.^ art. "Therapeulica," 


Fig. I. 

Representation of the mode of reducing dislocation of the thigh outwards, as given by M. Littri, 

Fig. 2. 

Representatioa of the ancient mode of performing succussion, as given by Vidus Vidius in the 
Venetian edition of Galen's works (C/. vi., p. 271X 

[Face p. 204. 



Disease-Goddesses. — School of the Methodists. — Rufus and Marinus. — Pliny. — 


How medical instruction was first given to the Romans cannot be 
ascertained with certainty ; the want of it must have frequently been 
forced upon the attention of the authorities. It was the practice of the 
soldiers to dress each other's wounds ; they carried bandages with them 
for this purpose ; but their surgery must have been very indifferent, for 
Livy tells us that, after the battle of Sutrium (b.c. 309), more soldiers 
were lost by dying of their wounds than were killed by the enemy. 

As the Etruscans were famous for their knowledge of philosophy and 
medicine, the Romans probably acquired something of these sciences 
from this ancient people ; but that they were more apt at learning their 
superstitions than their arts of healing, we have proof enough. Whether 
the Romans were more indebted to the Etruscans or to the Sabine 
people for their religion is a question which has been discussed. It 
would seem that Numa Pompilius, the legendary king of Rome, was of 
Sabine origin, and that he possessed some acquaintance with physical 
science and philosophy. He dissuaded the Romans from idolatry. 
Livy's account of his experiments, in consequence of which he was 
struck by lightning, has been considered by some writers as evidence 
that he was acquainted with electricity.^ 

How intellectually inferior the ancient Romans were in comparison 
with the Greeks, may be learned from the fact that Pliny tells us that 
*' The Roman people for more than 600 years were not, indeed, without 
medical art, but they were without physicians." Such mental culture as 
the Romans possessed was imported from Greece, and until the Greeks 
instructed them in medicine they possessed nothing but a theurgic 
system of treating disease by prayers, charms, prescriptions from the 
Sibylline books, and the rude surgery and domestic medicine of the 
barbarians. Guilty of degrading superstitions unknown to the Greeks, 
the list of their gods and goddesses of disease reads like the accounts 
^ Titus IJviiis^ lib. i., cap. xxxi. Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. xxviii., c. ii. 


of the healing art from some savage nation. Fever and stench were 
worshipped as the goddesses Febris and Mephitis ; P'essonia helped the 
weary, says St. Augustine,^ and " sweet Cloacina " was invoked when 
the drains were out of order.- 

The itch patients invoked the goddess Scabies and the plague- stricken 
the goddess Angeronia ; women sought the aid of Fluonia and Uterina, 
and Ossipaga was goddess of the navel and bones of children. There 
were many goddesses of midwifery ; Carna presided over the abdominal 
viscera, and sacrifices of beans and bacon were offered to her. St. 
Augustine pours his satire and contempt on the women's goddesses 
in the eleventh chapter of the book from which we have quoted. The 
Romans were cosmopolitan in the way of divinities ; Isis and Serapis 
were imported from Egypt, the Cabiri from the Phcenicians, and the 
worship of ^sculapius was commenced by the Romans, b.c. 294.^ 

Certain facts in the history of the Romans prove that there was a 
profession of medicine in Rome even in very early times. Plutarch, in 
his Life of Cato the Censor^ speaks of a Roman ambassador who was 
sent to the king of Bithynia, and who had his skull trepanned. By the 
Lex Aquilia a doctor who neglected a slave after an operation was 
responsible if he died in consequence, and in the Twelve Tables of 
Numa mention is made of dental operations. 

A college of ^sculapius and of Health was established in Rome 154 
B.C. An inscription has been discovered in the excavations of the 
Palatine which has preserved the memorial of its foundation.* The 
medical profession of ancient Rome was quite free, and such in- 
struction as its followers considered it necessary to acquire could be 
obtained how and where they chose. There was no uniform system of 
education ; the training was private in early times, and was imparted by 
such physicians as cared to take pupils for a certain specified honora- 
rium. It was not till later times that the Archiatri in their colleges, 
which were somewhat on the model of the mediaeval guilds, took pupils 
for instruction in medicine and surgery. Pure medical schools did not 
exist amongst the Romans.^ Pliny complained ^ " that people believed 
in any one who gave himself out for a doctor, even if the falsehood 
directly entailed the greatest danger." " Unfortunately there is no law 
which punishes doctors for ignorance, and no one takes revenge on a 
doctor if, through his fault, some one dies. It is permitted him by our 
danger to learn for the future, at our death to make experiments, and, 

^ De Civ. Dei., lib. iv. cap. xxi. - Ibid., cap. xxiii. 

^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 131. * Puschmaun, Hist, of Med. Edtic.^ p. 86. 

^ Ibid., p. 97. Baas, Hist. Med., p. 152. 

^ Hist. Nat., xxix. 8. 


without having to fear punishment, to set at naught the life of a human 

Cato hated physicians, partly because they were mostly Greeks, and, 
partly because he was himself an outrageous quack, who thought him- 
self equal to a whole college of physicians. Plutarch tells us ^ that he 
had heard of the answer which Hippocrates gave the king of Persia,, 
when he sent for him and offered him a reward of many talents : ** I will 
never make use of my art in favour of barbarians who are enemies of 
the Greeks." He affected to believe that all Greek physicians took a 
similar oath, and therefore advised his son to have nothing to do with 
them. But there is no doubt his objection to the faculty arose fron-^ 
the fact that he had " himself written a little treatise in which he had set 
down his method of cure." Cato's guide to domestic medicine was 
good enough for the Roman people ; what did they want with Greek 
physicians ? His system of diet, according to Plutarch, was peculiar 
for sick persons ; he did not approve of fasting, he permitted his patients 
to eat ducks, geese, pigeons, hares, etc., because they are a light diet 
suitable for sick people. Plutarch adds, that he was not in his own 
household a very successful practitioner, as he lost his wife and son. 
Pliny* tells us all about Cato's book of recipes, which the Roman 
father of a family consulted when any of his family or domestic animals 
were ill. The family doctor of those days was the father or the master 
of the household, and no doubt Cato was a very generous, if not a very 
skilful practitioner. Seneca sums up the healing art of the time thus : 
" Medicina quondam paucarum fuit scientia herbarum quibus sisteretur 
fluens sanguis, vulnera coirent." ^ 

Cato attempted to cure dislocations by magic songs (carmina) : " Huat, 
hanat, ista, pista sista damniato damnaustra," or nonsense simply, 
What his success in the treatment of luxations on this principle we are 
not informed. The practice of medicine and surgery before the time of 
Caesar was not an honourable one in Rome.- This may possibly have 
arisen from the fact that the only professors of the art were Greeks, who 
for the most part left their country for their country's good and went tO' 
Rome merely to make money, honestly if possible — perhaps — but at all 
events to make it. Rome offered greater facilities for doing this than- 
their native land, and the process was doubtless very similar to that with 
which our own colonies and the United States of America have in the 
past been only too familiar."^ 

During the severe epidemics which often raged in ancient Rome the 
oracles were consulted as to the means to be adopted to be rid of 

^ Life of Cato the Censor. 2 jji^f ^^/_^ xxix. cap. 8. ^ Epist. 93. 

^ See Baas, Hist, of Med., and Dr. Ilabershou's note on this subject, p. 133. 


them; prayers were offered up to the Greek gods of heaHng as well as 
those of the state. But Greece had done more for the art of healing 
by her physicians than her gods could do, and in process of time the 
Romans found this out, and the native doctors were compelled to yield 
before the advance of Greek science. The works of the Greek phy- 
sicians and surgeons, who had done so much for medical knowledge and 
advancement, gradually made their way amongst the Romans. These 
paved the way for Hellenic influence, in spite of the disreputable be- 
haviour of some of the professors of the art of medicine, on whom the 
Romans with good excuse looked as quacks and foreigners whose only 
object was gain. We read of the erection at Rome of a temple in 
honour of Apollo the healer, 467 B.C., and of the building of a temple to 
^sculapius of Epidaurus, 460 B.C. Ten years later the Romans built 
a temple to the goddess Salus when the pestilence raged in their city. 
Lucina was first worshipped there 400 B.C. In 399 B.C. the first iedi- 
sterfimm, a festival of Greek origin, was held in Rome by order of the 
Sybilline books ; it was held on exceptional occasions, the present being 
a time of fresh public distress on account of a pestilence which was 
raging. The images of the gods were laid on a couch ; a table spread 
with a meal was placed before them, and solemn prayers and sacrifices 
were offered. A third lectisternium was held at Rome 362 B.C. That 
he might obtain a cessation of the pestilence then raging in Rome, L. 
Manlius Imperiorus fixed a nail in the temple of Jupiter, B.C. 360. 
This holding of lectisternes and driving nails in the temple walls be- 
came the recognised method of dealing with such scourges, and pain- 
fully exhibits the powerlessness of mankind to deal with disease by 
theurgic means. Science alone can combat disease, the bed and board 
offered to the gods who cannot use them are now bestowed on health 
officers who can ; we no longer drive nails in temple walls to remind 
deities that we are in trouble, but we send memorials to our colleges of 
physicians demanding suggestions for escaping a visitation of cholera ; 
it is not sufficient to fix " a nail in a sure place," it must be fixed in the 
right one. In the year 291 B.C., on the occasion of a pestilence in Rome, 
ten ambassadors were sent to Epidaurus to seek aid from the temple of 
.^sculapius. The god was sent to the afflicted city under the figure of 
a serpent. He comes to our towns now under the figure of a cask of 
carbolic acid. 

Archagathus was the first person who regularly practised medicine 
in Rome. He was a Peloponnesian who settled in the city B.C. 219, and 
was welcomed with great respect by the authorities, who purchased a 
surgery or shop for him at the public expense, and gave him the " Jus 


As he treated his patients chiefly with the knife and powerful caustics, 
his severe remedies gave great offence to the people and brought the 
profession of surgery into contempt. He was called a " butcher," and 
had to leave the city.^ 

Alexander Severus (225-235 a.d.) was the first who established 
public lecture rooms for teachers of medicine and granted stipends to 
them. In return they were compelled to teach poor state-supported 
students gratuitously. Constantine demanded like services from the 
doctors in return for certain immunities.^ 

There was no regular curriculum, nor period of studentship ; every- 
thing depended upon the ability and industry of the individual pupil. 
Clinical instruction was given by the teachers, as Martial tells in a 
satirical verse : — • 

** Faint was I only, Symmachus, till thou, 
Backed by an hundred students, throng'dst my bed ; 
An hundred icy fingers chilled my brow : 
I had no fever; now I'm nearly dead ! " 

(Dr. Handerson's Trans.) 

Anatomy had been pretty thoroughly taught in the Roman Empire. 
RuFus OF Ephesus, who lived probably in the reign of Trajan, a.d. 
98-117, was a very famous anatomist. He considered the spleen to be 
absolutely useless : a belief which lasted to quite modern times. The 
nerves we call recurrent were probably then only recently discovered. 
He proved that the nerves proceed from the brain, and divided them 
into those of sensation and those of motion. He considered the heart 
to be the seat of life, and remarked that the left ventricle is smaller and 
thicker than the right. He discovered the crossing (decussation) of the 
optic nerves, and made several important researches in the anatomy of 
the eye. He wrote on diseases of the mind, and discussed medicines 
in poetry. 

Marinus, a celebrated physician and anatomist, lived in the first or 
second century of our era. He wrote many anatomical treatises, which 
Galen greatly praised, and he commented upon Hippocrates. He knew 
the seven cranial nerves, and discovered the inferior laryngeal nerve and 
the glands of the intestines. 

QuiNTUS, Galen's tutor, was one of his pupils. Lycus was a pupil of 
Quintus, who wrote anatomical books of some reputation. Pelops was 
also one of Galen's earliest tutors, and was a famous anatomist and 
physician at Smyrna, ^schryon, a native of Pergamos was another of 
Galen's tutors, and had a great knowledge of pharmacy and materia 
medica. He was the father of all those who invent superstitious 

^ Bostock, Hist, of Med. " Puschmann, ffisf. Med. Educ, p. 98. 



remedies for the bite of a mad dog by means of cruelty. For this he 
directs crawfish to be caught at a time when the sun and moon were in 
a particular position, and to be baked alive. A worthy combination, it 
will be perceived, of superstition, astrology, and purposeless cruelty. 

Although anybody might practise medicine in Rome without let or 
hindrance, the Lex Cornelia ordered the arrest of the doctor if the 
patient died through his negligence (88 n.c). 

There was a public sanitary service and other Government employ- 
ments which demanded properly instructed doctors in ancient Rome, 
and the practice of specialism in the treatment of disease was carried to 
even greater lengths than at present. Martial satirises this.^ 

In the time of Strabo and in that of Trajan there were public medical 
officers in Gaul, Asia Minor, and in Latium. In Rome there were 
district medical officers for every part of the city. They were permitted 
to engage in private practice, but were compelled to attend the poor 
gratuitously. Their salary, according to Puschmann,'^ was paid chiefly 
in articles of natural produce. 

The archiatri popidares were the district physicians. The court 
physicians were called archiatri palatini. The archiatri mutiicipales 
were municipal physicians. Their guild was the Collegium Archia- 
TRORUM, which in constitution was not unlike our Royal College of 

Different societies employed doctors ; the theatres, gladiators, and the 
circus retained surgeons. 

The art of ophthalmic surgery first became a separate branch of 
the medical profession in the city of Alexandria. Celsus states that 
Philoxenus, who lived two hundred and seventy years before Christ, 
was the most celebrated of the Alexandrian oculists.^ 

Oculists were a numerous but ignorant class of practitioners in 
ancient Rome ; their treatment was almost always by salves, each 
eye-doctor having his own specialty. Nearly two hundred seals with 
the proprietors' names have been discovered which have been attached 
to the pots containing the ointments. Galen speaks contemptuously 
of the science of the eye-doctors of his time. Martial satirises them. 
" Now you are a gladiator who once were an ophthalmist ; you did 
as a doctor what you do as a gladiator." In another epigram he says, 
''The blear-eyed Hylasvvould have paid you sixpence, O Quintus ; 
one eye is gone, he will still pay threepence ; make haste and take 
ir, brief is your chance, when he is blind he will pay you nothing." 
Under Nero, Demosthenes Philalethes, the famous doctor of 

^ Epigrams, x. 56. - Hist. Afed. Educ, p. 131. 

^ Cels., lib. vii. p. ;^yj^ ed. Targ. Sprengel, Hist, dc la Mcd.^ torn. vii. p. 38. 


Marseilles, was a celebrated oculist, whose work on eye diseases was 
the chief authority on the subject until about a.d. iooo. Paulus 
.Egineta, in his treatise on Ophthalmology, recommends crocodile's 
dung in opacity of the cornea, and bed-bugs' and frogs' blood in 
trichiasis ; yet with all this absurdity he distinguished between cataract 
and amaurosis. 

The ophthalmological literature of the Greeks and Romans has for 
the most part perished. Puschmann says that this branch of surgery 
must have been able to show remarkable results. " Not only trichiasis, 
hypopyon, leucoma, lachrymal fistula, and other affections of the ex- 
ternal parts of the eye were subjected to operative treatment, but even 
cataract itself."^ 

Although the surgeons of the time were ignorant of the true nature 
of some of the diseases which they treated, they could cure them. 
Cataract was treated by " couching," or depressing the diseased lens by 
means of a needle, in order to extract it.^ 

A patient would sometimes require a consultation, when several 
doctors would meet and discuss his case, with much difference of 
opinion more or less violently expressed. Regardless of the sufferings 
of the patient, they wrangled over his symptoms, and behaved as if they 
were engaged in a pugilistic encounter, each man far more anxious to 
exhibit his parts and display his dialectical skill than to alleviate the 
sufferings of the unfortunate client. Pliny, Galen, and Theodorus 
Priscianus have left realistic descriptions of these medical encounters. 

With respect to the professional income of the early Roman phy- 
sicians, Pliny says ^ that Albutius, Arruntius, Calpetanus, Cassius, and 
Rubrius gained 250,000 sesterces per annum, equal to ^£^1,953 2s. 6d. ; 
that Quintus Stertinius made it a favour that he was content to receive 
from the emperor 500,000 sesterces per annum, or ^3,906 55-., as he 
might have made 600,000 sesterces, or ;^4,687 lo^., by his private 
practice. Pie and his brother, also an Imperial physician, left between 
them at their death the sum of thirty millions of sesterces, or ;£^234,375, 
notwithstanding the large sums they had spent on beautifying Naples."* 
Galen's fee for curing the wife of the consul Boethus, after a long illness, 
was about equal to ^£^400 of our money. 

Manlius Cornutus, according to Pliny, paid his doctor a sum amount- 
^"S to ;£"2,ooo for curing him of a skin disease ; and the doctors Crinas 
iind Alcon, according to the same authority, were immensely rich men. 
iiut these were all exceptional cases, and there is no reason to suppose 

* B/sf. of Med. Educ, p. 117. "^ Galen, x. 987. Tlin., Nat. Hist., xxix. 8. 

^ Nat. Hist.f xxix. 5. ■* Smith's Diet. Ant., p. 611. 


that Roman doctors made on the average more than sufficient to keep 
them decently.! 

School of the Methodists. 

AscLEPiADES, of Prusa, in Bithynia, was a physician of great cele- 
brity and influence, who flourished at Rome in the beginning of the first 
century b.c. He passed his earHer years at Alexandria, then went to 
Athens, where he studied rhetoric and medicine. He is said to have 
travelled much. He ultimately settled at Rome as a rhetorician. He 
was the friend of Cicero. Being unsuccessful as a teacher of rhetoric, 
he devoted himself to medicine. He was a man of great natural ability, 
but he was quite ignorant of anatomy and physiology; so he decried the 
labours of those who studied these sciences, and violently attacked 
Hippocrates. His conduct was that of an early Paracelsus. He had 
many pupils, and the school they founded was afterwards called that of 
the Methodists. His system was original, though it owed somewhat to 
the Epicurean philosophy. He conceived the idea that disease arose 
in the atoms and corpuscles composing the body, by a want of harmony 
in their motion. Harmony was health ; discord, disease. Naturally 
his treatment was as pleasant as that of the most fashionable modern 
physician. He paid great attention to diet, passive motions, frictions 
after the method now called massage, and the use of cold sponging. 
He entirely rejected the humoral pathology of Hippocrates, and totally 
denied his doctrine of crises, declared that the physician alone cures, 
nature merely supplying the opportunities. His famous motto was 
that the physician should cure "tuto, celeriter, ac jucunde." In the 
beginning of fevers he refused his patients permission even to rinse the 
mouth. He originated the method of cyclical cures by adopting certain 
methods of treatment at definite periods. He first applied the term 
"phrenitis" in the sense of mental disturbance. In drugs he was a 
sceptic, but he allowed a liberal use of wine. He was said to have 
experimented in physiology, though he knew nothing of it. Tertullian 
ridicules him thus: "Asclepiades may investigate goats, which bleat 
without a heart, and drive away flies, which fly without a head." 

Asclepiades must have been a great deal more than a charlatan, for 
many of his fundamental ideas have persisted even to the present time. 
He was the first to distinguish diseases into acute and chronic.^ Acute 
diseases he supposed to depend " upon a constriction of the pores, or 
an obstruction of them by a superfluity of atoms ; the chronic upon a 
relaxation of the pores, or a deficiency of the atoms." Asclepiades was 

^ Puschmann's Med. Edttc, p. 126. 
2 Q^x^ Aurel., De Morb. Chron., iii. 8. 


the inventor of many new methods in surgery and medicine. Amongst 
these was bronchotomy for the relief of suffocation .^ He practised 
tracheotomy in angina, and scarification of the ankles in dropsy, and 
recommended tapping with the smallest possible wound. He also ob- 
served spontaneous dislocation of the hip joint.- Such things do not 
emanate from mere quacks. 

It may be remarked that there were many physicians of the name ot 
Asclepiades. It was a way they had of assuming a connection with 
the famous medical family of that name. 

The disciples of Asclepiades were called Asclepiadists. A few of 
them became celebrities in their day. 

Philonides of Dyrrachium lived in the first century, and wrote 
some forty-five works on medicine. 

Antonius Musa lived at the beginning of the Christian era, and was 
a freedman and physician to the Emperor Augustus. When his Imperial 
patient was seriously ill and had been made worse by a hot regimen and 
treatment, Antonius cured him with cold bathing and cooling drinks. 
Augustus rewarded him with a royal fee and permission to wear a gold 
ring, and a statue was erected to him near that of ^sculapius by public 
subscription. He wrote several works on pharmacy. He was also 
physician to Horace. 

Musa introduced into medicine the use of adder's flesh in the treat- 
ment of malignant ulcers ; he discovered some of the properties of 
lettuce, chicory, and endive. Many of his medicines continued in use 
for ages. For colds lie used the over-potent remedies henbane, hem- 
lock, and opium. He was also celebrated for various antidotes which 
he discovered.^ 

His brother, named Euphorbius, was a physician also, and gave his 
name to a genus of plants, the Euphorbiacece (Plin., lib. xxv., c. 7). 

Themison of Laodicea (B.C. 50) was the founder of the school 
known as the Methodical. This was a rival to that of the Hippocratic 
system, which had hitherto been the dominant one. Themison was the 
most important pupil of Asclepiades. He wrote on chronic diseases, 
and was the first to describe elephantiasis in a treatise. He would 
have written upon hydrophobia, but having in his youth once seen 
a case, it so frightened him that he was attacked with some of the 
symptoms, and dreaded a relapse if he set himself to write about it.^ 
He invented several famous remedies, such as diacodium, a prepara- 
tion of poppies, and diagrydium, a purgative of scammony. Ascle- 
piades had his "atoms," Themison had his "pores." You cannot 

^ Sprengel, Hist, de la Me J., vol, vi. p, 138. ^ j^ji^s, Hist, of Med., p. 137. 

2 Sprengel, Hist, de la Med., vol. ii. p. 24. * Baas, Hist, of Med., p. 140. 


found a medical system without flying a particular flag. Themison's 
*' flag " was the " status strictus," or " laxus " of the pores ; that is to say, 
disease is either a condition of increased or diminished tension. He 
was the first who described rheumatism, and probably the first European 
physician who used leeches.^ 

He is said to have been attacked with hydrophobia, and to have 
recovered. Juvenal satirised him (probably) in the lines — 

"How many patients Themison dispatched 
In one short autumn ! " ^ 

Themison's principles differed from those of his master in many 
respects, and besides rectifying his errors he introduced a greater pre- 
cision into his system.^ 

He chose a middle way between the doctrines of the Dogmatists and 
Empirics. Writing of the Methodists, Celsus says : '* They assert that 
the knowledge of no cause whatever bears the least relation to the 
method of cure ; and that it is sufficient to observe some general symp- 
toms of distempers; and that there are three kinds of diseases, one bound, 
another loose, and the third a mixture of these." ^ Sometimes the 
excretions of the sick are too small, sometimes too large ; one particular 
excretion may be in excess, another deficient ; the observation of these 
things constitutes the art of medicine, which they defined as a certain 
way of proceeding, which the Greeks called MeiJiod. They deduced 
indications of treatment from analogies in symptoms, and made a bold 
classification of diseases : accurate as a rule in their diagnosis, they 
were usually successful and rational in their therapeutics. They en- 
tirely ignored any consideration of the remote causes of diseases ; their 
only object was to cure their patients without speculating as to the 
reasons why they had become sick. They repudiated the Vis viedicatrix 

EuDEMUs (B.C. 15) was a disciple of Themison. Coelius Aurelianus 
says of him that in his practice he used to order clysters of cold water 
for patients suff'ering from the iliac passion. It is probable that he was 
the friend and physician of Livilla, and the man who poisoned her 
husband Drusus. Tacitus speaks of him, saying that he made a great 
parade of many secret remedies, with a view to extol his own abilities 
as a doctor. It is possible, however, that this may not have been the 
same Eudemus as the disciple of Themison the Methodist, as there 
were several other physicians of that name. Our Eudemus made many 

1 CkI. Aurel., De Morh. Chron., i. 1. p. 286. 

2 Sat., X. 221. 

^ Galen, Introd., c. 1., torn, xiv., pp. 663, 684. Ed. Kiihn. 
4 De Medic, lib. i., Praif. 


observations on hydrophobia, and remarked how rarely any sufferer 
recovered who was attacked by it. He was put to death by order 
of Tiberius. 

Meges, of Sidon (b.c. 20), was a famous surgeon, and a follower of 
Themison. He invented instruments used in cutting for the stone. He 
made observations on tumours of the breast and forward dislocations 
of the knee. He was regarded by Celsus as the most skilful of those 
who exercised the art of surgery. 

Vectius Vallens {circ. a.d. 37) was a pupil of Apuleius Celsus, and 
was well known for his connection with Messahna, the wife of Claudius. 
He belonged to Themison's sect, and is introduced by Pliny in fact as 
the author of an improvement upon it. It was the practice of all the 
adherents of the Methodist school of medicine to pretend that by the 
changes they had introduced into the system they had originated a 
new one.^ 

ScRiBONius Largus (a.d. 45) is said to have been physician to 
Claudius, and to have accompanied him to Britain. He wrote several 
medical works in Latin. He was the first to prescribe the electricity of 
the electric ray in cases of headache.- 

A. Cornelius Celsus, who flourished between b.c. 50 and a.d. 7^ 
was a celebrated patrician Roman writer on medicine, and an encyclo- 
pcxdic compiler of a very high order. It is disputed whether he was or 
was not a physician in actual practice ; probably he was not. He 
practised certainly, but on his friends and servants, and not profession- 
ally. The medical practice of the period was for the most part in the 
hands of the Greeks. We owe little to the Romans that was original or 
important in connection with the healing art, yet in Celsus we have an 
elegant and accomplished historian of the medial art as it was practised 
in ancient Rome ; he wrote not so much for doctors as for the instruc- 
tion of the world at large. His works were not studied by medical 
men, at any rate, as anything more than mere literature. No medical 
writer of the old world quotes Celsus. Pliny merely refers to him as an 
author. Very probably he merely compiled his treatises^ of which the 
most celebrated is his De Medicina, in the introductions to the 4th and 
8th books of which there is evidence of his considerable knowledge of 
anatomy. He seems to have understood the anatomy of the chest and 
the situation of the greater viscera especially well, though of course in 
this respect falling far short of our present knowledge of the science, 
and not in every case fully up to that of the Greeks. His knowledge of 
surgery was considerable, especially that of the i^elvic organs of the 

^ Le Clerc, Hist. MccL, Part II., liv. iv., sec. i., cli. i. 
^ Baas, Hist, of Med., p. 143. 


female. In osteology, or the science of the bones, he excelled. He 
accurately describes the bones of the skull, their sutures, and the teeth. 
His descriptions of the vertebrse and ribs, the bones of the pelvis and 
the upper and lower extremities, are accurate and careful. He under- 
stood the articulations, and is careful to emphasize the fact that cartilage 
is always found in their formation. He must have been acquainted with 
the perforated plate of the ethmoid bone, as he speaks of the many 
minute holes in the recess of the nasal cavities, and it is even inferred by 
Portal that he knew the semicircular canals.^ 

The 7th and 8th books of the De re Medicina relate entirely to 
surgery ; this is of course Greek, which in its turn was probably of 
Egyptian and Indian origin. He describes operations such as we now 
call "plastic," for restoring lost or defective portions of the nose, lips, 
and ears. These are constantly claimed as triumphs of modern surgery, 
and have been asserted to have been successful as the result of informa- 
tion derived from experiments on living animals. His description of 
lithotomy is that which was anciently practised in Alexandria, and was 
doubtless derived from India. Trephining the skull is described, and 
this again is proved not to have been invented in modern times, as some 
have thought. Even subcutaneous urethrotomy was a practice followed 
in the time of Celsus. We have also the first detailed description of 
the amputation of an extremity. Many ophthalmic operations are 
described according to the methods followed by the eye specialists of 

In his eight books on medicine the first four deal with internal 
complaints, such as usually yield to careful dieting. The fifth and sixth 
are concerned with external disorders, and contain many prescriptions 
for their treatment. The seventh and eighth, as we have seen, are 
exclusively surgical. Celsus followed principally Hippocrates and 
Asclepiades as his authorities. He transfers many passages from the 
Father of Medicine word for word. His favourite author was Ascle- 
piades, and it is for that reason that he is held to be of the Methodical 
school of medicine. He was no believer in the mysterious numbers 
of the Pythagorean, and was evidently quite free from slavish devotion, 
even to his great authorities in medicine. 

He recommends that dislocations should be reduced before inflamma- 
tion sets in. When fractures fail to unite, he recommends extension 
and rubbing together of the ends of the bone. He goes so far as to 
advise cutting down to the bone, and letting the fracture and wound 
heal together. Pie cautions against the use of purgatives in strangu- 

^ Prof. W. Turner, art. ** Anatomy," Ency. Brit. 
2 Dr. Ch. Creighton, art. " Surgery," Ency. Brit. 


lated hernia, and gives directions for extracting foreign bodies from 
the ears. 

Had it not been for the works of Celsus, many operations of ancient 
surgery would have remained to us undescribed. He writes at length 
on bleeding, and describes the double ligation (or tying) of bleeding 
vessels, and the division of the vessels between the ligatures : an opera- 
tion which the defenders of experiments on animals. claim to have been 
discovered by vivisection. His method of amputation in gangrene by a 
single circular cut was followed down to the seventeenth century. He 
describes the process of catheterization, operations for goitre (or Derby- 
shire neck), the resection of the ribs, the use of enemas, and artificial 
feeding by them, an operation for cataract, ear diseases which are 
curable by the use of the ear syringe, extraction of teeth by forceps, 
fastening loose teeth by means of gold wire, and bursting hollow teeth 
by peppercorns pressed into them. He describes many of the most 
difficult subjects of operative midwifery, and discriminates in various 
mental diseases. Sleep must be induced, he says, in cases of insanity, 
by narcotics, if it is absent. He treats eye diseases with mild lotions 
and salves, and is the first writer to distinguish hallucinations of vision. 
He copies from Asclepiades his valuable rules of diet and simple 
methods of treatment, and from Hippocrates his methods of recognis- 
ing the signs of diseases and their prognosis. 

(I am indebted to the great work of Dr. Hermann Baas ^ for much of 
the above digest of the writings of Celsus.) 

At the time when Celsus described the practice of medicine in 
Europe, bleeding was practised more freely than was the custom in the 
days of the great Greek physicians. The Romans went far beyond 
these. "It is not," said Celsus, "anew thing to let blood from the 
veins, but it is new that there is scarcely any malady in whicli blood is 
not drawn. Formerly they bled young men, and women who were not 
pregnant, but it had not been seen till our days that children, pregnant 
women, and old men were bled." And it would seem that already 
doctors had begun to bleed in almost every case, in every time of life, 
with or without reason, the unfortunate people who were under their 
care. They bled for high fever, when the body was flushed and the 
veins too full of blood ; and they bled in cachexia and anaemia, when 
they had not enough blood, but were full of " ill humours." They bled 
in pleurisy and pneumonia, and they bled in paralysis, and cases where 
there was severe pain. 

Celsus has given us a good description of the qualities which a surgeon 
ought to possess : he should be young, or at any rate not very old ; his 

^ Gnindnss der G esc hie hie der Medici n. 


hand should be firm and steady, and never shake; he should be able 
to use his left hand with as much dexterity as his right; his sight should 
be acute and clear ; his mind intrepid and pitiless, so that when he is 
engaged in doing anything to a patient, he may not hurry, nor cut less 
than he ought, but finish the operation just as if the cries of the patient 
made no impression upon him.^ 

Celsus said,- "It is both cruel and superfluous to dissect the bodies 
of the living, but to dissect those of the dead is necessary for learners, 
for they ought to know the position and order, which dead bodies show 
better than a living and wounded man. But even the other things, 
which can only be observed in the living, practice itself will show in 
the cures of the wounded, a little more slowly, but somewhat more 

He wrote on history, philosophy, oratory, and jurisprudence, and this 
in the most admirable style. 

Thessalus of Tralles (a.d. 6o) was the talented son of a weaver, who 
became a "natural" doctor. He was an utterly ignorant, bragging 
charlatan, with great natural ability. Had Paracelsus received no 
education, he might have practised medicine as a second Thessalus of 
Tralles. He scorned science as much as Paracelsus loved it, but like 
him he abused in the most violent manner all the physicians of an- 
tiquity. He called them all bunglers, and himself the ^' Conqueror of 
Physicians" (laTpoLKrjq). He declared to Nero that his predecessors 
had contributed nothing to the progress of the science. He flattered 
the great and wealthy, and vaunted his ability to teach anybody the 
healing art in six months. He surrounded himself with a great crowd 
of disciples — rope-makers, cooks, butchers, weavers, tanners, artisans of 
all sorts. All these he permitted to practise on his patients, and to 
kill them with impunity. Since his time, says Sprengel, the Roman 
physicians gave up the custom of visiting their patients when accom- 
panied by their pupils.^ He used colchicum in the treatment of gout. 

Philumenus (about a.d. 8o) was a famous writer on obstetrics, and 
described the appropriate treatment for the various kinds of diarrhcea. 

Andromachus the Elder (a.d. 6o) of Crete was the inventor of 
a famous cure-all called TJieriaca. It was compounded of some sixty 
drugs. He was physician to Nero, and his two works Trept crur^ea-tw? 
(fiapfjLaKwv were greatly praised by Galen. 

Soranus of Ephesus, the son of Menandrus, was educated at 
Alexandria. He practised at Rome in the reigns of Trajan and 
Hadrian. He was one of the most eminent physicians of the Methodi- 

1 A. C. CelsiMed. Prcvf., ad lib. 7. 2 j^^ j.^ j/^^/,^ ^b. i. 

^ Hist. dehiMcd., vol. ii. p. 50. 


cal school, and was mentioned with praise by Tertuhian and St. Augus- 
tine. He wrote the only complete treatise on the diseases of women 
which antiquity has given to us. We find from this work that a 
valuable instrument used in gynaecology, and thought by many to be of 
modern invention — the speculum — was mentioned by Soranus as used 
by him. Amongst the articles used by surgeons which have been 
recovered from the ruins of Pompeii, these instruments have been dis- 
covered, showing that they were in regular use in ancient times. He 
seems to have had a complete knowledge of human anatomy, for he 
describes the uterus in such a manner as to show that his knowledge 
was acquired by dissecting the human body, and not merely from that 
of animals. He explained the changes induced by pregnancy, and spoke 
of the sympathy existing between the uterus and the breasts, which is 
so important for the physician to know. He must have had a greater 
knowledge of the scourge of leprosy than his contemporaries. 

Soranus, in his work on gynaecology, advises that midwives should 
be temperate, trustworthy, not avaricious, superstitious, or liable to be 
induced to procure abortion for the sake of gain. They were to be 
instructed in dietetics, materia medica, and minor surgical manipula- 
tions. Soranus did not think it was requisite for them to know much 
about the anatomy of the pelvic organs, but they were to be able to 
undertake the operation of turning in faulty presentations. Only when 
all attempts to deliver a living child had failed was embryotomy to be 
performed. Juvenal and other writers intimate that these accomplished 
accoucheuses often developed into regular doctresses. In difficult 
cases they called in the assistance of physicians or surgeons. 

Julian (a.d. 140) was the pupil of Apollinides of Cyprus. He was at 
Alexandria when Galen studied there. He wrote an introduction to 
the study of medicine, and opposed the principles of Hippocrates. 
Like the greater number of the Methodists he was ill-read, and Galen 
blamed him for having neglected the humoral pathology.^ 

C^Lius AuRELiANUs was a celebrated Latin physician, who is sup- 
posed to have lived in Rome about the first or second century. Very 
little is known about him, but the fact that he belonged to the Metho- 
dical school, and showed great skill in the art of diagnosis. 

He wrote treatises on acute and chronic diseases, and a dialogue on 
the science of medicine. Next to Celsus, he is considered the greatest 
writer of his school. His works are based entirely on the Greek of 

He was a popular writer, as is proved by the fact that in the sixth 
century his works were text-books on medicine in the Benedictine 
^ Sprengel, Hist. Med., vol. ii. p. 37. 


monasteries. He has well described gout and hydrophobia, and, 
according to Baas, was the inventor of condensed milk (!). Even 
auscultation is hinted at in his works, and he recommends the air of 
pine forests in chest diseases. His suggestions for the treatment of 
nervous and insane patients were far in advance of his age, as he dis- 
approves of restraint.^ 

Greek and ROxMan Pharmacy. 

It is very difficult to decide with certainty what the ancients actually 
intended by the names they gave their medicines. Exact as Hippo- 
crates and Galen usually are in their terminology, we are often at a loss 
to know precisely what was the nature of the remedies they employed. 
Alum, for example, as we understand it, is a very different thing from 
the alum of the ancients. What the Greeks and Romans called alumen 
and (TTV7rTr]pLa, says Beckmann, was vitriol, or rather a kind of vitriolic 
earth. They were very deficient in the knowledge of saline substances. 
Hemlock, which is called also Com'um, Kajvctov, or Cicufa, was probably 
not the poison employed at Athenian executions. Pliny says that the 
word Ciaita did not indicate any particular species of plant, but was 
used for vegetable poisons in general. Dr. Mead ^ considers that the 
Athenian poison was a combination of deadly drugs ; it killed without 
pain, and probably opium was combined with the hemlock.-^ Hellebore 
was of two kinds, white and black, or Veratrum album and Ilelleborus 
niger respectively. Galen says we are always to understand veratrum 
when the word 'EWi/^opo^ is used alone. White hellebore was used 
by the Greeks, says StilleV in the treatment of chronic diseases, es- 
.pecially melancholy, insanity, dropsy, skin diseases, gout, tetanus, 
hydrophobia, tic doloureux, etc. It was mixed with other drugs to 
moderate the violence of its action. It fell into disuse, and is now 
hardly ever employed internally. It is an exceedingly dangerous drug, 
and was doubtless used on the " kill or cure " principle. Black helle- 
bore was given as a purgative. Healthy people took the white variety 
to clear and sharpen their faculties. It fell into disuse about the fifth 
century after Christ. A very celebrated medicine in popular use even 
in modern times was Theriaca. Galen says that the term was properly 
applied to such medicines as would cure the bite of wild beasts (OrjpLiov), 
as those which were antidotes to other poisons (rots SrjXrjrrjpLOis) were 
properly called dXc^K^ttp/xaKa.^ 

^ Baas, Gnind. der Gcs. der Med., p. 144. ^ Mechanical Account of Poisons. 
^ Theophrastus, Hist. Plant., ix. 17. * National Dispensatory, p. 15 15. 

^ Conf. Gal. Comment, in Hippocr., lib. vi. ; De Morb. Vulgar., vi., § 5, tom. 
xvii. p. ii. p. 337. 


Andromachus, physician to the emperor Nero, invented the most 
celebrated of these preparations ; it was known as the Theriaca Andro- 
inachi, and was very similar to that of Mithridates, king of Pontus, the 
recipe for which was said to have been found amongst his papers 
after his death by Pompey. This was known to the Roman physicians 
under the name of Antidotum Miihridatmm. The composition of this 
medicine was varied greatly in the hands of its different preparers, and 
it underwent considerable alterations from age to age. Celsus first 
described it, with its thirty-six ingredients ; then Andromachus added 
to it the flesh of vipers, and increased the number of ingredients to 
seventy-five. He described the whole process of manufacture in a 
Greek poem, which has been handed down to us by Galen. Damo- 
crates varied some of the proportions of the compound, and wrote 
another poem upon it, also preserved by Galen. 

The medicines prescribed by the Greek and Roman physicians were 
all prepared by themselves. At that time materia medica consisted 
chiefly of herbs ; some of these plants were used not only for medicinal, 
but also for culinary purposes, and were collected by other than prac- 
titioners of medicine. Many plants were used also for cosmetic pur- 
poses and in the baths, so that there must have been numerous collectors 
and dealers in herbs. Just as in our time dispensing chemists and 
others have acquired a certain knowledge of the medicinal virtues of 
the things they sell, so the pigmentarii^ seplastarit, phannacopolce^ and 
medicamentarii possessed themselves of medical secrets, and thus invaded 
the territory of the doctors. 

Beckmann says ^ that \\\q pigmentarii dealt in medicines, and some- 
times sold poison by mistake. 

The seplasiarii sold veterinary medicines and compounded drugs for 

The pharmacopolce^ according to Beckmann, were an ignorant and 
boasting class of drug-sellers. The medicaffientarii seem to have been 
a still more worthless class, for in the Theodosian code poisoners are 
called medicamentarii. 

A great number of the medical plants mentioned by Pliny, Dioscorides, 
and other writers on materia medica were used for quite other purposes 
than those for which we employ them now. Some drugs, however^ 
were apparently given on what we must admit to be correct scientific 
principles. Thus Melampus of Argos, one of the oldest Greek phy- 
sicians of whom we have any knowledge, is said to have cured Iphiclus 
of sterility by administering rust of iron in wine for ten days. 

^ Histoty of Itnjentions, TixL "Apothecaries." 
* Plin., lib. xxxiv. cap. 1 1. 


He gave black hellebore as a purgative to the daughters of Proetus 
when they were afflicted with melancholy. Preparations of the poppy 
were known to have a narcotic influence, and the uses of prussic acid — 
in the form of cherry laurel water — stramonium, and lettuce-opium were 
well understood. Squill was employed as a diuretic in dropsy by the 

The following list from the article on *' Pharmaceutica" m'^xt\\\\C'!, Dictionary of 
Greek and Roman Antiquities contains probably the titles of all the ancient treatises 
on drugs that are extant: *' l. Ilepi ^apfx-aKuv, De Remediis Purgantibus ', 2. Ilepi 
'EWe^opia-ixou, De Veratri Usu (these two works are found among the collection that 
goes under the name of Hippocrates, but are both spurious) ; 3. Dioscorides, ITepi 
"TXtjs 'laTpiKTjs, De Materia Medica, in five books (one of the most valuable and cele- 
brated medical treatises of antiquity) ; 4. id. Ilept 'Etviropiarwu,' kv^Civ re Kal 'Lvvdhuv, 
^apfiaKcoy, De Facile Parabilibtis , tam Siviplicibns qiiam Conipositis., Medicamentis, 
in two books (perhaps spurious) ; 5. Marcellus Sideta, 'laTpiKo, irepl 'IxO'uoiv, De 
Remediis ex Piscibns ; 6. Galen, Ilepi Kpctcrews koX Avpd/xeus tCjv 'AirXQu ^appidKwv, 
De Simplicitun Medicamentornm Temperamentis et Facnltatibus, in eleven books ; 7, 
id. 'nept "ZvvQicjeia^ ^ap/xaKCov tCjv Kara TSttovs, De Compositione Medicamentornm 
secnndtim Locos, in ten books ; 8. id. Ilept ^vvO^crccos ^apfiaKUv tCjv Kara Vevrj, De 
Compositione Medicamentornm secundum Genera, in seven books ; 9. id. Jlepl rrjs tQu 
Kadaip5vT0JV ^apixaKwv Awd/aews, De Purgantium Medicamentornm Facultate (per- 
haps spurious) ; 10. Oribasius, ^vva-^uj-^aX 'larpiKai, Collccta Medicinalia, consisting 
originally of seventy books, of which we possess now only about one third ; ii. id. 
EyTToptcTTa, Euporista ad Eunapium, or De facile Parabilibus, in four books, of which 
the second contains an alphabetical list of drugs ; 12, id. ^vvo\l/is, Synopsis ad Eusta- 
ihium, an abridgment of his larger work in nine books, of which the second, third, 
and fourth are upon the subject of external and internal remedies; 13. Paulus 
/Egineta, 'ETriTo^tiT^s 'larpi/c^s Bi^Xia '"Eirra, Compendii Medici Libri Septem, of which 
the last treats of medicines; 14. Joannes Actuarius, De Medicamentoi-um Compo- 
sitione; 15. Nicolaus Myrepsus, Antidotarium ; 16. Cato, De Re Rustica ; 17. 
Celsus, De Medicina Libri Octo, of which the fifth treats of different sorts of medi- 
cines ; 18. Twelve books of Pliny's, Historia Naturalis (from the twentieth to the 
thirty-second), are devoted to Materia Medica ; 19. Scribonius Largus, Compo- 
sitiones Medicamentornm ; 20. Apuleius Barbarus, He^-barium, sen de Medicaminibus 
Herbarum ; 21. Sextus Placitus Papyriensis, Z>^ Mcdicamentis ex Animalibns ; 22. 
Marcellus Empiricus, De Mcdicamentis Empiricii, P/iysicis, ac Rationalibus. 

Although the Greeks and Romans knew little of chemistry as we 
understand the term, they must have possessed considerable skill in 
the art of secret poisoning, either with intent to kill or to obtain 
undue influence over certain persons. 

Poisonous drugs were used as philtres or love-potions, and we know 
from Demosthenes ^ that drugs were administered in Athens to influence 
men to make wills in a desired manner. Women were most addicted 
to the crime of poisoning amongst the Greeks. They were called 
<fiapfxaKL8€<; and (j^apfxaKcvrpiai, By the Romans the crime of poisoning 
was called Veneficium ; and here again, as in other times and places, 

1 C.Steph., 1 133. 


it was most usually practised by women. It lent itself to the weakness 
of the gentler sex, who could not avenge their injuries by arms, and 
there is little doubt that many women were as unjustly suspected of 
poisoning as we know they were of witchcraft in an ignorant age when 
pestilence and obscure diseases filled the minds of the people with fear 
and suspicion. Thucydides tells us ^ the Athenians in the time of the 
great pestilence believed that their wells bad been poisoned by their 
enemies. When the city of Rome was visited by a pestilence in the 
year 331 B.C., a slave girl informed the curule aediles that the Roman 
matrons had caused the deaths of many of the leading men of the State 
by poisoning them. On this information about twenty matrons, some 
of whom, as Cornelia and Sergia, belonged to patrician families, were 
detected in the act of preparing poisonous compounds over a fire. 
They protested that they were innocent concoctions ; the magis- 
trates compelling them» to drink these in the Forum, they suffered 
the death they had prepared for others. Locusta was a celebrated 
female poisoner under the Roman emperors. She poisoned Claudius 
at the command of Agrippina, and Britannicus at that of Nero, 
who even provided her with pupils to be instructed in her deadly 
art. Tacitus tells the story,^ Suetonius says,^ that the poison she 
administered to Britannicus being too slow in its action, Nero forced 
her by blows and threats to make a stronger draught in his presence, 
which killed the victim immediately. She was executed under the 
emperor Galba. 

Clement of Alexandria refers to the Susinian ointment in use in his 
time, which was made from lilies, and was " warming, aperient, draw- 
ing, moistening, abstergent, antibilious, and emollient," a truly mar- 
vellous unguent indeed if it possessed only half of these virtues. He 
tells of another ointment called the Myrsinian, which was made from 
myrtle berries, and was '' a styptic, stopping effusions from the body ; 
and that from roses is refrigerating." * 

RuFUS OF Ephesus, the anatomist, has left us in his works interest- 
ing details concerning the state of anatomical science at Alexandria 
before the time of Galen. In one of his works he says, " The ancients 
called the arteries of the neck carotids, because they believed that, 
when pressed hard, the animal became sleepy and lost its voice ; but 
in our age it has been discovered that this accident does not pro- 

^ Peloponcssian JVar, ii. 48. ^ Atmal., xiii. c. 15, 16. 

^ Nero, 33. •* 7 he Instructor, Book II. 


ceed from pressing upon these arteries, but upon the nerves contiguous 
to them." He is said to have practised the twisting of arteries for 
arresting haemorrhage, a method universally followed at the present 
day. It is curious that though the ligature and this valuable method 
of torsion were both known to the ancients, they fell into abeyance in 
favour of the actual cautery. 

Seneca, the philosopher (a.d. 3-65), had a very high opinion of the 
healing art. Perhaps no one has said truer and kinder things of doctors 
than this philosopher. " People pay the doctor for his trouble ; for 
his kindness they still remain in his debt." " Thinkest thou that thou 
owest the doctor and the teacher nothing more than his fee? We think 
that great reverence and love are due to both. We have received from 
them priceless benefits : from the doctor, health and life ; from the 
teacher, the noble culture of the soul. Both are our friends, and de- 
serve our most sincere thanks, not so much by their merchantable art, 
as by their frank good will." ^ 

Apollonius of Tyana, the Pythagorean philosopher, was born four 
years before Christ. His reputation as a miracle-worker and healer was 
used by the enemies of the Christian faith in ancient times to bring 
him forward as a rival to the Author of our Religion.^ The attempt to 
make him appear a pagan Christ has since been revived.^ He adopted 
the Pythagorean philosophy at the age of sixteen. He renounced animal 
food and wine, used only linen garments and sandals made of bark, 
suffered his hair to grow, and betook himself to the temple of ^sculapius, 
who appears to have regarded him with peculiar favour. He observed 
the silence of five years, which was one of the methods of initiation into 
the esoteric doctrines of the Pythagoreans. He travelled in India, and 
learned the valuable theurgic secrets of the Brahmans ; in the cities of 
Asia Minor he had some interviews with the Magi ; visited the temples 
and oracles of Greece, where he sometimes exercised his skill in healing; 
then he went to Rome, where he was brought before Nero on the charge 
of magical practices, which was not sustained. In his seventy-third 
year he attracted the notice of Vespasian. Afterwards he travelled in 
Ethiopia. Returning to Rome, he was imprisoned by Domitian, and had 
his hair cut short, because he had foretold the pestilence at Ephesus. 
He died at the age of an hundred years. It is to be remarked that he 
never put forward any miraculous pretensions himself ; he seems merely 
to have been a learned philosopher who had travelled widely and ac- 
quired vast information from distant sources. The history manufac- 

^ Seneca, De Btnejic., vi. 15, 16, 17. 

2 John Henry Newman's Life of Apollonius Tyanaus. 

3 By Lord Herbert and Mr. Blount. 


tured for him is plainly an imitation from that of our Lord, concocted 
by persons interested in degrading the character of Christ.^ 

Pliny the Elder (23-79 a.d.), the author of the immense encyclo- 
paedic work, his famous Natural History^ was not a man of genius, nor 
even an original observer, his work is but a compilation, and contains more 
falsehood than fact, and more absurdities than either. He cannot be 
called a naturalist, though he wrote on natural history ; nor a physician, 
though he wrote of diseases and their remedies. His work is valuable 
chiefly as a picture of the general knowledge of his time. The follow- 
ing is an example of the medical lore of the period. Pliny says that a 
woman dreamt that some one was directed to send to her son, a soldier 
in Spain, some roots of the dog-rose. It happened that exactly at that 
time her son had been bitten by a mad dog, and had received a letter 
from his mother, who had dreamt about him, and she begged him to use 
these roots as she directed. He did so, and was " protected " from 
hydrophobia, as were many others of his friends who adopted the same 
treatment. Thus it was that the wild-rose was called the dog-rose. 

DioscoRiDES lived in the first or second century of our era. He was 
a physician who rendered greater services than any other to Materia 
Medica. His work on this subject was the result of immense labour 
and research, and remained for ages the standard authority ; it con- 
tained a description of everything used in medicine, and is a most 
valuable document for the historian of the healing art of the period. 
Galen highly valued the work of Dioscorides, which must have been 
of the greatest use to the doctors of the time, who were obliged to 
prepare their own medicines. Drugs were so much adulterated that it 
was unsafe to procure them from the stores in Rome. 

Marinus was a famous anatomist, who lived in the first and second 
centuries after Christ. Galen's tutor Quintus was one of his pupils. 
He wrote many works on anatomy, which Galen abridged and praised, 
saying that he was one of the restorers of anatomical science. 

Quintus, an eminent Roman physician of the second century, was a 
pupil of Marinus. He was celebrated for his knowledge of anatomy. 

Zenon hved in the fourth century, and taught medicine at Alexan- 
dria. Julian (a.d. 361 circ.) wrote in very high terms of the medical 
skill of this physician. 

Magnus of Alexandria was a pupil of the above, who lectured on 
medicine at Alexandria, where he was very famous. He wrote a work 
on the urine. 

loNicus OF Sardis Studied under Zenon. He was not only distin- 

* Newman's Life of Apollonius. 


guished in all branches of medicine, but was versed in rhetoric, logic, 
and poetry. 

Theon of Alexandria, of very uncertain period, probably in the 
fourth century after Christ, wrote a celebrated book on Man, in which 
he treated of diseases in a systematic order, and also of pharmacy. 



The Eclectic and Pneumatic Sects. — Galen. — Neo-Platonism. — Oribasius and i^tius. 
— Influence of Christianity and the Rise of Hospitals. — Paulus iEgineta. — Ancient 
Surgical Instruments. 

The Sect of the Pneumatists. 

ATHENiEUS OF CiLiciA about A.D. 69 founded at Rome the Sect 
OF THE Pneumatists, at the time when the Methodists enjoyed their 
greatest reputation. 

They admitted an active principle of an immaterial nature, to 
which they gave the name of irvevfia, spirit. This principle caused the 
health or the diseases of the body, and the sect was named from it. 
Athenaeus was a Stoic, who had adopted the doctrines of the Peri- 
patetics. In addition to the pneuma^ he developed the theory of the 
elements, and in them recognised the positive qualities of the animal 
frame. The union of heat and moisture is necessary for the preserva- 
tion of health. Heat and dryness cause acute diseases, cold and 
moisture produce phlegmatic disorders, cold and dryness give rise to 
melancholy. At death, all things dry up and become cold.^ 

Great services to pathology were rendered by the Pneumatic sect. 
Several new diseases were discovered by them ; but they over refined 
their doctrines, especially that of fevers and the pulse ; they thought this 
alternate contraction and dilatation of the arteries was the operation 
of the pneuma^ or spirit passing from the heart. Diastole or dilatation 
pushes forward the spirit, the systole or contraction draws it back.^ 

The Sect of the Eclectics 

Derived their name from the fact that they selected from each of the 
other sects the opinions that seemed most probable. They seem to 
have agreed very nearly, if they were not actually identical with the 
sect known as the Episynthetics. They endeavoured to join the 
tenets of the Methodici to those of the Empiric and Dogmatic sects, 
and to reconcile their differences.^ 

^ Galen, De Temperamentis. 

2 Smith's Diet. Greek and Roman Ant., art. " Pneumatici." See also Sprengel 
and Le Clerc. ^ Smith's Did. Ant., art. " Eclectici." 


Amongst the most famous of the school were Agathinus of Sparta 
(ist cent. A.D.), who founded the Episynthetic sect, though Galen refers 
to him as among the Pneumatici. He was a pupil of Athenaeus, and 
the tutor of Archigenes. None of his writings are extant. Theo- 
DORUS was a physician mentioned by Pliny.^ 

Archigenes of Apam^ea, who practised in Rome (a.d. 98-117), 
was exceedingly famous. He is mentioned several times by Juvenal,^ 
and was the most celebrated of the sect. He wrote on the pulse, and 
attempted the classification of fevers. Very few fragments of his works 
remain. He was the first to treat dysentery with opium. 

Aret^us of Cappadocia (ist cent, a.d.) was a celebrated Greek 
physician who wrote on diseases, detailing their symptoms with 
great accuracy and displaying great skill in diagnosis. He was very 
little biased by any peculiar opinions, and his observations on diseases 
and their treatment have stood the light of our modern medical science 
better than those of many of the ancient authorities. He was ac- 
quainted with the fact that injuries to the brain cause paralysis on the 
opposite side ; and his classification of mental diseases is as good as 
our own. His knowledge of anatomy was considerable, and in his 
physiology he shows how much more the ancients knew of this branch 
of science than is generally supposed. He was acquainted with the 
operation of tracheotomy, and remarked its partial success.^ 

He considered elephantiasis to be contagious, and gives this caution : 
" That it is not less dangerous to converse and live with persons 
affected with this distemper, than with those infected with the plague ; 
because the contagion is communicated by the inspired air." * 

Herodotus (there were several of the name) was a physician of 
repute in Rome (about a.d. 100). He was a pupil of Athenaeus or 
Agathinus, and wrote several medical books which are quoted by Galen 
and Oribasius. He first recommended pomegranate root as a remedy 
for tapeworm, and described several infectious diseases.^ 

Heliodorus (about a.d. 100) was a famous surgeon, and wrote on 
amputations and injuries of the head. His operation for scrotal hernia 
is described by Haeser as " a brilliant example of the surgical skill of the 
Empire." He treated stricture of the urethra by internal section. 

Cassius Felix lived in the first century after Christ, and was the 
author of a curious set of eighty-four medical questions and their 
answers. He was also called Cassius Iatrosophista. 

^ Nat. Hist,, XX. 40; xxiy, I20. ^ yi_ 236; xiii. 98 ; xiv. 252. 

•^ See Baas, Hist. Med., p. 167. 

* De Causis Diuturnorum Morborum, etc., lib. ii. cap. xiii. 

5 Baas, Hist. Med., p. 167. 


Leon I DAS of Alexandria lived in the second or third century after 
Christ, was a distinguished surgeon, who operated on strumous glands, 
and amputated by the flap operation. 

Claudius Galenus, commonly called Galen, or, as mediaeval 
writers named him, Gallien, was a very celebrated physician and philo- 
sopher, who was born at Pergamos in Asia, a.d. 131, under Hadrian. 
His father, Nicon, was an architect and geonretrician, a highly culti- 
vated and estimable man. His mother was a passionate scold, who 
led her husband a worse life than Xantippe led Socrates. Nicon 
spared no pains to give his son an education which should fit him to be 
a philosopher, and in his fifteenth year he was a pupil of the Stoic, 
Platonist, Peripatetic, and Epicurean philosophies. In his seventeenth 
year his father, in consequence of a dream, changed his intentions con- 
cerning his son's profession, and determined that he should study medi- 
cine. His first tutors were ^schrion, Satyrus, and Stratonicus. He 
studied the doctrines of all the sects of medicine in the school of Alex- 
andria, and travelled in Egypt, Greece, Asia, and Italy. He devoted him- 
self to none of the schools of medicine whose doctrines he had studied, 
but struck out a path for himself. On his return to Pergamos, he was 
selected to take charge of the wounded gladiators, a position which 
afforded him opportunities for studying surgical operations. He filled 
this post with great reputation and success. When he was thirty-four 
years old he went to Rome for the first time, remaining there four years, 
and acquiring a great reputation for his knowledge of anatomy, physi- 
ology, and medicine. He was connected with many persons of great 
influence, and his popularity at last became so great that it excited the 
ill-will of his professional brethren, especially as by his lecturing, writing, 
and disputing, his name was constantly before them. So great was the 
ill-feeling they bore towards him that he was afraid of being poisoned. 
He was called the "wonder speaker" and the "wonder worker." 

" The greatest savant of all the ancient physicians," says Sprengel, 
" was Galen. He strove to introduce into medicine a severe dog- 
matism, and to give it a scientific appearance, borrowed almost entirely 
from the Peripatetic school. The enormous number of his works, the 
systematic order which distinguishes them, and the elegance of their 
style, won over, as by an irresistible charm, the indolent physicians who 
succeeded him, so that during many ages his system was considered as 
immovable." 1 

For thirteen centuries his name and influence dominated the medical 
profession in Europe, Asia, and Africa ; and this influence, under the 
name of Galenism, was paramount in the eighteenth century, notwith- 
^ Sprengel, Hist, de la MM., Introd. vol. i. p. 15. 


standing the discovery of the circulation of the blood and other great 
advances in science. Galen collected and co-ordinated all the medical 
knowledge which previous physicians and anatomists had acquired. 
He was no mere collector of, or compiler of other men's works ; but he 
enriched previous acquirements by his own observation, and was in 
every way a man greatly in advance of his time. '' A great and pro- 
found spirit," says Darehiberg, "he was philosopher as well as physician, 
realising the aspiration of Hippocrates when he said that the physician 
who should be also a philosopher must be the equal of the gods. A 
dialectician like Aristotle, a psychologist like Plato, who glorified his 
work by his genius for interpreting nature and life, his position as philo- 
sopher would have been beside those men, if his devotion to medicine 
had not called him to another sphere of intellectual activity." Neverthe- 
less, Galen did in fact occupy an exalted position in the history of 
philosophy, not only in the West, but amongst the Arabians. His ency- 
clopaedic knowledge, his spirit of observation, and his influence on the 
thought of the middle ages, compel a comparison with Aristotle. It 
was thus that the vast body of medical material collected by the various 
sects and schools was analysed by the penetrating genius of Galen, 
whose philosophical and scientific mind was able to extract the good 
and permanent from the worthless and ephemeral material, which en- 
cumbered the literature of the healing art. He fell under the domina- 
tion of none of the schools, though in one sense he may be said to have 
leaned towards the Dogmatists, " for his method was to reduce all his 
knowledge, as acquired by the observation of facts, to general theo- 
retical principles." ^ He endeavoured to draw the student of medicine 
back to Hippocrates, of whom he was an admirer and expounder. The 
labours of Galen had the effect of destroying the vitality of the old medi- 
cal sects ; they became merged in his system, and left off wrangling 
amongst themselves to imitate the new master who had arisen. A 
crowd of new writers found in the works of Galen abundant material for 
their industry. 

Partly in consequence of this jealousy, and partly from the fact that 
in A.D. 167 a pestilence broke out in Rome, he left the city privately, 
and returned to his native country. 

Galen, as a profound anatomist and physiologist, recognised final 
causes, a purpose in all parts of the bodies which he dissected; and it is, 
as Whewell points out,^ impossible for a really great anatomist to do 
other than recognise these. He cannot doubt that the nerves run 
along the limbs, in order that they may convey the impulses of the will 

1 Bostock, Hist, of Med. 

2 Hist. Induct. Sciences^ vol. iii. p. 389. 


to the muscles : he cannot doubt that the muscles are attached to the 
bones, in order that they move and support them. 

The development of this conviction, that there is a purpose in the 
parts of animals of a function to which every organ is subservient, greatly 
contributed to the progress of physiology ; it compelled men to work till 
they had discovered what the purpose is. Galen declared that it is 
easy to say with some impotent pretenders that Nature has worked to 
no purpose. He has an enthusiastic scorn of the folly of atheism.^ 
" Try," he says, " if you can imagine a shoe made with half the skill 
which appears in the skin of the foot." Somebody had expressed a 
desire for some structure of the human body over that which Nature 
has provided. " See," he exclaims, " what brutishness there is in this 
wish. But if I were to spend more words on such cattle, reasonable 
men might blame me for desecrating my work, which I regard as a re- 
ligious hymn in honour of the Creator. True piety does not consist in 
immolating hecatombs, or in bearing a thousand delicious perfumes in 
His honour, but in recognising and loudly proclaiming His wisdom, 
almighty power, love and goodness. The Father of universal nature 
has proved His goodness in wisely providing for the happiness of all 
His creatures, in giving to each that which is most really useful for 
them. Let us celebrate Him then by our hymns and chants ! He has 
shown His infinite wisdom in choosing the best means for contriving 
His beneficent ends ; He has given proof of His omnipotence in creat- 
ing everything perfectly conformable to its destination." 

Anatomy must have reached a high standard before Galen's time, as 
we learn from his corrections of the mistakes and defects of his prede- 
cessors. He remarks that some anatomists have made one muscle into 
two, from its having two heads j that they have overlooked some of the 
muscles in the face of an ape in consequence of not skinning the 
animal with their own hands. This shows that the anatomists before 
Galen's time had a tolerably complete knowledge of the science. But 
Galen greatly advanced it. He observes that the skeleton may be com- 
pared to the pole of a tent or the walls of a house. His knowledge of 
the action of the muscles was anatomically and mechanically correct. 
His discoveries and descriptions even of the very minute parts of the 
muscular system are highly praised by modern anatomists. ^ 

He knew the necessity of the nerve supply to the muscle, and that 
the brain originated the consequent motion of a muscle so supplied, and 
proved the fact experimentally by cutting through some of the nerves and 

^ De Usu, Part iii. 10. 

2 Whewell, Hist. Induct. Sciences, vol. iii. p. 386. Sprengel, ii. p. 150. 


so paralysing the part.^ Where the origin of the nerve is, there, he said, it 
is admitted by all physicians and philosophers is the seat of the soul. 
This, he adds, is in the brain and not in the heart. The principles of 
voluntary motion were well understood, therefore, by Galen, and he 
must have possessed " clear mechanical views of what the tensions of 
collections of strings could do, and an exact practical acquaintance 
with the muscular cordage which exists in the animal frame : — in short, 
in this as in other instances of real advance in science, there must have 
been clear ideas and real facts, unity of thought and extent of obser- 
vation, brought into contact." ^ 

He observed that although a ligature on the inguinal or axillary 
artery causes the pulse to cease in the leg or in the arm, the operation is 
not permanently injurious, and that even the carotid arteries may be tied 
with impunity. He corrects the error of those who, in tying the carotids, 
omitted to separate the contiguous nerves, and then wrongly concluded 
that the consequent loss of voice was due to compression of the arteries. 

Galen was the first and greatest authority on the pulse, if not our 
sole authority ; for all subsequent writers simply transferred his teaching 
on this subject bodily to their own works. ^ 

Briefly it was as follows : " The pulse consists of four parts, of a 
diastole and a systole, with two intervals of rest, one after the diastole 
before the systole, the other after the systole before the diastole." * 

His therapeutics were based on these two principles : — " i. That 
disease is something contrary to nature, and is to be overcome by that 
which is contrary to the disease itself; and 2. That nature is to be 
preserved by that which has relation with nature." ^ 

The affection contrary to nature must be overcome, and the strength 
of the body has to be preserved. But while the cause of the disease 
continues to operate, we must endeavour to remove it ; we are not to treat 
symptoms merely, for they will disappear when their cause is removed, 
and we must consider the constitution and condition of the patient be- 
fore we proceed to treat him. 

" Such as are essentially of a good constitution are such in whose 
bodies heat, coldness, dryness, and moisture are equally tempered ; the 
instruments of the body are composed in every part of due bigness, 
number, place, and formation." ^ He gives in succeeding chapters the 

^ De Motu Muse. 

2 Whewell, Hist. Induct. Sciences, vol. iii. p. 388. 

^ See for a full account of Galen's doctrine of the pulse, Dr. Adams' Commentary on 
Paulus j^gineta, vol. ii. p, 12. 

* De Dignosc. Puis., iii. 3, vol. viii. p. 902. 

* Dr. Greenhill in Smith's Diet. Greek and Roman Biog. 
^ Gdltn's Art of Physic. 


signs of a hot, cold, dry, moist, hot and dry, hot and moist, cold and 
dry, and cold and moist brain \ of a heart overheated, of a heart too 
cold, of a dry and of a moist heart, of a heart hot and dry, hot and 
moist, cold and moist, cold and dry heart. The liver is described 
under the same conditions. 

Galen's surgery is not of very great importance, but he is credited 
with the resection of a portion of the sternum for caries and with ligature 
of the temporal artery.^ 

He applied the doctrine of the four elements to his theories of 
diseases. " Fire is hot and dry ; air is hot and moist ; for the air is 
like a vapour ; water is cold and moist, and earth is cold and dry." 

Galen's pathology is explained by Sprengel thus : when the body is 
free from pain, and performs its functions without obstacle, it is in a 
state of health ; when the functions are disturbed, there is a state of 
disease. The effect of disturbed functions is the affection {iroBoi) ; that 
which determines this injury is the cause of the disease, the sensible 
effects of which are the symptoms. 

Diseases (Sta^co-ts) are unnatural states either of the similar parts or 
of the organs themselves. Those of the similar parts proceed in general 
from the want of proportion among the elements, of which one or 
two predominate. In this manner arise eight different dyscrasies, or 
ill states of the constitution. Symptoms consist either in deranged 
function or vicious secretions. The internal causes of disease depend 
almost always on the superabundance or deterioration of the humours. 
Galen calls every disorder of the humours a putridity ; it is due to a 
stagnant humour being exposed to a high temperature without evapor- 
ating. Thus suppuration and the sediment of urine are proofs of 
putridity. In every fever there is a kind of putridity which gives out 
an unnatural heat, which becomes the cause of fever, because the heart 
and the arterial system take part in it. 

Choulant enumerates eighty-three works of Galen which are acknow- 
ledged as genuine, nineteen which are doubtful, forty-five spurious, 
nineteen fragments; and fifteen commentaries on different books of 
Hippocrates ; and more than fifty short pieces and fragments for the 
most part probably spurious, which are still lying unpublished in the 
libraries of Europe. Besides these Galen wrote many other works, the 
titles of which only remain to us ; so that it is estimated that alto- 
gether the number of his different books cannot have been less than 
five hundred.^ He wrote, not on medicine only, but on ethics, logic, 
grammar, and other philosophical subjects ; he was therefore amongst 

^ Encjf, Brit.^ art. "Surgery." 

2 Smith's Diet. Greek and Roman Biog., art. *' Galen." 


che greatest and most voluminous authors that have ever lived. ^ His 
style is elegant, but he is given to prolixity, and he abounds in quotations 
from the Greek writers. 

Philip of CiESAREA was a contemporary of Galen about the middle 
of the second century after Christ. He belonged to the sect of the 
Empirici, and defended their doctrines. It is probable that he wrote 
on marasmus, on materia medica, and on catalepsy ; but as there were 
other physicians of the same name, there is much uncertainty as to their 

After the death of Galen came the Gothic invasions over the 
civilized world, and all but extinguished the learning of the times. 
Medicine lingered still in Rome, Constantinople, and Alexandria, but 
individuals rather than schools and sects kept it alive ; it struggled to 
exist amidst the grossest ignorance, superstition, and magical practices, 
till it was re-invigorated by the Saracens. 

Saints Cosmas and Damian {circ. 303) were brothers who studied the 
sciences in Syria, and became eminent for their skill in the practice of 
medicine. As they were Christians, and eager to spread the faith which 
they professed, they never took any fees, and thus came to be called by 
the Greeks Anargyri (without fees). The two brothers suffered martyr- 
dom under the Diocletian persecution, and have ever since been famous 
as workers of miracles of healing and patrons of medical science. Their 
relics were everywhere honoured, and a church built in Rome by St. 
Gregory the Great preserves them to this day. 

Dr. Meryon points out ^ that Gregory the Great enunciated one great 
doctrine of homoeopathy : " Mos medicinae est ut aliquando similia 
similibus, aliquando contraria contrairiis curet. Nam saepe calida calidis, 
frigida frigidis, saepe autem frigida calidis, calida frigidis sanare con- 

Alexander of Tralles, though one of the most eminent ancient 
physicians, believed in charms and amulets. Here are a few speci- 
mens. For a quotidian ague, " Gather an olive leaf before sunrise, 
write on it with common ink Ka, pot, a, and hang it round the neck " 
(xii. 7, p. 339); for the gout, "Write on a thin plate of gold, during 
the waning of the moon, /xet, ^pcu, /xop, t^op, tcv^, ySatV, x^wk " (xi. 1. p. 
313). He exorcised the gout thus: "I adjure thee by the great 
name 'law ^apaoiO," that is, T\^^^^ 7\)n\^ and a little further on : "I 
adjure thee by the holy names 'law, '^afiawO, 'ASwi/ai, 'EA.wt, that is 

* Cardan, De Subtil. 

^ Hist, of Med., vol. i. p. 115. 

' Smith's Diet. Greek and Roman Biog., vol. i. p. 126. 


Neoplatonism had its influence on medicine. Plotinus (a.d. 205-270), 
its great father, said, when dying, " I am striving to bring the God which 
is in us into harmony with the God which is in the Universe." The 
early Christians began to tell the world that the God within the soul of 
man and the God which is in the Universe are one and the same being, 
of absolute righteousness, power and love. Plotinus preached a gospel 
to the philosophic world ; the first Christians preached theirs to every 
creature. Neoplatonism taught the world that spirit was meant to rule 
matter : it was not enough that the early Christian exhibited to mankind 
man transformed as the result of his intimate relationship to the Divine, 
the philosophic world demanded wonders, something above nature, as 
a proof of the Divine character of the revelation ; then, as Kingsley 
explains,^ we begin to enter " the fairy land of ecstasy, clairvoyance, 
insensibility to pain, cures produced by the effect of what we now call 
mesmerism. They are all there, these modern puzzles, in those old 
books of the long bygone seekers for wisdom." Thus mankind, for ever 
wandering in a circle, began by these ecstasies and cures to retrace its 
steps towards the ancient priestcraft. These wonders were nothing to 
the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Jewish sorcerers ; they had traded in 
them for ages. 

Antyllus {circ. 300 a.d.) is mentioned by Oribasius, and is said by 
Haser to have been one of the greatest of the world's surgeons ; for 
aneurism he tied the artery above and below the sac, and evacuated its 
contents 3 for cataract, and for the cure of stammering, he invented 
appropriate treatment ; and he employed something very much like 
tenotomy for contractures. He is the earliest writer whose directions are 
extant for performing the operation of tracheotomy. He must have 
been a man of great talent and originality. He practised the removal 
of glandular swellings of the neck and ligatured vessels before dividing 
them, giving directions for avoiding the carotid artery and the jugular 
vein. It is a striking proof of the high state which surgery had reached 
at this period that bones were resected with freedom \ the long bones, 
the lower jaw, and the upper jaw were dealt with in a manner generally 
considered to be brilliant examples of modern surgery. 

Oribasius (a.d. 326-403) was born at Pergamos. By command 
of the Emperor Julian the Apostate he made a summary from the 
works of all preceding physicians who had written upon the Healing 
Art. Having made a collection of some seventy medical treatises, 
he reduced them into one, adding thereto the results of his own obser- 
vations and experience. He also wrote for his friend Eunapius two 
books on diseases and their remedies, besides treatises on anatomy and 
^ Alexandria and her Schools^ ^. 113. 


an epitome of the works of Galen. ^ He was called the Ape of Galen, 
and Freind says the title was not undeserved. He wrote in Greek, and 
though a mere compiler was capable of better things. His pharmacy 
was that of Dioscorides. He did some original work, as he was the 
first to write a description of the drum of the ear and the salivary glands. 
In his works also, we find the first description of the wonderful disease 
called lycanthropy, a form of melancholia, or insanity,^ in which the 
affected persons believe themselves to be transformed into wolves, leav- 
ing their homes at night, imitating the behaviour of those animals, 
and wandering amongst the tombs. His great work he entitled Collecta 
Medicinalia. When Julian died, Oribasius fell into disgrace, and was 
banished. He bore his misfortunes with great fortitude, and so gained 
the esteem and love of the " barbarians " amongst whom he lived that 
he was almost adored as a god. He was ultimately restored to his 
property and honour. 

Jacobus Psychristus Hved in the time of Leo I. Thrax (a.d. 457- 
474), was a very famous physician of Constantinople, who was called 
"the Saviour," on account of his successful practice. 

Adamantius of Alexandria, an latrosophist, was a Jewish physician, 
who was expelled, with his co-religionists, from Alexandria, a.d. 415. He 
embraced Christianity at Constantinople. He wrote on physiognomy. 

latrosophista was the ancient title of one who both taught and 
practised medicine. 

Archiater (chief physician) was a medical title under the Roman 
Empire, meaning " the chief of the physicians," and not " physician to 
the prince," as some have explained.^ 

Meletius (4th cent.A.D.), a Christian monk, wrote on physiology and 

Nemesius, Bishop of Emissa (near the end of the fourth century), 
wrote a treatise on the Nature of Man, which is remarkable for a proof 
that the good Churchman came very near to two discoveries which were 
made long after his time. He says that the object of the bile is to help 
digestion, to purify the blood, and impart heat to the body. Freind 
says * that in this we have the foundation of that which Sylvius de la Boe 
with so much vanity boasted he had invented himself. He adds that 
" if this theory be of any use in physic, Nemesius has a very good title 
to the discovery." 

The Bishop described the circulation of the blood in very plain terms 
considering the state of physiology at that time. 

" The motion of the pulse takes its rise from the heart, and chiefly 

^ Freind, Historia Medicince, p. 383. ' Ibid., p. 380. 

8 Smith's Diet. Ant. ^ Hist. Med. 


from the left ventricle of it ; the artery is, with great vehemence, dilated 
and contracted by a sort of constant harmony and order. While it is 
dilated it draws the thinner part of 'the blood from the next veins, the 
exhalation or vapour of which blood is made the aliment for the vital 
spirit. But while it is contracted it exhales whatever fumes it has through 
the whole body and by secret passages. So that the heart throws out 
whatever is fuliginous through the mouth and the nose by expiration." ^ 

Lucius wrote on pharmacy in the first century. 

Marcellus Empiricus (4th cent.) wrote a work on pharmacy, in 
Latin, which contains many charms and absurdities. 

^Tius was a Greek medical writer, who probably was a Christian of 
the sixth century. He was a native of Amida in Mesopotamia, and 
studied medicine at Alexandria. He wrote the Sixteen Books on Medi- 
cine^ one of the most valuable medical treatises of antiquity ; though 
containing little original matter, it includes numerous extracts from 
works which have since perished.^ 

Many of the opinions of ^tius on surgery are excellent ; he recom- 
mended the seton, and lithotomy for women. Bleeding arteries he treated 
by twisting, as we do now, and by tying. He advised irrigation with cold 
water in the treatment of wounds. In lithotomy he recommends that the 
knife should be guarded by a tube. He treated worms with pome- 
granate bark, as has been recently revived.^ He was the first Greek 
medical writer amongst the Christians who gives specimens of the spells 
and charms so much used by the Egyptian Christians in surgical cases ; 
thus, in case of a bone sticking in the throat, the physician was to cry 
out in a loud voice, "As Jesus Christ drew Lazarus from the grave, and 
Jonah out of the whale, thus Blasius, the martyr and servant of God, 
commands, ' Bone, come up or go down ! '" * 

Influence of Christianity. 

At the time when the civilizations of Greece and Rome had reached 
their highest perfection, the poison of sensual indulgence, elevated into a 
religion, had instilled itself into the whole social life of the people : 
in every incident of life, in business, in pleasure, in literature, in 
politics, in arms, in the theatres, in the streets, in the baths, at the 
games, in the decorations of his home, in the ornaments and service of 
his table, in the very conditions of the weather and the physical pheno- 
mena of nature ^ it met the Roman, and tainted every action of his 
life. Archdeacon Farrar, in the first chapter of his Early Days of 

1 Freind, Hist. Med. « Ibid. 

* Baas, Hist. Med., p. 201. * Ibid. 

' North Brit. Rev., vol. 47. 


Christianity^ draws an awful picture of the corruption of the old world 
at the moment when it was confronted by Christianity. The parent 
had absolute power over the person of his child, and could destroy its 
life at its pleasure. Unfortunate children were exposed on the road- 
side or left to perish in the waters of the Tiber. The slave was the mere 
chattel of his master, and Roman women treated their servants with the 
utmost barbarity. Juvenal has painted for us in terrible colours the 
vices and shameless conduct of the women, and the selfish luxury and 
degrading pleasures of the men ; the nameless crime, which was the 
disgrace of Greek and Roman civilization, was looked upon as merely a 
question of taste ; and St. Paul, in the first chapter of the Epistle to 
the Romans, has recorded for all time what was the highest the most 
perfect civilization Paganism has ever produced was able to effect 
for the moral condition of the people. To the Roman and Greek 
world, saturated with the most perfect philosophy the world has ever 
known, and adorned by the art which has ever since been the despair of 
its imitators, there presented itself the Catholic Church, and before the 
sun's embrace sublime 

•* Night wist 
Her work done, and betook herself in mist 
To marsh and hollow, there to bide her time 
Blindly in acquiescence." ^ 

The enemies of Christianity have affected to lament the effects pro- 
duced by the religion of Jesus on the art and science of the pagan 
world ; it has been said that the early Christians became so indifferent 
to the welfare of their bodies that they no longer sought medical aid 
when sick, but either resigned themselves to death or sought remedies 
in prayers. It is quite possible that, at the soul's awakening at the first 
revelation of the infinite importance of the spiritual life, men did some- 
what neglect the ailments of the flesh and forget them in the effort to 
realize the things of the spirit. It is perfectly true that the natural 
sciences were not likely to make much progress in such a condition of 
things. But if Christians were careless of their own health, it is not less 
certain that they were intensely solicitous for that of their poor and 
friendless neighbours. The peculiar constitution of the Roman Empire, 
which was but a military tyranny, greatly contributed to its fall, and 
the collapse would have come earlier had it not been for Christianity. 
The Empire had very little cohesion ; the Church had a cohesive force, 
such as the world had never experienced before, and the Church availed 
herself of all the facilities which the Empire possessed of keeping up, 
from centre to circumference, the circulation of the spirit of solidarity 
^ Browning's Parleyings^ p. 44. 


which has ever animated the Catholic body. Of course there was little 
reason to expect the Church to be very favourably disposed towards the 
philosophies of old Greece and Rome ; they had done little for the 
moral and social welfare of the people, and the Church had a better 
system than these could exhibit : but when St. Augustine appeared, 
there was found a modus vivendi between the noblest Platonism and the 
purest and loftiest Christian theology. He pointed the way towards a 
Christian science, and Europe ultimately realized it. It was found in 
the Schoolmen. Modern science is the legitimate child of Scholasti- 
cism, though it is unsparing in its abuse of its parent. 

The slave to the ancient Roman was simply a beast who was able to 
speak. When such beasts became unprofitable, because through sick- 
ness or old age they could no longer work, they were frequently turned 
out to perish. Cato advised the agriculturists to sell their old and sick 
slaves when no longer able to work, just as he recommended them to 
dispose of worn-out and diseased cattle and worthless implements of 

The Emperor Claudius caused slaves who were thus cruelly treated 
to be proclaimed freemen. It was the merciful and charitable conduct 
of the early Christians towards slaves, of whom such vast numbers 
helped to people the Roman Empire, that caused the doctrines of the 
Gospel to spread so rapidly throughout the Roman world. The slave 
found in the Gospel of Christ the first system of religion and philosophy 
which took any account of the poor, the helpless, and the slave ; the 
rich and cultured saw in the teachings of the Church of Christ the only 
system which embraced mankind as a whole. Juvenal ^ has indicated 
for us the value of a slave's life in these times. 

" Go, crucify that slave. For what offence ? 
Who the accuser ? Where the evidence ? 
For when the life of man is in debate, 
No time can be too long, no care too great. 
Hear all, weigh all with caution, I advise. 
' Thou sniveller ! is a slave a man ? ' she cries. 
* He's innocent ! be't so ; 'tis my command, 
My will ; let that, sir, for a reason stand." 

Although there is evidence that hospitals for the reception and 
treatment of sick and destitute persons were estabhshed in India in 
very early times,^ and though we know that these were attached to 

^ Cato, De re Rustica, c. 2. * Sat. vi. 

' Prescott says, Conquest of Mexico, chap, ii., that among the Aztecs, " Hospitals 
were established in the principal cities for the cure of the sick, and the permanent 
refuge of the disabled soldier ; and the surgeons were placed over them, ' who were 
so far better than those in Europe,' says an old chronicler, * that they did not pro- 
tract the cure, in order to increase the pay.' " 


some of the temples of ancient Greece, and the Romans had con- 
valescent institutions for sick slaves and soldiers, it cannot be doubted 
that we owe to Christianity the hospital as it exists amongst us at the 
present day. 

Christianity taught the world not only that God is the Father of 
mankind, the pagan world already knew Him as Zeus pater, but that 
as His children we are the brethren and sisters of each other. The 
Church in Rome, in the third century, says Eusebius,i supported 
" widows and impotent persons, about a thousand and fifty souls who 
were all relieved through the grace and goodness of Almighty God." 
St. Basil the Great (a.d. 379) founded at Caesarea a vast hospital, which 
Nazianzen calls a new city, and was named after him Basiliades. The 
same author thought "it might deservedly be reckoned among the 
miracles of the world, so numerous were the poor and sick that came 
thither, and so admirable was the care and order with which they were 
served." ^ In this institution St. Gregory of Nazianzus said, " disease 
became a school of wisdom, and misery was changed into happiness." 

Chastel relates that (a.d. 375) Edessa possessed a hospital with 300 
beds, and there were many similar institutions in the East. St. Jerome 
says that the widow Fabiola founded the first Christian infirmary in 
Rome, at the end of the fourth century. St. Paula, a Roman widow, in 
whose veins ran the blood of the Scipios, the Gracchi, and Paulus 
Emilia, and of Agamemnon, was born in 347 a.d., and was one of the 
many noble Christian women who devoted their wealth and their lives 
to the poor, the suffering, and the helpless, in the early days of Christi- 
anity. She distributed immense alms, and built a hospital on the road 
to Jerusalem, and also a monastery for St. Jerome and his monks, whom 
she maintained, besides three monasteries for women -, ^ she carried the 
sick to their beds in her arms, and with her own hands washed their 
wounds, as St. Jerome tells us. In Italy, Gaul, and Spain, many 
asylums for sick and poor persons were built and maintained. Nor 
were their benefits confined to Christians ; for Jews, slaves, and freemen 
were welcomed to these temples of charity. It is impossible in the 
limits of this work to trace fully the progress of the hospital movement ; 
enough has been said to prove, as Baas, the Agnostic historian of 
medicine, admits,* that " Hospitals proper, in our sense of the term, 
did not originate till Christian times." 

When the plague raged at Alexandria, Eusebius tells us,^ " Many of 

^ Ecclesiastical History , lib. vi. ch. xlii. 

^ Butler's Lives of the Saints. St. Basil the Great. 

^ Ibid., loc. cit. * p. 153. 

^ Eccl. Hist., lib. vii. c. xxi. 


our brethren, by reason of their great love and brotherly charity, 
sparing not themselves, cleaved one to another, visited the sick without 
weariness or heed-taking, and attended upon them diligently, cured 
them in Christ, which cost them their lives, and being full of other 
men's maladies, took the infection of their neighbours." Such was the 
initial impulse which Christian charity applied to the healing art ; trace 
we now its splendid results in mediaeval times. 

In the Middle Ages almost all the monasteries and religious houses 
had a hospital of one kind or another attached to them ; they had not 
only places of entertainment for pilgrims, but institutions for the treat- 
ment and care of the sick and poor. This care of the diseased and 
helpless was not left to the civil administration alone, but formed part 
of the regular work of the Church of the middle ages, and by ancient 
regulation this was placed under the control of the Bishops. The 
Council of Vienne ordained that if the administrators of a hospital, lay 
or clerical, became relaxed in the exercise of their charge, proceedings 
should be taken against them by the Bishops, who should reform and 
restore the hospital of their own authority. 

The Council of Trent granted to Bishops the power of visiting the 
hospitals. This connection between the hospitals and the ecclesiastical 
power was acknowledged by the Christian sovereigns of Europe from 
the earliest times. The Emperor Justinian, for example, gave authority 
over the hospitals to the Bishops; the property of the hospitals was 
considered as Church property, and thus was protected in troublous 
times by the sanctity of religion.^ 

The Council of Chalcedon placed such clergy as lived in establish- 
ments where orphans, the aged, and infirm were received and cared for 
under the authority of the Bishops, and makes use of the expression 
that this regulation was according to ancient custom. 

In the time of the Council of Chalcedon a hospital {^(vo^o^iov) 
seems to have been a common adjunct of a church.^ Originally 
appropriated to the reception of strangers, its use was afterwards ex- 
tended to the relief of the poor and also of the sick, as at Alexandria, 
where, inA.D. 399, we read that "the priest Isidore being four-score 
years old, was at that time governor of the hospital." ^ 

In connection with the story of Hypatia at Alexandria, we learn that 
the Parabolani was the name given to the clergy of the lowest order, 
who were appointed to attend to the sick, particularly in contagious 
disorders, from which circumstance, says Fleury,* their name was 
derived, because it signifies persons who expose themselves. 

^ See Balmez, European Civilization, p. 436. ^ ^an. 10, Concil. iv. (Mans. vii.). 
3 Fleury's Eccl. Hist., Book xxi. 3, note e. * Ibid., xxiii. 24. 



MoscHiON DiORTHORTES (about the 6th cent.) was a specialist in 
diseases of women. He wrote a manual for midwives based on the 
work ofSoranus. His description of the uterus is similar to the treatise 
of that physician. He refutes the opinion of the ancients on the situ- 
ation of male infants on the right, and of females on the left. He has 
well indicated the signs of imminent abortion. He made a great 
number of observations on the physical education of children which 
must have been of great importance to his time. He justly explained 
the reason for the cessation of the catamenia after severe diseases : the 
system cannot afford the waste. He anticipated the modern discovery 
that sterility is a disease common to women and men. He adhered to 
the principles of the Methodical school^ and the doctrines of strictum 
and laxiun?- 

Paulus ^gineta, one of the most famous of the Greek writers on 
medicine, was born in the island of ^gina, probably in the latter half 
of the seventh century after Christ. He was an latrosophist, and 
a Periodeutes, or one who travelled about in the exercise of his pro- 
fession. He wrote several books on medicine, of which one has come 
down to us, called De re Medica Libri Septem^ or "Synopsis of 
Medicine in seven books." Dr. Adams, in his translation of this famous 
M ork for the Sydenham Society, gives us the original introduction to the 
treatises of this physician, who informs us that : — 

^' In the first book you will find everything that relates to hygiene, 
and to the preservation from, and correction of, distempers peculiar to 
the various ages, seasons, temperaments, and so forth ; also the powers 
and use of the different articles of food, as is set forth in the chapter of 
contents. In the second is explained the whole doctrine of fevers, an 
account of certain matters relating to them being premised, such as 
excrementitious discharges, critical days, and other appearances, and 
concluding with certain symptoms which are the concomitants of fevers. 
The third book relates to topical affections, beginning from the crown 
of the head, and descending down to the nails of the feet. The fourth 
book treats of those complaints which are external and exposed to 
view, and are not limited to one part of the body, but affect various 
parts. Also, of intestinal worms and dracunculi. The fifth treats ot 
the wounds and bites of venomous animals ; also of the distemper 
called hydrophobia, and of persons bitten by dogs which are mad, and 
by those which are not mad ; and also of persons bitten by men. 
Afterwards it treats of deleterious substances, and of the preservatives 
from them. In the sixth book is contained everything relating to 
surgery, both what relates to the fleshy parts, such as the extraction of 
* Sprengel, Hist, de la AJecL, p. 56. 


weapons, and to the bones, which comprehends fractures and disloca- 
tions. In the seventh is contained an account of the properties of all 
medicines, first of the simple, then of the compound^ particularly of 
those which I have mentioned in the preceding six books, and more 
especially the greater, and as it were, celebrated preparations ; for I did 
not think it proper to treat of all these articles promiscuously, lest it 
should occasion confusion, but so that any person looking for one or 
more of the distinguished preparations might easily find it. Towards 
the end are certain things connected with the composition of medicines, 
and of those articles which may be substituted for one another, the 
whole concluding with an account of weights and measures." 

The most valuable and interesting part of this work is the sixth book. 
The whole treatise is chiefly a compilation from the great physicians 
who preceded Paulus, but the sixth book contains some original matter. 

This great Byzantine physician must have possessed considerable skill 
in surgery. His famous treatise on midwifery is now lost ; it procured 
for him amongst the Arabs the title of " the Obstetrician," and entitles 
him to be called the first of the teachers of the accoucheur's art. Cele- 
brated equally in the Arabian and Western schools, he exercised an 
enormous influence in the development of the medical arts. Through- 
out the Middle Ages he maintained his great popularity, and his surgical 
teaching was the basis of that of x\bulcasis, which afforded to Europe 
in the Middle Ages her best surgical knowledge. He was the first 
writer who took notice of the cathartic properties of rhubarb.^ 

After the time of Paulus of ^gina the art of surgery slept for five 
hundred years ; imitators of the ancient masters and compilers of their 
works alone remained to prove that it was still alive, but no progress 
was made. The religious orders employed the best methods they 
knew for the relief of physical suffering, but naturally it was not their 
work to perfect the healing art. In the Middle Ages, when so much of 
the medical and surgical practice was in the hands of the monks, par- 
ticularly of the Benedictine order, many abuses crept in ; and at last the 
])ractice of surgery by the clergy was forbidden in 1163 by the Council 
of Tours. 

The ofiice of royal physician in the Frankish court in the sixth cen- 
tury was not unattended with risk. When Austrigildis, wife of King 
Guntram, died of the pestilence in the year 580, she expressed in her 
last moments a pious desire that her doctors, Nicolaus and Donatus, 
•should be put to death for not having saved her; and her husband, 
feeling it incumbent upon him to carry out her wishes, had them duly 

^ Ency, Brit., vol. i. p. 181. 2 Puschmann's Hist. Med. Educ, p. 1S9. 


Ancient Surgical Instruments. 

Bramhilla, surgeon to Francis 11. of Austria, said that surgical instru- 
ments were invented by Tubal Cain, because the Bible says he was "the 
instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." 

The saw is a tool of great antiquity. Pliny attributes its invention to 
Dnedalus, or to his nephew Perdix, who was also called Talos ; he was 
supposed to have imitated it from the jaw of a serpent, with which he 
had been able to cut a piece of wood. The invention of forceps was 
attributed to Vulcan and the Cyclopes. When used for extracting teeth, 
the Greeks called them oSovraypa ; for extracting arrow-heads and other 
weapons from the wounded in battle, the particular form employed was 

called apSioOypa. 

In the collection of domestic objects discovered by M. Petrie in the 
Egyptian ruins of Kahun, flint saws close upon 5,000 years old may 
be seen.i 

Pincers and tweezers are made by the natives of Timor-laut from the 
bamboo ; they are used for pulling out the hair from the face. The 
natives of the Darling River, New South Wales, use fine bone needles 
for boring through the septum of the nose. 

The book on Wounds of the Head is admitted by the best critics to 
be a genuine work of Hippocrates. We find in that treatise that he used 
the trepan, as he speaks of a a-fXLKpbv rpv-navov, a sjnall trepan. There 
must also have been a larger one, a Trptwr, or saw^ which had a TreptoSos, 
or circular motion, and which was probably the trephine, and a TrptW 
XapttKTos, or jagged sazv, which is held to be the trepan ; and he gives 
instructions to the operator to withdraw the instrument frequently and 
cool both it and the bone with cold water, and to exercise all vigilance 
not to wound the living membrane.^ 

Splints were used by the Greeks for fractured limbs ; they were called 
vdpOrfKas. Cutting for the stone is spoken of in the "OpKos, which is 
attributed to Hippocrates. Celsus describes lithotrity, or crushing the 
stone by the instrument invented by Ammonios the Ai^oro/xo?, i.e. 

Asclepiades practised tracheotomy. Many surgical instruments have 
been discovered in Herculaneum and Pompeii. There is a speculum 
vaginae with two branches and a travelling yoke for them driven by a 
screw, and a speculum ani opening by pressure on the handles ; there is 
a forceps of curious construction for removing pieces of bone from the 
surface of the brain in cases of fracture of the skull. Mr. Cockayne 
says : ^ — 

1 Pharaohs, Fellahs, etc., Amelia B, Edwards, p. 243. 

2 Preface to Saxon Lccchdoms^ vol. i. p. xxi. •' Ibid., vol. i. p. xxiii. 


"It has been specially considered by Prof. Benedetto Vulpes [1847J, 
who thinks it may also have been intended to take up an artery. The 
Greeks, he observes, as appears by an inscription dug up near Athens, 
were able to tie an artery in order to stop haemorrhage, and words im- 
plying so much are found in a treatise of Archigenes (a.d. 100), existing 
in MS. in the Laurentian library at Florence, '■the vessels carrying 
(blood) towards the incision nmst be tied or seived tip' Near the end 
of the sixteenth century a French surgeon was the first to recover the 
ligature of the artery, and the instrument he used was very similar to the 
forceps in the Museum at Naples." 

A curious pair of forceps has also been found, without a parallel 
among modern surgical instruments ; the blades have a half turn, and 
the grip is toothed and spoon-shaped when closed. By construction it 
is suited for introduction into some internal cavity, and for holding 
firm and fast some excrescence there. Professor Vulpes finds it well 
calculated for dealing with the excrescences which grow upon the 
Schneiderian membrane covering the nasal bones, or such as come on 
the periphery of the anus, or the orifice of the female urethra; especially 
such as having a large base cannot be tied.^ 

There is further an instrument for tapping the dropsical, described by 
Celsus ^ and Paulus ^Egineta. It was somewhat altered in the middle 
of the seventeenth century by Petit. 

An instrument suited to carry off the dropsical humours by a little at 
a time on successive days, as Celsus and Paulus ^gineta recommended, 
has also been dug up. Rust and hard earth, which cannot safely be 
removed, have blocked up the canal of the relic, and rendered conclu- 
sions less certain.'" 

" The probe, * specillum,' /u-tJXt/, is reputed by Cicero to have been 
invented by the Arcadian Apollo^ who also was the first to bind up a 
wound. Seven varieties are figured in the work of Professor Vulpes in 
one plate, with ends obtuse, spoon-shaped, flat and oval, flat and square, 
flat and divided. The catheter of the ancients is figured by the same 
writer. It was furnished with a bit of wood to be drawn out by a thread, 
to prevent the obstructive efi"ects of capillary attraction, and to fetch 
the urine after it when withdrawn. It is of bronze, and elastic cathe- 
ters seem to be of modern invention." There are, or were in 1847, 
eighty-nine specimens of pincers in the Naples Museum. 

Hooks, hamuli, cauterising instruments, a spatula, a silver lancet, a 
small spoon for examining a small quantity of blood after venesection. 

^ Vulpes, III list razioue di tulti gll Stninienii chinirgici scavati in Ercolano c in 
Pompei^ Napoli, 1847. - Ibid. 

" Vulpes, jU supra. 


There are cupping vessels of a somewhat spherical shape, from which 
air was exhausted by burning a httle tow. A fleam for bleeding horses 
just like that used at the present time, a bent lever of steel for raising 
the bones of the head in cases of depressed fracture. Professor Vulpes 
gives figures of eight steel or iron knives used for various surgical pur- 
poses, and of a small plate to be used as an actual cautery. 


* k 

Fig. I. The Saw used by Carpenters. Fig, 2. A Small Saw. Fig. 3. The Modiolus, or Ancient 

Trephine. Fig. 4. The Terebra, or Trepan, called Abaptiston. Fig. 5. The Augur used by 

Carpenters. Fig. 6. The Terebra, or Trepan, which is turned round by a thong bound tight about its 
middle. Fig. 7. The Augur, or Trepan, which is turned round by a bow. Fig. 8. A Terebra, or 
Trepan, which is turned round by a thong on a cross-beam. Fig. 9. A Terebra, or Trepan, which 

has a ball in its upper end, by which it is turned round. Fig. 10. A Terebra, or Trepan, which is 

turned round by a cross piece of wood, or handle, on its upper end. (From Adams' Hippocrates, vol. i.) 

[Face p. 246. 



Universality of the Amulet. — Scarabs. — Beads. — Savage Amulets. — Gnostic and 
Christian Amulets. — Herbs and Animals as Charms. — Knots. — Precious Stones. — 
Signatures. — Numbers. — Saliva. — Talismans. — Scripts. — Characts. — Sacred 
Names. — Stolen Goods. 

In the ancient world, as with savages, the whole art of medicine was in 
many cases the art of preparing and applying amulets and charms. 

An amulet (probably the word is denied from the Arabic hamalety 
a pendant) is anything which is hung round the neck or attached to any"^ 
other part of the body, and worn as an imagined protection against disease, z 
witchcraft, accidents, or other evils. Stones, metals, bits of parchment, 
portions of the human body, as parings of the finger nails, may constitute 
these charms. Substances like stones, gems, or parchment may have 
certain words, letters, or signs inscribed upon them. In the East amu- 
lets have from the earliest ages been associated with the belief in evil 
spirits as the causes of diseases. A talisman may for our purpose be con- 
sidered as the same thing as an amulet. In Scott's Tales of the Crusaders ^ 
there is one of these charms which has the power of stopping blood 
and protecting the wearer from hydrophobia. Charms, enchantments, ^ 
the ceremonial use of words as incantations, songs, verses, etc., have all 2 
been used either with a view of causing, preventing, or curing diseases, 
and their use of course arose from the belief of primitive, or savage man 
his present representative, that our maladies have a supernatural origin. 
An amulet may consist merely of a piece of string tied like a bracelet 
round the wrist, as in India, where such a charm is commonly worn by 
school children ; it is a talisman against fever, which has been blessed 
by a Brahman, has been sold for a half-rupee, and is highly esteemed by 
the wearer. Our word carminative (a comforting medicine, like tinc- 
ture of cardamoms) means really a charm medicine, and is derived from 
the Latin carinen^ a song-charm. This word enshrines the fact that 
magic and medicine were once united. The charm, i.e. song, was a 
spell, whether of words, philtres, or figures, as thus : — 

" With the charmes that she saide, 
A fire down fro' the sky alight." 

— Gowet\ 



Charms, amulets, characts, talismans, and the like, are found amongst 
all peoples and in all times. They unite in one bond of superstitious 
brotherhood the savage and the philosopher, the Sumatrans and the 
Egyptians, the Malay and the Jew, the Catholic and the Protestant. 
The charm differs from the amulet merely in the fact that it need not 
be suspended. " There is scarcely a disease," says Pettigrew, " for 
which a charm has not been given." ^ And it is well to note that 
their greatest effect is always produced on disorders of the nervous sys- 
tem, in which the imagination plays so important a part. Charms are 
also used t o avert disea sfis and other evils ; so that the man, sufficiently 
protected as he supposes by these objects, not only will escape plague 
and pestilence, but will be invulnerable to bullet and sword. The 
Sumatrans practise medicine chiefly by charms ; when called in to pre- 
scribe, they generally ask for " something on account," under the pretext 
of purchasing the appropriate charm. ^ 

The hoof of the elk is used by the Indians and Norwegians and other 
northern nations as a cure for epilepsy. The patient must apply it to 
his heart, hold it in his left hand, and rub his ear with it.^ 

" Medicine " amongst primitive folk is a synonym for fetich ; anything 
wonderful, mysterious, or unaccountable, is called " medicine " by the 
North American Indians. The medicine-bag is a mystery bag, a charm. 
In fetiches primitive man recognises something which has a power of 
a sort he cannot understand straightway ; therefore it becomes to him 
a religious object. "Why are any herbs or roots magical?" asks Mr. 
Lang; and he correctly answers the question, not by any far-fetched ex- 
planations, but by the observation that herbs really do possess medicinal 
properties (some of them indeed of extreme potency), and the ignorant 
invariably confound medicine with magic.^ On this theory it is, of 
course, not necessary to swallow the medicine or apply it as we apply 
lotions and liniments ; it is enough to carry it about as an amulet or 
charm, for it is the life oiiht thing which is efficacious, the spirit, which 
resides in the outward form, which possesses the virtue, not the material 
object itself. Of course, it may be necessary to take the charm inter- 
nally ; but then it is not the physiological action which is looked for, 
but the magical. Dapper, in his Description of Africa (p. 621), tells of 
savages who wear roots round their necks as amulets when they sleep 
out ; they chew the roots, and spit the juice round the camp to keep off 
the wild beasts. At other times they burn the roots, and blow the smoke 
about for the same purpose. The Korannas carry roots as charms 
against bullets and wild animals. If successful in war, and obtaining 

^ Medical Superstitions, p. 56. - Marsden, ^/j-/. Smnatra, p. 189. 

3 Tetiigvew, Medical Superstitions, -p- 61. ^ Custovi and Myth., p. 148. 


much booty, they say, " We thank thee, our grandfather's root, that 
thou hast given us cattle to eat." 

The Bongoes and Niam-Niams have similar customs.^ 

General Forlong, referring to the serpent Buddhism of Kambodia, 
says, that " Fetish worship was the first worship, and to a great extent 
is still the real faith of the great mass of the ignorant, especially about 
these parts." ^ " Probably one-quarter of the world yet deifies, or at 
least reverences, sticks and stones, ram-horns and charms." ^ 

The Abyssinians are sunk in the grossest superstition ; their medical 
practice is, to a large extent, based on the use of amulets and charms. 
Even leprosy and syphilis are treated by these means, and eye diseases 
by spitting in the affected organs.'^ 

" Fetiches " are claws, fangs, roots, or stones, which the Africans be- 
lieve to be inhabited by spirits, and so powerful for good or evil. The 
word is derived from the Portuguese y^///y^, a charm or amulet. 

The Tibetans wear amulets upon their necks and arms; they contain 
nail-parings^ teeth, or other reliques of some sainted Lama, with musk, 
written prayers, and other charms.^ 

Barth, travelling in Africa, found an English letter which had not 
reached its destination, used as a charm by a native.^ 

Leaving primitive folk and savage peoples, and turning to the great 
civilized nations of the past, we find the Egyptians, the Chaldceans, 
Assyrians, and Babylonians not less addicted to the use of amulets, 
charms, talismans, and philters than their untutored progenitors (assum- 
ing with the anthropologists that the savage of to-day represents the 
primitive people who must have preceded the founders of civilization). 
The Magi, according to Pliny,''' prescribed the herb feverfew, the Pyre- 
ihruin partJienhcm, to be pulled from the ground with the left hand, 
that the fevered patient's name must be spoken forth, and that the her- 
borist must not look behind him. He tells us also that the Magi and 
the Pythagoreans ordered the pseudo-ancJiusa to be gathered with the 
left hand, while the plucker uttered the name of the person to be cured, 
and that it should be tied on him for the tertian fever.^ 

Of the aglaophotis^ by which some commentators understand the peony 
{FcBOJiia officinalis), and others the " Moly " of Homer, Phny says, " by 
means of this plant, the Magi can summon the deities into their pre- 
sence when they please." Concerning the achainenis, he says the root 

' Custom and Myth., p, 150. 2 J^ivers of Life, J- G. R. Forlong. 

^ Anthropological Journal , vol. xii. p. 572, * Baas, Hist. MeiL, p. 68. 

^ Hooker, Himalayan Journ., Ed. 1891, p. 141. 

'^ Travels in Africa, Ed. 1890, p. 488. 

' Plin., xxi. 104. ® Plin., xxii. 24. 


of it, according to the Magian belief as expressed by Democritus, when 
taken in wine, torments the guilty to such a degree during the night,, 
by the various forms of avenging deities, as to extort from them a 
confession of their crimes. He tells, amongst other marvels, of the 
adamantis, a plant found in Armenia, which, when, presented to a lion, 
will make the beast fall upon its back and drop its jaws. The Magi 
said if any one swallowed the heart of a mole palpitating and fresh, he 
would at once become an expert diviner. An owl's heart placed on a 
woman's left breast while she is asleep will make her tell all her secrets. 
For quartan fevers they recommended a kind of beetle taken up with 
the left hand to be worn as an amulet.^ The use of scarabs or beetles 
made of steatite, lapis-lazuli, cornelian, etc., as amulets, dates from the 
most ancient periods of Egyptian history. In the fourth Egyptian 
room of the British Museum there are specimens of scarabs, with the 
names of kings and queens dating b.c. 4400-250. The objects are 
not in all cases as old as the dates of the sovereigns whose names they 
bear. " The beetle was an emblem of the god Khepera, the self- 
created, and the origin and source from whence sprang gods and men. 
Ra, the Sun-god, who rose again daily, was, according to an Egyptian 
myth, a form of Khepera ; and the burial of scarabs with mummies 
probably had reference to the resurrection of the dead." ^ 

Some large scarabs which were fastened on the breasts of mum- 
mies had inscriptions from the 30th chapter of the Book of the Dead, 
The deceased person prays : "Let there be no obstruction to me in 
evidence ; let there be no obstacle on the part of the Powers ; let there 
be no repulse in the presence of the Guardian of the Scale." Other 
amulets consist of papyrus sceptres, buckles of Isis, hearts, fingers, etc., 
in gold and precious stones. They are laid between the bandages of 
mummies to guard the dead from evil. 

Professor Lenormant explains the magical incantations which were 
used in connection with these talismans ; they had to be " pronounced 
over the beetle of hard stone, which is to be overlaid with gold and to 
take the place of the individual's heart. Make a phylactery of it 
anointed with oil, and say magically over this object, 'My heart is 
my mother ; my heart is in my transformations.' " ^ 

The ancient Egyptians were buried with their amulets as a protection 
against the evil powers of the other w^orld. Mr. Flinders Petrie, exca- 
vating at the Pyramid of Plawara, discovered on the body of Horuta 
a great number of these charms. He says : *' Bit by bit the layers 
of pitch and cloth were loosened, and row after row of magnificent 

^ Plin., XXX. 30. 2 Official Guide, Brit. Mnsmm Galleries, 1892, pp. 122-3. 

^ From Rittial of the Dead. Lenormant, Chaldccan iMagiCy p. 90. 


amulets were disclosed, just as they were laid on in the distant past. 
The gold ring on the finger which bore his name and titles, the ex- 
quisitely inlaid gold birds, the chased gold figures, the lazuli statuettes, 
delicately wrought, the polished lazuli and beryl, and carnelian amulets 
finely engraved, all the wealth of talismanic armoury, rewarded our 
eyes with a sight which has never been surpassed to archaeological gaze. 
No such complete and rich a series of amulets has been seen intact 
before." ^ 

Anodyne necklaces, made of beads from peony roots, are worn by 
children in some parts to assist them in teething. The ancient Greeks 
held the peony in great repute ; they believed it to be of divine origin, 
and it was for many centuries held to have the power to drive away 
evil spirits.^ 

Abydemis, a Greek historian who wrote a history of Assyria, says 
that the inhabitants made amulets from the wood of the ash, and hung 
them round their necks as a charm against sorcery. 

In the Sanskrit Atharvaveda are found charms for diseases, which 
are influenced by colours. Saffron and the yellow-hammer are prescribed 
for jaundice ; red remedies, and especially red cows, for blood diseases. 

The extremity of the intestine of the ossifrage, says Pliny, if worn 
as an amulet, is well known to be an excellent remedy for colic. 
Another cure is for the patient to drink the water in which he has 
washed his feet ! ^ A tick from a dog's left ear, worn as an amulet, will 
allay all kinds of pains, but we must be careful to take it from a dog 
that is black.* 

" Pliny says that any plant gathered from the bank of a brook or 
river before sunrise, provided that no one sees the person who gathers 
it, is considered as a remedy for tertian ague, when tied to the left arm, 
the patient not knowing what it is ; also, that a person may be im- 
mediately cured of the headache by the application of any plant whicli 
has grown on the head of a statue, provided it be folded in the shred 
of a garment, and tied to the part affected with a red string." ^ 

The cyclamen was cultivated in houses as a protection against poison. 
Pliny remarks that it was an amulet.^ Vivisection was practised in con- 
nection with charms. " If a man have a white spot, as cataract, in his 
eye, catch a fox alive, cut his tongue out, let him go, dry his tongue 
and tie it up in a red rag and hang it round the man's neck." 

Alexander Trallianus was not able to rise above the absurdities of 

^ Ten Years' Digging in Egypt ^ p. 94. 

'^ Pratt's Floiuering Plants^ vol. i. p. 50. 

'* Nat. Hist.^ Book xxx, chap. 20. ^ Ibid., Book. xxx. chap. 24. 

'^ Diet. Greek and Roman Ant.^ Smith's art. "Amulets." ^ H. N. xxv. 9. 


the amulet. He recommends bits of old sailcloth from a shipwrecked 
vessel to be tied to the right arm and worn for seven weeks as a pro- 
tection against epilepsy. He advises the heart of a lark to be fastened 
to the left thigh as a remedy for colic ; for a quartan ague, the patient 
must carry about some hairs from a goat's chin. He admits that he 
has no faith in such things, but merely orders them as placebos for 
rich and fastidious patients who could not be persuaded to adopt a 
more rational treatment.^ 

Dr. Baas tells us that '' a regular pagan amulet was found in 1749 
on the breast of the prince bishop Anselm Franz of Wiirzburg, count 
of Ingolstadt, after his death." 2 

Gnostic and Christian Amulets. 

Gnosticism is responsible for the introduction of many wonder-work- 
ing amulets and charms. This system of philosophy was a fantastical 
combination of Orientalism, Greek philosophy, and Christianity. The 
teaching was that all natures were emanations of the Deity, or (Eofis. 
On some of the gnostic amulets the word Mythras was inscribed, on 
others Serapis, lao, Sabaoth, Adonai, etc. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the spirit of Christianity in its early 
days was strenuously opposed to all magical and superstitious practices, 
the nations it subdued to the faith of Christ were so wedded to their 
ancient practices that they could not be entirely divorced from them, 
and thus in the case of amulets and charms it was necessary to substi- 
tute Christian words and emblems in place of the heathen words and 
symbols previously in use. 

Anglo-Saxon charms and amulets were used by the monks of Glaston- 
bury Abbey, who treated disease. In the " Leech book " ^ we find a 
holy amulet " against every evil rune lay,^ and one full of elvish tricks, 
writ for the bewitched man, this writing in Greek letters : Alfa, Omega, 
Iesvm, Beronikh. Again, another dust and drink against a rune lay ; 
take a bramble apple,^ and lupins, and pulegium, pound them, then 
sift them, put them in a pouch, lay them under the altar, sing nine 
masses over them, put the dust into milk, drip thrice some holy water 
upon them, administer this to drink at three hours. ... If a mare ^ 
or hag ride a man, take lupins, and garlic, and betony, and frankincense, 
bind them on a fawn skin, let a man have the worts on him, and let him 
go into his house." For typhus fever the patient is to drink of a decoc- 

^ Smith's Did. Greek and Roman Ant., art. " Therapeutica." See also 
^' Amulets," p. 45. 

^ Hisf. Med., p. 772. ^ Vol. ii. p. 139. ■* Heathen charm, 

^ A blackberry. *» Nightmare was considered to be the work of an evil spirit. 


tion of herbs over which many masses have been sung, then say the 
names of tlie four gospellers and a charm and a prayer. Again, a 
man is to write in silence a charm, and silently put the words in his 
left breast and take care not to go indoors with the writing upon him, 
the words being Emmanuel, Veronica. 

Mr. Cockayne, the editor of Saxon Zeechdoms, has pointed out that 
the greatest scientific men of antiquity, even those who set themselves 
against the prevailing medical superstitions of their times, and did their 
utmost to establish observation and experiment in opposition to specu- 
lation and old wives' fables, were by no means liberated from a belief 
in magic and incantations. Chrysippus believed in amulets for quartan 
fevers.^ Serapion, one of the chiefs of the Empiric school, prescribed 
crocodile's dung and turtle's blood in epilepsy. Soranos will not use 
incantations in the cure of diseases, yet he testifies that they were sa 
employed. Pliny has an amulet for almost every disorder. He tells 
of a chief man in Spain who was cured of a disease by hanging purs- 
lane root round his neck ; he teaches that an amulet of the seed of 
tribulus cures varicose veins ; that the longest tooth of a black dog 
cures quartan fevers ; or you may carry a wasp in your left hand or half 
a dozen other equally absurd things for the same purpose. A holly 
planted in the courtyard of a house keeps off witchcrafts ; an herb 
picked from the head of a statue and tied with a red thread will cure 
headache, and so on.^ 

Josephus tells a tale which was probably the foundation of what was 
afterwards told about the mandrake. Xenocrates had a fancy for 
advising people to eat human brains, flesh or liver, or to swallow for 
various complaints the ground bones of parts of the human frame. 
Alexander of Tralles says that even Galen did homage to incantations.'^ 
He gives his words : " Some think that incantations are like old wives' 
tales J as I did for a long while. But at last I was convinced that 
there is virtue in them by plain proofs before my eyes. For I had 
trial of their beneficial operations in the case of those scorpion-stung, 
nor less in the case of bones stuck fast in the throat, immediately, by an 
incantation thrown up. And many of them are excellent, severally,, 
and they reach their mark." Yet Galen is angry with Pamphilos for 
"his babbling incantations," which were "not merely useless, not 
merely unprofessional, but all false : no good even to little boys^ not 
to say students of medicine." * 

^ Plin., XXX. 30. 

- See the twenty-second and twenty-fourth books of Pliny s Natural History. 

^ Lib. ix. cap. 4, p. 538, Ed. 1556. 

^ Galen dc Facult. Simpl., lib. vi. p. 792, Ed. Kuhn. 


Alexander of Tralles frequently prescribes amulets and the like. Mr. 
Cockayne calls them periapts. " Thus for colic, he guarantees by his 
own experience, and the approval of almost all the best doctors, dung of a 
wolf, with bits of bone in it if possible, shut up in a pipe, and worn during 
the paroxysm, on the right arm, or thigh, or hip, taking care it touches 
neither the earth nor a bath. A lark eaten is good. The Thracians 
pick out its heart, while alive, and make a periapt, wearing it on the left 
thigh. A part of the caecum of a pig prepared with myrrh, and put in 
a wolfs or dog's skin, is a good thing to wear. A ring with Hercules 
strangling a lion on the Median stone ^ is good to wear. 

" A bit of a child's navel, shut up in something of gold or silver with 
salt, is a periapt which will make the patient at ease entirely. Have tlie 
setting of an iron ring octagonal, and engrave upon it, ' Flee, Flee, Ho, 
Ho, Bile, the lark was searching ' \ on the head of the ring have an N ^ 
engraved ; this is potent, and he thinks it must be strange not to com- 
municate so powerful an antidote, but begs it may be reserved from 
carnal folk, and told only to such as can keep secrets and are trusty. 
For the gout he recommends a certain cloth — Ik tojv KaTajjLrjvtmv ; also 
the sinews of a vulture's leg and toes tied on, minding that the right 
goes to the right, the left to the left ; also the astragali of a hare, leav- 
ing the poor creature alive ; also the skin of a seal for soles ; also a line 
of Homer, rerprj)(€.L S'dyoprj, viro 8e (TTovaxt^^To yata, on gold-leaf, when the 
moon is in Libra ; also a natural magnet found when the moon is in 
Leo. Write on gold-leaf, in the wane of tlie moon, ' mei, threu, mor, 
for, teux, za, zon, the, lou, chri, ge, ze, ou, as the sun is consolidated 
in these names, and is renewed every day ; so consolidate this plaster 
as it was before, now, now, quick, quick, for, behold, I pronounce the 
great name, in which are consolidated things in repose, iaz, azuf, zuon, 
threux, bain, chook ; consolidate this plaster as it was at first, now, now, 
quick, quick.' ^ 

"Then bits were to be chopped off a chameleon, and the creature living 
was to be wrapped up in a clean linen rag, and buried towards the sun- 
rise, while the chopped bits were to be worn in tubes ; all to be done 
when the moon was in the wane. Then again for gout, some henbane, 
when the moon is in Aquarius or Pisces, before sunset, must be dug up 
with the thumb and third finger of the left hand, and must be said, I 
'declare, I declare, holy wort, to thee ; I invite thee to-morrow to the 
house of Fileas, to stop the rheum of the feet of M. or N., and say I 

^ " A Gnostic device. See Montfau9on, plates 159, 161, 163." 
2 This also is Gnostic. 

^ Mr. Cockayne considers this to be probably Gnostic ; some of the words are pure 


invoke thee, the great name, Jehovah, Sabaoth, the God who steadied 
the eartli and stayed the sea, the filler of flowing rivers, who dried up 
Lot's wife and made her a pillar of salt, take the breath of thy mother 
earth and her power, and dry the rheum of the feet or hands of M. or 
N. The next day, before sunrise, take a bone of some dead animal, 
and dig the root up with this bone, and say, I invoke thee by the holy 
names, lao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Elai ; and put on the root one handful of 
salt, saying, ' As this salt will not increase, so may not the disorder of 
N. or M.' And hang the end of the root as a periapt on the sufferer," 

Although Alexander of Tralles was an enlightened and skilful 
physician, he recommended for epilepsy a metal cross tied to the arm ; 
and went to the Magi for assistance in his art, and was recommended 
to use jasper and coral with root of nux vomica tied in a linen cloth as 
an amulet. It seems strange that, although Hippocrates and the scepti- 
cism of the Epicureans had apparently destroyed the faith in magicians 
amongst the learned, that men should have so soon reverted to the 
absurdities from which they had been delivered ; but there is an element 
in our nature which can only be satisfied by that which magic repre- 
sents, and even in the present age of science we have reverted to the 
same things under the names of Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Occul- 

It would be grossly unfair to the Catholic Church to complain of the 
slavery in which it kept the minds of the ignorant barbarians whom it 
had converted from paganism to Christianity. When we read of medi- 
cine masses, of herbs and decbctions placed under the altar, of holy 
water mixed with drugs, and the sign of the cross made over the poul- 
tices and lotions prescribed, we are apt to say that the priests merely 
substituted one form of superstition for another, which was a little 
coarser. A little reflection will serve to dispel this idea. A belief in 
magic influence is, as we have abundantly shown, inseparable from the 
minds of primitive and savage man. It is as certain that a savage will 
worship his fetish, pray to his idol, and befieve in disease-demons, and 
their expulsion by charms and talismans, as that he will tattoo or paint his 
body, stick feathers in his hair, and rings in his nose and ears ; it is part 
of the evolution of man on his way to civilization. To suddenly deprive 
a savage or barbarian of all his magic remedies, his amulets and charms, 
would be as foolish as it would be futile : foolish, because many 
amulets and charms are perfectly harmless, and help to quiet and soothe 
the patient's mind ; futile, because whatever the ecclesiastical prohibi- 
^ Quoted by Mr. Cockayne in his Saxon Lecchdoms, vol.i., Preface, pp. xviii., xix., 



tion, the obnoxious ceremonies would certainly be practised in secret. 
It was therefore wiser for the Church to compromise the matter, to wink 
at innocent superstitions, and endeavour to substitute a religious idea 
such as the sign of the cross would imply, for the meaningless, if not 
idolatrous, ceremonies of a pagan religion. Let us never forget that the 
Church delivered the nations from " the tyranny and terror of the 
poisoner and the wizard." 

Herbs, Animals, etc., as Amulets. 

Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy^ mentions several " amulets 
and things to be borne about " as remedies for head-melancholy, such 
as hypericon, or St. John's wort, gathered on a Friday in the hour of 
Jupiter, "borne or hung about the neck, it mightily helps this affection, 
and drives away all fantastical spirits." A sheep or kid's skin whom a 
wolf worried must not be worn about a man, because it is apt to cause 
palpitation of the heart, " not for any fear, but a secret virtue which 
amulets have." " Peony doth cure epilepsy, precious stones most 
diseases ; a wolf's dung borne with one helps the colic ; a spider an 
ague, etc. Being in the country," he says, " in the vacation time, not 
many years since, at Lindley, in Leicestershire, my father's home, I 
first observed this amulet of a spider in a nut-shell lapped in silk, etc., 
so applied for an ague by my mother ; whom, although I knew to have 
excellent skill in chirurgery, sore eyes, aches, etc., and such experi- 
mental medicines, as all the country where she dwelt can witness, to 
have done many famous and good cures upon diverse poor folks that 
were otherwise destitute of help ; yet among all other experiments, 
this, methought, was most absurd and ridiculous \ I could see no warrant 
for it — Quid aranea ciun febre'i For what antipathy? — till at length 
rambling amongst authors (as I often do), I found this very medicine in 
Dioscorides, approved by Matthiolus, repeated by Alderovandus, cap. de 
aranea^ lib. de insectis^ and began to have a better opinion of it, and to 
give more credit to amulets, when I saw it in some parties answer to 
experience." ^ 

The common fumitory {Fiunaria capreolata) is said to derive its 
name ixomfiwius, smoke, "because the smoke of this plant was said by 
the ancient exorcists to have the power of expelling evil spirits." ^ 

The elder had many singular virtues attributed to it ; if a boy were 
beaten with an elder stick, it hindered his growth; but an elder on 
which the sun had never shined was an amulet against erysipelas.^ 

^ Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 2, sec. 5. 
2 Rev. C. A. John's Flowers of the Field. 
^ Brand's Obsei-vations, vol. ii. p. 67. 


Knots as Charms. 

Marcellus, a medical writer, quoted by Mr. Cockayne in his preface ^.^ 
to Saxon Leechdoms, vol. i, p. xxix., gives an example of knots as charms. Wf/ 
" As soon as a man gets pain in his eyes, tie in unwrought flax as many 
knots as there are letters in his name, pronouncing them as you go, and 
tie it round his neck." 

Precious Stones as Charms. 

The origin of the superstitious belief in the magic power of precious 
stones has always been traced to Chaldsea. Pliny ^ refers to a book on 
the subject which was written by Lachalios, of Babylon, and dedicated 
to Mithridates. 

The Eagle stone {yEtites) is a natural concretion, a variety of argilla- 
ceous oxide of iron, often hollow within, with a loose kernel in the 
centre, found sometimes in an eagle's nest. This was a famous amulet, 
bringing love between a man and his wife ; and if tied to the left arm 
or side of a pregnant woman it ensured that she should not be delivered 
before her time. Women in labour were supposed to be quickly 
delivered if they were girded with the skin which a snake casts off.^ 

The Bezoar stone had a great reputation in melancholic affections. 
Manardus says it removes sadness and makes him merry that useth it.^ 

" Of the stone which hight agate. It is said that it hath eight virtues. 
One is when there is thunder, it doth not scathe the man who hath this 
stone with him. Another virtue is, on whatsoever house it is, therein 
a fiend may not be. The third virtue is, that no venom may scathe 
the man who hath the stone with him. The fourth virtue is, that the 
man, who hath on him secretly the loathly fiend, if he taketh in Hquid 
any portion of the shavings of this stone, then soon is exhibited 
manifestly in him, that which before lay secretly hid. The fifth virtue 
is, he who is afflicted with any disease, if he taketh the stone in liquid, 
it is soon well with him. The sixth virtue is, that sorcery hurteth not 
the man who has the stone with him. The seventh virtue is, that he 
who taketh the stone in drink, will have so much the smoother body. 
The eighth virtue of the stone is, that no bite of any kind of snake may 
scathe him who tasteth the stone in Uquid." ^ 


Colours have always had a medical significance, from their connection 
with the doctrine of " signatures." White was cooling ; red was hot. 
Red flowers were given in disorders of the blood ; yellow in bile dis- 

^ Hist. Nat., xxxvii. 10. 2 Brand's Observations., etc., vol. ii. p. 62,. 

^ Burton's Anatomy, p. 454. •* Saxon Leech Book, II. ch. Ixvi. 


turbance. The bed-hangings in small-pox and scarlet-fever cases were 
commonly of a red colour ; the unhappy patient's room was hung about 
with red drapery. He had to drink infusions of red berries, such as 
mulberries. Avicenna said that as red bodies move the blood every- 
thing of a red colour is good for blood disorders. 

Numbers. -^ 

Magic numbers as charms were in use in Anglo-Saxon medicine. 
" If any thing to cause annoyance get into a man's eye, with five fingers 
of the same side as the eye, run the eye over and fumble at it, saying 
three times, ' tetunc resonco, bregan gresso,' and spit thrice. For the 
same, shut the vexed eye and say thrice, 'in mon deromarcos axatison,' 
and spit thrice ; this remedy is ' mirificum.' For the same, shut the 
other eye, touch gently the vexed eye with the ring finger and thumb, 
and say thrice, 'I buss the gorgon's mouth.' This charm repeated 
thrice nine times will draw a bone stuck in a man's throat. For hor- 
deolum, which is a sore place in the eyelid of the shape of a barley- 
corn, take nine grains of barley and with each poke the sore, with 
every one saying the magic words, Kvpia Kvpta Kaa-a-apta a-ovpoicjy/Bi ; then 
throw away the nine, and do the same with seven ; throw away the 
seven, and do the same with five, and so with three and one. For the 
same, take nine grains of barley and poke the sore, and at every poke 
say, ' cfievye, <fievye KpiO-q ae 8l(x)k€l, j^ee, ^ee, barley thee chaseth.^ For the 
same, touch the sore with the medicinal or ring finger, and say thrice^ 
' vigaria gasaria.' To shorten the matter, blood may be stanched by the 
words, ' sicycuma, cucuma, ucuma, cuma, uma, ma, a.' Also by ' Stupid 
on a mountain went, stupid, stupid was ; ' by socnon socnon ; a-oKcroKafx. 
cruKt/xa ; by »/^a if/e xj/rj if/e if/rj if/a xf/e. For toothache say, ' Argidam 
margidam sturgidam ; ' also, spit in a frog's mouth, and request him to 
make off with the toothache. For a troublesome uvula catch a spider, 
say suitable words, and make a phylactery of it. For a quinsy lay 
hold of the throat with the thumb and the ring and middle fingers, 
cocking up the other two, and tell it to be gone." 

Nine is the number consecrated by Buddhism, three is sacred among 
Brahminical and Christian people. Pythagoras held that the unit or 
monad is the principle and the end of all. One is a good principle. 
Two, or the dyad, is the origin of contrasts and separation, and is an 
evil principle. Three, or the triad, is the image of the attributes of God. 
Four, or the tetrad, is the most perfect of numbers and the root of all 
things. It is holy by nature. Five, or the pentad, is everything ; it stops 
the power of poisons, and is redoubted by evil spirits. Six is a fortunate 
number. Seven is powerful for good or evil, and is a sacred number. 


Eight is the first cube, so is man four-square or perfect. Nine, as the 
multiple of three, is sacred. Ten, or the decad, is the measure of all it 
contains, all the numeric relations and harmonies.^ 

Cornelius Agrippa wrote on the power of numbers, which he declares 
is asserted by nature herself; thus the herb called cinquefoil, or five- 
leaved grass, resists poison, and bans devils by virtue of the number 
five; one leaf of it taken in wine twice a day cures the quotidian, 
three the tertian, four the quartan fever. He beUeved that every 
seventh son born to parents who have not had daughters is able to 
cure the king's-evil by touch or word alone. ^ 


Amongst the ancient Britons, says Meryon,^ when a birth was 
attended with difficulty or danger, girdles were put round the woman, 
which were made for the purpose, and which gave her immediate relief. 
Many famiUes in the highlands of Scotland kept such girdles until 
quite recently. They were marked with cabalistic figures, and were 
applied with certain ceremonies, which came originally from the Druids. 


Levinus Lemnius says of saliva : " Divers experiments show what 
power and quality there is in man's fasting spittle, when he hath 
neither eat nor drunk before the use of it ; for it cures all tetters, itch, 
scabs, pushes, and creeping sores ; and if venomous little beasts have 
fastened on any part of the body, as hornets, beetles, toads, spiders, 
and such like, that by their venome cause tumours and great pains and 
inflammations ; do but rub the places with fasting spittle, and all those 
effects will be gone and dismissed." * 

Sir Thomas Browne is not quite sure that fasting saliva really is 
poisonous to snakes and vipers.^ 

In Saxon Leechdoins a cure for the gout runs thus : '^ Before getting^vU 
out of bed in the morning, spit on your hand, rub all your sinews, and ^ 
say, ' Flee, gout, flee, etc' " ^ 

Spittle was anciently a charm against all kinds of fascination. Pliny 
says it averted witchcraft. Theocritus says, — 

" Thrice on my breast I spit, to guard me safe 
From fascinating charms." 

^ See Curious Myths of Middle Ages, S. B. Gould, Appendix C, p. 273. 

2 Morley's Life of Corn. Agrippa, vol. i. p. 165. 

3 History of Medichie, p. 107. 

'^Secret Miracles of Nature, Eng. trans, fol., Lond. 1658, p. 164. 

^ Vulgar Errors. * Saxon Leechdouis, vol. i. , Pref., p. xxxii. 


Fishermen and costermongers often spit on the first money they take, 
for good luck.^ 


Talismans, says Fosbrooke,^ are of five classes, i. The Astronomical^ 
with celestial signs and intelligible characters. 2. The Magical^ with 
extraordinary figures, superstitious words, and names of unknown 
angels. 3. The Mixed^ of celestial signs and barbarous words, but not 
superstitions, or with names of angels. 4. The Sigilla Flanetaru?n, 
composed of Hebrew numeral letters, used by astrologers and fortune 
tellers. 5. Hebrew Names and Characters. These were formed accord- 
ing to the cabalistic art. Pettigrew gives a Hebrew talisman, ^ which runs 
thus : " It overflowed — he did cast darts — Shaddai is all sufficient — his 
hand is strong, and is the preserver of my life in all its variations." 


Sir John Lubbock says that " The use of writing as a medicine pre- 
vails largely in Africa, where the priests or wizards write a prayer on a 
piece of board, wash it off, and make the patient drink it. Caillie 
met with a man who had a great reputation for sanctity, and who made 
his living by writing prayers on a board, washing them off, and then 
selling the water, which was sprinkled over various objects and 
supposed to protect them." ^ 

Mungo Park relates similar facts. ^ 

Sir A. Lyall says that a similar practice exists in India, where, how- 
ever, the native practitioner may sometimes be seen mixing croton oil 
in the ink with which he writes his charms. " In Africa," says 
Lubbock, " the prayers written as medicine or as amulets are generally 
taken from the Koran." It is admitted that they are no protection 
against firearms ; but this does not the least weaken faith in them, 
because, as guns were not invented in Mahomet's time, he naturally 
provided no specific against them. ^ 

Among the Kirghiz Atkinson says that the MuUas sell such amulets 
at the rate of a sheep for each scrap of written paper,7 and similar 
charms are in great request among the Turkomans ^ and in Afghan- 

1 Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii. p. 139. 

^ Encylopadia of Antiquities, vol. i. p. 336. ^ Medical Superstitions, p. 45, 

■* Lubbock, Origin of Civilization, 5th Ed., p, 23. 

^ Paries Travels, vol. i. p. 357. ^ Astley^s Voyages, vol. ii. p. 35. 

' Siberia, p. 310. * Vambery's Travels in Central Asia, p. 50. 

® Masson's Travels in Belochistajt, etc., vol. i. pp. 74, 90, 312, vol. ii. pp. 127, 


The very curious account of the trial of jealousy in Numbers vi. 
1 1 -3 1 may be studied in this connection as showing the extreme 
antiquity of the writing charm. In the case of the woman suspected 
of having committed adultery " the priest shall bring her near, and set 
her before the Lord : and the priest shall take holy water in an earthen 
vessel ; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest 
shall take, and put it into the water : and the priest shall set the 
woman before the Lord, and uncover- the woman's head, and put the 
offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering : and 
the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the 
curse : and the priest shall • charge her by an oath, and say unto the 
woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside 
to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from 
this bitter water that causeth the curse : but if thou hast gone aside to 
another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man 
have lain with thee beside thine husband : then the priest shall charge 
the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the 
woman. The Lord make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, 
when the Lord doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell ; and 
this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy 
belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot : and the woman shall say. Amen, 
amen. And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall 
blot them out with the bitter water : and he shall cause the woman to 
drink the bitter water that causeth the curse : and the water that causeth 
the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter. Then the priest shall 
take the jealousy offering out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the 
offering before the Lord, and offer it upon the altar : and the priest 
shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and 
burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink 
the water. And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it 
shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass 
against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter 
into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall 
rot : and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the 
woman be not defiled, but be clean ; then she shall be free, and shall 
conceive seed. This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside 
to another instead of her husband, and is defiled ; or when the spirit of 
jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall 
set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall execute upon her 
all this law. Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this 
woman shall bear her iniquity." 

This is quite evidently taken from the customs of African tribes. 


As the Egyptians gave the Jews their knowledge of the medical arts, 
and as this knowledge was doubtless largely intermingled with African 
ideas, it is easy to see how the ordeal of the bitter curse-water found 
its way into the Mosaic ritual. 

Of scripts as amulets we find that anything written in a character 
which nobody could read was worn as an amulet against disease or 
danger. Thus the Anglo-Saxon MS., known as the Vercelli MS., by 
some means found its way to a place near Milan, where no one could 
decipher it. When that discovery was made, the next step was to cut up 
its precious pages for amulets, and so many of its leaves have perished. 

After the death of Pascal, the philosopher, a writing was found 
sewn into his doublet. This was a " profession of faith " which he 
wore as a sort of amulet or charm, and his servants believed that he 
always had it stitched into a new garment when he discarded the old 

"Mais ce qui montre que ce n'est par un simple engagement tel 
qu'on en peut prendre avec soi-meme, c'est la forme etrange que Pascal 
lui a donnee. Pour quiconque a vu les ecrits de ce genre de la part 
d'hallucines, le premier coup d'oeil montre que I'ecrit de Pascal apparti- 
ent a cette categoric. D'ailleurs, il porte I'enonciation manifeste d'une 
vision en ces termes : ' Depuis environ dix heures et demie du soir 
jusque environ minuit et demi, feu.' Ainsi, ce jour-lk, le lundi 23 
Novembre, 1654, pendant environ deux heures, Pascal eut la vision 
d'un feu qu'il prit pour une apparition surnaturelle, et sa conviction fut 
si forte qu'elle le determina a entrer plus avant qu'il n'avait fait 
jusqu'alors dans les voies de la devotion et du rigorisme janseniste."^ 


Of the species of charms known as characts we have may examples 
in the practice of Anglo-Saxon physicians. In the preface to the 
Herbarium of Apuleius, used at Glastonbury, Mr. Cockayne, the editor, 
gives the following from Marcellus, 380 a.d., to avoid inflamed eyes : 
" Write on a clean sheet of ov/3aLK, and hang this round the patient's 
neck, with a thread from the loom." In a state of purity and chastity 
write on a clean sheet of paper cf>vpcfiapav, and hang it round the man's 
neck ; it will stop the approach of inflammation. The following will 
stop inflammation coming on, written on a clean sheet of paper : pov/3o<s, 
pvov€ipa<s prjeXios cos* KavTe<^opa' Kai Travres TyaKoret ; it must be hung to 
the neck by a thread ; and if both the patient and operator are in a 
state of chastity, it will stop inveterate inflammation. Again, write on a 

^ TAe Thoughts of Blaise Pascal, Bell's Ed. 1890, p. 2. 

^ VAmtdelte de Pascal. Midecme et Midecins. Par E. Littre. Paris, 1872. 


thin plate of gold with a needle of copper, o/)i/o> ovpwSrf ; do this on a 
Monday ; observe chastity ; it will long and much avail." 

Characts are amulets in the form of inscriptions, and are to be found 
in all the old houses still existing in Edinburgh.^ The name of God 
is one of the commonest characts. 

Rabbi Hama gives a sacred seal with divine names written in He- 
brew, which he declares will cure not only all kinds of diseases, but heal 
all griefs whatsoever. The seals are figured in Morley's Life of Cornelius 

When a charact or charm lost its original meaning, it came to 
bear that of something worn for its supposed efficacy in preserving the 
wearer from danger in mind or body, and now means a mere trinket to 
hang on a watch chain. One of the most famous of ancient charms 
was the name of the supreme deity of the Assyrians. This was the 
Abracadabra, which was supposed to have a magical efficacy as an 
antidote against ague, fever, flux, and toothache.^ It was written on 
parchment, and arranged as follows : — 












This was suspended round the neck by a linen thread. The word 
Abraxas, or Abrasax, was engraved on antique stones, and used as 
amulets or charms against disease. Sometimes mystical characters 
and figures were added, as the head of a fowl, the arms and bust of 
a man terminating in the body and tail of a serpent. It is of Egyptian 
origin, and is referred to by the Greek Fathers. The Egyptians used it 
to dispossess evil spirits and to cure diseases.^ 

Abraxas is the president of the 365th heaven, and is thus evidently a 
sun myth. Apollo is the sun in mythology, and he was the god of 
physic or healing. ' 

1 Arnot's Hist. Edin. ^ Vol. i. p. 192. 

3 Pr(Ecepta de Medicina of Serenus Samonicus. 

^ Larclner, Works, vol. ix. pp. 290-364. 

^ Pettigrew, Medical Superstitions, p. 52. 


Brande, in his Popular Antiquities^ gives the following charm from a 
manuscript of the date of 1475 -^ — 

" Here ys a charme for wyked Wych. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et 
Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Per Virtutem Domini sint Medicina mei pia 
Crux >^ et passio Christi >^. Vulnera quinque Domini sint Medicina 
mei ^. Virgo Maria mihi succurre, et defende ab omni maligno De- 
monio, et ab omni maligno Spiritu. Amen. ^a>^g>^l^a>^ 
Tetragrammaton. '^ Alpha, >^ 00, >^ primogenitus, ^ vita, vita. )^ 
Sapiencia, ^ Virtus, >^ Jesus Nazarenus rex judeorum, >^ fili Domini, 
miserere mei. Amen. >^ Marcus ^ Matheus ^ Lucas ^ Johannes 
mihi succurrite et defendite. Amen. ^ Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, 
hunc N. famulum tuum hoc breve Scriptum super se portantem prospere 
salvet dormiendo, vigilando, potando, et precipue sompniando ab omni 
Maligno Demonio, eciam ab omni maligno spiritu ^." 

One of the most famous charms of this kind is the "Solomon's Seal." 

Amongst the Cabalists an amulet, with the names " Senoi, Sansenoi, 
Semongeloph," upon it, was fastened round the neck of the new-born 

The first Psalm, when written on doeskin, was supposed to help the 
birth of children ; but the writer of such Psalm amulets, as soon as he 
had written one line, had to plunge into a bath. " Moreover," says 
Mr. Morley, " that the charm might be the work of a pure man, before 
every new line of his manuscript it was thought necessary that he should 
repeat the plunge."^ 

^ Vol. iii. p. 29. 

^ Morley's Life of Cornelius Ai^iippa, vol. i. p. 80. 

3 Ibid., p. 81. 


Sacred Names as Charms. 

Some of the Jews accounted for the miracles of healing wrought by our 
Saviour by declaring that He had learned the Mirific Word, the true 
pronunciation of the name Jehovah ; this word stirs all the angels and 
rules all creatures. They said that He had gained admission to the 
Holy of Holies, where He learned the sacred mystery, wrote it on a 
tablet, cut open His thigh, and having put the tablet in the wound, 
closed the flesh by uttering the mystic Name. The names of angels 
and evil spirits were also held to be potent by the Cabalists. The 
name of a bad angel, Schabriri, was used when written down as a charm 
to cure ophthalmia. 

Stolen Property as a Charm. 

In Mr. Andrew Lang's delightful Custom and Myth he says that he 
once met at dinner' a lady who carried a stolen potato about with her 
as a cure for rheumatism. The potato must be stolen, or the charm 
would not work. 

A small piece of beef, if stolen from a butcher, is supposed by some 
persons to charm away warts. 





Origin of the Druid Religion. — Druid Medicine. — Their Magic. — Teutonic Medicine. 
— Gods of Healing. — Elves. — The Elements. — Anglo-Saxon Leechcraft. — The 
Leech-book. — Monastic Leechdoms. — Superstitions. — Welsh Medicine. — The 
Triads. — Welsh Druidism. — The Laws of the Court Physicians. — Welsh Medical 
Maxims. — Welsh Medical and Surgical Practice and Fees. 

Medicine of the Druids. 

The learned men of the Celto- Britannic regions were called Druids. 
They were the judges, legislators, priests, and physicians, and corre- 
sponded to the Magi of the ancient Persians and Chaldseans of Syria. 
The etymology of the name is uncertain. The old derivation from Spvs, 
an oak, is considered fanciful, and that from the Irish draoij druidh = 
a magician, an augur, is by some authorities preferred. It is probable 
that they derived their knowledge from association with Greek colonists 
of Marseilles, as such writing as they used was in Greek characters, and 
they taught the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and a philosophy 
which Diodorus Siculus says was similar to that of the teaching of 
Pythagoras. Clement of Alexandria compared their religion to Sha- 
manism. Whatever it was, it did not differ probably very widely from 
other systems which pretended to put its priests in direct communica- 
tion with gods and demons. Its priests, says Sprengel, were simply 
impostors who pretended to exclusive knowledge of medicine and other 
sciences. Their women practised sorcery and divination, but by their 
medical skill were able to afford great assistance to the wounded in war. 
Plants were collected and magical properties ascribed to them. Lying- 
in women sought the aid of these Druidesses, who seem to have been 
wise women, somewhat after the character of gypsies. Mela says these 
women were called Sense. They pretended to cure the most incurable 
■diseases and to raise tempests by their incantations.^ The Druids com- 
municated their knowledge to initiates only, and they celebrated their 
mystic rites under groves of oaks. Whatever grew on that tree was 
considered a divine gift; their highest veneration was reserved for 

^ Henry's Hist, of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 147. 


the mistletoe, which they called All- Heal, and which they considered 
a panacea for all diseases. Three other plants, called Selago, a kind 
of club-moss, or perhaps hedge-hyssop, Samulus^ the brookweed or 
winter cress, and Vervain, were held to be sacred plants. The mistle- 
toe must be gathered fasting, the gatherer must not look backward 
while doing it, and he must take it with his left hand. The branches 
and herbs were immersed in water, and the infusion then became 
possessed of the property of preserving the drinkers from disease. 
When the Selago and Vervain were gathered, a white garment was 
worn, sacrifices of bread and wine were offered, and the gatherer, 
having covered his hand with the skirt of his robe, cut up the herbs 
with a hook made of a metal more precious than iron, placed it in a 
clean cloth, and preserved it as a charm against misfortunes and 

Strutt says : " Faint is the light thrown upon the methods pursued by 
the Druids in preparing their medicines. Some few hints, it is true, we 
meet with, of their extracting the juice of herbs, their bruising and steep- 
ing them in water, infusing them in wine, boiling them and making 
fumes from them, and the like ; it also appears that they were not igno- 
rant of making salves and ointments from vegetables." ^ 

In Britain the magical juggles, ceremonies, and rites were carried to a 
greater excess than in any other Celtic nation. They made a great 
mystery of their learning, their seminaries were held in groves and 
forests and the caverns of the earth. ^ Strutt thinks that their alphabet 
was derived from the Greek merchants, who came frequently to the 
island. Pliny says that the ancient Britons were much addicted to the 
arts of divination.* Diodorus Siculus describes one of their methods. 
" They take a man who is to be sacrificed and kill him with one stroke 
of a sword above the diaphragm ; and by observing the posture in which 
he falls, his different convulsions, and the direction in which the blood 
flows from his body, they form their predictions, according to certain 
rules which have been left them by their ancestors." ^ 

Strutt says : ^- " The people were the more particularly inclined to 
make application to them for rehef, because they thought that all 
internal diseases proceeded from the anger of the gods, and therefore 
none could be so proper to make intercession for them as the priest of 
those very deities from whom their afiflictions came ; for this cause also 

1 Meryon, Hist. Med., pp. 113, 114; Strutt's Chronicles of England, vol. i. p. 

2 Chronicles of England, vol. 1. p. 279. ^ Ibid., p. 281. 

* Plin., Hist. Nat., lib. xxx. c. i. ^ Diod. Sicul., lib. v. cap. 35. 

* The Chronicles of England, vol. i. pp. 278, 279. 


they offered sacrifices when sick ; and if dangerously ill, the better to 
prevail upon the gods to restore them to health, a man was slain and 
sacrificed upon their altars." The custom of human sacrifices doubtless 
afforded the Druids some knowledge of human anatomy. Their surgery 
was of a simple but useful character, and had to do principally with 
setting broken bones, reducing dislocations, and healing wounds ; all 
this, of course, combined with magical ceremonies.^ 

Pliny refers to the magical practices of the Druids, and states that the 
Emperor Tiberius put them down, " and all that tribe of wizards and 
physicians." ^ He adds that they crossed the ocean and " penetrated to 
the void recesses of Nature," as he calls Britannia. There, he tells us, 
they still cultivated the magic art, and that with fascinations and cere- 
monials so august that Persia might almost seem to have communicated 
it direct to Britain. " The worship of the stars, lakes, forests, and rivers, 
the ceremonials used in cutting the plants Samiolus, Selago, and Mistle- 
toe, and the virtues attributed to the adder's egg," are thought by 
Ajasson to indicate the connection between the superstitions of ancient 
Britain and those of Persia.^ 

Medicine of the Teutons. 

The Goths and other German peoples were from early times brought 
into relationship with the Romans, and had acquired some of the advan- 
tages of their civilization. 

Originally their medical notions were not dissimilar to those of other 
barbaric nations. On the one hand, there was the belief in disease as 
the manifestation of the anger of supernatural beings who could be pro- 
pitiated by prayers and magic rites ; while on the other, the use of medi- 
cinal plants and the ministrations of old women were not less prominent. 
Tacitus points out the important part played by the women in the life 
of the Germans, and the good influence they exerted as nurses to the 

The Roman general Agricola, who was in Britain from a.d. 78-84, 
induced the noblemen's sons to learn the liberal sciences.* They must 
have acquired some knowledge of Greek and Roman medicine. 

In the earliest ages, says Baas,^ women only seem to have practised 

^ The Chronicles of England^ vol. i. p. 278. 
^ Nat. Bist., Book xxx. chap. iv. 

^ See note on Pliny's passage, " Ut dedisse Persis videri possit," in Bohn's |Pliny's 
Nat. Hist., vol. v, p. 426. 

* Holinshed, Chronicles of England^ vol. i. p. 506. 
^ Hist. Med., p. 249. 


medicine among the Germans and Celts. Medicine was deemed a pro- 
fession unworthy of men, and it is not till the twelfth century that phy- 
sicians are spoken of. Probably old women or Druidesses in ancient 
times were the only doctors of these peoples. Puschmann says that the 
Norwegians had a number of highly paid doctors in tha tenth century, 
and that already a medical tax existed.^ 

In the time of the Vikings wounds were well attended to, amputations 
performed, and wooden legs were not uncommon. " Mention," says 
Puschmann, " is also made of the operation called gastroraphy " (or sew- 
ing up a wound of the belly or some of its contents) ; ^ lithotomy was 
performed successfully. 

Wodan is the all-pervading creative and formative power who gives 
shape and beauty, wealth, prosperity, and all highest blessings to men.-'^ 

Eir was the goddess of physicians ; Odin was a doctor ; Brunhilda 
was a doctoress. 

The ancient German nations offered to the gods sacrifices of human 
food, which they believed they enjoyed. These sacrifices were offered 
as thanksgivings or to appease their anger. When a famine or a pesti- 
lence appeared amongst the people, they concluded that the gods were 
angry, and they proceeded to propitiate them with gifts.* 

Animal and especially human sacrifices had the most binding and 
atoning power. ^ 

The Teutonic elves are good-natured, helpful beings. They fetch 
goodwives, midwives, to assist she-dwarfs in labour, and have much 
knowledge of occult healing virtues in plants and stones.^ But elves 
sometimes do mischief to men. Their touch and their breath may bring 
sickness or death on man and beast. Lamed cattle are said in Norway 
to be bewitched by them, and their avenging hand makes men silly or 

Teutonic peoples have always had great faith in the normal influence 
of pure water. 

The Germans believed in the magical properties of water hallowed at 
midnight of the day of baptism. Such water they called heilawac. They 
believed it to have a wonderful power of healing diseases and wounds, 
and of never spoiling. ^ The salt which is added to holy water in the 
church will account for its keeping properties. But it is in medicinal 
springs, such as are called Heilbrunn, Heilborn, Heiligenbrunnen, that 

1 Hist. Med. Edtuation, p. 187. ^ y^/^,^ p^ 186. 

3 Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, translated by Stallybrass, vol. i. p. 133. 

4 Ibid., vol. i. p. 42. 

5 See Tennyson's poem, The Victim. ^ Grimm. 7 j^id. 
« Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, vol. ii. p. 586. 


Teutonic faith has always exhibited the strongest devotion. Sacri- 
fices, says Grimm, were oifered at such springs. When the Wetterau 
people begin a new jug of chalybeate water, they always spill a few 
drops first on the ground. Grimm thinks this was originally a liba- 
tion to the fountain sprite.^ The Christians replaced water-sprites by 

Fire was regularly worshipped, and there are many superstitions still 
existing which point to this phase of Teutonic religion. " The Esthon- 
ians throw gifts into fire, as well as into water. To pacify the flame 
they sacrifice a fowl to it."^ Sulphur has always had an evil reputation. 
Murrain amongst cattle could only be got rid of by a Needfire. On the 
day appointed for banishing the pest, there must in no house be any 
flame left on the hearth, but a new fire must be kindled by friction after 
the manner of savages.^ 

Teutonic children born with a caul about their head are believed to 
be lucky children. The membrane is carefully treasured, and sometimes 
worn round the babe as an amulet. The Icelanders imagine that the 
child's guardian spirit resides in it ; midwives are careful not to injure it, 
but bury it under the threshold. If any one throws it away, he deprives 
the child of its guardian spirit."^ 

Anglo-Saxon Medicine. 

It is difficult to discover what was the state of learning existing 
amongst the ancient Saxons before their conversion to Christianity. 
We know that soon after this event schools were established in Kent, 
with such good results that Sigebert (a.d. 635) established seminaries on 
the satne plan in his own dominions. After this, as Bede informs us, 
there flourished a great number of learned men.^ 

Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, came over into Britain a.d. 669, 
and did much to improve the learning of the country. He was accom- 
panied by many professors of science, one of whom, the monk Adrian, 
instructed a great number of students in the sciences, especially teaching 
the art of medicine and establishing rules for preserving the health.'^ 
Aldhelm, who according to Bede was a man of great erudition and was 
" wonderfully well acquainted with books," very greatly contributed to the 
spread of education. 

The state of medicine in England in Anglo-Saxon times is said by 

^ Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, p. 588. '^ Ibid., p. 602. 

^ Ibid., p. 604. '^ Ibid.^ vol. ii. p. 874. 

^ Eccl. Hist., lib. iii. cap. 18. 

*^ Strutt's Chronicles of England, vol. i. p. 345. 


Strutt 1 to have been very degraded. Medicine consisted chiefly of 
nostrums which had been handed down from one age to another, and 
their administration was usually accompanied with whimsical rites and 
ceremonies, to which the success was often in a great measure attributed. 
The most ignorant persons practised the profession, and particularly old 
women, who were supposed to be the most expert and were in high repute 
amongst the Anglo-Saxons. After the establishment of Christianity the 
clergy succeeded to the business carried on by the ancient dames, and' 
it must be admitte d that the superstitio us element in their treatment of 
disease was not less prominent than in that of their venerable prede- 
cessors. Bede says ^ that Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, taught 
that " It is very dangerous to let blood on the fourth day of the moon, 
because both the light of the moon and the tides are upon the increase." 
Before any medicine could be administered, fortunate and unfortunate 
times, the changes of the moon and appearance of the planets, had to be 

Many medicinal books were amongst those which Alfred the Great 
caused to be translated into the Saxon tongue. Some of them were em- 
bellished with illustrations of herbs, etc., so that about the tenth century 
some knowledge of medicine was diffused, and Strutt thinks there 
may have been persons whose only profession was medicine and surgery^ 
besides the ecclesiastics who practised these arts, before the close of the 
Saxon government, 3 

^ The Anglo-Saxons, even after their conversion to Christianity, retained 
much of the superstition of their ancestors; they placed faith in astrology, 
and had some acquaintance with astronomy, which they obtained from 
the Romans, from whom they learned most of the arts and sciences. 
They had a good knowledge of botany, and their MS. were embellished 
with excellent drawings of the herbs and plants.^ 

Theodore brought with him a large collection of books, and set up 
schools in Kent, where many students were instructed in the sciences 
and the knowledge and application of medicine and the rules for the 
preservation of the health.^ 

The Rev. Oswald Cockayne has given us, in his translation of the 
Saxon Leech Book, a very curious and interesting citation from Helias, 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, who wrote to King Alfred in answer to his 
request to be furnished with some good recipes from the Holy Land : 

^ Chronicles of England, vol. ii. p. 248. 

^ Bede, Eccles. Hist., lib. v. cap. 3. 

^ Chronicles of England, vol. ii. p. 248. 

^ Strutt's Horda Angel Cynnan, vol. i. p. 70. 

^ Strutt, The Chronicles of England, vol. i. p. 344. Bede, Eccl. Hist., iii. 18. 


" Patriarch Helias sends these to King Alfred : ^— 

•H- -X- * -it * 

" So much as may weigh a penny and a half, rub very small, then add 
the white of an t^g^ and give it to the man to sip. It {dalsa??i) is also 
very good in this wise for cough and for carbuncle, apply this wort, 
soon shall the man be hole. This is smearing with balsam for all 
infirmities which are on a man's body, against fever, and against appari- 
tions, and against all delusions. Similarly also petroleum is good to drink 
simple for inward tenderness, and to smear on outwardly on a winter's 
day, since it hath very much heat ; hence one shall drink it in winter ; 
and it is good if for any one his speech faileth, then let him take it, and 
make the mark of Christ under his tongue, and swallow a little of it. 
Also if a man become out of his wits, then let him take part of it, and 
make Christ's mark on every limb, except the cross upon the forehead, 
that shall be of balsam, and the other also on the top of the head. 
Triacle {O-qpiaKov) is a good drink for all inward tendernesses, and the 
man, who so behaveth himself as is here said, he may much help him- 
self. On the day on which he will drink Triacle, he shall fast until 
midday, and not let the wind blow on him that day : then let him go to 
the bath^ let him sit there till he sweat ; then let him take a cup, and put 
a little warm water in it, then let him take a little bit of the triacle, and 
mingle with the water, and drain through some thin raiment, then drink 
it, and let him then go to his bed and wrap himself up warm, and so lie 
till he sweat well ; then let him arise and sit up and clothe himself, and 
then take his meat at noon, and protect himself earnestly against the 
wind that day ; then, I believe to God, that it may help the man much. 
The white stone is powerful against stitch, and against flying venom, and 
against all strange calamities ; thou shalt shave it into water and drink 
a good mickle, and shave thereto a portion of the red earth, and the 
stones are all very good to drink of^ against all strange uncouth things. 
When the fire is struck out of the stone, it is good against lightening^ 
and against thunders, and against delusion of every kind ; and if. a man 
in his way is gone astray, let him strike himself a spark before him. He 
will soon be in the right way. All this Dominus Helias, Patriarch at 
Jerusalem, ordered one to say to King /Alfred." Mr. Cockayne tells us 
in his preface^ that Helias sent Alfred "a recommendation of 
scammony, which is the juice of a Syrian convolvulus, of gutta 
ammoniacum,^ of spices, of gum dragon, of aloes, of galbanum, of 
balsam, of petroleum, of the famous Greek compound preparation called 
OrjpLaK-q, and of the magic virtues of alabaster. These drugs are good 

^ Leech Book ., ii. p, 289. ^ Ibid., p. xxv. 

^ A valuable expectorant which is largely used at the present time. 


in themselves, and such as a resident in Syria would naturally recom- 
mend to others." This very singular and instructive fact concerning 
King Alfred is one of the most interesting things in Mr. Cockayne's 
valuable work. 

As to the age of the MS., the translator sets it down about a.d. 900. 
The sources of the information he ascribes to Oxa, Dun, and Helias ; 
there is a mixture of the Hibernian and Scandinavian elements also. 
Some of the prescriptions are traceable to Latin writers, and large 
extracts are made from the Greek physicians. Paulus yEgineta is respon- 
sible for the long passage on hiccupings (or Hicket, as the Leech Book 
calls the malady), as chapter xviii. is almost identical with Paulus ^gin., 
lib. ii. sect. 57. Mr. Cockayne thinks that the number of passages the 
Saxon drew from the Greek would make perhaps one-fourth of the first 
two books. Whether they came direct from the Greek manuscripts or 
at second hand as quotations, it is not possible to say. Quoting M. 
Brechillet Jourdain,^ Mr. Cockayne says that it is shown that the wise 
men of the Middle Ages long before the invention of printing possessed 
Latin translations of Aristotle ; there is every probability, therefore, that 
they would be familiar with the works of the Greek physicians. Some 
of them could translate Greek. If an Italian or Frenchman could 
acquire Greek and turn it into Latin, a Saxon might do as much. Bede 
and his disciples could certainly have done so. Bede says that Tobias, 
Bishop of Rochester, was as familiar with the Greek and Latin languages 
as with his own, " It appears, therefore," concludes Mr. Cockayne, 
'' that the leeches of the Angles and Saxons had the means, by personal 
industry or by the aid of others, of arriving at a competent knowledge 
of the contents of the works of the Greek medical writers. Here, in 
this volume, the results are visible. They keep, for the most part, to 
the diagnosis and the theory ; they go back in the prescriptions to the 
easier remedies ; for whether in Galen or others, there was a chapter on 
the cwoptcrra, the ' parabilia,' the resources of country practitioners, 
and of course, even now, expensive medicines are not prescribed for 
poor patients." 2 

In the very valuable Saxon Leechdoms ^ we have an excellent account 
of the state of medicine as practised in England before the Norman 
Conquest. The Leech Book (Lsece Boc)^ is a treatise on medicine 
which probably belonged to the abbey of Glastonbury. The manu- 

^ Recherches critiques sur I'age et origine des traductions Latines d'Aristote. Paris, 

^ Saxon Leechdoms, vol. ii., Preface, p. xxix. 

^ Leechdofns, IVortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England, vol. ii. Edited by 
Rev. O, Cockayne, (Rolls Series.) 

* MS, Reg., 12. D. xvii. 


script, thinks Mr. Cockayne, belonged to one Bald, a monk. The 
book, says the editor, is learned in a literary sense, but not in a profes- 
sional, for it does not really advance man's knowledge of disease or of 
cures. He may have been a physician, he was certainly a lover of 
books — " nulla mihi tarn cara est optima gaza quam cari libri." The 
work seems to imply that there was a school of medicine among the 
Saxons. In the first book, p. 120, we read that " Oxa taught us this 
leechdom " ; in the second book, p. 293, we are told concerning a leech- 
dom for lung disease that " Dun taught it " ; again we find " some 
teach us." So far as book learning was concerned, there was certainly a 
sort of medical teaching. It was perhaps merely taken from the Greek 
by means of a Latin translation of Trallianus, Paulus of ^gina, and 
Philagrios. As examples of reasonable treatment take that for hare-lip 
(or hair-hp as in the text) : " Pound mastic very small, add the white of 
an tgg, and mingle as thou dost vermiHon, cut with a knife the false 
edges of the lip, sew fast with silk, then smear without and within with 
the salve, ere the silk rot. If it draw together, arrange it with the hand, 
anoint again soon." ^ 

Against pediculi quicksilver and old butter are to be mingled together 
in a mortar, and the resulting salve to be applied to the body. This is 
precisely the mercurial ointment of modern pharmacy used for the same 

Religion, magic, and medicine were oddly mixed up by our Saxon 
forefathers. Thus the Leech Book tells us ^ for the " dry " disease we 
should "delve about sour ompre (i.e. sorrel dock), sing thrice the Pater 
noster, jerk it up, then while thou sayest sed libera nos a malo, take five 
slices of it and seven peppercorns, bray them together, and while thou 
be working it, sing twelve times the psalm Miserere mei, Deus, and 
Gloria in excelsis deo, and the Pater noster ; then pour the stuff all over 
with wine, when day and night divide, then drink the dose and wrap 
thyself up warm." Here is an exorcism for fever. " A man shall write this 
upon the sacramental paten, and wash it off into the drink with holy 
water, and sing over it. . . . In the beginning, etc. (John i. i). 
Then wash the writing with holy water off the dish into the drink, then 
sing the Credo, and the Paternoster, and this lay, Beati immaculati, the 
psalm (cxix.), with the twelve prayer psalms, I adjure you, etc. And 
let each of the two ^ then sip thrice of the water so prepared." •* The 
demon theory of disease was still in force ; even at Glastonbury we find 
the following exorcism: ^ " For a fiend sick man, when a devil possesses 

^ Leech Book, I. xiii. p. 57. ^ Saxon Leechdo??is, vol. ii. p. 117. 

•^ The doctor and the patient. * Saxon Leechdonis, vol. ii. p. 137. 

^ Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 137-8. 


the man or controls him from within with disease ; a spew drink, lupin, 
hishopwort, henbane, cropleek ; pound these together, add ale for a 
liquid, let stand for a night, rdd fifty libcorns (or cathartic grains)^ and 
holy water. A drink for a fiend sick man, to be drunk out of church 
bell." 1 

"Githrife, cynoglossum, yarrow, lupin, betony, attorlothe, cassock, 
flower de luce, fennel, church lichen, lichen, of Christ's mark or crosse, 
lovage; work up the drink off clear ale, sing seven masses over the 
worts, add garlic and holy water, and drip the drink into every drink 
which he will subsequently drink, and let him sing the psalm, Beati 
immaculati, and Exurgat, and Salvum me fac, Deus,^ and then let him 
drink the drink out of a church bell, and let the mass priest after the 
drink sing this over him : Domine, sancte pater omnipotens." ^ Again, 
" For the phrenzied ; bishopwort, lupin, bonewort, everfern,* githrife, 
elecampane ; when day and night divide, then sing thou in the church 
litanies, that is, the names of the hallows or saints, and the Pater- 
noster ; with the song go thou, that thou mayest be near the worts 
and go thrice about them, and when thou takest them go again to 
church with the same song, and sing twelve masses over them, and over 
all the drinks which belong to the disease, in honour of the twelve 
apostles." ^ 

The Leech Book has "a salve against nocturnal goblin visitors," a 
remedy "against a woman's chatter," which is to go to bed, having 
eaten only a root of radish ; " that day the chatter cannot harm 
thee." ^ Red niolin, a plant which grows by running water, if put under 
the bolster, will prevent the devil from scathing a man within or without. 
There is "a lithe drink against a devil anddementedness," and a cure 
for a man who is " overlooked." 

If the man's face is turned toward the doctor when he enters the 
sick room, " then he may live ; if his face be turned from thee, have 
thou nothing to do with him." " In case a man be lunatic, take of a 
mere-swine or porpoise, work it into a whip, swinge the man therewith ; 
soon he will be well. Amen." '' 

A salve against temptation of the devil contains many herbs, must have 
nine masses said over it, and must be set under the altar for a while ; 
then it is very good for every temptation of the fiend, and for a man full 
of elfin tricks, and for typhus fever.^ 

^ Church bells were anciently used more to frighten the fiends away than for 
calling together the worshippers. ^ Psalms cxix., Ixviii., and Ixix. 

^ A formula of Benediction. •* Polypodium vulgare. 

^ Saxon Leechdoms, vol. ii. pp. 138-9. ''' Leech Book, III. vol. ii. p. 343. 

7 Saxon Leechdoms, vol. ii. p. 335. ^ Ibid., p. 335. 


Cancer is to be cured with goat's gall and honey. Our forefathers 
made very light of such .trifles as cancer and lunacy, it will be perceived. 
Joint pains (rheumatism) are cured by singing over them, "Malignus 
obligavit ; angelus curavit ; dominus salvavit," and then spitting on the 
joints. " It will soon be well with him," adds the Saxon leech, in his 
usual cheery manner. Pepper is to be chewed for the toothache ; " it 
will soon be well with them." Horrible applications of pepper, salt, and 
vinegar were recommended to be applied to sore eyes. If the eyes were :W 
swollen, " take a live crab, put his eyes out, and put him alive again 
into the water, and put the eyes on the neck of the man who hath need ; 
he will soon be well." 

There are light drinks " against the devil and want of memory," " for 
a wild heart," and " pain of the maw." There is treatment for the bite 
of " a gangwayweaving spider," and remedies in case a woman cannot 
" kindle a child." Neuralgia and megrims are not the new disorders 
they are generally supposed to be, as we find remedies " for headache, 
and for old headache, and for ache of half of the head." 

" Poison " was lightly treated with holy water and herbs. Snake-bite 
was cured with ear-wax and a collect. For bite of an adder you said 
one word " Faul" ; " it may not hurt him." "Against bite of snake, if 
the man procures and eateth rind which cometh out of paradise, no 
venom will damage him. Then said he that wrote this book that the 
rind was hard gotten." If, by chance, one drank a creeping thing in 
water, he was to cut into a sheep instantly and drink the sheep's blood 
hot. Lest a man tire with much travelling over land, he must take mug- 
wort and put it into his shoe, saying, as he pulls up the root, " I will 
take thee, artemisia, lest I be weary on the way ; " and having taken it, 
he must sign it with the sign of the cross. 

" Over the whole face of Europe, while the old Hellenic school sur- 
vived in Arabia, the next to hand resource became the established 
remedy, and the searching incision of the practised anatomist was re- 
placed by a droning song." ^ 

Such medical learning as existed amongst the Angles, Saxons, and 
Goths was found only in a corrupted state in the monasteries. As we 
have seen, the herbal remedies were, for the most, useless or worse, and 
the treatment was so intermingled with magic ceremonies and religious 
superstitious uses, that Greek science, so far as it related to the healing 
art, was all but smothered by absurdities. 

" The Saxon leeches were unable to use the catheter, the searching 
knife, and the lithotrite ; they knew nothing of the Indian drugs, and 

^ Saxon LeechdomSy vol. ii. p. 307. 
2 Ibid., vol. i. Preface, p. xxvii. 


were almost wholly thrown back on the lancet wherewith to let blood, 
and the simples from the field and garden." ^ 

" For a very old headache " one must " seek in the maw of young 
swallows for some little stones, and mind that they touch neither earth, 
nor water, nor other stones ; look out three of them, put them on the 
man ; he will soon be well. They are good for head ache and for eye 
wark, and for the fiend's temptations, and for the night mare, and for 
knot, and for fascination, and for evil enchantments by song." ^ 

As a specimen of a regular Anglo-Saxon prescription, take the follow- 
ing, as given in the MS. Cott. : Vitellius ; c 3 : — 

For the foot-adle (the gout), " Take the herb datulus, or titulosa, 
which we call greater crauleac — tuberose isis. Take the heads of it and 
dry them very much, and take thereof a pennyweight and a half, and 
the pear tree and Roman bark, and cummin, and a fourth part of laurel- 
berries, and of the other herbs half a pennyweight of each, and six pepper 
corns, and grind all to dust, and put two egg-shells full of wine. This 
is true leechcraft. Give it the man till he be well." 

Venesection was in use, but it must have often done more harm than 
good, as its use was regulated, not so much by the necessities of the 
case as by the season and courses of the moon. Bede gives a long list 
of times when bleeding was forbidden. In the Cottonian library there 
is a Saxon MS., which tells us that the second, third, fifth, sixth, ninth, 
eleventh, fifteenth, seventeenth, and twentieth days of the month are bad 
for bleeding. 

Medicine of the Welsh. 

The Welsh claim that medicine was practised as one of " the nine 
rural arts," by the ancient Cymry, before they became possessed of 
cities and a sovereignty, that is, before the time of Prydain ab -^dd 
Mawr, that is to say, about a thousand years before the Christian era.^ 

As in other nations of antiquity, the practice of medicine was in the 
hands of the priests, the Gwyddoniaid, or men of knowledge : they were 
the depositaries of such wisdom as existed in the land, and they prac- 
tised almost entirely by means of herbs. The science of plants was one 
of the three sciences, the others being theology and astronomy. "^ 

In the following Triad (one of the poetical histories of the Welsh 
bards) we learn that, — " The three pillars of knowledge, with which the 
Gwyddoniaid were acquainted, and which they bore in memory from 
the beginning : the first was a knowledge of Divine things, and of such 
matters as appertain to the worship of God and the homage due to 

^ Saxon Leechdoms, vol. i. Preface, pp. xxvi., xxvii. ^ Leech Book, iii. p. 307. 

^ Myv. Arch.^ iii. p. 129. * Meddygon Myddfai, Preface, p. ix. 


goodness ; the second, a knowledge of the course of the stars, their 
names and kinds, and the order of times ; the third, a knowledge of the 
names and use of the herbs of the field, and of their application in prac- 
tice, in medicine, and in religious worship. These were preserved in 
the memorials of vocal song, and in the memorials of times, before there 
were bards of degree and chair." ^ 

The Welsh do not appear to have had any gods of medicine or to have 
pretended to derive their knowledge of the healing art from any divinities. 
In the reign of Prydian the Gwyddoniaid were divided into three orders, 
Bards, Druids, and Ovates. The Ovates occupied themselves especially 
with the natural sciences. In the Laws of Dyvnwal Moelmud, "medi- 
cine, commerce, and navigation " were termed " the three civil arts." ^ 

This legislator lived about the year 430 B.C., at which early period 
it would seem that the art of medicine was encouraged and protected 
by the State. ^ 

As Hippocrates lived 400 B.C., it has been thought possible that the 
British Ovates may have learned something of his teaching from the 
Phoceans, who traded between Marseilles and Britain. Later we have 
proof that the physicians of Myddvai held the Father of Medicine in 
great esteem. 

It is customary amongst the English to ridicule the pretensions of the 
Welsh to the high antiquity of their knowledge of the arts and sciences, 
but classical writers bear witness to the wisdom and learning of the 
Druids. Strabo speaks of their knowledge of physiology. Cicero was 
acquainted with one of the Gallic Druids, who was called Divitiacus the 
^duan, and claimed to have a thorough knowledge of the laws of 
nature. Pliny mentions the plants used as medicines by the Druids, 
such as the mistletoe, called Oil iach, omnia sanantem, or " All heal," 
the selago i^Lycopodiuni selago, or Upright Fir Moss), and the Samolus 
or marshwort {Samolus valerandi, or Water Pimpernel).^ 

One of the Medical Triads in the Llanover MS. is that by Taliesin ; 
it runs thus : — 

" There are three intractable substantial organs : the liver, the kid- 
ney, and the heart. 

"There are three intractable membranes : the dura mater, the peri- 
toneum, and the urinary bladder. 

"There are three tedious complaints: disease of the knee joint, 
disease of the substance of a rib, and phthysis ; for when purulent mat- 
ter has formed in one of these, it is not known when it will get well." 

^ Llanover MS. 

^ Ancient Laws and InstiUUions of Wales, vol. ii. p. 515. 

^ Meddygon Myddfai, p. xi. •* Ibid., p. xiii. 


Howel Dda (or the good) in the year 930 a.d. compiled the follow- 
ing laws of the Court Physician : — 

" Of the mediciner of the household, his office, his privilege, and his 
duty, this treats. 

1. The twelfth is the mediciner of the household. 

2. He is to have his land free : his horse in attendance : and his 
linen clothing from the queen, and his woollen clothing from the king. 

3. His seat in the hall within the palace is at the base of the pillar 
to which the screen is attached, near which the king sits. 

4. His lodging is with the chief of the household. 

5. His protection is, from the time the king shall command him to 
visit a wounded or sick person, whether the person be in the palace or 
out of it, until he quit him, to convey away an offender. 

6. He is to administer medicine gratuitously to all within the palace, 
and to the chief of the household ; and he is to have nothing from them 
except their bloody clothes, unless it be for one of the three dangerous 
wounds, as mentioned before; these are a stroke on the head unto the 
brain ; a stroke in the body unto the bowels ; and the breaking of one 
of the four limbs ; for every one of these three dangerous wounds the 
mediciner is to have nine score pence and his food, or one pound with- 
out his food, and also the bloody clothes. 

7. The mediciner is to have, when he shall apply a tent, twenty- 
four pence. 

8. For an application of red ointment, twelve pence. 

9. For an application of herbs to a swelling, four legal pence. 

10. For letting blood, fourpence. 

11. His food daily is worth one penny half-penny. 

12. His light every night is worth one legal penny. 

13. The worth of a medical man is one penny. 

14. The mediciner is to take an indemnification from the kindred 
of the wounded person, in case he die from the remedy he may use, 
and if he do not take it, let him answer for the deed. 

15. He is to accompany the armies. 

1 6. He is never to leave the palace, but with the king's permission. 

17. His saraad is six kine, and six score of silver, to be augmented. 

18. His worth is six score and six kine, to be augmented," 
Elsewhere we meet with the following particulars : — 

" Of the three conspicuous scars this is : 

" There are three conspicuous scars : one upon the face ; another upon 
the foot ; and another upon the hand ; thirty pence upon the foot ; 
three-score pence upon the hand ; six-score pence on the face. Every 
unexposed scar, fourpence. The cranium, fourpence." ^ 

^ Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales ^ vol. i. p. 41 etc. 


" For every broken bone, twenty pence ; unless there be a dispute as 
to its diminutiveness ; and if there be a dispute as to the size, let the 
mediciner take a brass basin, and let him place his elbow upon the 
ground, and his hand over the basin, and if its sound be heard, let four 
legal pence be paid ; and if it be not heard, nothing is due." ^ 

This singular test is explained in another passage, thus : — 

" Four curt pennies are to be paid to a person for every bone taken 
from the upper part of the cranium, which shall sound on falling into 
a copper basin." ^ 

A very curious regulation was that if the physician got drunk and 
anybody insulted him, he could claim no recompense, because " he knew 
not at what time the king might want his assistance." 

The physicians of Myddvai flourished in the time of Rhys Gryg in 
the early part of the thirteenth century. His domestic physician was 
Rhiwallon, who was assisted by his three sons Cadwgan, Gruffydd, and 
Einion. They lived at Myddvai, in the present county of Caermarthen. 
By command of the prince, these physicians made a collection of the 
most valuable prescriptions for the treatment of the various diseases of 
the human body. This collection was not reduced to writing previ- 
ously, though many of the recipes were no doubt in use some centuries 
before. The original manuscript is in the British Museum, and there is 
a copy in Jesus College, Oxford, in the Red Book, which has been 
pubhshed with an English translation by the Welsh MSS. Society. •• 
The descendants of this family of physicians continued to practise 
medicine without intermission until the middle of the last century. This 
most interesting volume also contains a second portion, which purports 
to be a compilation by Howel the physician, son of Rhys, son of 
Llewelyn, son of Philip the physician, a lineal descendant of Einion the 
son of Rhiwallon. Some medical prescriptions assumed the form of 
proverbs such as the following : — 

Medical Maxims. 
{From the Book of I ago ab Dewi.) 
" He who goes to sleep supperless will have no need of Rhiwallon of 
A supper of apples — breakfast of nuts. 
A cold mouth and warm feet will live long. 

To the fish market in the morning, to the butcher's shop in the after- 
Cold water and warm bread will make an unhealthy stomach. 

* Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales ^ vol. i. p. 315. ^ Ibid.., p. 507. 

^ The Physicians of Myddvai, Llandovery, 1861. 


The three qualities of water : it will produce no sickness, no debt, 
and no widowhood. 

To eat eggs without salt will bring on sickness. 

It is no insult to deprive an old man of his supper. 

An eel in a pie, lampreys in salt. 

An ague or fever at the fall of the leaf is always of long continuance, 
or else is fatal. 

A kid a month old — a lamb three months. 

Dry feet, moist tongue. 

A salmon and a sermon in Lent. 

Supper will kill more than were ever cured by the physicians of 

A light dinner, a less supper, sound sleep, long life. 

Do not wish for milk after fish. 

To sleep much is the health of youth, the sickness of old age. 

Long health in youth will shorten life. 

It is more wholesome to smell warm bread than to eat it. 

A short sickness for the body, and short frost for the earth, will heal ; 
either of them long will destroy. 

Whilst the urine is clear, let the physician beg. 

Better is appetite than gluttony. 

Enough of bread, little of drink. 

The bread of yesterday, the meat of to-day, and the wine of last year 
will produce health. 

Quench thy thirst where the washerwoman goes for water. 

Three men that are long-lived : the ploughman of dry land, a moun- 
tain dairyman, and a fisherman of the sea. 

The three feasts of health : milk, bread, and salt. 

The three medicines of the physicians of Myddvai : water, honey, and 

Moderate exercise is health. 

Three moderations will produce long life ; in food, labour, and medi- 

Whoso breaks not his fast in May, let him consider himself with the 

He who sees fennel and gathers it not, is not a man, but a devil. 

If thou desirest to die, eat cabbage in August. 

Whatever quantity thou eatest, drink thrice. 

God will send food to washed hands. 

Drink water like an ox, and wine like a king. 

One egg is economy, two is gentility, three is greediness, and the 
fourth is wastefulness. 


If persons knew how good a hen is in January, none would be left on 
the roost. 

The cheese of sheep, the milk of goats, and the butter of cows are 
the best. 

The three victuals of health : honey, butter, and milk. 

The three victuals of sickness : flesh meat, ale, and vinegar. 

Take not thy coat off before Ascension day. 

If thou wilt become unwell, wash thy head and go to sleep. 

In pottage without herbs there is neither goodness nor nourishment. 

If thou wilt die, eat roast mutton and sleep soon after it. 

If thou wilt eat a bad thing, eat roast hare. 

Mustard after food. 

He who cleans his teeth with the point of his knife may soon clean 
them with the haft. 

A dry cough is the trumpet of death." 

One of the laws of Howel Dda permitted divorce for so trifling a 
cause as an unsavoury or disagreeable breath.^ 

Poppies bruised in wine were used to induce sleep. For agues the 
treatment was to write in three apples on three separate days an invoca- 
tion to the Trinity; "on the third day he will recover." Saffron was 
used for many complaints ; it is a drug still largely used by the poor, 
who have unbounded faith in it, but it is almost inert. If a person lost 
his reason, he was ordered to take primrose juice, " and he will indeed 
recover." There were regular tables of lucky and unlucky days for 
bleeding. Fennel juice was supposed to act as a sort of anti-fat, and 
the roots of thistles were given as a purgative. If a snake should crawl 
into a man's mouth, the patient was to take camomile powder in wine. 
An irritable man was to drink celery juice ; ^*it will produce joy." As 
we might have expected, the leek was supposed to have many virtues ; 
wives who desired children were told to eat leeks. Leek juice and 
woman's milk was good for whooping cough. The juice was also used 
for deafness, heart-burn, headache, and boils. Mustard purifies the 
brain, is an antidote to the bite of an adder, is good for colic, loss of 
hair, palsy, and many other things. To ascertain the fate of a sick 
person, bruise violets and apply them to the eyebrows; " if he sleep, he 
will live, but if not he will die." 

Radishes were supposed to prevent hydrophobia. "That is the 
greatest remedy, to remove a bone from the brain (to trephine) with 
safety." Dittany was the antidote for pain. Mouse-dung was used as a 
remedy for spitting of blood, and a plaster of cow-dung for gout. An 
eye-water was made from rotten apples. The berries of mistletoe were 
^ Leges Wallica, 1. d. Henry's Hist, of Eng.^ vol. i. p. 320. 


made into a confection as a remedy for epilepsy. " Let the sick person 
eat a good mouthful (they gave large doses in those days) thereof, 
fasting morning, noon, and night. It is proven." Sage was supposed 
to strengthen the nerves (nerves in those days ! ). Nettles, goose-grass, 
blessed-thistle, and rosemary were favourite remedies. Then we have 
numerous curious charms and " medical feats discovered through the 
grace of God." Here is one : " Take a frog alive from the water, extract 
his tongue (frogs have long been subject to vivisection), and put him 
again in the water. Lay this same tongue upon the heart of sleeping 
man, and he will confess his deeds in his sleep." A charm for the 
toothache runs thus : " Saint Mary sat on a stone, the stone being near 
her hermitage, when the Holy Ghost came to her, she being sad. Why 
art thou sad, mother of my Lord, and what pain tormenteth thee ? My 
teeth are painful, a worm called megrim has penetrated them, and I have 
masticated and swallowed it. I adjure thee, daffin O negrbina, by the 
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, and God, 
the munificent physician, that thou dost not permit any disease, dolour, 
or molestation to affect this servant of God here present, either in tooth, 
eye, head, or in the whole of her teeth together. So be it. Amen." 

All the herbs and plants (so far as was possible) which were used in 
the doctor's practice were directed to be grown by him in his garden 
and orchard, so that they might be at hand when required. 

In the table of weights and measures used by the ancient Welsh 
physicians, we learn that twenty grains of wheat make one scruple, four 
podfuls make one spoonful, four spoonfuls make one eggshellful, four 
eggshellfuls make one cupful. The physician also for his guidance 
had the following curious table : — Four grains of wheat = one pea, four 
peas = one acorn, four acorns = one pigeon's egg, four pigeon's eggs = one 
hen's egg, four hen's eggs = one goose's egg, four goose's eggs = one 
swan's egg. 

" For treating a stroke on the head unto the brain, a stroke in the 
body unto the bowels, and the breaking of one of the four limbs, the 
wounded person was to receive three pounds from the one who 
wounded him ; and that person had also to pay for the medical treat- 
ment of the sufferer a pound without food, or nine-score pence with 
his food, and the bloody clothes." ^ 

The physicians of Myddvai recognised five kinds of fevers ; viz., latent, 
intermittent, ephemeral, inflammatory, and typhus. The doctor's " three 
master difficulties " were a wounded lung, a wounded mammary gland, 
and a wounded knee joint. "There are three bones which will never 
unite when broken — a tooth, the knee pan, and the os frontis." 
^ Ancient Laws, etc., of IValcs, v. i. p. 313. 



Sources of Arabian Learning. — Influence of Greek and Hindu Literature. — The 
Nestorians. — Baghdad and its Colleges. — The Moors in Spain. — The Mosque 
Schools. — Arabian Inventions and Services to Literature. — The great Arab 
Physicians'. — Serapion, Rhazes, Ali Abbas, Avicenna, Albucasis, and Averroes. 

At the time of the incursions of the barbarians of the North, when 
Spain, the South of France, Italy, and North Africa, with their adjacent 
islands, were ravaged by these hordes, multitudes of those who could 
escape so far found a refuge in the East ; and there is good reason for 
supposing that by such means a vast store of the accumulated know- 
ledge of civilized Europe found its way to Eastern lands. Science 
in its turn has come back to us through the Saracens, who afterwards 
invaded Southern Europe.^ 

It is not correct to speak of the Arabians or the Saracens as the 
source of the culture which is known as Arabian and Saracenic. The 
magnificent civilization of the Greek world fell to pieces like a noble 
but ruined temple, and its precious relics went to form a score of other 
civilizations which ultimately arose from its ruins. It was not the 
Semitic peoples of Arabia which restored the philosophy and science of 
the decayed Grseco-Roman world, it was the Persians, the Greeks of 
Asia Minor, the people of Alexandria, and the cultured Eastern nations, 
generally, which having been subdued by the Arabs, at once began to 
impart to their conquerors the culture which they lacked. The igno- 
rant followers of the Prophet who burned the Alexandrian Library 
knew not what they did ; the time was to come when Greek culture was 
to reach them partly from the city whose literary treasures they had 
destroyed, and partly through Syrian and Persian influences. By these 
roads came the medical sciences to the Saracens. The second library 
of Alexandria, consisting of 700,000 volumes, was destroyed by them, 
A.D. 642 ; but we must conclude that many medical and other scientific 
works were preserved, as the Jews and the Nestorians (banished from 
Constantinople to Asia) first made the Arabians acquainted with Greek 

^ See on this Balmez, European CivilizaiioJt, p. 214. 


authors by translating them into Syriac, whence they were in turn trans- 
lated into Arabic. Justinian I. (a.d. 529) banished the Platonists of 
Athens, when Chosroes I., surnamed Nushirwan, or *' the generous 
mind," one of the greatest monarchs of Persia, hospitably received them 
at his court. He caused the best Greek, I^atin, and Indian works to be 
translated into Persian, and valued Graeco-Roman medical science so 
highly that he offered a suspension of hostilities for the single physician 

The East in a great measure owed its acquaintance with the rich 
treasures of Greek literature to the heresy of Nestorius. Nestorius was 
a Syrian by birth, and became bishop of Constantinople. Having 
denied that the Virgin Mary ought to be called " Mother of God," he 
was summoned to appear before the Council of Ephesus (a.d. 431), and 
was deposed. Nestorian communities were formed, and the heretical 
opinions rapidly spread, patronized as they were for political purposes 
by the Persian kings. The Mahometan conquests in the seventh 
century by overthrowing the supremacy of orthodoxy, afforded great en- 
couragement to the Nestorians, as by denying that Mary was the mother 
of God, as the Catholics maintained, the Nestorians in calling her 
the mother of Christ more nearly approached the Mahometan concep- 
tion of a pure monotheism. Barsumas, or Barsaumas, bishop of Nisibis 
(435-485 A.D.), was one of the most eminent leaders of the new heresy. 
He succeeded in gaining many adherents in Persia. Maanes, bishop of 
Ardaschiv, was his principal coadjutor ; he was the means of propagat- 
ing the Nestorian doctrines in Egypt, Syria, Arabia, India, Tartary, 
and even China. 

The Caliphs. 

In the time of Mohammed himself (569-609), the Arabians had 
physicians who had been educated in the Greek schools of medicine 
living amongst them. Pococke mentions a Greek physician named 
Theodunus, who was in the service of Hajaj Ibn Yiisuf in the seventh 
century. He wrote a sort of medical compendium for the use of his 
son. Hajaj seems also to have employed another Greek doctor named 
Theodocus, who had numerous pupils.^ 

The House of Ommiyah encouraged the cultivation of the sciences. 
The Cahph Moawiyah, who resided at Damascus, founded schools, 
libraries, and observatories there, and invited the learned of all nations, 
especially Greeks, to settle there, and teach his people their arts and 

^ Pococke, Hist, Dynast.^ p. 128 ; Freind, Hist. Med., Lat. YA., p. 472. 
2 Puschmann, Hist, of Afed. Edtic, p. 156. 


In the seventh century, Alexandria under the rule of Islam was in 
possession of many medical schools in which the principles of Galen 
were taught.^ 

Alkinani, an Arabian Christian, who afterwards was converted to 
Islamism, was chiefly instrumental in introducing medical teaching into 
Antioch and Harran from Alexandria.^ 

The Caliph Almansor had studied astronomy. Almamon, the seventh 
of the Abbassides, collected from Armenia, Syria, and Egypt all the 
volumes of Grecian science he could obtain; they were translated 
into Arabic, and his subjects were earnestly exhorted to study them. 
" He was not ignorant," says Abulpharagius, " that they are the elect 
of God, His best and most useful servants, whose lives are devoted 
to the improvement of their rational faculties." Succeeding princes 
of the line of Abbas, and their rivals the Fatimites of Africa and the 
Ommiades of Spain, says Gibbon, were the patrons of the learned, " and 
their emulation diffused the taste and the rewards of science from 
Samarcand and Bochara to Fez and Cordova." ^ 

It was Almamon who caused the works of the fathers of Indian 
medical science to be translated first into Persian and then into Arabic ; 
thus it was that the Saracens became familiar with the medical wisdom 
of Susruta and Charaka in the eighth century of our era.^ 

Charaka is frequently mentioned in the Latin translations o^ 
Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Rhazes (Al Rasi), and Serapion (Ibn Serabi).^ 

Chaldee works at this time were also translated into Persian. In the 
first centuries of the Hijra the Caliphs of Baghdad caused a considerable 
number of works upon Hindu medicine to be translated into Persian.^ 
At the time of Mohammed there existed a famous school of medicine 
at Senaa in Southern Arabia, the principal of which, Harit Ben 
Kaldah, had learned his profession in India. '^ 

When the son of Mesuach, a young Nestorian Christian, first entered 
Baghdad, it is said « that he appeared to have discovered a new world. 
He applied himself to the study of medicine, philosophy, and 
astronomy. He became a " treasure of learning," and was chosen to 
attend Prince Almamon, the son of Haroun-al-Raschid, who, when he 
became CaUph in 813, invited learned men of all religions and of all 
nations to his court, collected from them the names of all the great 
authors and the titles of their books which had been published in 

^ L. Leclerc, Hist, de la Med. Arabe, i. p. 38. 

^ Freind, Hist. Med., p. 473, Ed. 1733. ^ Decline and Fall, etc., ch. lii. 

* Weber, Hist. Ind. Lit., p. 266. ^ Royle, Antiquity of Hindu Medicine. 

® Weber, p. 266. 7 Puschmann, p. 160. 

® Leo Afric, De viris Illust. ap. Arab. Bib. 



Greek, Syriac, and Persian, and then sent to all parts of the world to 
purchase them. 

The Arabs studied Aristotle ; and when Western Europe had long 
been sunk in intellectual darkness and had forgotten him, the Saracens 
taught him to the Christians of the West. " He was read at Samar- 
cand and at Lisbon," says Freeman, " when no one knew his name at 
Oxford or Edinburgh." ^ In his own tongue at Constantinople and 
Thessalonica he had never been forgotten. Such learning and science 
as the Saracens did not receive from India, such as the Arabic numerals, 
came to them from the West. They developed and improved much, 
but they probably invented nothing. Freeman says ^ that after careful 
investigation he observed three things : first, that whatever the 
Arabs learned was from translations of Greek works ; secondly, that 
they made use of only an infinitesimal portion of Greek literature; 
thirdly, that many of their most famous literary men were not Mahome- 
tans at all, but Jews or Christians.^ Greek poetry, history, and philo- 
sophy had little charm for them. Gibbon says there is no record of an 
Arabian translation of any Greek poet, orator, or historian.^ 

Learned Nestorians, Jacobites, and Jews in Persia and Syria occupied 
themselves with translations from Greek authors, and contributed 
greatly to the extension of Western culture in Eastern lands. ^ To the 
world at large Mahomet was but an impostor; to the Arab of the seventh 
century he was a true prophet and the greatest of benefactors. 

When the Persian king reproached the Arabs with their poverty and 
their savage condition, the reply of the Saracen envoy contains a 
grand summary of the immediate results of Mahomet's teaching.^ 

"Whatever thou hast said," replied Sheikh Maghareh, ^'respecting 
the former condition of the Arabs is true. Their food was green 
lizards ; they buried their infant daughters alive ; nay, some of them 
feasted on dead carcases and drank blood ; while others slew their 
relations, and thought themselves great and valiant, when by such an 
act they became possessed of more property ; they were clothed with 
hair garments ; knew not good from evil ; and made no distinction 
between that which is lawful and that which is unlawful. Such was our 
state. But God, in His mercy, has sent us by a holy prophet a sacred 
volume, which teaches us the true faith." '^ 

George Backtischwah, or Bocht Jesu, was a Greek physician, a 
descendant of the persecuted Christians of the Greek empire, who 
embracing the heresy of Nestorius had been compelled to fly for safety 

^ The Saracens, T^. 191. ^ Ibid. ^ Ibid., pp. 191, 192. 

^ Decline and Fall, etc., ch. Hi. ^ Puschmann, Hist. Med. Educ, p. 158. 

^ Freeman's Saracens, p. 54. ' Kingsley's Alexandria, p. 148. 


and peace to the Persians. Al-Manzor (754-775) invited Backtischwah 
to his court, and this physician was the first to present to the Arabians 
translations of the medical works of the Greeks. The Nestorians had 
founded a school of medicine in the province of Gondisapor, which was 
already famous in the seventh century. From this school issued a 
crowd of learned Nestorians and Jews, famous for their knowledge of 
medicine and surgery, but still more for their ability to endow the East 
with all the treasures of Greek literature.^ 


The city of Baghdad was built by the Caliph Almansor, in a.d. 763, 
on the ruins of a very ancient city ; it soon became the most splendid 
city in the East. Almansor had personally cultivated science, and was 
a lover of letters and of learned men. He offered rewards for transla- 
tions of Greek authors on philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and 

A college was established by the Caliph which ultimately became 
famous. Public hospitals and a medical school were also established 
by the same enlightened ruler. Meryon says ^ that there is reason to 
suppose that in the laboratories established at Baghdad for the prepara- 
tion of medicines the science of chemistry may have first originated.^^ 

The son of Mesuach presided over the translations of the works of 
Galen and all the treatises of Aristotle into Arabic ; but when they had 
extracted the science from Greek literature, they consigned all the rest 
of it to the flames, as dangerous to the Moslem faith.* 

Many Christian physicians were employed at Baghdad. 

The vizier of a Sultan gave two hundred thousand pieces of gold to 
found a college at Baghdad, which he endowed with an annual revenue 
of fifteen thousand dinars.^ Under the reign of Haroun-al-Raschid and 
his successors this school flourished vigorously, and many translations 
of Greek medical works were made therein. 

The Arabians have greatly distinguished themselves in the science 
of medicine. In the city of Baghdad eight hundred and sixty physicians, 
says Gibbon, were licensed to practise. The names of Mesua and Geber, 
of Rhazis and Avicenna are not less famous than are those of the greatest 
names amongst the Greeks themselves. The independent medical litera- 
ture of the Saracens arose in the ninth century, and gradually developed 

* Sismondi, Literature of Ewope, vol. i. p. 51. 
^ Hist. Med.^ p. 123. 

^ See Thompson's Hist. Chem., vol. i. p. 112. 

* Berington's Lit. Hist. Middle Ages, p. 415. 
^ Gibbon, Decline and Fall, etc., ch. lii. 


till it reached the zenith of its glory in the eleventh. The mosques 
were then the universities, and besides that of Baghdad, Bassora, Cufa, 
Saraarcand, Ispahan, Damascus, Bokhara, Firuzabad, and Khurdistan, 
not omitting the schools of the P'atimites in Alexandria, were centres 
of Eastern science and art, and the equally famous universities of 
Cordova, Seville, Toledo, Almeria, Murcia, Granada, and Valencia, 
sustained in Europe the dignity of the Arabian learning. When the 
conquest of Africa was complete, Spain was invaded, and about the 
year 713 was reduced to a Moslem province. Cordova became not 
less distinguished for learning than Baghdad, and many writers were 
given to the world from the adjacent towns of Malaga, Almeria, and 
Murcia. Gibbon says that above seventy public libraries were opened 
in the cities of Andalusia. 

In the words of Professor Nicholl, " The Semitic race is essentially 
unscientific, and adverse to the presentation of philosophical or moral 
truth in a scientific form. The Indo-European genius, on the contrary, 
tends irresistibly towards intellectual system, or science." This will at 
once be perceived when we examine the Vedas, the works of any Greek 
author, or those of Teutonic speculative writers, and then turn to any 
Semitic books. We instantly perceive that in the latter we have nothing 
but beUef or intuition, with more or less of the doctrine of Revelation 
or Inspiration. In the works of Aryan origin, on the contrary, we are 
at the opposite pole ; we have speculation, inquiry, an insatiable desire 
to solve the mystery of things — the analytical spirit which asks a 
reason for every phenomenon in the universe. In the Semitic races 
this resolves itself into either a living faith and a pure life corresponding 
thereto, or into a reckless fanaticism founded on fatalism. In the Aryan 
races we have the most daring intellectual acdvity, or the driest dog- 

It was in Spain that the Semitic and Aryan intellects met and happily 
blended. Spain remembered the advantages of Roman influences long 
after they were withdrawn. The Goths, who spread themselves over 
the Peninsula, preserved the remains of the civilization which the Romans 
had left ; and the Jews, afterwards to be treated with such cruel and 
base ingratitude by the nation which they had so greatly benefited, ad- 
vanced the cause of educadon by their numerous schools and learned 

On this stage, then, we find the Semitic and the Indo-Germanic races 
transferring to each other the characteristics with which they were most 
happily endowed by nature. 

The mosque schools of the Arabians were conducted on the model of 
1 Imp. Diet. Biog., art. " Averrhoes." \ ^ Puschmann, p. 162. 


the Alexandrian schools. The old Egyptian and Jewish colleges were 
to some extent the prototypes of these, and some writers think that 
our own universities were suggested by those of the Saracens. How 
great and famous some of these must have been, may be learned from 
the fact that, as we have stated, no less than six thousand professors 
and students were collected together at Baghdad at one time. There 
were lecture rooms, laboratories, hospitals, and residences for teachers 
and students, besides the great halls which must have been required for 
the vast libraries which the Caliphs collected. It was in Spain perhaps 
that Saracenic learning shone most brilliantly. In the early part of the 
eighth century was founded the noble university of Cordova, the city 
which, under Arabian rule, was called the " Centre of Religion, the 
Mother of Philosophers, the Light of Andalusia." It contained 300 
mosques, 200,000 houses, and 1,000,000 inhabitants, besides forty 

Abou-Ryan-el-Byrouny (died 941) travelled forty years studying 
mineralogy, and his treatise on precious stones, says Sismondi,"2 is a rich 
collection of facts. Aben-al-Beithar of Malaga travelled over all the 
mountains and plains of Europe in search of plants, and rendered most 
important services to botany. He wandered over the sands of Africa 
and the remotest countries of Asia, examining and collecting animals, 
fossils, and vegetables, and published his observations in three volumes, 
which contained more science than any naturalist had previously 

In one sense the Arabians were the inventors of chemistry, and never 
was the science applied to the arts of life more beneficially than by the 
Saracens in Spain. 

Mahomet was skilled in the knowledge of medicine, and certain of 
his aphorisms are extant concerning the healing art. Gibbon says* that 
the temperance and exercise his followers preached, deprived the doc- 
tors of the greater part of their practice. The only medicine recom- 
mended by the Koran is honey (see Surah xvi. 71). " From its (the 
bee's) belly cometh forth a fluid of varying hues, which yieldeth medi- 
cine to man." There is evidence of a belief in magic in the Koran as 
a charm against evil, and of incantations capable of producing ill con- 
sequences to those against whom they were directed. The 113th 
chapter of the Koran was written when Mohammed believed that, by 
the witchcraft of wicked persons, he had been afflicted with rheumatism. 
Mohammedan peoples use as amulets to avert evil from themselves or 
possessions, a small Koran encased in silk or leather, or some of the 

/ * Baas, Hist. Med. , p. 220. ^ Literature of Europe^ vol. i. p. 66. ' Ibid. 
^ Decline and Fall ^ etc., chap. lii. 


names of God, or of the prophets or saints, or the Mohammedan creed| 
engraven on stone or silver. 

Da^wah, or the system of incantation used by Mohammedans, is 
employed to cause the cure, or the sickness and death of a person. 
The Mohammedans have an elaborate system of exorcism, which is 
fully explained by Mr. Thomas Patrick Hughes.^ 

Uroscopy, or the art of judging diseases by inspection of the urine, 
was a great feature of Arabian as of Greek medical practice. It was, 
however, with the former usually conducted with jugglery and charla- 
tanism, and there was seldom anything scientific about it. 

As the religion of the Moslems forbade dissection, the sciences of 
anatomy and physiology and the art of surgery remained as they were 
borrowed from the Greek writers. 

The Arabian faculty always stipulated for their fees beforehand ; 
they disapproved of gratuitous treatment, because, as they declared, 
*' no one gets even thanks for it ! " 

There must have been female doctors, who, in the East, had abundant 
opportunities for practice, as men were not permitted by the customs of 
the times to examine women. These female obstetricians performed 
the gravest operations, such as embryotomy and lithotomy. ^ 

Hospitals were established at Damascus for lepers, the poor, the 
blind, and the sick, under the rule of the Caliph Walid. 

Paper is an Arabic invention. True, it has been made from silk from 
the remotest ages in China, but by the Arabs it was first made at 
Samarcand, a.d. 649 ; and cotton paper, such as we use now, was made 
at Mecca, a.d. 706. The art was soon afterwards introduced by the 
Arabs into Spain, where it was brought to the highest perfection.^ 
Gunpowder was known to the Arabs a hundred years before Euro- 
peans mention it* The compass was used by them nearly two cen- 
turies before the Italians and French used it. The number of Arabic 
inventions which we unsuspectingly enjoy, without being aware of their 
origin, is prodigious. Could we bring to light the literary treasures of 
the Escurial, we should know something of the industrious host of 
Arabians who have done so much for the learning of the Western world, 
and whose names and deeds have received from us no recognition. 
Their historical, geographical, and scientific dictionaries and histories 
would alone entitle them to the gratitude of an age which would know 
how to appreciate them. 

Sismondi says that " Medicine and philosophy had even a greater 
number of historians than the other sciences ; and all these different 

1 Dictionary of Islam, art. "Da'wah." ^ gaas, History of Medicine, p. 224, 
^ Sismondi, Literature of Europe, vol. i. p. 68. ^ Ibid. 


works were embodied in the historical dictionary of sciences compiled 
by Mohammed-Aba- Abdallah, of Granada." 

The Great Arabian Physicians. 

HoNAiN, a Christian physician, flourished at Baghdad in the middle 
of the ninth century. He travelled in Greece that he might perfect 
himself in the language, and he read the works of all the great writers 
of that country. On his return to Baghdad he was invited by the 
Caliph to undertake the translation of the Greek authors. His best 
known translation is The Aphorisms of Hippocrates with the Commentaries 
of Galen. He wrote on midwifery, and was a good oculist. 

Serapion the Elder (of Damascus), who flourished in the ninth cen- 
tury, was a Syrian physician, of whom little or nothing is known except 
that he wrote two works, one of which is in the Bodleian in MS., 
entitled Aphorismi magni momenti de Medicina Practica. The other is 
entitled Kunndsh^ and has been translated into Latin. 

The classical period of Arabian medicine begins with — 

Rhazes, ^'the Arabic Galen," whose real name was Abu Beer 
Mohafumed Ibn Zacariyd Ar-Razi, was born at Rai, near Chorasan, 
probably about the middle of the ninth century after Christ. His 
famous work, On the Small Fox and Measles^ was translated from the 
original Arabic into Syriac, and from that language into Greek. This 
is the first extant medical treatise in which the small-pox is certainly 
mentioned. 1 This famous book has been published in various languages 
about thirty-five times; a greater number of editions, says Dr. Greenhill, 
than almost any other ancient medical treatise has passed through. He 
was skilled in philosophy, astronomy, and music, as well as in medicine, 
which he began to study when he was forty years old. He became one 
of the most celebrated physicians of his time, and was appointed 
physician to the hospital at Rai, and afterwards to that of Baghdad, 
where he became so famous as a teacher that pupils flocked to him 
from all parts. He afterwards resided at the court of Cordova. He 
died at an advanced age about a.d. 932. More than two hundred 
titles of his works have been preserved; but his small-pox treatise is the 
only one which has been published in the original Arabic. It is a re- 
markable and a very interesting fact that he explained the nature of 
the small-pox and measles by the theory of fermentation. 2 

The largest work of Rhazes is Al-Hdwi^ or the Comprehensive book, 
commonly called " Continens." In the Latin translation this fills two 
folio volumes. Although little more than a sort of medical common- 

^ Dr. W. A. Greenhill, in Smith's Did. Classical Biog. 
^ Ibid. , in life of Rhazes, in /;;//. Bid. Biog. 


place book, it has a value in that it has preserved for us many fragmen 
from the works of ancient physicians which we should not otherwise 
have possessed. Another important work ot Rhazes is the Ketdbu-l- 
Mansuri, or Liber ad Almansorem, so called from being dedicated to 
Mansur, prince of Cliorasan. It was intended to instruct the physician 
in everything which it was necessary for him to know. It is chiefly a 
compilation, but was a popular text-book in the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries. Rhazes taught the external use of arsenic, mercurial oint- 
ments, and sulphate of copper, and the internal use of brandy, nitre, 
borax, coral, and gems. 

Ali Ben el Abbas (Ali Abbas), who lived in the latter part of the 
tenth century, was a Persian physician, who wrote a medical text book, 
entitled the Royal Book. Up to the time of Avicenna, this was the 
standard authority on medicine amongst the Arabs, and was several 
times translated into Latin. In the theory of medicine and partly in 
its practice he followed the Greeks, but imitated the use of the excellent 
materia medica of the Arabs. He wrote also on ophthalmology and 

Avicenna, or Ebn Sina, was called " the Prince of Physicians," and 
was the greatest philosopher produced by the Arabs in the East. He 
was born in the province of Bokhara, in 980 a.d. It is related that at 
the age of sixteen he had learned all the science of a physician. Having 
cured Prince Nouh of a serious malady, he became a court favourite. 
After travelling for a while he composed his great work, the Canon qf 
Medicine, by which his name was made famous both in Asia and Europe 
lor several centuries. In the midst of the troubles of an adventurous 
life, he wrote a hundred gigantic books, the greatest of which was the 

IsHAK Ben Soleiman (830-940) wrote on dietetics, and is said to 
have been the first to introduce senna. 

Serapion the Younger (about 1070). His work, De Simplicibus 
Medicamentis, was published in Latin at Milan in 1473. 

Mesue the younger (about 10 15) was a pupil of Avicenna, and 
jthysician to the court at Cairo. He rendered great services to phar- 
macy by teaching the method of preparing extracts from medicinal 

Albucasis was a skilful Arab physician, who wrote a work on surgery, 
entitled Al Tassrif., which contains much ingenious matter on the ap- 
pliances of practical surgery. He died at Cordova about 1106. His 
work treats of the application of the actual cautery, so much employed 
by the Arabs, of ligation of arteries in continuity, of the danger of 
amputating above the knee or elbow, of stitching the bowel with threads 



scraped from the intestinal coat, operations for hare-lip and cataract, 
and fistula by cutting, ligature and cautery. He advised the use of 
silver catheters as now employed, in place of the copper ones used pre- 
viously. He recommended anatomy as a valuable aid to surgery.^ 

AvENZOAR, one of the most famous of Arabian physicians, was born 
near Seville in the latter part of the twelfth century. He was instructed 
in medicine by his father, whose family had long been connected with 
the healing art. He was the rational improver of Arabian medicine by 
the rejection of useless theories, and asserted for medicine a place 
among the advancing sciences of observation. He made it a constant 
practice to analyse the medicines he used, so that he might acquaint 
himself with their exact composition. He was loaded with favours by 
the prince of Morocco, and died at the age of ninety-two in a.d. 1262. 

Ebn Albaithar (died about 1 197) was a Moorish Spaniard, renowned 
for his medical and botanical science. He traversed many regions of the 
west of Africa and Asia to enlarge his botanical knowledge. He passed 
some years at the court of Saladin, and wrote on the Virtues of Plants^ 
and on poisons, metals, and animals. 

AvERROES, or Ebn Rosch, was born at Cordova in 1 126. He learned 
theology, philosophy, and medicine from the great teachers of his time. 
He was the greatest Arabian inquirer in the West, as Avicenna was in . 
the East. He exercised the greatest influence both in his own and suc- 
ceeding ages. He has been called "the Mohammedan Spinoza," having 
been a religious freethinker. The study of Aristotle awakened in him a 
species of pantheism. He was more a philosopher than a physician, 
but as he had made important observations in medicine, he deserves a 
place amongst the heroes of the healing art. He was bitterly persecuted 
amongst his co-religionists for treating the Koran as a merely human 
work. He taught that the small-pox never attacks the same person 
more than once. In practice he held very rational views of the action of 
remedies, and taught that the work of the doctor was chiefly to apply 
general principles to individual cases. He wrote commentaries on 
Aristotle so famous as to have gained him the name of " the Commen- 
tator." He expounded the Republic of Plato. He was a most volu- 
minous writer, and was considered by his contemporaries and by our 
schoolmen as a prodigy of science. ^ 

There is a very interesting account of the Indian physicians at the 
court of Baghdad in a translation made from a MS. in the Rich collec- 
tion in the British Museum.^ The history is from the work of Ibn Khv\ 

^ Baas, Bist. Med., p. 231. 

^ Berington, Lit. Hist. Middle Ages, p. 428. 

2 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. vi. pp. 105- 1 19. 



Usaibiih, who lived at the beginning of the thirteenth century of ourj 

Kankah the Indian was a great philosopher as well as a physician ; 
he investigated the properties of medicines "and the composition of the 
heavenly bodies" (!). 

Sanjahal, another learned Indian, wrote on medicine and astrology. 
From the science of the stars he applied himself to the symptoms of 
diseases, on which he wrote a book in ten chapters. He gave the 
symptoms of four hundred and four diseases. He also wrote on The 
Imagination of Diseases. Shanak wrote on poisons and the veterinary 
art. Jawdar was a philosopher and a physician who wrote a book on 
nativities. Mankah the Indian was learned in the art of medicine, 
and " gentle in his method of treatment." He lived in the days of 

Salih, son of Bolah the Indian, was " well skilled in treatment, and 
had power and influence in the promotion of science." 

Kankah the Indian, says Prof. H. Wilson, was very celebrated in the 
history of Arabian astronomy. He says that it is certain that the as- 
tronomy and medicine of the Hindus were cultivated anteriorly to those 
of the Greeks, by the Arabs of the eighth century. " It is clear that 
the Charaka, the Susruta, the treatises called Nidan on diagnosis, and 
others on poisons, diseases of women, and therapeutics, all familiar to 
Hindu science, were translated and studied by the Arabs in the days 
of Haroun and Mansur, either from the originals, or translations made 
at a still earlier period into the language of Persia." ^ 

We may conveniently mention here the famous Jew of Spain, 
Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, or Maimonides (died 1198), a native of 
Cordova, who was profoundly learned in mathematics, medicine, and 
other arts. He retired to Egypt, where he wrote books on medicine, 
which were much read. He advised his patients never to sleep in the 
daytime, and at night only on the side. He recommended them not 
to retire to rest till three to four hours after supper. 2 

Medical etiquette was rather strict. " Operations performed by the 
hand, such as venesection, cauterization, and incision of arteries, are 
not becoming a physician of respectability and consideration. They 
are suitable for the physician's assistants only. These servants of the 
physician should also do other operations, such as incision of the 
eyelids, removing the veins in the white of the eye, and the removal 
of cataract. For an honourable physician nothing further is becoming 
than to impart to the patient advice with reference to food and medi- 

^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. vi. p. 119. 
^ Baas, Hist. Med., p. 233. 


cine. Far be it from him to practise any operation with the hand. So 
say we ! " ^ 

Dentistry was practised, but it was considered by the Arabs, as 
by the Greek and Roman doctors, a very inferior branch of the pro- 
fession, and was, for the most part, as with ourselves, till very recently 
relegated to uneducated persons. Midwifery also was, to a great ex- 
tent, neglected by the higher class of physicians. The Arabian faculty 
esteemed most highly medicine proper, though pharmacy and materia 
medica were especially studied. The professors were paid by the State, 
and handsomely as a rule. Their text books were the works of the 
Greek physicians, especially Hippocrates and Galen. A sort of matricu- 
lation examination was required before a student could enter the great 
schools, and he was subjected to professional examinations (not very 
severe, presumably) before he was permitted to practise. The Arabian 
physicians were usually men of the highest culture ; not only were 
they men of science, but of philosophy and literature also. Great 
mystery was combined with Arabian medical practice ; astrology was the 
handmaid of medicine, and charms entered largely into therapeutics. 
The physicians wrote prescriptions with purgative ink ; so that " take 
this ! " was meant literally when the doctor gave the patient his prescrip- 
tion. It had to be swallowed in due form. 

Although the great civilizations of the East date their origins from a 
period far more remote than those of the West, they have lagged far be- 
hind the West in progress. Professor Freeman defines European society 
as progressive, legal, monogamous, and, for the last fifteen hundred 
years, a Christian society ; the East he defines as stationary, arbitrary, 
polygamous, and Mahometan. 1 The dominant note of Oriental history 
is sameness ; a monotony which enables us to read in the story of to-day 
that which took place amongst Eastern peoples a thousand years ago. 
The history of a single city of Europe is of infinitely greater interest to 
the student of humanity and the history of civilization than that of a 
whole nation of the East. The history of Florence alone is of greater 
importance, from this point of view, than that of all China. There 
is, however, one marvellous history, that of Mahomet and his creed, 
which excels in interest that of any other man of the Oriental nations. 
" Nowhere," says Freeman, " in the history of the world can we 
directly trace such mighty eff'ects to the personal agency of a single 
mortal." 3 

^ Arabic writer, quoted by Baas, Hist. Med. , p. 22 1 . 
2 Freeman's Saracens, p. 4. ^ Ibid.^ p. 6. 



Alchemy the parent of Chemistry. 

Learning in Europe was greatly advanced by the foundation of the 
famous monastery of Monte Cassino, by St. Benedict, near Naples, in 
the year 529. The religious houses of this order, of which Monte 
Cassino was the parent, were the means of sheltering in those troublous 
times the men who devoted themselves to literature and secular learning, 
as well as to the severities of the religious life. In these peaceful abodes 
men learned how to make the desert blossom as the rose, agriculture 
and other civilizing occupations were studied and successfully practised, 
and from the sixth century to the ninth such medical knowledge as 
existed in Europe chiefly emanated from these abodes of piety, industry, 
and temperance. Missionaries issued from them to convert and civilize 
the nations ; and wherever the monks went, they acted as the healers of 
the sick, as well as the spiritual advisers of the sinner. Everywhere they 
cultivated medicinal plants, whose properties they learned to under- 
stand ; by interchange of thought and comparison of opinions every 
monastery, with its constant going and coming of the brethren, became 
an exchange of knowledge : the science of Spain was carried to Italy, 
that of Italy to France and England, which in their turn contributed 
to the general stock of information such items of knowledge as they 
possessed. " If science," says Schlegel,^ " was then of a very Hmited 
range, it was still quite proportioned to the exigencies and intellectual 
cultivation of the age ; for mankind cannot transcend all the degrees of 
civiUzation by a single bound, but must mount slowly and in succession 
its various grades." 

Alcuin (735-804), the great reviver of learning in the eighth cen- 
tury, was an ecclesiastic who instructed Charlemagne and his family in 
rhetoric, logic, mathematics, and divinity. "France," says a great 
writer, '' is indebted to Alcuin for all the polite learning it boasted in 
that and the following ages. The universities of Paris, Tours, Fulden, 
Soissons, and many others, owe to him their origin and increase." By 
^ Philosophy of History^ p. 342. 


the benefits he obtained from Charlemagne for the Christian schools 
which he founded, education began to revive in Europe, and by the 
Emperor's command schools were established in every convent and 
cathedral throughout his vast empire, wherein not clerics alone, but the 
sons of the nobility who were destined for a secular life, could receive the 
highest education at that time attainable. " The monasteries became 
a kind of fortress in which civilization sheltered itself under the banner 
of some saint j the culture of high intelligence was preserved there, 
and philosophic truth was reborn there of religious truth. Political 
truth, or liberty, found an exponent and a defender in the monk, who 
searched into everything, said everything, and feared nothing. Without 
the inviolability and the leisure of the cloister, the books and the 
languages of the ancient world would never have been transmitted to 
us, and the chain which connects the past with the present would have 
been snapped. Astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, civil law, physic and 
medicine, the profane authors, grammar, and the belles lettres^ all the 
arts, had a succession of professors uninterrupted from the first days 
of Clovis down to the age when the universities, themselves religious 
foundations, brought science forth from the monasteries. To establish 
this fact it is enough to name Alcuin, Anghilbert, Eginhard, Treghan, 
Loup de Terrieres, Eric d'Auxerre, Hincmar, Odo of Clugny, Cherbert, 
Abbon, Fulbert."! 

The Origin of Chemistry. 

The great importance of the science of chemistry in its connection 
with that of medicine, compels some allusion to its origin. Without 
question alchemy was the forerunner of chemistry. Beginning in the 
search for the means of transmuting base metals into gold, it ultimately 
endowed us with a far more precious knowledge — the art of preparing 
many of our most valuable medicines. 

The first authentic account of alchemy is an edict of Diocletian about 
A.D. 300, in which a diligent search is ordered to be made in Egypt 
for all the ancient books which treated of the art of making gold and 
silver, that they might be destroyed. This shows that the pursuit must 
have been of great antiquity. Fable credits Solomon, Pythagoras, and 
Hermes amongst its adepts. We find nothing more about it till its 
revival by the Arabians some five or six hundred years later.^ 

The word Alchemy is mentioned for the first time by the Byzantines. 
The art of transmuting metals under the name of Chemia, is first spoken 
of by Suidas, who wrote in the tenth century. The Byzantines began 

^ Chateaubriand, Analyse de V Histoire de France, Seconde Race. 
2 Goodwin, Lives of the Necromancers, pp. 29, 30. 


to make chemical experiments about the seventh century; all the books 
they quote were attributed to Hermes. What is known as the Hermetic 
philosophy was synonymous with alchemy, but the books were really the 
work of the monks of the period.^ 

The earliest works on alchemy which we possess are those of Geber 
of Seville, who lived probably about the eighth or ninth century. His 
works were entitled Of the Search of Perfection, Of the Sum of Perfection, 
Of the Invention of Verity. He divided metals into the more or less 
perfect, gold the most perfect, silver the next, etc. His aim was to 
convert inferior metals into gold ; that which should turn base metals 
into gold would be also a universal medicine, would cure or prevent 
diseases, prolong life, and make the body beautiful and strong. The 
philosopher's stone would embrace in itself all perfections. Alchemy 
led to chemistry ; it is even declared by some to have been the mother 
of chemistry. Some have thought that without the hope of making 
gold and other precious things, men would never have been inspired 
to investigate the secrets of nature and sustained in the arduous and 
often dangerous work of the chemist. But this is to take far too low 
a view of the scientific mind in all ages. The search for truth, the 
passion for investigating and interrogating nature has happily never 
wholly depended upon mercenary motives, and men have devoted their 
lives as ardently to scientific researches, by which they could never 
have hoped to gain a single penny, as did those alchemists of old, who 
bent over their crucibles in the vain search for the perfect magistery.^ 

Gibbon says,^ "The science of chemistry owes its origin and improve- 
ment to the industry of the Saracens. They first invented and named 
the alembic for the purposes of distillation, analysed the substances of 
the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction and affinities of 
alkalis and acids, and converted the poisonous minerals into soft and 
salutary medicines." Gibbon somewhat exaggerates. Analysis and 
affinity were discovered at a much later period. It was Europeans in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who advanced chemical science 
towards its present high position. 

NoNNUS (loth century) wrote "a compendium of the whole art of 
medicine," in 290 chapters. It is a mere compilation, and the author 
is only worthy of remembrance in medical history as the earhest Greek 
medical writer who mentions distilled rose-water, an article originally 
derived from the Arabians. 

^ Cap, Etudes Biographiques, Ser. ii.' p. 326. 

' See Whewell's Hist. Induct. Sciences, vol. i. p. 305. 

^ Decline and Fall. 



School of Montpellier. — Divorce of Medicine from Surgery. 

An important era in the history of medicine in Europe was the rise of 
the universities. It is not possible to fix precisely the date of the 
foundation of these great centres of learning, but we may sufficiently 
for our purpose fix the twelfth century as approximately the period in 
which Bologna, Montpellier, Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris were regu- 
larly established. 

Cambridge University took its rise in all probability somewhere in 
the twelfth century, " originating in an effort on the part of the monks of 
Ely to render a position of some military importance also a place of 
education." ^ 

The most ancient universities in Europe are said to be those of Bo- 
logna, Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and Salamanca. The following dates 
are approximate: Bologna, 1116 ; Oxford, 879; Cambridge, twelfth 
century; Cordova, 968; Paris, 792, renovated 1200; Palenza, 1209, 
removed to Salamanca, 1249. Salamanca was founded 1239; Naples, 
1224; Montpellier, 1289; Rome, 1243; Salerno, 1233. 

The University of Bologna was famous as a school of law and letters 
so early as the twelfth century. In the next it became distinguished for 
its medical teaching. It was in such perfection that its professors were 
classed as physicians, surgeons, barber surgeons, and oculists. But 
still, anatomy, except in so far as it assisted the surgeon, was neglected. 
Roger, Roland, Janierio, Bruno, and Lanfranc, seemed alone to have paid 
much attention to it, and then only to borrow from Galen. -^ The medi- 
cal faculty became celebrated after 1280, when Thaddeus Florentinus 
was a teacher in it. 

The University of Padua was founded 1179. 

In 1268 it possessed three teachers of medicine and the same num- 
ber of teachers of natural science. 

Montpellier was the first great rival of Salerno as a school of medicine. 
Its charter dates from 1229. 

Medicine was not taught at Paris during the twelfth century. John 

* Mullinger's University of Cambridge, p. 334. '^ As Haydn gives them. 

^ Ency. Brit., art. "Anatomy." 


of Salisbury, writing in the year 1160, says that those who desired tc 
study medicine had to go either to Salerno or Montpellier. But, sayi 
Laurie/ physicians of eminence are recorded as having taught at Paris 
after this date, and the subject was formally lectured upon not later 
than 1200. Degrees or licences in physic were granted in 1231. 

The University of Naples was founded in 1224, by the Emperor 
Frederick II. Originally all the faculties were represented, but in 1231 
medicine was forbidden, as by Imperial decree it could only be taught 
at Salerno. 

The University of Prague was founded in 1348 by Charles IV. of 
Bohemia, as a complete university from the outset. 

School of Montpellier. 

The origin of the medical school of Montpellier is obscure. Pro- 
bably it originated in the tenth century, and there is little doubt that the 
Jews of Spain were concerned in its foundation. The Arabs found firm 
friends in the Jewish people of Spain, their monotheism proving a bond 
of union which ensured the sympathy of each, and the school of Mont- 
pellier became the rallying-point of Arabian and Jewish learning. 
Europe has rendered too little gratitude for the intellectual blessings 
bestowed on her by the Hebrews. A nation of Eastern origin, and 
having very extensive relations with Eastern commerce, the Israelites acted 
as the medium for transmitting the intellectual and material wealth of 
Eastern countries to Western peoples. We owe to them much of our 
acquaintance with Saracenic medicine and pharmacy. They translated 
for us Arabic books, and they introduced to Western markets the pre- 
cious drugs of far-distant Eastern lands. The school of medicine of 
Montpellier first became famous in the beginning of the twelfth century. 
Averroism prevailed, and a practical empirical spirit distinguished the 
school from the dogmatic and scholastic teaching of other universities. 
It has been attempted to show that a Jewish doctor from Narbonne 
first taught medicine at Montpellier. When Benjamin of Tudela went 
to the university in 11 60, he says that he found many Jews amongst 
the inhabitants. Adalbert, Bishop of Mayence, went to Montpellier 
in 1 137 to learn medicine from the doctors, "that he might understand 
the deeply hidden meaning of things." In 1153 the Archbishop of 
Lyons went there for treatment, and John of Salisbury said that medi- 
cine was to be acquired either at Salerno or Montpellier. Men called 
the school the " Fountain of Medical Wisdom," and it soon rose to 
great importance on account of its unlimited freedom in teaching.^ 

^ Rise and Constitution of Universities, p. 157. 
^ Puschmann's Hist. Med. Educ, p, 214. 


Cardinal Conrad made a law that no one should act as a teacher of 
medicine in the university who had not been examined in it and received 
a licence to teach. In 1230 it was ordered that no one should practise 
medicine until he had been examined, and that to the satisfaction of 
two masters in medical science chosen as examiners by the bishop. To 
engage in practice without the certificate of the examiners and the bishop 
was to incur the sentence of excommunication.^ Surgeons, however, 
were not compelled to undergo examination. Medicine flourished at 
Montpellier with great independence ; it was not merged with the other 
faculties, and it was not subjected to clerical influences. ^ Even Louis 
XIV. was obliged to withdraw a decree ordering the union of the medi- 
cal with the other faculties.'^ 

Every student was compelled (1308) to attend medical lectures for 
at least five years, and to practise medicine for eight months, before 
being allowed to graduate. In 1350 the degree of Magister had to be 
taken in addition.* 

The most brilliant period in the history of the medical school of 
Montpellier was that of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Its 
fame was sounded throughout the world. From all parts invalids went 
to Montpellier to seek its famous physicians. King John of Bohemia, 
and the Bishop of Hereford, were of the number. 

Divorce of Medicine from Surgery. 

Surgery became separated from medicine in Alexandria, but it was 
not until the middle of the twelfth century that the ecclesiastics were 
restrained from undertaking any bloody operations. The universities 
rejected surgery under the pretext, ^^ecdesia abhorret a sanguine" {t\iQ 
church abhors the shedding of blood). It is therefore to this epoch, as 
Mr. Cooper says,^ that we must refer the true separation of medicine 
from surgery ; the latter was entirely abandoned to the ignorant laity. 

At the Council of Tours, a.d. 1163, the practice of surgery was de- 
nounced as unfit for the hands of priests and men of literature, the 
consequence being that the surgeon became little better than a sort of 
professional servant to the physician, the latter not only having the sole 
privilege of prescribing internal medicines, but even that of judging and 
directing when surgical operations should be performed. Then the 
subordinate surgeon was only called upon to execute with his knife, or 

^ Puschmann's Hist. Med. Educ.^ p. 216. ^ Ibid., p. 217. 

^ Ibid. See also Dubouchet, " Documents pour servir a Thistoire de I'universite 
de medicine de Montpellier," in the Gaz. hebd. des sciences med. de Montpellier, 1887, 
No. 4. 

■* Ibid., p. 218. ^ Surgical Diet., art. "Surgeiy." 



his hand, duties which the more exalted physician did not choose to 
undertake ; and, in fact, he visited the patient, did what was required to 
be done, and took his leave of the case, altogether under the orders ot 
his master. 1 

John of Salisbury, one of the most learned men of the twelfth cen- 
tury, gives an account of the state of medicine in that period, which is 
very suggestive. "The professors of the theory of medicine are very 
communicative ; they will tell you all they know, and, perhaps, out of 
their great kindness a little more. From them you may learn the nature 
of all things, the causes of sickness and of health, how to banish the 
one and how to preserve the other ; for they can do both at pleasure. 
They will describe to you minutely the origin, the beginning, the 
progress, and the cure of all diseases. In a word, when I hear them 
harangue, I am charmed ; I think them not inferior to Mercury or 
^sculapius, and almost persuade myself that they can raise the dead. 
There is only one thing that makes me hesitate. Their theories are as 
directly opposite to one another as light and darkness. When I reflect 
on this, I am a little staggered. Two contradictory propositions cannot 
both be true. But what shall I say of the practical physicians ? I 
must say nothing amiss of them. It pleaseth God, for the punishment 
of my sins, to suffer me to fall too frequently into their hands. They 
must be soothed, and not exasperated. That I may not be treated 
roughly in my next illness, I dare hardly allow myself to think in secret 
what others speak aloud." 

In another work, however, the writer delivers himself with greater 
freedom. Speaking of newly-fledged medicos, he says : " They soon 
return from college, full of flimsy theories, to practise what they have 
learned. Galen and Hippocrates are continually in their mouths. They 
speak aphorisms on every subject, and make their hearers stare at their 
long, unknown, and high-sounding words. The good people believe 
that they can do anything, because they pretend to all things. They 
have only two maxims which they never violate : never mind the poor, 
never refuse money from the rich." 

Robert of Gloucester ^ does not write very highly of the skill in 
surgery possessed by the Anglo-Normans. Speaking of the Duke of 
Austria, who took King Richard the First prisoner, his verses import that 
when "he fell off" from his horse and sorely bruised his foot, his physic- 
ians declared that if it was not immediately smitten off, he would die ; but 
none would undertake the performance of the operation ; till the Duke 
took a sharp axe, and bid the chamberlain strike it off, and he smote 

^ Coo'^ex^ Surgical Dictionary, art. "Surgery." 
2 In vit. Ric. pri. , p. 490. 


thrice ere he could do it, putting the Duke to most horrid torture. And 
Holinshed tells us that in the time of Henry the Third there lived one 
Richard, surnamed Medicus, * a most learned physician, and no less ex- 
pert in philosophy and mathematics ; ' but makes not the least mention 
of surgery. Also some authors have attributed the death of Richard 
the First (wounded in the shoulder at the Castle of Chalezun), to the 
unskilfulness of those who had the care of the wound, and not from the 
quarrel's being poisoned, as others have insinuated." ^ 

The university title of Doctor was not known in England before the 
reign of Henry II. ^ 

Richard Fitz-Nigel, Bishop of London, was apothecary to Henry 
II. Many bishops and dignitaries of the Church were physicians to 
kings and princes.^ Most of the practitioners of medicine and teachers 
of physic were churchmen, either priests or monks. 

St. Hildegard (1098-1179), Abbess of Ruppertsberg, near Bingen 
on the Rhine, was a famous physician an 1 student of nature, who 
wrote a treatise on Materia Medica. Her pharmacy was in advance of 
her time, and to this eminent lady physician we are indebted for the 
attempts to disguise the nastiness of physic ; she enveloped the remedy 
in flour, which was then made into pancakes and eaten.* Meyer says 
that her work entitled Physica ' is a treatise on Materia Medica, unmis- 
takably founded on popular traditions." Her visions and revelations 
concerning physical and medical questions are contained in her work 
" Divinorum operum simplicis hominis liber '^ She was a true reformer 
within the Church, and her pure life was singularly devoted and unself- 
ish ; she was, in fact, a Woman Physician, who should be the patron 
saint of our lady doctors. 

^ Strutt's Horda Angel- Cyntian^ vol. ii. p. 26. 
2 Wood, Hist. Univ. of Oxford, vol. i. p. 62. 
^ Henry, Hist. Great Britain, vol. vi. p. 114. 
* Jessen. 




The Monks of Monte Cassino. — Clerical Influence at Salerno. — Charlemagne. — 
Arabian Medicine gradually supplanted the Grseco-Latin Science. — Constantine 
the Carthaginian. — Archimatthseus. — Trotula. — Anatomy of the Pig. — Pharmaco- 
poeias. — The Four Masters. — Roger and Rolando. — The Emperor Frederick. 

The connecting link between the ancient and the modern medicine 
I was the school of Salerno. It is true that Hippocrates and Galen in 
'Arabian costume re-entered Europe after a long absence in the East, 
when the Moors occupied a great part of Spain ; but great as was this 
Saracenic influence on medical science, it was not to be compared with 
the powerful and permanent influence secured by the native growth of 
medical science which sprung up on Italian soil. 

The origin of this celebrated mediaeval institution is involved in 
obscurity ; it has been generally understood to have sprung from the 
monastery of Monte Cassino, founded by St. Benedict in the sixth 
century. St. Benedict probably possessed some medical knowledge, 
and it is certain that many of his order did. The Benedictines had 
houses in La Cava and Salerno. The legends of the wonderful cures 
wrought by St. Benedict would naturally attract crowds of sufferers to 
the doors of the learned and charitable monks. There would con- 
sequently be abundant opportunities for the study of diseases and their 
remedies ; and though there was probably httle enough of what could 
strictly be called scientific medical practice, there was doubtless as 
much effort to cure or mitigate suffering as was consistent with the rule 
of a learned religious order. Some writers think that the famous 
school of Salerno existed as early as the seventh century, that Greek 
thought and traditions lingered there long after they had ceased to exist 
in other parts of Italy \ and they argue that as it was, as is now clearly 
shown, a purely secular institution, it was independent in origin and 
constitution of any monastic connection. Others maintain that it was 
founded by the Arabs ; but, as Daremberg points out,^ the first invasions 
oi the Saracens in Sicily and Italy, dating from the middle of the ninth 

^ V Ecole de Salenie. 


century, had for their objects simply pillage and slaughter ; and there is 
nothing whatever to show in the whole course of their devastations the 
slightest desire to found literary or scientific institutions. The Saracens 
never sojourned at Salerno, and before the end of the eleventh century 
there is no trace of Arabian medicine in the works written by the great 
teachers of Salerno. It is as unnecessary as it is unjust to seek any 
other origin for the Salernian school than that of the Benedictines of 
Monte Cassino.i Bede, Cuthbert, Auperth, and Paul were brought up 
at that monastery, and we know that medicine was always cultivated 
to a certain extent in those ancient abodes of learning and religion. 
As Balmez says concerning Monte Cassino,^ " the sons of the most 
illustrious families of the empire are seen to come from all parts to that 
monastery ; some with the intention of remaining there for ever, others 
to receive a good education, and some to carry back to the world a 
recollection of the serious inspirations which the holy founder had 
received at Subiaco." It seems, therefore, that the origin of the medical 
school of Salerno was somewhat on this wise: a lay spirit of science was 
developed, and many young men having no aptitude for the monastic 
Hfe, but desirous to devote themselves entirely to the healing art as an 
honourable and lucrative profession, doubtless desired to form them- 
selves into a society or school for this end ; they would receive en- 
couragement from their more liberal and enlightened monastic teachers 
to settle in a beautiful and healthy resort of invalids such as Salerno 
had long been considered, and to pursue their medical studies under 
the supervision of the men most competent to instruct them. Dr. 
Puschmann, quoting from S. de Renzi,^ states that in documents of the 
years 848 and 855, Joseph and Joshua are named as doctors practising 
there. The Lombard Regenifrid lived there in the year 900; he was 
physician to Prince Waimar of Salerno. Fifty years later the doctor 
Petrus was raised to the bishopric of Salerno. Many doctors of this 
time were clerics, but there were also many who were Jews.* This 
ancient people, hated and persecuted in every other relation of life, were 
popular as physicians in the Middle Ages. The books studied and 
expounded were Hippocrates and Galen, which were translated into 
Latin before a.d. 560.^ 

Its cosmopoUtan sentiments probably gave rise to the story that is 
told in an ancient Salernian chronicle, rediscovered by S. de Renzi, to 

^ Laurie, Rise, etc., of Universities, p. 112. 

^ European Civilization, p. 216. 

^ Storia docum. delta scuola med. di Salerno, p. 157, et seq. 

'^ S. de Renzi, Collectio Salernitana, iii. 325. 

^ Laurie's ^W(?, etc., of Universities, p. 112. 


the effect that the school was founded by four doctors ; namely, the 
Jewish Rabbi Elinus, the Greek Pontus, the Saracen Adala, and a 
native of Salerno, who each lectured in his native tongue.^ 

It is said that Charlemagne in 802 a.d. greatly encouraged this 
Salerno school by ordering Greek works of medicine to be translated 
from the Arabic into Latin. Salernum, in consequence of the medical 
and public instructions given by the monks in the neighbouring 
monastery, became known as a civiias Hippocratica!^ 

Bertharius, abbot from 856, was a very learned man; and it is 
stated that there are still in existence two manuscripts of his which 
contain a collection of hygienic and medicinal rules and prescriptions.^ 

Alphanus (secundus) (flourished about 1050), a distinguished 
monastic philosopher and theologian, wrote a treatise on The Union of 
the Soul and Body, a.nd another on The Four Hiwwurs. He carried with 
him, when he removed to Florence, many manuscripts and a great 
quantity of medicines. During the eleventh century Salerno rose to 
great importance, not only from its situation as a port from which the 
Crusaders departed to the wars, but from the daily widening influence of 
its medical school. 

Petrocellus wrote on the practice of medicine about 1035 ; he was 
the author of the Compendium of Medicine. Gariopontus (died before 
1056) wrote a work entitled Passionarius Galeni. These are the two 
most ancient works of this school which have reached our times, says 
Daremberg. The medicine of Salerno before the year 1050 was a 
combination of methodism in its doctrines and of Galenisms in its 
prescriptions.^ We find, says Baas,^ in Gariopontus the first intimation 
of the inhalation of narcotic vapours in medicine, while the ancients 
could only produce anaesthesia by compression and the internal use 
of such drugs as mandragora and belladonna. Herodotus says ^ that 
the Scythians used the vapour of hemp seed to intoxicate themselves 
by inhaling it, but this was not for medicinal purposes. 

Desiderius was abbot of Salerno, and afterwards became Pope Victor 
HI. in 1085. He is said to have been medicince periiissimus.'^ 

About this time flourished Constantine, the Carthaginian Christian, 
whose fame was European, and who finally placed Salerno in the front 
as a great and specialized public school of medicine. He travelled far 
in the East, and is said to have learned mathematics, necromancy, and 
the sciences in Babylon. He visited India and Egypt, and when he 
returned to Carthage he was the most learned man of his time in all 

^ See Puschmann's ^w/. y)/^^., p. 199. ^ y^^-^, 3 jj^id.^ p. 113. 

* Daremberg, U^cole de Salerne. ^ Hist. Med., p. 262. 

^ IV. 75. '' Laurie, Rise, etc., of Universities, p. 113. 


that related to medical science. Naturally he was suspected of witch- 
craft, and he fled for refuge to Salerno. Robert Guiscard the Norman 
held him in the highest favour, and under his protection he published 
many works of medicine of his own, and made many translations 
of medical books from the Arabic. He ultimately retired to the 
monastery of Monte Cassino, where he died in 1087. We may safely 
date the estabHshment of the splendid reputation of the Salerno school 
from the time of his settlement there.^ 

Daremberg does not allow that the influence of Constantine was so 
great as is generally supposed. He points out that it was not in the 
middle of the eleventh but at the end of the twelfth century that 
Arabian medicine was substituted in the school of Salerno, as in the 
West generally, for the Graeco- Latin. And it is perfectly true that if we 
examine the medical writings of this period we find very little progress 
from the times of the ancients, except in pharmacy and the knowledge 
of drugs and their properties. Daremberg's researches go to prove that 
many of Constantine's works, previously supposed to have been original, 
were but cunningly disguised translations from the Arabic. By altering 
the phraseology, and suppressing such proper names as would have led 
to suspicion of the origin of his treatises, he obtained credit for a great 
mass of literary work which had really another source. 2 

Jean Afflacius, a disciple of Constantine, wrote The Golden Book on 
the Treatment of Diseases^ and another work On the Treatment of Fevers? 
Daremberg says that these works of Afflacius show no more traces of 
Arabian influence than the works of his contemporaries. 

He advised that the air of the sick-room should be kept cool by 
the evaporation of water, and he administered iron in enlargement of the 

Archimatth^us lived soon after Constantine ; his name occurs 
about the year iioo as the author of two important books on medicine. 
The Instruction of the Physician and The Practice. The former work 
is occupied with advice, sometimes exaggerated, on the dignity of the 
healing art; and though it appears childish enough to our more 
sophisticated age, it is not without evidence of a desire to instruct the 
doctor in all that relates to the welfare of the patient and the dangers 
incurred by any deviation from the strictest code of professional rec- 
titude. It is unfortunately, however, blended with so much that is 
crafty and sly that it approaches in some directions very closely to 

^ Laurie's Rise^ etc.y of the Universities^ pp. 113, 114. 
2 Daremberg, V^cole de Salerne, p. 146. 
^ Colled. Saleni., t. ii. pp. 737-768. 


charlatanism. Archimatthaeus very minutely instructs the doctor how 
to comport himself when called to visit a patient.^ 

He should place himself under the protection of God and under the 
care of the angel who accompanied Tobias. On the way to the 
patient's home he should take care to learn from the messenger sent for 
him the state of the patient, so that he may be, on reaching the bed- 
side, well posted in all that concerns the case ; then if, after he has 
examined the urine and the state of the pulse, he is not able to make 
an accurate diagnosis, he will at least be able, thanks to his previous 
information, to impress the patient with the conviction that he com- 
pletely understands his case, and so will gain his confidence. The 
author considers it very important that the sick person, before the 
arrival of the physician, should send for a priest to hear his confession, 
or at least promise to do so ; for if the doctor were to see reason to 
suggest this himself, it would give the patient cause to suppose that his 
case was hopeless. " Upon entering the house of his patient, the 
physician should salute all with a grave and modest air, not exhibiting 
any eagerness, but seating himself to take breath ; he should praise 
the beauty of the situation,^ ^the good arrangements of the house, the 
generosity of the family ; by this means he wins the good opinion of the 
household, and gives the sick person time to recover himself a little." 
After the most careful directions as to the examination of the patient, 
the author takes the doctor from the house with as much artfulness as he 
has brought him hither. He is to promise the patient a good recovery, 
but privately to the friends he is to explain that the illness is a very 
serious one: "if he recovers, your reputation is increased; if he 
succumbs, people will not fail to remember that you foresaw the fatal 
termination of the disease." If he is asked to dine, " as is the custom," 
he is to show himself neither indiscreet nor over-nice. If the table is 
delicate, he is not to become absorbed in its pleasures, but to leave the 
table every now and then to see how the patient progresses, so as to 
show that he has not been forgotten while the doctor was feasting. He 
is honestly to demand his fee, and then go in peace, his heart content 
and his purse full. In the Practice of the same author, we have, says 
Daremberg, a true Clinic^ the first work of the kind since the Epidemics 
of Hippocrates; it exhibits a skilful practitioner, a good observer, and a 
bold therapeutist. The doctrines and methods are those of Hippo- 

^ Anomymi Salernitani de adventu niedici ad cegroHim. Ed. A. G. E. Th. 
Ilenschel, Vratist., 1850. De Renzi, Collect. Salem., ii. 74-81, v. 333-349- 
Puschmann, Hist. Med., p. 203. Daremberg, V ^cole de Salerne, p. 148. 

^ The whole coast between Salerno and Amalfi and the surrounding parts are 
some of the loveliest places in Italy. 


crates and Galen, but not of the Arabs. It is also interesting as prov- 
ing that at this period the distinction was established between the true 
physicians and the common physicians, or the specialists and the 
general practitioners or physician-apothecaries. 

A remarkable and interesting feature in the history of the school of 
Salerno is the fact that some of its most famous professors of medicine 
were ladies. About the year 1059, Trotula, a female physician, wrote a 
well-known book on the diseases of women, and their treatment before^ 
during, and after labour. She discusses all branches of pathology, even 
of the male sexual organs.^ It was supposed that she was the wife of 
John Platearius the elder, and that she belonged to the noble family of 
Roger. Her person and name were at one time considered legend and 
myth, but M. Renzi's investigations have proved her to be sufficiently 
historical. Trotula lived at Salerno, as is shown by the Compendium 
Salernitanum^ and she practised in that city, as is clear from her work 
on the diseases of women. Her name occurs variously as Trotula, 
Trotta, and Trocta.^ 

Abella wrote a treatise De Natura Seminis Huviani; she was a 
colleague of Trotula's. Costanza Calenda was the daughter of the 
principal of the medical school, and was distinguished both for her 
beauty and her talents ; she left no writings. Mercuriadis and 
Rebecca Guarna were doctresses of the fifteenth century. They 
wrote chiefly on midwifery and diseases of women. ^ 

CoPHO, in the early part of the twelfth century, was an anatomist, 
and probably a Jew ; he wrote the Anatomy of the Pig, Students were 
instructed in dissections by operating on dead animals when, as in those 
days, human bodies were not accessible. The pig was killed by severing 
the vessels of the neck, and was then hung up by the hind legs, and 
when the blood had escaped the body was used for teaching purposes ; 
it was not dissected in the modern sense at all, the examination con- 
sisting merely in observation of the great cavities and the vital organs, 
according to the suggestions of Galen and the old anatomists.* 

Nicholas Propositus, about 1140, was the president of the school, 
and wrote a famous book called the Antidotarium^-d, Pharmacopoeia as 
we should call it. This book of recipes was compiled from the works of 
the Arabian doctors Mesues, Avicenna, Actuarius, Nicolaus Myrepsus, 
as well as from Galen. It is interesting as giving the forms which the 
compounders of the prescriptions were sworn on their oath to observe ; 

^ Puschmann, Hist. Med. Education^ p. 201. 

^ Daremberg, LEcole de Salerne. 

^ See Dr. Haeser's Lehrbuch der Geschichie der Median, p. 290. 

* Puschmann, Hist. Med. Education, p. 203. 


they promised to make up all their potions, syrups, etc., ** secundum 
prcBdictani formam^'' and they further promised that their drugs should 
be fresh and sufficient. It shows also that there was a habit of writing 
a prescription when a patient was visited ; this, it seems, was a custom 
which originated with the Arabian physicians.^ 

Nicholas was also the author, says Dr. Baas,^ of a work called 
" Quid pro Qt^o,' which was a list of drugs which were equivalent to 
•other drugs, and might be used as substitutes for each other in case of 
either running short. Dr. Baas says our expression " Quid pro Quo " 
originated from this. 

The writings of Bartholomaeus and of Copho the Younger (between 
I IOC and 1120), says Daremberg, are of great interest in the history of 
medicine ; they show how great was the freedom of spirit which existed 
at Salerno at this time. Copho described certain diseases which were 
not referred to in the works of other writers of Salerno ; for example, 
ulceration of the palate and trachea, polypi, scrofulous tumours of the 
throat, condylomata, etc. Bartholomaeus and Copho also held certain 
original ideas as to the classification of fevers. Copho distinguished 
between medicine for the rich and for the poor : the rich are delicate, 
and must be cured agreeably ; the poor wish only to be cured at as little 
cost as possible. Thus the nobles must be purged with finely powdered 
rhubarb, the poor, with a decoction of mirobalanum, sweetened or not. 
Naturally the more precious drugs would be used for the wealthy, and 
probably the poor, who could not afford the complicated and terrible 
confections of mediaeval pharmacy, might have congratulated themselves 
on being treated with a few simples instead of the precious messes 
which the wealthy had to swallow. 

Johannes Platearius deserves notice as having been the inventor 
of the term " Cataracta," in place of the ancient Egyptian "ascent" 
and the Greek " hypochosis," in classical Latin ^'suffusio humorum" 

MATTHiEUS Platearius was the son of the above ; he composed a 
Practica Brevis and other books on medicine; it is not certain at 
•what precise date they flourished. 

^GiDius " CoRBOLENSis," canon of Paris, physician to Philip 
Augustus, king of France (i 165-12 13), wrote a poem on the decline of 
Salerno as a medical school ; he describes the doctors as caring nothing 
for books which were not full of recipes, and the professors as merely 
beardless boys. 

^ Meryon, History of Medicine, p. 162. See also Beckmann's Hist, of Inventions, 
art. " Apothecaries." 

2 Baas, Hist. Med., p. 263. ^ Note in Baas' Hist. Med., p. 263. 


The famous but somewhat mysterious " Four Masters " were com- 
mentators on the surgery of Roger and Roland. 

MusANDiNUS wrote on the diet of the sick; bleeding was recom- 
mended for the want of appetite in convalescents, and patients were 
rather to be purged to death than permitted to die constipated. 

Bernard the Provincial recommends wine for the delicate 
stomachs of bishops ; he said they could not bear emetics unless they 
were administered on a full stomach. His treatise was written between 
the years 1150 and 1160. He did much to simplify the materia 
medica of his time, advising the poor not to waste their means on costly 
foreign drugs, but to gather simples frorp the fields. It is interesting to 
find in the thirteenth century police regulations which required in many 
cities of Italy that physicians should inspect druggists' shops and see 
that their medicines were pure and fresh. Pharmacy, it seems, was 
already becoming divorced from medical practice. ^ 

In the middle of the twelfth century there appeared a didactic poem 
called Schola Salernitana^ Flos Medicinx^ or Regimen Sanitatis^ or Regimen 
Virile. This celebrated work went through hundreds of editions.^ 

Dr. Handerson, in his translation of Baas' History of Medicine^ says it 
had other titles than those given above, as Medicina Salernitana, De 
Conservanda Bona Valetudine^ Liliutn Sanitatis^ Compendium Salerni- 
tanum, etc. The work was for centuries the physician's vade 7necum. It 
is not known who was the author ; originally it was put forth as emanating 
from " the whole school of Salerno to the king of England," namely, 
Robert, son of William the Conqueror, who was cured of a wound at 
Salerno in i loi. The poem consisted of some two thousand lines. Dr. 
Handerson gives the following translation of a few lines of this curious 
work : — 

" Salerno's school in conclave high unites, 

To counsel England's king, and thus indites : 

If thou to health and vigour would'st attain. 

Shun mighty cares, all anger deem profane ; 

From heavy suppers and much wine abstain ; 

Nor trivial count it, after pompous fare, 

To rise from table and to take the air ; 

Shun idle noonday slumbers, nor delay 

The urgent calls of nature to obey : 

These rules if thou wilt follow to the end, 

Thy life to greater length thou may'st extend." 

^ Daremberg, L Ecole de Salerne. 

^ To be precise, " M. Baudry de Balzac computes from 1474 to 1846, 240 editions 
oi The School of Salerno. It was translated into French, German, English, Breton, 
Italian, Spanish, Polish, Provencal, Bohemian, Hebrew, and Persian. The number 
of manuscripts which contain this poem is more than 150." (Daremberg, V Ecole de 


It has been translated into English by Thomas Paynell in 1530, by 
John Harrington in 1607, and by Alexander Croke in 1830. 

The poem is a composite work, and its form was doubtless adopted 
for facility of committing to memory an important text-book of health 

Roger, or Ruggiero, known as Roger of Parma or of Palermo, lived 
about 1 2 10, was a student, and for a long time a professor in Salerno. 
He was a celebrated surgeon, who practised trepanning of the sternum 
and stitching of the intestine. He was the first to describe a case of 
hernia pulmonis, to use the term seton, and to prescribe the internal 
use of sea-sponge for the removal of bronchocele.^ He knew how to 
arrest haemorrhage by styptics, sutures, and ligatures. 

He was the earliest special writer on surgery in Italy.^ His later editor 
Rolando exhibits an acquaintance with surgery, which shows that, 
although the art had not been previously written upon in Italy, it was 
very well understood at Salerno. De Renzi says that some of the 
operations described are trephining, the removal of polypi from the 
nose, resection of the lower jaw, the operation for hernia and Uthotomy. 
Malignant tumours of the rectum and uterus are referred to.^ 

Salerno was the first school in Europe in which regular diplomas in 
medicine were granted to students who had been duly instructed and had 
passed an examination in accordance with the requirements of the legal 
authorities. The great patron of Salerno, Frederick II., in the year 1240 
confirmed the law of King Roger, passed in the year 1137, or as some 
say in 1 140, with reference to licences to practise medicine. That ancient 
enactment was that, " Whoever from this time forth desires to practise 
medicine must present himself before our officials and judges, and be 
subject to their decision. Any one audacious enough to neglect this 
shall be punished by imprisonment and confiscation of goods. This 
decree has for its* object the protection of the subjects of our kingdom 
from the dangers arising from the ignorance of practitioners." * 

Frederick's law was : ^' Since it is possible for a man to understand 
medical science, only if he has previously learnt something of logic, 
we ordain that no one shall be permitted to study medicine until he 
has given his attention to logic for three years. After these three years 
he may, if he wishes, proceed to the study of medicine. In this study 

^ Iodine was not known at this time ; and the virtue of the sponge, if any, was 
doubtless due to the iodine it contained. 

2 Baas, Hist. Aled.y p. 299. 

^ Puschmann, Hist. Med. Educ, p. 206. De Renzi, Collect. Salernit.^ ii. 445, 513, 
628, 650, etc, 

^ Hist, diplojfi. Frid. II. imperat. Paris, 1854. T. iv., pars, i, p. 149, tit. 44, 
quoted in Puschmann's Hist. Med. Education ^ p. 207. 


he must spend five years, during which period he must also acquire a 
knowledge of surgery, for this forms a part of medicine. After this, but 
not before, permission may be given him to practise, provided that he 
passes the examination prescribed by the authorities and at the same 
time produces a certificate showing that he has studied for the period 
required by the law." " The teachers must, during this period of five 
years, expound in their lectures the genuine writings of Hippocrates and 
Galen on the theory and practice of medicine." " But even when the 
prescribed five years of medical study are passed, the doctor should not 
forthwith practise on his own account, but, for a full year more he 
should habitually consult an older experienced practitioner in the 
exercise of his profession." 

" We decree that in future no one is to assume the title of doctor, to 
proceed to practise or to take medical charge, unless he has previously 
been found competent in the judgment of teachers at a public meeting 
in Salerno, has moreover by the testimony in writing of his teachers 
and of our officials approved himself before us or our representatives in 
respect of his worthiness and scientific maturity, and in pursuance of 
this course has received the state-licence to practise. Whoever trans- 
gresses this law, and ventures to practise without a licence, is subject 
to punishment by confiscation of property and imprisonment for a 
year." " No surgeon shall be allowed to practise until he has sub- 
mitted certificates in writing of the teachers of the faculty of medicine, 
that he has spent at least one year in the study of that part of medical 
science which gives skill in the practice of surgery, that in the colleges 
he has diligently and especially studied the anatomy of the human 
body, and is also thoroughly experienced in the way in which operations 
are successfully performed and healing is brought about afterwards." ^ 

For centuries after this barbers in other countries practised surgery 
without let or hindrance. 

The doctor was bound to give advice to the poor gratis, and to inform 
against apothecaries who did not make up his prescriptions in accord- 
ance with the law. The doctor's fee in the daytime within the town 
was half a gold tarenus ; outside the city he could demand from three to 
four tareni, exclusive of his travelling expenses.^ Doctors were not 
permitted to keep drug-shops. Apothecaries were obliged to compound 
the medicines in conformity with the doctor's prescriptions, and the 
price they charged was regulated by law. Inspectors of drug-shops 
were appointed to visit and report. The punishment of death was 

^ Hist, diplojn. Frid. II., op. cit. p. 235, lib. 3, tit. 46, etc., quoted in Puschmann's 
Hist. Med. Fduc, p. 208. 

^ A gold tarenus weighed twenty grains. 


imposed on the officials who neglected their duties.^ These laws have 
served as the pattern for -succeeding enactments for the regulation of 
medical education and practice. 

In 1252 King Conrad created the school of Salerno a university, but 
King Manfred in 1258 by his restoration of Naples University left 
Salerno only its medical school. 

On the 29th of November, 181 1, a decree of the French Government 
put an end to the oldest school of medicine in Europe. 

Daremberg concludes his admirable treatise on the school of Salerno 
with a pathetic account of a visit which he made to that city in 1849 > 
he tells how he wandered through its streets, once so active with the 
movements of the students and professors of the medical sciences, and 
he laments that not a single remembrance of its illustrious masters 
remains to remind the visitor of its ancient glories. Not a stone of the 
edifices, not an echo of its traditions, not even a manuscript in any 
library remains to remind us of the learned and venerable men and 
women who did so much for medicine in those dark ages. A (tw years 
back I visited Salerno myself, and I found not even a decent hotel in 
which to remain a night or two. I rested at the best hostelry I could 
find, and after dinner proposed to the friend who accompanied me, that 
on the following day we should visit Psestum and see its noble rained 
temples. As we chatted and turned over the pages of the visitors' book, 
we came across a long and doleful account of an Englishman who some 
few years previously had visited Paestum from Salerno, and was captured 
by brigands ; he was detained their prisoner for many weeks, and only 
at last liberated, after threats of mutilation, by the payment of a heavy 
ransom. We did not go to Paestum ; we left Salerno early the following 
morning and went to Amalfi. The hotel was gloomy and crumbling into 
decay, the rooms were all empty, the landlord was suggestive of the host 
in some of the old stories of our boyish days. Thus has Salerno fallen. 
Most travellers now make La Cava their headquarters, and do not stay 
at Salerno at all. 

^ Puschmann's Hist. Med. Educ, p. 210. 



The Crusades. — Astrology. 

The Crusades were of the highest importance to the development ot 
Western civilization ; they brought the European world into contact 
with the ancient wisdom of the East, they greatly stimulated commerce, 
aroused a spirit of restlessness and inquiry, and thus enlarged men's 
minds, stimulated them to adventure and heroic deeds, improved the 
art of war and the invention of arms, etc. By bringing the Crusaders 
into contact with the Saracens many new medicines were introduced 
into practice ; physicians followed the armies to the East, and thus had 
opportunities of studying the healing art as practised in the midst of 
ancient civilizations. To a great extent the present advantages we en- 
joy are due to the influence of the Crusades, which brought to Europe 
many arts and sciences we should not have otherwise learned. 

One of the evil consequences of the Crusades was the introduction 
into Europe of epidemic diseases and contagious disorders which have 
always had their home in the East. Thus were introduced the plague, 
leprosy, and the disorders which are bred of filth and promiscuous 

In the thirteenth century very few who possessed either medical or 
surgical skill were not priests or monks, chiefly mendicants. The 
profession became very lucrative, and so many monks devoted them- 
selves to the healing art that they neglected their spiritual duties, and 
were consequently forbidden to leave their monasteries for a longer 
period than two months at a time.^ In this century astrology was 
closely related to the practice of medicine. It was believed that an 
intimate association existed between the heavenly bodies and those of 
men, and no cure could be attempted without consulting the astrologi- 
cal oracle. 

M. Jules Andrieu says that medical science, " like the other sciences, 
began by being astrological. The first encyclopaedia was astrology." ^ 

^ Aubrey, Hist. England, vol. i. p. 487. 
* Art. •' Astrology, "^wrj/. Bj-iL, vol, ii. p. 741. 


Certainly it was one of the modes most anciently and universally 
practised for discovering the most important things relating to the lives 
and fortunes of those who believed in it. It was flattering to men to 
believe that the heavenly bodies are interested in their welfare, and 
the events of life were awaited with resignation and composure by 
those who believed they were regulated by the stars in their courses ; 
they applied themselves therefore to diagrams and calculations to learn 
the simplest and most obvious details of their lives. 

M. Littre^ member of the Institute and the Academy of Medicine 
at Paris, in his Fragment de Mtdecine Retrospective} describes seven 
^'miracles" which took place in France at the end of the thirteenth 
century at the tomb of St. Louis. He states the simple facts as written 
in the chronicles of the period. He does not dispute them, does not 
ridicule nor ignore them, but endeavours to give a pathological interpre- 
tation of them. He notices in the first place that at the moment ot 
cure the patient felt a sharp pain — the part affected seemed to be 
stretched or touched, and sometimes a sort of cracking sensation in 
the bone was experienced, then movements became possible, although 
the lengthening of the limb and the possibility of moving it freely were 
not experienced immediately ; the cure was not so sudden, a period of 
weakness, long or short, always followed the miracle, and the part only 
gradually regained its use. The cracking of the bone is just what the 
surgeon finds when he moves a joint which has become fixed by disuse ; 
without breaking down these adhesions, he can do nothing to restore the 
articulation. In cases of rheumatic paralysis a similar state of things 
is observed. Of course in the accounts of the healing at the tomb of 
St. Louis we expect to find errors and exaggerations due to the pre- 
occupation and ignorance of those who wrote the reports, but we at 
once recognise the cracking and the pain as genuine pathological 
details ; we should not expect a natural cure without these symptoms. 
To what shall we attribute them ? M. Littre gives the explanation in 
the words of M. le docteur Onimus, published in La Philosophie positive 
stir la Vibration nerveuse? The ascending action or vibration ex- 
presses the influence of the physical on the moral ; the descending 
action or vibration expresses the influence of the moral on the physical. 
In these cases it is the descending action which we have to consider. 
This action is exerted on the muscular portion of the affected part ; 
it contracts energetically ; it breaks down the pathological adhesions if 
they exist ; it restores the bones violently to their place ; this done, the 
patient is in a condition to use the limb, but not without passing through 
a period of debility which requires time for recovery. It is a violent 
^ Medecineet Medecins^ p. 125. ^ Tom. iii. p. 9. 


extension produced by muscular contractions. Surgery has frequently 
to break down such adhesions and destroy false anchyloses. Here the 
force is not exerted by a strange hand, but by an influence which is 
exerted on the muscles themselves, and this in a far more beneficent 
manner than surgery can afford. What is the exciting cause of these 
energetic contractions ? That which we find in all miracles of this sort 
—a strong persuasion, a complete confidence. Under a profound 
emotion born of these sentiments, the patient, feeling that the cure was 
in the extension of the part, had a belief which he could understand. 
Of course such faith is not possible in every case. On one side there 
must be the mental condition which can receive in its fulness the 
emotion born of persuasion and confidence, and on the other that the 
lesions must be susceptible of cure. To a certain degree there are 
lesions which escape all this sort of treatment. Herbert Spencer 
points out^ that muscular power fails with flagging emotions or desires 
which lapse into indifl"erence, and conversely that intense feehng or 
passion confers a great increase in muscular force. It is brain and 
feeling generated by the mind which give strength to the person who 
thinks strongly. 

Albertus Magnus (i 193-1280), one of the greatest of the school- 
men, combined with his religious speculations so great a knowledge of 
physical science and mechanics that he was reputed as a sorcerer. He 
constructed automata, some of which could speak ; wrote on anatomy, 
physiology, botany, chemistry, astronomy, magnetism, acclimatization of 
plants and animals, etc. He digested, interpreted, and systematized the 
whole of the writings of Aristotle in accordance with the teaching of the 
Church. He was called, not only "Albert the Great," but " the Universal 
doctor." To his labours and those of Thomas Aquinas may be ex- 
plained the reverence for Aristotle entertained by the clergy of the 
Roman and Anglican churches even to the present day. 

Thomas Aquinas (1225 circ.-\2^\), was the great Dominican theo- 
logian who wrote the Summa T/ieoIogice. In his famous work he inci- 
dentally dealt with medical and physiological questions. The source 
of all motion is the heart. The soul is created anew in each concep- 
tion. Moisture, heat, and aether alone are necessary for the generation 
of an individual ; the lower animals originate even from putrefying 
matter. He wrote commentaries on the works of Aristotle, and derived 
many of his scientific ideas from this great master. The biology of St. 
Thomas, as may be imagined, is exceedingly feeble, yet it too often 
forms the only knowledge of the subject which continental clergymen 

^ Principles of Sociology, vol. i. p. 53. 



Raymond Lulli (i 235-1315) was a man of great intellect, who sought 
the secrets of transmutation of metals and the philosopher's stone. 
He was a bold thinker, an astrologer, and a physician of great repute. 
Naturally he was accused of magic. His acquaintance with the 
Arabians directed his mind to the study of chemistry. He wrote on 
medical subjects, the titles of his best known works being De Pulsibits 
et Urinis, De Medicina Theorica et Practica^ De Aquis et Oleis. 

Roger Bacon (12 14-1298). By theologians he was believed to be 
in league with the devil, because of his belief in astrology and his 
scientific attainments. It is probable that his reputed invention of 
certain optical instruments was really due to his acquaintance with 
Arabic, as the Arabians were familiar with the camera, burning glass, 
and microscope, which have been attributed to him. Neither is it 
the fact that he invented gunpowder, as is usually supposed. Bacon 
wrote voluminously on theology, philosophy, and science. Although he 
believed in astrology and the philospher's stone^ he had a true scientific 
idea of the value of experiment, which forcibly reminds us of the Francis 
Bacon which future ages w^ould reveal. 

" Experimental science," he said, " has three great prerogatives over 
all other sciences : (i) it verifies their conclusions by direct experiments ; 
(2) it discovers truths which they could never reach ; (3) it investigates 
the secrets of nature, and opens to us a knowledge of past and future." ^ 
As an instance of his method. Bacon gives an investigation into the 
phenomena of the rainbow, which is doubtless a very remarkable ex- 
ample of inductive research. 

Roger Bacon proved himself far in advance of his time by his 
insistence of the supremacy of experiment. So different was his mental 
attitude in this regard from the temper of his time that Whewell finds 
it difficult to conceive how such a character could then exist. ^ He 
learned much from Arabian writers, but certainly not from them did he 
learn to emancipate himself from the bondage to Aristotle which every- 
where enslaved them. Doubtless he learned from Aristotle himself to 
call no man master in science, for the Stagyrite declared that all know- 
ledge must come from observation, and that science must be collected 
from facts by induction.^ Probably the truth about Aristotle is that 
Bacon's objections were directed against the Latin translations of the 
Greek philosopher, which were very bad ones. Of both Avicenna and 
Averroes he speaks respectfully, and it is doubted whether any passages 

^ Ency. Brit., art. "Bacon, Roger." • 

2 History of Indtictive Sciences, vol. i. p. 341. 

3 Ibid., p. 342. 


in Bacon's works can be construed into opposition to Aristotle's own 
authority. 1 

Wood says^ that Roger Bacon was accounted the fourth in order 
of the chief chemists the world had ever produced, their names being 
(i) Hermes Trismegistus, the first chemist, (2) Geber, (3) Morienus 
Romanus, (4) Roger Bacon, (5) Raymond LuUi, (6) Paracelsus. 

Roger Bacon made such prodigious chemical experiments at Oxford 
and Paris " that none could be convinced to the contrary but that he 
dealt with the devil." 

Jean Pitard (1228-1315) founded the surgical society in France, 
which exercised a very important influence on the development of the 
healing art in that country, under the title of the " College de Saint 
Come." ^ At a time when surgery of the lower character was practised 
by barbers, this important corporation of educated men broke off from 
the inferior association and combined to form an academy of the higher 

Peter de Maharncourt was an Oxford student, so " excellent in 
chemical experiments that he was instituted Dominus Experimentorum.'^ ^ 
He not only worked in metallurgy, but interested himself in " the 
experiments of old women, their charms, magical spells, arid verses 
that they used to repeat when they applied or gave anything to their 

Nicholas Myrepsus {circ. a.d. 1250), " Actuarius," i.e. physician-in- 
ordinary, wrote a vast work on materia medica, containing 2,656 pre- 
scriptions for every disease, real or imaginary, which afflicts our race. 
He had studied at Salerno. 

John Actuarius {circ. 1283) was a medical genius in advance of his 
age. He wrote a useful materia medica and a treatise on the kidney 
secretion, in which he explains the use of a graduated glass for estimating 
the amount of sediments, which he classifies according to their colours. 
He appeared, says Haeser, " like the last flickerings of a dying fiame " 
just before the Turks destroyed the glorious work of the Greeks in the 
civilized world. 

In Edward the First's reign the king's physician had twelve pence 
per day for his expenses in visiting the Countess of Gloucester, the 
king's daughter, when she was ill.^ 

The art of poisoning was brought to considerable perfection in the 

1 Mullinger's Hist. Cambridge Univ., p. 170 note. 

^ Hist. Univ. Oxford. 

^ Or College of SS. Cosmas and Damian. See p. 234 of this work. 

'' Wood's University of Oxford, vol. i. p. 293. 

^ Aubrey, Hist. England, vol. i. p. 426. 


Middle Ages, and there is abundant evidence of the fact that women 
were commonly agents in it. ^ 

In Edward the Third's reign the ladies of the household were both 
nurses and doctors. Regular practitioners were itw, and the mistress 
of the house and her maidens were compelled to do the best they could 
in their absence. Medicinal herbs were cultivated in every garden, and 
were either dried or made into decoctions and kept ready for use. 
Many of these fair practitioners were reputed to be very skilful in 
medical practice. Chaucer, in the ^'Nonne-Prestes Tale," has left a 
faithful picture of the domestic medicine of the period in the character 
of Dame Pertelot. 

^ Aubrey, Hist. England^ vol. i. p. 682. 



Revival of Human Anatomy. — Famous Physicians of the Century. — Domestic Medi- 
cine in Chaucer. — Fellovi^ship of the Barbers and Surgeons. — The Black Death. 
— The Dancing Mania, — Pharmacy. 

Revival of Human Anatomy. 

Brighter days dawned for medical science after the close of the 
thirteenth century, up to which era the Saracenic learning prevailed. 
While human dissections were impossible, the sciences of anatomy and 
philosophy had made no advance beyond the point at which they were 
left by Galen, and as he dissected only animals they were necessarily 
left in a very imperfect state. It is not known precisely when human 
dissection was revived ; probably the school of Salerno, under the in- 
fluence of Frederick II., has a right to the honour. In 1308, however, 
we find the senate of Venice decreeing that a body should be dissected 
annually,^ and it is known that such dissections took place at Bologna 
in 1300. We have, however, nothing very definite on the subject till 
a few years later. Italy gave birth to the first great anatomist of 

The father of modern anatomy was Mondino, who taught in 
Bologna about the year 13 15. Under his cultivation "the science first 
began to rise from the ashes in which it had been buried."^ His 
demonstrations of the different parts of the human body at once attracted 
the notice of the medical profession of Europe to the school of Bologna. 
He died in 1325. Though he had a penetrating faculty of observation, 
he was not altogether original, as he copied Galen and the Arabians. 
He divided the body into three cavities : the upper, containing the 
animal members ; the lower, the natural members ; and the middle, the 
spiritual members. His anatomy of the heart is wonderfully accurate, 
and he came very near to the discovery of the circulation of the blood.^ 
He described seven pairs of nerves at the base of the brain, and was 
evidently acquainted with the anatomy of that organ. 

1 Baas, Hist. Med. 2 ^„^^^ ^^^^^ art. "Anatomy." « Ibid. 



He is said to have had the assistance of a young lady, Alassandra 
GiLiANi, as prosector. Anatomical demonstrations in those days were, 
at the best, very imperfect. The demonstrator did not actually himself 
dissect ; this was done by a barber-surgeon with a razor, the lecturer 
merely standing by and pointing out the objects of interest to the 
students with his staff. Nor did the process occupy much time ; four 
lessons served to explain the mysteries of the human frame : the first 
was on the abdomen, the second on the organs of the chest, the third 
on the brain, and the fourth on the extremities.^ The bodies were 
buried, or placed in running or boiling water, to soften the tissues and 
facilitate their examination. Dissections first took place at Prague in 
1348, MontpelUer after 1376, Strasburg, 1517. In Italy, sometimes, a 
condemned criminal was first stabbed in prison by the executioner, and 
then conveyed at once to the dissecting room, for the use of the doctors. 

The most famous physicians of this period were : — 

Petrus Apono, or Pietro of Abano (i 250-1315), a famous phy- 
sician, who lived at Abano near Padua, and who had studied medicine 
and other sciences at Padua and Paris. He travelled in Greece and 
other parts, acquired a knowledge of the Greek language, and was a 
devoted student of the works of Averroes. He endeavoured to mediate 
between the Arabian and the Greek physicians in their controversies 
on medicine, and wrote with that view his work, entitled the Con- 
ciliator differentiaru7n philosophorum et precipue medicorum. He knew 
enough of physiology to be aware that the brain is the source of the 
nerves, and the heart that of all the blood-vessels. He meddled with 
astrology, and was accused of practising magic, of possessing the philo- 
sopher's stone. He was found guilty on his second trial by the Inqui- 
sition ; but as he died before the trial was completed, he was merely 
burned in effigy. 

Jacob de Dondis (i 298-1359) was a physician, who was a professor 
at Padua, and was famous as the author of an herbal with plates con- 
taining descriptions of simple medicines. 

Arnold of Villa Nova (1235-13 12), physician, alchemist, and 
astrologer, did much to advance chemical science, and whose work, 
the Breviarium Fracticce, is not a mere compilation. He advised his 
pupils, when they failed to find out what was the matter with their 
patients, to declare that there was "some obstruction of the liver," — a 
practice much in vogue even in the present day. He was the first to 
administer brandy, which he called the elixir of life (Baas). He dis- 
covered the art of preparing distilled spirits (Thomson). 

Collections of medical cases first began to be preserved in an in- 
' Puschmann, Hist. Med. Educ, p. 246. 


telligible form in the thirteenth century ; they were called consilia. 
Those by Fulgineus (before 1348), by Montagnana (died 1470), and 
by Baverius de Baveriis, of Imola (about 1450), are said to be in- 

GoRDONius was a Scottish professor at Montpellier^ who in 1307 
wrote the Practica seu Lilium Medicince; it went through several 
editions, and was translated into French and Hebrew. 

Sylvaticus (ob, 1342) wrote a sort of medical glossary and dic- 

Gilbertus Anglicanus (about 1290) wrote a compendium of 
medicine, also called Posa Afiglicana, a work of European reputation, 
said to contain good observations on leprosy. 

John of Gaddesden was an Oxford man and a court physician, 
who between 1305 and 13 17 wrote the liosa Anglica seu Fractka 
Medicince,— 2l work which, though of little merit, remained popular up 
to the sixteenth century. Some of his remedies are very curious. For 
loss of memory he prescribed the heart of a nightingale, and he was a 
firm believer in the efficacy of the king's touch for scrofula. For small- 
pox he prescribed the following treatment, as soon as the eruption 
appeared : " Cause the whole body of your patient to be wrapped in 
scarlet cloth, or in any other red cloth, and command everything about 
the bed to be made red. This is an excellent cure." Again, for epi- 
lepsy, the method of cure was as follows : " Because there are many 
children and others afflicted with the epilepsy, who cannot take medi- 
cines, let the following experiment be tried, which I have found to be 
effectual, whether the patient was a demoniac, a lunatic, or an epileptic. 
When the patient and his parents have fasted three days, let them con- 
duct him to a church. If he be of a proper age, and of his right senses, 
let him confess. Then let him hear Mass on Friday, and also on 
Saturday. On Sunday let a good and religious priest read over the 
head of the patient, in the church, the gospel which is read in Sep- 
tember, in the time of vintage, after the feast of the Holy Cross. After 
this, let the priest write the same gospel devoutly, and let the patient 
wear it about his neck, and he shall be cured. The gospel is, ' This 
kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.' " These quotations are 
both from the Medical Rose ; and as the author was at the head of his 
profession, numbered princes amongst his patients, and was extolled by 
writers of the time, it doubtless fairly represents the practice of the 
period. The medicine of the period embraced the demon theory of 
disease and the belief in the efficacy of amulets, or more correctly of 

1 Ency. Brit., art. " Medicine." 


Domestic Medicine in Chaucer's Time. 

Chaucer (1340-1400), in the Nonnes Preestes Tale, tells us how 
his time people took care of their health by attention to diet ; and how, 
when folk were sick, and doctors not handy, nor medicines to be had at 
the chemist's close by, the wise women were able, not only to prescribe 
skilfully, but to supply the requisite medicines from their own store or 

*' A poure widewe, somdel stoupen in age, 
Was whilom dwelling in a narwe cotage 
Beside a grove, stonding in a dale. 

Hire diete was accordant to hire cote. 

Repletion ne made hire never sike ; 

Attempre diete was all hire physike 

And exercise, & hertes suffisance. 

The goute let hire nothing for to dance, 

No apoplexie shente not hire hed, 

No win ne dranke she, neyther white ne red. 

'Now, sire,' quod she, ' whan we flee fro the hemes. 

For Goddes love, as take som laxatif ; 

Up peril of my soule, & of my lif, 

I conseil you the best, I wol not lie. 

That both of coler, & of melancolie 

Ye purge you ; and for ye shul not tarie. 

Though in this toun be non apotecarie, 

I shal myself two herbes techen you, 

That shal be for your hele, & for your prow ; 

And in our yerde, the herbes shal I finde, 

The which han of hir propretee by kinde 

To purgen you benethe, & eke above. 

Sire, forgete not this for Goddes love ; 

Ye ben ful colerike of complexion ; 

Ware that the Sonne in his ascention 

Ne find you not replete of humours hote : 

And if it do, I dare wel lay a grote. 

That ye shul han a fever tertiane, 

Or elles an ague, that may be your bane. 

A day or two ye shal han digestives 

Of wormes, or ye take your laxatives. 

Of laureole, centaurie, & fumetere. 

Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there. 

Of catapuce, or of gaitre-beries. 

Or herbe ive growing in our yerd, that mery is ; 

Picke hem right as they grow, and ete hem in.' " 

Chaucer has indicated for us, in his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, 
who were the great medical authors studied by English physicians of 
the period. 


Besides ^sculapius, whose works certainly could not have reached 
the " Doctour of Physicke," he read Dioscorides, the famous writer 
on Materia Medica (a.d. 40-90). Rufus (of Ephesus, about a.d. 50). 
Old Hippocras = Hippocrates. Hali = Ali Abbas (died 994). Galhen 
= Galen. Serapion; there were two, the elder and the younger. 
Rasis = Rhazes (a.d. 850-923). Avicen=Avicenna (died 1170). 
Averriois = Averroes (died 1198). Damascene = Janus Damascenus, 
alias Mesne the elder (780-857). Constantin=^ Constantinus Africanus 
(1018-1085). Bernard = Bernardus Provincialis (about 1 1 55). Gatisden 
=John of Gaddesden (about 1305). Gilbertin = Gilbert of England 
(about 1290) 

" His study was but little on the Bible," says the poet, who also 
intimates that as gold in physic is a cordial, he was partial to fees. 

Fellowship of Barbers and Surgeons. 
On the loth of September, 1348, says Anthony a Wood,^ "appeared 
before Mr. John North wode, D.D., Chancellor of the University of 
Oxford, John Bradey, Barber, Richard Fell, Barber Surgeon, Thomas 
Billye, Waferer, and with them the whole Company and Fellowship of 
Barbers within the precincts of Oxford, and intending thenceforward to 
join and bind themselves in amity and love, brought with them certain 
ordinations and statutes drawn up in writings for the weal of the Craft of 
Barbers, desiring the said Chancellor that he would peruse and correct 
them, and when he had so done, to put the University seal to them. 
Thus the Barbers of Oxford were formed into a Corporation, one of 
their ordinations being that no man nor servant of the Craft of Barbers 
or Surgery should reveal any infirmity or secret disease they have, to 
their customers or patients. Of which, if any one should be found 
guilty, then he was to pay 205-., whereof ds. M. was to go to Our Lady's 
box, ds. Zd. to the Chancellor, or in his absence, to the Commissary, 
and 6i-. M. to the Proctors." The Barbers, Surgeons, Waferers, and 
makers of singing bread were all of the same fellowship. They all con- 
tinued in one society till the year 1500, when the Cappers or Knitters 
of Caps, sometimes called Capper-Hurrers, were united to them.- In 
1 55 1 the Barbers and Waferers laid aside their charter and took one in 
the name of the City ; but Wood says they lived without any ordination, 
statutes, or charter till 1675, when they received a charter from the 
University. ^ 

The Black Death. 

A great pestilence desolated Asia, Europe, and Africa in the four- 
teenth century, which was known as The Black Death. Its origin was 
' Hist, of Univ. of Oxford, vol. i. p. 444. ^ [bid., p. 446. ^ Ibid., p. 447, 


oriental, and it was distinguished by boils and tumours of the glands, 
accompanied by black spots. Many patients became stupefied and fell 
into a deep sleep ; they became speechless, their tongues were black, 
and their thirst unquenchable. Their sufferings were so terrible that 
many in despair committed suicide. Those who waited upon the sick 
caught the disease, and in Constantinople many houses were bereft of 
their last inhabitant. Guy de Chauliac, the physician (born about 1300), 
bravely defied the plague when it raged in Avignon for six or eight 
weeks, although the form which it there assumed was distinguished by 
the pestilential breath of the patients who expectorated blood, so that 
the near vicinity of the persons who were sick was certain death. The 
courageous de Chauliac, when all his colleagues had fled the city, boldly 
and constantly assisted the sufi"erers. He saw the plague twice in 
Avignon — in 1348, and twelve years later. Boccacio, who was in Florence 
when it raged in that city, has described it in the Decameron. No 
medicine brought relief; not only men, but animals sickened with it and 
rapidly expired. Boccacio himself saw two hogs, on the rags of a person 
who had died of the plague, fall dead, after staggering a litde as if they 
had been poisoned. Multitudes of other animals fell victims to the 
epidemic in the same way. In France many young and strong persons 
died as soon as they were struck, as if by lightning. The plague spread 
over England with terrible rapidity. It first broke out in the county of 
Dorset ; advancing to Devonshire and Somersetshire, it reached Bristol, 
Gloucester, Oxford, and London. The annals of contemporaries record 
the awful fact that throughout the land only a tenth of the population 
remained alive. The contagion spread from England to Norway. 
Poland and Russia suffered later in a similar manner, although the 
disease did not always manifest itself in the same form in every case. 
Only two medical descriptions of the disease have come down to us — 
one by Guy de Chauliac, the other by Raymond Chalin de Vinario. 
Chauliac notices the fatal coughing of blood ; Vinario in addition de- 
scribes fluxes of blood from the bowels, and bleeding at the nose. 
What were the causes which produced so dreadful a plague, it is impos- 
sible to discover with certainty. 

Dr. Hecker, to whose work on the subject 1 I am indebted for 
the information concerning it, says that " mighty revolutions in the 
organism of the earth, of which we have credible information, had pre- 
ceded it. From China to the Atlantic the foundations of the earth 
were shaken, throughout Asia and Europe the atmosphere was in com- 
motion, and endangered, by its baneful influence, both vegetable and 
animal life." 

' Epidemics 0/ the Middle Ages, p. 13. 


In 1337, 4,000,000 of people perished by famine in China in the 
neighbourhood of Kiang alone. Floods, famines, and earthquakes were 
frequent, both in Asia and Europe. In Cyprus a pestiferous wind 
spread a poisonous odour before an earthquake shook the island to 
its foundations, and many of the inhabitants fell down suddenly and 
expired in dreadful agonies after inhaling the noxious gases. German 
chemists state that a thick stinking mist advancing from the east spread 
over Italy in thousands of places, and vast chasms opened in the earth 
which exhaled the most noxious vapours. 

The Dancing Mania. 

In the year 1374 a strange delusion arose in Germany, a convulsion 
infuriating the human frame, and afflicting the people for more than two 
centuries. It was called the dance of St. John or of St. Vitus, and 
those affected by it performed a wild dance while screaming and foam- 
ing with fury. The sight of the afflicted communicated the mania to 
the observers, and the demoniacal epidemic soon spread over the whole 
of Germany and the neighbouring countries to the north-west. 

Bands of men and women went about the streets forming circles 
hand in hand, and danced madly for hours together, until they fell in 
a state of exhaustion to the ground. They complained, when in this 
state, of great oppression, and groaned as if in extreme pain, till they 
were tightly bandaged round their waists with cloths, when they speedily 
recovered. While dancing they were insensible to external impressions, 
but their minds were in a condition of great exaltation, and they saw in 
their fancies heavenly beings and visitants from the world of spirits. At 
Aix-la Chapelle, at Cologne, and in 1418 at Strasburg, the " Dancing 
Plague" infatuated the people by thousands.^ 

Hecker attributes the madness to the recollection of the crimes com- 
mitted by the people during the visitation of the Black Plague, to the 
previous inundations, the wretched condition of the people of Western 
and Southern Germany in consequence of the incessant feuds of the 
barons, to hunger, bad food, and the insecurity of the times. Dancing 
plagues had often occurred before; in 1237 more than a hundred 
children were suddenly seized by it at Erfurt, and several other dates 
are given by historians for similar occurrences. Physicians did not 
attempt the cure of the malady, but left it to the priests, as it was con- 
sidered to be due to demoniacal possession. 

Hecker says ^ that Paracelsus in the sixteenth century was the first 
physician who made a study of St. Vitus's dance. The great reformer 
of medicine said : " We will not, however, admit that the saints have 
* Hecker's Epidemics, p. 96. ^ Ibid., p. 100. 


power to inflict diseases, and that these ought to be named after them, 
although many there are who, in their theology, lay great stress on this 
supposition, ascribing them rather to God than to nature, which is but 
idle talk. We dislike such nonsensical gossip, as is not supported by 
symptoms, but only by faith, a thing which is not human, whereon the 
gods themselves set no value." 


The drug dealers of the Middle Ages had little or no relationship to 
our apothecaries and pharmacists. 

The word apotheca meant a store or warehouse, and its proprietor was 
the apothecarius. From the word apotheca the Italians derive their bottega, 
and the French their boutique, a shop. The thirteenth and fourteenth 
century apothecary, therefore, was altogether a different person from 
our own. It is probable that the Arabian physicians about the time of 
Avenzoar, in the eleventh century, began to abandon to druggists the 
business of compounding their prescriptions ; the custom would then 
have spread to Spain, Sicily, and South Italy, where the Saracen 
possessions lay. This explains how so many Arabic terms became 
introduced into chemical nomenclature, such as alembic. Persons who 
prepared preserves, etc., were called confectionarii, and they made up 
medicines, and those who kept medicine shops were called stationarii. 
The physicians at Salerno had the inspection of the stationes. 

Beckmann finds no proof that physicians at that time sent their pre- 
scriptions to the stationes to be dispensed. He says : " It appears 
rather that the cofifectionarii prepared medicines from a general set of 
prescriptions legally authorized, and that the physicians selected from 
these medicines kept ready for use, such as they thought most proper 
to be administered to their patients." ^ 

^ History of Inventions ^ loc. cit. 



Faith Healing. — Charms and Astrology in Medicine. — The Revival of Learning. — 
The Humanists.— Cabalism and Theology.— The Study of Natural History.— 
The Sweating Sickness. — Tarantism.— Quarantine. — High Position of Oxford 


Medicine in mediaeval Christian history is simply the history ot 
miracles of healing wrought by saints or by their relics. Bede's Ecclesi- 
astical History^ for example, is full of saintly cures and marvels of 
healing. The study of medical science under such circumstances could 
have had but little encouragement. Doctors were but of secondary 
importance where holy relics and saintly personages were everywhere 
present to cure. 

In the Catholic Church there are special saints who are invoked for 
almost every sort of disease. 

St. Agatha, against sore breast. 

St. Agnan and St. Tignan, against scald head. 

St. Anthony, against inflammations. 

St. ApoUonia, against toothache. 

St. Avertin, against lunacy. 

St. Benedict, against the stone, and also for poisons. 

St. Blaise, against the quinsey, bones sticking in the throat, etc. 

St. Christopher and St. Mark, against sudden death. 

St. Clara, against sore eyes. 

St. Erasmus, against the colic. 

St. Eutrope, against dropsy. 

St. Genow and St. Maur, against the gout. 

St. Germanus, against children's diseases. 

St. Giles and St. Hyacinth, against sterility. 

St. Hubert, against hydrophobia. 

St. Job and St. Fiage, against syphilis. 

St. John, against epilepsy and poison. 

St. Lawrence, against diseases of the back and shoulders. 


St. Liberius, against the stone and fistula. 

St. Maine, against the scab. 

St. Margaret and St. Edine, against danger in child-bed. 

St. Martin, against the itch. 

St. Marus, against palsy and convulsions. 

St. Otilia and St. Juliana, against sore eyes and the headache. 

St. Pernel, against the ague. 

St. Petronilla, St. ApoUonia, and St. Lucy, against the toothache. 

and St. Genevieve, against fevers. 

St. Phaire, against haemorrhoids. 
St. Quintam, against coughs. 
St. Rochus and St. Sebastian, against the plague. 
St. Romanus, against demoniacal possession. 
St. Rufifin, against madness. 
St. Sigismund, against fevers and agues. 
St. Valentin, against epilepsy. 
St. Venise, against chlorosis. 
St. Vitus, against madness and poisons. 
St. Wallia and Wallery, against the stone. 
St. Wolfgang, against lameness. 

Pettigrew ^ gives the above list, but probably it might be considerably 


kRMS AND Astrology. 

A curious little MSf volume was discovered amongst the MSS. at 
Loseley, which contained a Latin grammar, a Treatise on Astrology, 
various medical recipes and precautions, with forms for making wills. 
It had probably been a monk's manual. The writing was the character 
of the fifteenth century. Some of the medical recipes and astrological 
precautions are said to be taken from " Master GaUen (Galen), leche," 
thus : — " For all manner of fevers. Take iii drops of a woman's mylke 
yt norseth a knave childe, and do it in a hennes egge that ys sedentere 
(or sitting), and let hym suppe it up when the evyl takes hym. — For hym- 
that may not slepe. Take and wryke yese wordes into leves of lether : 
Ismael ! Ismael ! adjuro te per Angelum Michaelum ut soporetur homo 
iste ; and lay this under his bed, so yt he wot not yerof, and use it all- 
way lytell, and lytell, as he have nede yerto." Under the head, — 
''''Here begyneth ye waxmgge of ye mone^ and declareth in dyvers tymes 
to let blode, whiche be gode. In the furste begynynge of the mone it is 
profetable to yche man to be letten blode ; ye ix of the mone, neyther 
be (by) nyght ne by day, it is not good." ^ 

1 Hist. Med. Superstii., pp. 37, 38. ^ Loseley MSS., p. 263. 


One Simon Trippe, a physician, writing to a patient to excuse him- 
self for not being able to visit him, says : " As for my comming to you 
upon Wensday next, verely my promise be past to an old pacient of 
mine, a very good gentlewoman, one Mrs. Clerk, wch now lieth in great 
extremity. I cannot possibly be with you till Thursday. On Fryday 
and Saterday the signe wilbe in the heart ; on Sunday, Monday and 
Tuesday, in the stomake ; during wch tyme it wilbe no good dealing 
with your ordinary physicke untill Wensday come sevenight at the near- 
est, and from that time forwards for 15 or 16 days passing good." ^ 

This is very similar to what we find in Bede's Ecclesiastical History^ 
where (a.d. 686) "a holy Bishop having been asked to bless a sick 
maiden, asked ' when she had been bled ? ' and being told that it was 
on the fourth day of the moon, said : ' You did very indiscreetly and 
unskilfully to bleed her on the fourth day of the moon ; for I remember 
that Archbishop Theodore, of blessed memory, said that bleeding at 
that time was very dangerous, when the light of the moon and the tide 
of the ocean is increasing ; and what can I do to the girl if she is like 
to die ? ' " 2 

Holinshed says ^ that a lewd fellow, in the sixth year of Richard 
the Second, " took upon him to be skilful in physick and astronomy," 
predicted that the rise of a " pestilent planet " would cause much sick- 
ness and death amongst the people ; but as the pestilence did not appear, 
the fellow was punished severely. Stow records* that one Roger 
Bolingbroke, in the second year of Henry the Sixth (1423), was accused 
of necromancy and endeavouring by diabolical arts to consume the king's 
person. He was seized with all his instruments of magic and set upon 
a scaffold in St. Paul's Churchyard, where he abjured his diabolical 
arts in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and many other 
prelates. The punishment for witchcraft was hanging or burning 

Strutt says ^ that it was extremely dangerous in those days to pretend 
to any supernatural knowledge ; as every one believed in the influence 
of malignant spirits, and that they were obedient to the call of the 
necromancers. " No contagion could happen among the cattle of a 
farmer, but the devil was the cause, and some conjurer was sought out ; 
so that if any wretched vagabonds of fortune-tellers could be founds 
they were instantly accused of this horrid crime, and perhaps burnt 
alive." ^ 

^ The Loseley MSS.^ p. 264. ^ Bede's Ecclesiastical History, B. v. c. 

3 English Chronicle, p. 1,038. '^ Stovv's Chron., p. 381. 

° Horda Angel-Cynnan, vol. ii. p. 71. ^ Ibid. 


The Revival of Learning. 

Pope Nicholas V. (1389-1455) was a man of great intellectual sym- 
pathies. He was not devoted to any one branch of learning, but was 
"a well-informed dillettante^ wandering at will wherever his fancy led 
him." Tineas Sylvius said of him : " From his youth he has been 
initiated into all liberal arts ; he is acquainted with all philosophers, 
historians, poets, cosmographers, and theologians ; and is no stranger 
to civil and canon law, or even to medicine." He was the patron 
of scholars, and was equally devoted to ecclesiastical and profane 
literature. Although he was the son of a physician, it is not true that 
he was ever one himself, as has been stated.^ It is pleasant, however, 
to reflect that this pope, whose name is most intimately associated with 
the revival of learning, probably imbibed much of the scientific lore of 
his time which his father's profession would encourage, and that taste 
for learning and that liberal spirit which has always been associated 
with the medical profession. The Humanists — as those who devoted 
themselves to the Humanities, such as philology, rhetoric, poetry, and 
the study of the ancient classes, were called — found a friendly reception 
at the papal court. 
^ Nicholas of Cusa was the reforming Cardinal Bishop of Brixen 
(1401-1464). Giordano Bruno called him "the divine Cusanus." In 
physical science he was greatly in advance of his age, and lie united 
moral worth with intellectual gifts of the highest order. 

Pope Pius IL, better known in literature as ^neas Sylvius, pope 
from 1458 to 1464, was also a great friend to the Humanists, a man of 
great intellectual power. He stands forth in history as " the figure in 
whom the mediaeval and the modern spirit are most distinctly seen to 
meet and blend," ere the age of science begins to strangle the age of 
superstition. Professor Creighton says that Pius II. is the first writer 
" who consciously applied a scientific conception of history to the 
explanation and arrangement of passing events." ^ 

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), "the Faust of the Renaissance," 
excelled not only as an artist, but in all kinds of experimental investi- 
gation. He was an anatomist, botanist, physiologist, and chemist. 
Had he applied himself wholly to science, he would have been foremost 
in that branch to which he devoted his wonderful energies. He was 
one of the greatest and earliest of natural philosophers. He has beep 
declared to have been " the founder of the study of the anatomy and 
structural classification of plants, the founder, or at least the chief 

^ Pastor, History of the Popes, vol. ii. p. 23. 
2 History of the Papacy, etc., vol. ii. 


reviver, of the science of hydraulics — [the discoverer of] the molecular 
composition of water, the motion of waves, and even the undulatory 
theory of light and heat. He discovered the construction of the eye 
and the optical laws of vision, and invented the camera obscura. He 
investigated the composition of explosives and the application of steam 
power." ^ 

Matthew de Gradibus, of Fiuli, near Milan, in 1480 composed 
treatises on the anatomy of the human body. He first described the 
ovaries of the female correctly. 

Gabriel de Zerbis (about 1495), of Verona, an eminent but verbose 
anatomist, dissected the human subject, and recognised the olfactory 
nerves. He mentioned the oblique and circular muscular fibres of the 

Alexander Achillini (1463-15 12), of Bologna, the pupil of 
Mondino, is known in the history of anatomy as the first who described 
the two bones of the ear (tympanal bones), the malleus and incus. In 
1503 he showed that the tarsus (or ankle and instep bones) were seven 
in number, so painfully and slowly was such a simple thing in human 
anatomy settled in those times. He was more accurately acquainted 
with the intestines than any of his predecessors. 

Cornelius Agrippa (i 486-1 536) was born at Cologne, and was a 
profound student of what is known as " Occult Philosophy," a strange 
jumble of astrology, alchemy, cabalism, theology, and the teaching of 
the so-called "Hermetic Books." This sort of thing has of late years 
again become fashionable under the revived name of Theosophy. 

He seems to have been sufficiently harmless ; but as he knew much 
more of physical science than was considered consistent with good 
churchmanship in those times, he was persecuted by the monk Catilinet, 
and was forced to fly from place to place. 

JoHANN Reuchlin (1455-1522) was the first great German human- 
ist. His services to learning were chiefly in connection with the restora- 
tion of Hebrew and Greek letters in Germany. He worshipped truth 
as his god, was interested in philosophy, especially in that of the 
Cabala, in which he sought a theosophy which should reconcile science 
with religion. His sentiments brought him into conflict with the Inqui- 
sition, but by appeal to Rome, after a long and tedious process, the 
trial was quashed ; the consequence being that the lovers of learning 
and progress banded themselves together against the opponents of learn- 
ing, and assured the progress of the principles of the Renaissance in 
Germany. Reuchlin was the author of a celebrated work, entitled 
De Verbo Mirifico. 

^ Ency. Brit., art. " Leonardo." 



The Sweating Sickness. 

The disease known as the sweating sickness first made its appearance 
in England in 1485, after the battle of Bos worth. It followed in the 
rear of Henry's victorious army, and spread in a few weeks from Wales 
to the metropolis. It is described by Hecker ^ as being " a violent 
inflammatory fever, which, after a short rigor, prostrated the powers as 
with a blow ; and amidst painful oppression at the stomach, headache, 
and lethargic stupor, suffused the whole body with a fetid perspira- 

Holinshed 2 describes it thus : " Suddenlie a deadlie burning sweat 
so assailed their bodies and distempered their blood with a most ardent 
heat, that scarce one amongst an hu?idred that sickened did escape with 
life ; for all in maner as soone as the sweat took them, or within a short 
time after, yeelded the ghost. Two lord mayors and six aldermen died 
within one week. Many who went to bed at night perfectly well were 
dead on the following morning ; the victims, for the most part, were 
the robust and vigorous. One attack gave no security against a 
second ; many were seized even a third time." The whole of England 
was visited by this plague by the end of the year. When it reached 
Oxford, professors and students fled in all directions, and the University 
was entirely deserted for six weeks. Medicine aff"orded little or no relief. 
Even Thomas Linacre, the founder of the Royal College of Physicians 
in 15 18, does not in his writings say a word about the disease. As the 
doctors failed to help the people, their common sense had to suffice them 
in their need. They decided to take no violent medicine, but to apply 
moderate heat ; take Httle food and drink, and quietly wait for twenty- 
four hours — the crisis of the disorder. " Those who were attacked 
during the day, in order to avoid any chill, immediately went to bed in 
their clothes ; and those who sickened by night did not rise from their 
beds in the morning ; while all carefully avoided exposing to the air 
even a hand or foot." ^ 

The five years preceding the outbreak of this epidemic had been 
unusually wet, and inundations had been frequent. It is probable 
that this was one of the causes which contributed to the unhealthy 
condition of the atmosphere. The disease partook of the character 
of rheumatic fever, with great disorder of the nervous system.* In 
addition to the profuse and injurious perspiration, oppressed respiration, 
extreme anxiety, nausea, and vomiting, indicating that the functions of 
the eighth pair of nerves were disturbed, were the general symptoms of 

^ Hist. Epidemics,'^. 181. ^ Chronicles^ vol. iii. p. 482. 

^ Hecker's Epidemics, p. 186. ■* Ibid. 


the malady. A stupor and profound lethargy indicated cerebral dis- 
turbance, possibly from a morbid condition of the blood. 


Tarantism was a disease somewhat akin to the dancing mania. 
Nicholas Perotti (1430-1480) first described it. It was believed to 
originate from the bite of the Apulian spider, called the tarantula^ as it 
was named by the Romans. Those who were bitten, or who believed 
themselves to have been bitten, became melancholic and stupefied, but 
greatly sensible to the influence of music. As soon as they heard their 
favourite melodies, they sprang up and danced till they sank exhausted 
to the ground. Others became hysterical, and some even died in a 
paroxysm of tears or laughter. By the close of the fifteenth century 
Tarantism had spread beyond the boundaries of Apulia in which it 
originated, and many other cities and villages of Italy were afflicted 
with the mania. Thus when the spider made his appearance the 
merry notes of the Tarantella resounded as the only cure for its bite, 
or the mental poison received through the eye, and thus the Tarantali 
cure became established as a popular festival.^ 

Quarantine, according to William Brownrigg, who wrote in 1771 a 
book on the plague, was first established by the Venetians in 1484. 
Dr. Mead was probably the source of this information. ^ 

Theories connected with the origin of the soul have continued to 
occupy the attention of theologians, philosophers, and physicians from 
the time of Pythagoras to our own day. Up to the ninth century their 
speculations were entirely idle, when Theophilus made his discovery 
of the capillary vessels of the male organs — a discovery which was 
further developed when in the fifteenth century Mattheus de Gradibus 
first enunciated the idea that these organs and the ovaria of birds are 
homologous structures ; and thus originated the knowledge of the germ 
cells known as the ova of De Graaf.^ 

The fame of the University of Oxford was so high in the early part 
of the fifteenth century (1420) that a MS. in the Bodleian, quoted by 
Anthony a Wood, * says that other universities were but little stars in 
comparison with this sun. "Other studies excel in some particular 
science, as Parys, in divinity ; Bologna, law ; Salerno, physick ; and 

^ Hecker^ Epidemics, p. 118. 

2 See Beckmann's Jlis^. Inv., art. " Quarantine." 

^ Meryon, I/isL Med., vol. i. p. 339. 

* University of Oxford, vol. i. pp. 564, 565. 


Toulouse, mathematics ; but Oxford as a true well of wisdom doth goe 
beyond them in all these. The bright beams of its wisdom spread over 
the whole world." 

The practice of medicine became daily more honourable. 

Holinshed says/ in his description of the people in the Comtnonwealth 
of England, that " Who soeur studieth the lawes of the realme, who so 
abideth in the vniuersitie giuing his mind to his booke, or professeth 

physicke and the liberall sciences and can liue without manuell 

labour, and thereto is able and will beare the port, charge and coun- 
tenance of a gentleman, he shall for monie haue a cote and armes 

bestowed vpon him by heralds and reputed for a gentleman euer 


Medicine was a flourishing study at Cambridge, especially at Merton 
College, in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries.^ 

The origin of syphilis in Europe has been the subject of much 
learned discussion. It appeared with such violence and frequency 
in the year 1490 in France, Italy, and Spain, that the scourge was 
considered to have only then been introduced into Europe from 

" Its enormous prevalence in modern times," says Dr. Creighton,^ 
"dates, without doubt, from the European libertinism of the latter 
part of the fifteenth century." It is pretty certain that syphilis 
had existed in Europe from ancient times. What appeared with so 
much virulence and such wide distribution in 1490 was simply a re- 
development of the malady on a scale hitherto unknown. 

^ Chronicles of England, etc., vol. i. p. 273. 

'^ Mullinger's Univ. Cambridge, p. 168. 

^ Art, *' Pathology," Ency. Brit., xviii. p. 404. 



Hospitals in Mexico. — Anatomy and Human Sacrifices. — Mid wives as Spiritual 
Mothers. — Circumcision. —Peru. — Discovery of Cinchona Bark. 

Little or nothing is known of the ancient history of Mexico and 
Peru. Mexico, anciently called Anahuac, was probably conquered by 
the Aztecs, who founded the city of Mexico about 1325. It was dis- 
covered in 1517. Peru was long governed by the Incas, said to be de- 
scended from Manco Capac, who ruled in the eleventh century. It was 
explored and conquered by Pizarro, 152 4- 1533. 

For the purposes of this work the history of these countries dates from 
the time of their discovery, as the Spaniards in their blind fanaticism 
destroyed most of their literature. Don Juan de Zumarraga was one 
of the darkeners of human intelligence ; he diligently collected all the 
Mexican manuscripts, especially from Tezcuco, the literary capital of 
the Mexican empire, and burned them in one great bonfire in the 
market-place of Tlatelolco.^ 

Las Casas says that there were public hospitals in the cities of Mexico, 
Tlascala, and Cholula, expressly endowed for the relief of the sick. 
As surgeons attended the Mexican armies, it is evident that they had 
attained some skill in medicine and surgery. They used the temazcalli, 
or vapour-bath, practised bleeding, and knew the medicinal properties 
of many herbs. They professed to have learned this wisdom from their 
ancestors, the Tultecas, whose knowledge of chemistry they likewise 
extolled. As human sacrifices were of daily occurrence in the city of 
Mexico, they must have acquired some knowledge of anatomy, which 
would assist them in the practice of surgery.^ 

Midwives were treated by the ancient Mexicans with great deference. 
They were termed "spiritual mothers," and were believed to be under 
the immediate inspiration of the god Tezcatlipoca. Aglio says that 
the treatment of lying-in women was very similar to that among the 

^ Vickers' Martyrdoms of Literature, p. 169. 
2 Aglio's Antiquities of Mexico, vol. viii. p. 234. 
^ Ibid., vol. vi. p. 526. 


The ancient Mexicans practised circumcision, and venerated the 
Tequepatl, or flint knife, with which the rite was performed.^ 

Among the many vegetable products which America introduced 
Europe were maize, potatoes, chocolate, tobacco, ipecacuanha, an< 
Peruvian bark, from which we obtain quinine. The discovery of thi 
valuable medicine was due to the Jesuit missionaries. The seconc 
wife of the viceroy, the Count of Chinchon, accompanied him to Pen 
In 1628 she was attacked by a tertian fever. Her physician wj 
unable to cure her. At about the same time an Indian of Uritusinga, 
near Loxa, in the government of Quito, had given some fever-curing 
bark to a Jesuit missionary. He sent some of it to Torres Vasquez, 
who was rector of the Jesuit College at Lima and confessor to the 
viceroy. Torres Vasquez cured the vice-queen by administering doses 
of the bark. . . . The remedy was long known as Countess's Bark 
and Jesuit's Bark, and Linnaeus gave the name Chinchona [after the 
viceroy Chinchon] to the genus of plants which produces it. . . . 
Various species of this precious tree are found throughout the 
eastern cordillera of the Andes for a distance of 2,000 miles. We owe 
guaiacum, sarsaparilla, sassafras, logwood, jalap, seneka, serpentaria, 
and many other valuable drugs to the same part of the world. 

Frezier, in his voyage to the South Sea and along the coasts of Chili 
and Peru in the years 1712, 1713, and 1714, says concerning Lima: 
" There is an herb called Carapullo, which grows like a tuft of grass, 
and yields an ear, the decotion of which makes such as drink it 
delirious for some days. The Indians make use of it to discover the 
natural disposition of their children. All the time when it has its 
operation, they place by them the tools of all such trades as they 
may follow — ^^as by a maiden, a spindle, wool, scissors, cloth, kitchen 
furniture, etc. \ and by a youth, accoutrements for a horse, awls, 
hammers, etc. ; and that tool they take most fancy to in their delirium, 
is a certain indication of the trade they are fittest for, as I was assured 
by a French surgeon, who was an eye-witness to this verity." 

^ Aglio's Antiquities of Mexico, vol. vi. p. 272. 






The Dawn of Modern Science. — The Reformation of Medicine. — Paracelsus.. — The- 
Sceptics. — The Protestantism of Science. — Influenza. — Legal Recognition of 
Medicine in England. — The Barber- Surgeons. — The Sweating Sickness. — Origin 
of the Royal College of Physicians of London. — " Merry Andrew." — Origin of 
St. Bartholomew's Hospital. — Caius.^-Low State of Midwifery. — The Great 
Continental Anatomists. — Vesalius. — Servetus. — -^Pare. — Influence of the Refor- 
mation. — The Rosicrucians. — Touching for the Evil. — Vivisection of Human 
Beings.— :Prigin of Legal Medicine. 

The discovery of America in 1492 fitly typifies the still grander mental 
world about to disclose its wonders to the newly liberated minds of 
scientific investigators. The revolt against authority in religion was 
paralleled by a scientific Protestantism ; the mind of man, long held in 
bondage to absurd and groundless fancies, struggled to set itself free, 
to investigate, to test and explore on its account, instead of accepting 
for granted doctrines elaborated in the philosopher's brains. 

The revolt of medicine against the authority of Galen may be com- 
pared to the revolt against Aristotle in philosophy. The authority of 
the Arabian schools was overthrown, the principles of Hippocrates 
were in the ascendant. The era of the Renaissance was not more an 
era of Protestantism than an age of Scepticism. Faith had become 
credulity, and credulity had sunk into imbecility. The power of the 
printing press, the spread of humanism, the beginning of scientific 
inquiry, the discovery of the splendid treasure of classic literature, long 
buried beneath the dust of dark and barbarous ages, the widening of 
the mental horizon as the world doubled itself before the prows of the 
discoverers' vessels — all these factors brought about the new birth of 
Science. It was the golden age of the medical sciences. Anatomy 
and surgery awoke, from their long slumber, and Europe entered upon 
a period of scientific investigation such as the world had never known 
before. Medicine formed an alliance with what are called its accessory 
sciences; chemistry liberated from slavery to the alchemist, botany 
set free from the delusions of the doctrine of " signatures," pharmacy 
elevated into a branch of medical science from the kitchen and the 


•confectioner's store-room, lent their aid, in conjunction with the 
hydraulics and pneumatics of the natural philosopher, to advance it. 
All these things meant revolt against the old order, Protestantism 
against the outworn creeds of Greek and Arabian dogmatists. They 
meant more than this. Ere the ground could be cleared for the new 
palace of physical science which the glorious sixteenth century was 
to rear, scepticism must lend its withering and desolating aid ; foul 
undergrowths must be destroyed; evil germs, bred of the stagnant 
marshes of the dark ages, must perish under the wholesome, if ruthless, 
'disinfectants of reason and unbelief. There was a stern need of this. 
The demon theory of disease had lasted from primeval ages up to this 
dawn of the sixteenth century. From glacial times, through savage 
ages and religions, and often in beautifully poetic faiths, the disease- 
demon held its own. Even in the hallowed and renovating pages of the 
gospels the disease-demon stalks unchallenged save by the thaumatur- 
gist. Now he is to be banished from the mind of civilized man for 
ever; and to reach this goal atheism was needed. The sixteenth cen- 
tury, so far as medicine and physical science are concerned, opens with 
the Cabalist Theosophists, Trithemius, Cornelius Agrippa, Cardan, 
and their followers. Giordano Bruno, the aggressive atheist and martyr 
of science, Montaigne, the philosophic sceptic, Charron, the opponent 
of all religion, and Rabelais, the witty scoffer at the gross corruptions of 
orthodoxy, helped to clear the ground for the work of the scientists. 
Meanwhile Paracelsus, from his chair at Basel University, having made 
an auto-da-fe of ancient and dogmatic medicine, lays the foundation- 
stone of the medicine of the modern era. 

An army of savants begins to work for science as well as literature. 
Linacre has introduced Italian Humanism to the doctors of England ; 
Caius busies himself with the Greek and Latin texts of the great 
writers on medicine ; Gesner, the German Pliny, and Aldrovandi pro- 
mote the study of natural history. Everywhere men are busy with the 
beginnings of electricity, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, and the other 
sciences which are to be the handmaidens of medicine. One clear 
voice is heard from Basel. It is that of Paracelsus, exhuming physical 
science : " You Italy, you Dalmatia, you Sarmatia, Athens, Greece, 
Arabia, and Israel, follow me. Come out of the night of the 
mind ! " 

The teacher of Paracelsus, who exercised the greatest influence upon 
his mental development, was the celebrated Trithemius, the abbot of 
the Spanheim Benedictines (about 1500), who was so famous a student 
of chemistry and the occult philosophy that scholars and mighty nobles 
went on pilgrimages and princes sent ambassadors, to his monastery to 


gather some fragments of his vast learning. Amongst many works, he 
pubhshed several on magical subjects, and was the first who told the 
wondrous story of Dr. Faustus, in whose magical doings he was a devout 
believer.! His famous library consisted of the rare possession of two 
thousand volumes. Cornelius Agrippa was his pupil, and in a letter 
which he sent to his old master, with the manuscript of his Occult 
Philosophy, we find a passage which throws a light on the studies of the 
worthy abbot : " We conferred much about chemical matters, magic, 
cabalism, and other things which at the present time lie hidden as 
secret sciences and arts." ^ 

Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus of Hohenheim (1493- 
1541), " The Reformer of Medicine," " Luther Alter," effected a revolu- 
tion in medicine, and is one of the most remarkable characters, not only 
in the history of the medical profession, but in that of civilization. There 
was so much in this great man's conduct to admire, and so much of 
which to disapprove, that it is not surprising that he has been either 
wholly praised or entirely condemned, and by very few considered dis- 
passionately. Perhaps Mr. Browning, in his noble poem Paracelsus, 
has given the world the truest conception of a man who did for his 
profession and for humanity the enormous service of liberating medicine 
from a slavish adhesion to authority, though it must be admitted that 
he was guilty of extravagances and excesses we may find it difficult to 
excuse, even though for the most part they were faults common to his 
country and his age. Paracelsus was born ten years later than Luther, 
at Einsiedeln, near Zurich. He studied under the abbot Trithemius of 
Spanheim, who was a great adept in magic, alchemy, and astrology. 
Under this teacher he acquired a taste for occult studies, and formed a 
determination to use them for the welfare of mankind. Trithemius was 
a theosophist. As was the custom of the times, Paracelsus became 
an itinerant student after his course at the University of Basel. He 
studied chemistry in the laboratory of the Fuggers at Schwatz, in the 

Attached to the armies, he travelled widely as a military surgeon 
in the Netherlands, the Romagna, Naples, Venice, Denmark. He 
worked in the mines, that he might acquire a knowledge of metals, 
working as a common labourer for his bread. In Bohemian fashion he 
wandered over the world, visiting Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Tartary, and 
the East. He picked up his scientific knowledge by any means rather 
than from books. He said, "Reading never made a doctor, but 

^ Morley, Life oj Cornelius Agrippa, vol. i. p. 213. 

^ H. C. Agripp., ep. 23, lib. i. p. 702. Prefixed also to all editions of the De 
Occ. Phil. (Note by Mr. Morley.) 


practice is what forms a physician. For all reading is a footstool to 
practice, and a mere feather broom. He who meditates discovers 
something." And so he held converse with the common folk, and 
talked and drank with boors, shepherds, Jews, gypsies, and tramps, 
gaining odd scraps of knowledge wherever he could. He had no 
books. His only volume was Nature, whom he interrogated at first- 
hand. He would rather learn medicine and surgery from an old 
country nurse than from an university lecturer. If there was one 
thing which he detested more than another, it was the principle of 
authority. He bent his head to no man. 

In the year 1525 Paracelsus went to Basel, where he was fortunate in 
curing Froben, the great printer, by his laudanum, when he had the 
gout. Froben was the friend of Erasmus, 'who was associated with 
CEcolampadius, and soon after, upon the recommendation of CEcolam- 
padius, he was appointed by the city magnates a professor of physics^ 
medicine, and surgery, with a considerable salary ; at the same time 
they made him city physician, to the duties of which office he requested 
might be added inspector of drug shops. This examination made the 
druggists his bitterest enemies, as he detected their fraudulent practices ; 
they combined to set the other doctors of the city against him, and as 
these were exceedingly jealous .of his skill and success, poor Paracelsus 
found himself in a hornet's nest. We find him a professor at Basel 
University in 1526. He has become famous as a physician, the medi- 
cines which he has discovered he has successfully used in his practice ; 
he was now in the eyes of his patients at least, 

"The wondrous Paracelsus, life's dispenser, 
Fate's commissary, idol of the schools and courts." 

He began his lectures at Basel by lighting some sulphur in a chafing 
dish, and burning the books of his great predecessors in the medical 
art, Avicenna, Galen, and others, saying : " Sic vos ardebitis in 
gehenna." He boasted that he had read no books for ten years, 
though he protested that his shoe-buckles were more learned than the 
authors whose works he had burned. 

It must have been a wonderful spectacle when this new teacher took 
his place before his pupils. The benches occupied hitherto by a dozen 
or two of students were crowded with an eager audience anxious for the 
new learning. Literature had been exhumed many years before, and 
now it was the turn of Science ! Leaving the morbid seclusion of the 
cloisters, men had given up dreaming for inquiry, and baseless visions 
for the acquisition of facts. This was the childhood of our science, and 
its days were bright with the poetry of youth. It is a sight to arouse 


•our enthusiasm to see in the early dawn of our modern science this man 
standing up alone to pit himself against the whole scientific authority of 
his day. He rises from the crucibles and fires where his predecessors 
had been vainly seeking for gold and silver, ever and again pretending 
to have found them, and always going empty-handed to a deluded 
world. Henceforth, he says, his alchemy shall serve a nobler purpose 
than gold seeking ; it shall aid in the healing of disease. He casts 
aside the sacred books of medicine which have been handed down 
the ages by his predecessors ; destroying them, he declares, with an 
earnestness which is less tinged by arrogance than by conviction, that 
these men had been blind guides, that he alone has the clue of the 
maze, and he forsakes all to follow Truth, though she lead him to death. 
In his generous impulse to serve mankind he has spoken harshly of his 
opponents. They would not have helped him, any way. He was 
above them ; they could not understand him, so they hated him, and he 
scorned them. As too often happens to such heroes, he forgot the 
love of his neighbour in his love for mankind. 

Paracelsus found his pupils holding fast by the teachings of the! 
school of Salerno, and there seems no ground for supposing that the 
healing art had made the slightest progress in Europe from the founda- 
tion of that school in 1150, except perhaps in pharmacy. On the day 
that Paracelsus stood up before his audience at Basel University, he 
cried, " Away with ^tius, Oribasius, Galen, Rhasis, Serapion, Avicenna, 
Averroes, and the other blocks ! " He had diplomas sent him from 
Germany, France, and Italy, and a letter from Erasmus. 

In 1528 we find him at Colmar, in Alsatia. He has been driven by 
priests and doctors from Basel. 

,^,Jic^~hadJagen_called,Jxuth£^^^^ of some rich^leric who was^ill. 
He cured him, but sosjTf ^edily tto"his~lee wirs'"^refused7~~^hough not^ 
at all a mercenary man (for he always gave^the^oor his services gra- 
tuitously), he sued the priest; but the judge refused to interfere, and 
Paracelsus used strong language to him, and had to fly to escape 
punishment. We must not be too hard upon the canon. Dis ease \va s 
trea ted with profound re spect in those days, and great patients liked to ^ 
be~cu red w ith deliberat ion and some ceremonial. 

The closmg scenes of the life of Paracelsus were passed in a cell in 
the hospital of Salzburg, in the year 1541, when he died at the age of 
forty-eight, ajjiax^UL^if^science. Recent investigations in contempo- 
rary records have proved that he had been attacked by the servants of 
certain physicians who were his jealous enemies, and that in consequence 
of a fall he sustained a fracture of the skull, which proved fatal in a 
few days. 




Within a period of time covering fifteen years he had written some 
106 treatises on medicine, alchemy, natural history and philosophy, 
magic, and other subjects. He despised University learning. "The 
book of Nature," he declared, " was that which the physician should 
read, and to do so he must walk over its leaves." His library con- 
sisted of a Bible, St. Jerome on the Gospels, a volume on medicine, 
and seven manuscripts. His epitaph tells but a part of his honours. 
" Here lies Philippus Paracelsus, the famous doctor of medicine, who, 
by his wonderful art, cured bad wounds, lepra, gout, dropsy, and other 
incurable diseases, and to his own honour divided his possessions 
among the poor." 
^ This but feebly expresses what medicine owes to him. He dis- 
covered th ejnetal zinc^ and hy drogen gas. In place of the elaborate 

concoctions and filthy messes which were given as medicines in his 
time, he taught doctors to give tinctures and quintessences of drugs. 
He invented laudanum, and anticipated our discovery of transfusion of 
blood. He opposed the barbarous method of reducing dislocations 
and dealing with fractures, introduced the use of merc ury in_the trea t- 
ment of syph i lis, a nd came very near to the discoveries which go under 
the name of Darwinism. He taught that chemistry was to be em- 
ployed, not in making gold, but for the preparation of medicines; and 
he introduced into practice mineral remedies, including mineral baths, 
iron, sulphur, antimony, arsenic, gold, tin, lead, etc. Amongst the 
vegetable remedies employed by him was arnica. 

Paracelsus used chemical principles, says Sprengel, for the explana- 
tion of particular diseases. '' Most or all diseases, according to him, 
arise from the effervescence of salts, from the combustion of sulphur, or 
from the coagulation of mercury." ^ 

His aetiology attributed diseases to five causes : — i. The Ens astrale 
(a certain power of the stars) ; this means no more than foul air. 2. 
The Ens veneni (power of poison), arising from errors of assimilation 
and digestion. 3. The Ens naturale (power of nature or of the body) ; 
diatheses. 4. Ens spirituale (power of the spirit) ; the disorders which 
arise from perverted ideas. 5. Ens Dei (power of God) ; the injuries 
or causes of disease predetermined by God.^ 

When Paracelsus came upon the scene of medical history, alchemy 
had just begun to lose its credit. The true students of science had 
discovered its deceptions and had abandoned it to the quacks. It has 
often happened, and happens still, that certain pretended sciences, when 
cast aside as worthless, are taken from their hiding-places and made to 

^ Whewell, Hist, of Scientific Ideas, vol. ii. p. 177. 
2 Baas, Hist. Med., p. 386. 


do duty in another and perhaps nobler form. Paracelsus set himself 
the task of rehabiUtating alchemy. The deeper thinkers, the more 
ardent truth-seekers in religion and science, imbued with philosophy 
and penetrated by the scholasticism of the age, were quite ready for a 
new reign of theosophical medicine to take the place of the Arabian 

George Agricola (1494-155 5) was a physician who practised in 
Bohemia, and was the first to raise mineralogy to the dignity of a 
science. He did so much for it, in fact, that no great advance was made 
in it from the point at which he left it, till the eighteenth century. 

Conrad Gesner (15 16-1565), surnamed the German Pliny, was a 
famous naturalist of vast erudition, and imbued with an enthusiastic love 
of science. In 15 41 he was professor of physics and natural history 
at Zurich. He wrote several books on ancient medicine and botany. 
To prepare himself to write his History of Animals^ he read 250 
authors, travelled nearly all over Europe, and gathered information 
from every source, even from hunters and shepherds. His medical 
works show that he was far above the absurd fancies and prejudices of 
his time. 

Andreas C^sai.pinus (15 19-1603), the first systematical botanist, 
and the founder of the work which Linnaeus developed, studied, if he 
did not also teach, anatomy and medicine at Pisa. He had a clear 
idea of the circulation of the blood, at least through the lungs, and he 
was the first to use the term '^ circulation." Claims have been made 
on his behalf as the discoverer of the circulation ; but they cannot be 
substantiated, as he did not know of the direct flow of the blood from 
the arteries to the veins. 

Cardan (i 501-1576), a physician and astrologer, was also a half- 
crazy magician. He was a skilful physician^ and visited King Edward 
VI. to calculate his nativity, and Cardinal Beaton to cure him in his 

Giordano Bruno (i 548-1 600) was an Italian philosopher of the 
Renaissance, who, from a determination to study the universe for him- 
self, threw off the restraints of the Christian religion and revolted against 
the authority of Aristotle and tradition. His most popular and charac- 
teristic work is the Spaccio. He was not an atheist, as has been asserted, 
but a pantheist. He considered the soul of man as a thinking monad, 
and as immortal. He was burnt at the stake for his opinions, which, 
it must be admitted, were in some respects detrimental to morality 
as well as to faith. 

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), the sceptical founder of a new 
philosophy, and one of the most delightful of essayists, anticipated the 


scientific spirit by his minute and critical observation upon the curious 
facts connected with human nature. 

Francois Rabelais {c. 1490-1 553) entered the faculty of medicine 
at Montpellier. 

EuRicus CoRDUS ( 1 486-1 535), who studied medicine at Erfurt, is 
famous for the following admirable epigram : — 

" Three faces wears the doctor : when first sought, 
An angel's — and a God's, the cure half wrought ; 
But, when that cure complete, he seeks his fee, 
The Devil looks then less terrible than he. " 

His son, Valerius Cordus (15 15-1544), was the discoverer of 
sulphuric ether. 

Antonio Benivieni {c. 1500), a physician of Florence, was the 
morning star of a new era for surgery, when he insisted that the com- 
pilations of the ancients and Arabians ought to be given up for the 
observation of nature.^ Thus, before the time of Ambroise Par^ 
{i 509-1 590), the way for the reception of the true modern surgery was 
prepared in Italy by the efforts of those who strove to induce educated 
and talented men to devote their attention to this branch of the healing 


A violent and extensive catarrhal fever prevailed in France and 
Europe generally in 15 10. Hecker considers there is evidence that it 
had its origin in the remotest parts of the East.^ His description of 
this influenza is as follows : " The catarrhal symptoms, which, on the 
appearance of disorders of this kind, usually form their commencement, 
seem to have been quite thrown into the background by those of violent 
rheumatism and inflammation. The patient was first seized with 
giddiness and severe headache ; then came on a shooting pain through 
the shoulders and extending to the thighs. The loins, too, were affected 
with intolerably painful dartings, during which an inflammatory fever 
set in with delirium and violent excitement. In some the parotid 
glands became inflamed, and even the digestive organs participated 
in the deep-rooted malady ; for those affected had, together with con- 
stant oppression at the stomach, a great loathing for all animal food, 
and a dislike even of wine. Among the poor as well as the rich many 
died, and some quite suddenly, of this strange disease, in the treatment 
of which the physicians shortened life not a Httle by their purgative 
treatment and phlebotomy, seeking an excuse for their ignorance in 

^ De abditis rerum causis, Florent. , 1507. ^ Epidemics, p. 218, 


the influence of the constellations, and alleging that astral diseases were 
beyond the reach of human art." 

Legal Recognition of Medical Practitioners. 

The first Act of Parliament dealing with the medical profession in 
England was passed in the year 1511, and is entitled "An Act for 
the Appointing of Physicians and Surgeons," the preamble of 
which runs as follows : — 

" Forasmuch as the science and cunning of Physick and Surgery (to 
the perfect knowledge of which be requisite both great learning and 
ripe experience) is daily within this realm exercised by a great multitude 
of ignorant persons, of whom the greater part have no manner of 
insight in the same, nor in any other kind of learning ; some also can 
read no letters on the book, so far forth that common artificers, as 
smiths, weavers, and women, boldly and accustomably take upon them 
great cures, and things of great difficulty, in the which they partly use 
sorcery and witchcraft, partly apply such medicines unto the disease as 
be very noxious, and nothing meet therefore, to the high displeasure of 
God, great infamy to the faculty, and the grievous hurt, damage, and 
destruction of many of the king's liege people ; most especially of them 
that cannot discern the uncunning from the cunning. Be it therefore 
(to the surety and comfort of all manner of people) by the authority 
of this present Parliament enacted : — That no person within the city 
of London, nor within seven miles of the same, take upon him to 
exercise and occupy as a Physician or Surgeon except he be first 
examined, approved, and admitted by the Bishop of London, or by 
the Dean of St. Paul's, for the time being, calling to him or them four 
Doctors of Physic, and for Surgeons, other expert persons in that 
faculty ; and for the first examination such as they shall think con- 
venient, and afterwards alway four of them that have been so ap- 
proved.^ ... 

" That no person out of the said city and precinct of seven miles of 
the same, except he have been (as is aforesaid) approved in the same, 
take upon him to exercise and occupy as a Physician or Surgeon, in any 
diocese within this realm ; but if he be first examined and approved by 
the Bishop of the same diocese, or, he being out of the diocese, by his 
vicar-general ; either of them calling to them such expert persons in the 
said faculties, as their discretion shall think convenient. . . ." 2 


1 3 Henry VIIL, c. 9. 

2 Ur. Of oodi2XV s, History of the College of Physicians. 


The Barber-Surgeons. 

The occupation of shaving and trimming beards was anciently con- 
sidered a profession, and was united to that of surgery. In the reign 
of Louis XIV. of France the hairdressers were formally separated 
from the Barber-Surgeons, who were incorporated as a distinct medical 

A London Company of Barbers was formed in 1308, and the first 
year of the reign of Edward IV. (1462) the barbers were incorporated 
by a charter which was confirmed by many succeeding monarchs. In 
1540 the Company of Barbers, and those who practised purely as 
Surgeons, were united as " the commonalty of Barbers and Surgeons 
of London." It was enacted (32 Hen. VIII.) that "No person 
using any shaving or barbery in London shall occupy any surgery, 
letting of blood, or other matter, except only drawing of teeth." The 
Surgeons' corporation in London two years later petitioned Parliament 
to be exempted from bearing arms and serving on juries, so that they 
might be free to attend to their practice.^ Their petition was granted, 
and all medical men are in the enjoyment of these privileges at the 
present time. 

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1540 allowing the United 
Companies of Barbers and Surgeons to have yearly four bodies of 
criminals for purposes of dissection. This is supposed to have been 
the first legislative enactment passed in any country for promoting the 
study of anatomy. 2 

Surgery in England in the reign of Henry VIII. was in a deplorable 
condition. Thomas Gale thus describes the surgeons of the time : — 

" I remember when I was in the wars at Montreuil, in the time of 
that most famous prince, Henry VIII., there was a great rabblement 
there that took upon them to be surgeons. Some were sow-gelders, 
and some horse-gelders, with tinkers and cobblers. This noble sect 
did such great cures that they got themselves a perpetual name ; for 
like as Thessalus' sect were called Thessalonians, so was this noble 
rabblement, for their notorious cures, called dog-leeches; for in two 
dressings they did commonly make their cures whole and sound for 
ever, so that they felt neither heat nor cold, nor no manner of pain 
after. But when the Duke of Norfolk, who was then general, under- 
stood how the people did die, and that of small wounds, he sent for me 
and certain other surgeons, commanding us to make search how these 
men came to their death, whether it were by the grievousness of their 

^ Aubrey, Hist. Eng., vol. ii. p. 535. ^ Ibid. 


wounds or by the lack of knowledge of the surgeons ; and we, accord- 
ing to our commandment, made search through all the camp, and 
found many of the same good fellows which took upon them the names 
of surgeons ; not only the names but the wages also. We asking of 
them whether they were surgeons or no, they said they were; we 
demanded with whom they were brought up, and they, with shame- 
less faces, would answer, either with one cunning man, or another, 
which was dead. Then we demanded of them what chirurgery stuff 
they had to cure men withal ; and they would show us a pot or a box 
which they had in a budget, wherein was such trumpery as they did use 
to grease horses' heels withal, and laid upon scabbed horses' backs, 
.with verval and such like. And others that were cobblers and tinkers 
ised shoemaker's wax, with the rust of old pans, and made therewith ' a 
loble salve,' as they did term it. But in the end this worthy rabble- 
lent was committed to the Marshalsea, and threatened to be hanged 
for their worthy deeds, except they would declare the truth — what they 
^ere and of what occupations ; and in the end they did confess, as I 
lave declared to you before." 

Gale says in another place : " I have, myself, in the time of King 
Henry VIII., helped to furnish out of London, in one year, which 
served by sea and land, three score and twelve surgeons, which were 
good workmen, and well able to serve, and all Enghshmen. At this 
present day there are not thirty-four of all the whole company of English- 
men, and yet the most part of them be in noblemen's service, so that if 
we should have need, I do not know where to find twelve sufficient 
men. What do I say? sufficient men? Nay; I would there were ten 
amongst all the company worthy to be called surgeons." 

In the year 15 18 the Barbers and Surgeons were united in one 
company. The Barbers were restricted from performing any surgical 
operations, except drawing teeth, and the Surgeons, on their part, had 
to abandon shaving and trimming beards. Physicians were permitted 
to practise surgery. 

In the year 1542 it became necessary to pass an Act to further regulate 
the practice of Surgery, the chief points of which are the following : 
" Whereas in the Parliament holden at Westminster, in the third year 
of the King's Most Gracious Reign, amongst other things, for the 
avoiding of sorceries, witchcrafts, and other inconveniences, it was en- 
acted, That no person within the City of London, nor within seven 
miles of the same, should take upon him to exercise and occupy as 
Physician and Surgeon, except he be first examined, admitted, and ap- 
proved by the Bishop of London, etc. . . . Sithence the making 
of which said Act, the Company and Fellowship of Surgeons of Lon- 


don, minding onely their owne lucres, and nothing the profit or ease of 
the diseased or patient, have sued, troubled, and vexed divers honest 
persons, as well men as women, whom God hath endueed with the 
knowledge of the nature, kind and operation of certain herbs, roots 
and waters, and the using and ministering of them, to such as have been 
pained with custumable diseases, as women's breasts being sore, a pin 
and the web in the eye, uncomes of the hands, scaldings, burnings, sore 
mouths, the stone, stranguary, saucelin, and morphew, and such other 
like diseases. . . . And yet the said persons have not taken any- 
thing for their pains or cunning. ... In consideration whereof, 
and for the ease, comfort, succour, help, relief, and health of the 
King's poor subjects, inhabitants of this his realm, now pained or 
diseased, or that hereafter shall be pained or diseased. Be it ordained, 
etc., that at all time from henceforth it shall be lawful to every person 
being the King's subject, having knowledge and experience of the 
nature of herbs, roots and waters, etc., to use and minister according 
to their cunning, experience, and knowledge . . . the aforesaid 
statute ... or any other Act notwithstanding." 

The Sweating Sickness. 

In 15 1 7 England was visited by a third attack of the Sweating Sick- 
ness. Public business was suspended, the King moved his court from 
place to place, and a panic seized the people. Erasmus, writing to 
Wolsey's physician, says : " I am frequently astonished and grieved to 
think how it is that England has been now for so many years troubled 
by a continual pestilence, especially by a deadly sweat, which appears 
in a great measure to be peculiar to your country. I have read how a 
city was once delivered from a plague by a change in the houses, made 
at the suggestion of a philosopher.' I am inclined to think that this also 
must be the deliverance for England." He proceeds to suggest that 
better ventilation is necessary for dwellings ; he remarks that the glass 
windows admit light, but not air ; that such air as does enter comes in 
as draughts, through holes and corners full of pestilential emanations. 
The floors laid with clay and covered with rushes, the bottom layer of 
which was unchanged sometimes for twenty years, harboured expector- 
ations, vomitings, filth, and all sorts of abominations. 

He advises that the use of rushes should be given up, that the rooms 
should be so built as to be exposed to the light and fresh air on two or 
three sides, and that the windows be so constructed as to be easily 
opened or closed. He declares that at one time, if he ever entered a 
room which had not been occupied for some months, he was sure to 



take a fever. He suggests that the people should eat less, especially of 
salt meats, and that proper officers be appointed to keep the streets 
and suburbs in better order. Erasmus was thus our first sanitary 

Aubrey gives ^ a selection of the favourite prescriptions in use at this 
period against the Sweating Sickness : — 

" Take endive, sowthistle, marygold, m'oney and nightshade, three 
handfuls of all, and seethe them in conduit water, from a quart to a pint, 
then strain it into a fair vessel, then delay it with a little sugar to put 
away the tartness, and then drink it when the sweat taketh you, and 
keep you warm; and by the grace of God ye shall be whole." 

"Take half an handful of rew, called herbe grace, an handful 

arygold, half an handful featherfew, a handful sorrel, a handful burnet, 
and half a handful dragons, the top in summer, the root in winter ; wash 
them in running water, and put them in an earthen pot with a potlle of 
running water, and let them seethe soberly to nigh the half be consumed, 
and then draw aback the pot to it be almost cold, and then strain it 
into a fair glass and keep it close, and use thereof morn and even, and 
when need is oftener ; and if it be bitter, delay it with sugar candy ; 
and if it be taken afore the pimples break forth, there is no doubt but 
with the grace of Jesu it shall amend any man, woman or child." 

"Another very true medicine. — For to say every day at seven parts 
of your body, seven paternosters, and seven Ave Marias, with one 
Credo at the last. Ye shal begyn at the ryght syde, under the ryght 
ere, saying the ^paternoster qui es in cxlis^ sanctificetur nomen tuum,'' 
with a cross made there with your thumb, and so say the paternoster 
full complete, and one Ave Maria, and then under the left ere, and then 
under the left armhole, and then under the left the [thigh ?] hole, and 
then the last at the heart, with one paternoster, Ave Maria, with one 
Credo ; and these thus said daily, with the grace of God is there no 
manner drede hym." 

The Royal College of Physicians of London Established. 

The Royal College of Physicians of London was founded by Henry 
VUL for the repression of irregular and unlearned medical practice. 
The Letters Patent constituting the College were dated 23rd Sep- 
tember, 15 18. The king was moved to this by the example of similar 
institutions in Italy and elsewhere^ by the solicitations of Thomas 
Linacre, one of his own physicians, and by the advice and recom- 
mendation of Cardinal Wolsey. Six physicians are named in the 

^ Hisi. Eng.^ vol. ii. p. 296. 


Letters Patent as constituting the College, viz., John Chambre, Thomas 
Linacre, and Ferdinand de Victoria, the king's physicians ; and Nicholas 
Halsewell, John Francis, and Robert Yaxlery, physicians, " and all men 
of the sam e faculty, of and in London, and within seven miles thereof, 
are incorporated as one body and perpetual community or college." ^ 

Dr. Chambre was a priest before he became a physician. He was 
educated at Oxford, studied at Padua, where he graduated in physic. 

Dr. Thomas Linacre was a distinguished scholar and physician, 
who was born a.d. 1460. In 1484 he was elected a fellow of All 
Souls', Oxford ; the next year he went to Bologna, where he studied 
under Pulitian ; he then went to Florence, where he became acquainted 
with Lorenzo the Great ; from Florence, he went to Rome, and thence 
to Venice and Padua, which at that time was the most celebrated school 
of physic in the world, and took the degree of Doctor of Medicine with 
the highest applause. Linacre founded (1524) two Physic Lectures at 
Oxford and one at Cambridge, but " they were not performed till divers 
years after Linacre's death, on account of the troubles concerning re- 
ligion." 2 

Dr. Andrew Borde, Carthusian monk, physician, wit and buffoon, 
lived in the reign of Henry VHL He took his physician's degree at 
Montpellier in i 532, and afterwards became one of the court physicians 
on his return to England. He was a learned, genial, and sensible 
doctor, but possessed " a rambling head and an inconstant mind," as 
Anthony a Wood says. He wrote voluminously. His chief works, 
the Breviary of Health, The Dietary of Health, and The Book of the 
Introduction to Knowledge, have been edited by Dr. F. J. Furnivall, and 
published for t he Early EngHsh Text Society in a volume which is one 
of the most entertaining works on medicine ever written. Borde earned 
his title of " Merry Andrew " (a name which has become a household 
word) from attending fairs and revels, and conducting himself with the 
buffoonery which ill became so learned a man. Doubtless, however,it 
endeared him to his countrymen of the period. His medical works are 
full of prescriptions for various complaints, and many of them are 
exceedingly valuable and fully equal to the best treatment followed 

Thomas Vicary was probably bom between 1490 and 1500, was not 
a trained surgeon, but " a meane practiser" at Maidstone. In 1525 he 
was junior of the three Wardens of the Barbers' or Barber-Surgeons' 
Company in London. In 1528 he was Upper or First Warden of the 

1 Munk, Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, p. i. 

2 Wood, Hist. Oxford, vol. ii. p. 862. 


Company, and one of the surgeons to Heny VIIL, at ^20 a year. In 
1530 he was Master of the Barber-Surgeons' Company, and at the head 
of his profession till his death in 1561 or 1562. As Dr. Furnivall says, 
he was " the Paget of his great Tudor time." Soon after the dissolution 
of the monasteries, Henry VIII., at the request of the City of London, 
handed over the monastic hospitals, Bartholomew's and others, to the 
Corporation of London. He gave to Bartholomew's a small endow- 
ment (nominally ;£"333 odd) out of old houses which he charged with 
pensions to parsons. The city raised ^1000 for repairs and reopened 
the hospital for one hundred patients, and on 29th September, 1548, 
appointed Chief-Surgeon Vicary as one of the six new governors of the 
hospital. The reorganization of the hospital was in a large measure 
due to this excellent man and intelligent surgeon. In 1548 he pub- 
lished the first English work on Anatomy, The Anatomie of the Body of 
Man, which was reprinted by the Surgeons of Bartholomew's in 1577. 
This text-book held the field for 150 years.^ 

Those who are interested in the origin of our oldest and greatest 
hospital in London will find much valuable information in the Truly 
Christian Ordre of the Hospital of S, Bartholomew es, ^552, published 
as Appendix XVI. in Dr. Furnivall's Vicary, p. 291. 

Robert Copland in 1547 or 48 published his book called The Hy 
Way to the Spitt House. This is an important and interesting account 
of the scamps and rogues who resorted to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, 
London, in the time of Henry VIIL, after the Statute 22nd Hen. VIII. 
( 1 530-1), against vagabonds. At that time the hospital gave temporary 
lodging to almost all the needy, as well as a permanent home to the de- 
serving poor and sick ; and sisters attended to them. Copland learns 
from the porter all about the ne'er-do-wells and the rascals who sought 
to impose on the charity. ^ 

The old herbalists were often very patient and devoted investigators, 
who experimented upon themselves, and by these means accumulated a 
great number of facts of great use in the art of medicine. Conrad 
Gesner was one of these ; he used to eat small portions of wild herbs, 
and test their effects on his own person, sitting down in the study with 
the plants around him.^ 

Sir William Butts, M.D. (died 1545), was physician to Henry 
VIIL, and was the friend of Wolsey, Cranmer, and Latimer. He was 

^ I am indebted for the above facts to Dr. Furnivall's edition of Vicary's Anatomie, 
published for the Early English Text Society. 

* Captain Cox, his Ballads and Books. Dr. Furnivall's edition, published for the 
Ballad Society, p. ci. 

^ Pratt, Flowering Plattts, vol. i. p. 91. 


knighted by Henry, and is immortalised in Shakspeare's play of Hem 

George Owen, M.D. (died 1558), was physician to Henry VHIJ 
Edward VI., and Queen Mary. It has been said that Edward VI. was 
brought into the world by Dr. Owen, who performed the Caesarian 
operation on his mother, 

John Caius, M.D. (15 10-15 7 3), entered Gonville Hall, Cambridge, 
1529. He at first studied divinity, but in 1539 went to Padua to study 
medicine under Montanus. Whilst at Padua, Caius lodged in the 
same house with the anatomist Vesalius, devoting no less attention 
to anatomy than his companion. He took the degree of doctor of 
medicine at Padua. He was public professor of Greek in that Uni- 
versity ; in 1543 he visited all the great libraries of Italy, collecting 
MSS., with the view of giving correct editions of the works of Galen 
and Celsus. In 1552 he was residing in London, and published an 
account of the Sweating Sickness which prevailed in 1551. He was 
physician to Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth. Dr. Caius enlarged 
and augmented the resources of the college at Cambridge, at which he 
had been educated ; and he rendered eminent service to the College 
of Physicians by defending its rights against the illegal practices of the 
surgeons, who interfered with the proper functions of the physicians. 
His munificent foundation at Cambridge is a claim on the gratitude of 
the English nation, and ensures him a high place for ever in the 
annals of our universities. The visitor to Cambridge will not fail to 
remember that it was he who built the three singular gates at his 
college, inscribed to Humility, to Virtue and Wisdom, and to Honour. 
But he has another lasting claim to respect on the grounds that he first 
introduced the study of practical anatomy into this country, and was 
the first publicly to teach it, which he did in the hall of the Barber- 
Surgeons, shortly after his return from Italy. Dr. Caius was a profound 
classical scholar, and left numerous works on the Greek and Latin 
medical authors. As a naturalist, linguist, critic, and antiquary, he was 
no less distinguished than as a physician. 

Edward Wotton, M.D. (died 1555), seems to have been the first 
English physician who applied himself specially to the study of natural 
history. He made himself famous by his work on this subject, entitled 
De Differ entiis Ani7?ialium. 

Dr. Geynes (died 1563) was cited before the College of Physicians 
for impugning the authority of Galen ; he recanted and humbly 
acknowledged his heresy, and was duly pardoned. The circumstance 
is a curious illustration of the sentiments of the times.^ 
^ Munk's Roll of the Royal College, etc., p. 62. 


Simon Ludford was originally a friar who became an apothecary in 
London, who was admitted by the University of Oxford to the bacca- 
laureate in medicine, although totally ignorant and incompetent. The 
College reproved the University, and he was compelled to undergo a 
course of study, when he was ultimately admitted doctor of medicine in 
Oxford, and Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1563. 

William Gilbert, M.D. (born 1540), engaged in experiments 
relative to the magnet, achieving results which Galileo declared to be 
" great to a degree which might be envied," and which induced Galileo 
to turn his mind to mag^etism.^ 

Thomas Penny, M.D. (practised in London, 1 570-1). Gerard 
styles him "a second Dioscorides, for his singular knowledge of plants. "^ 
He was also one of the first Englishmen who studied insects. 

Peter Turner, M.D. (died 16 14), was physician to St. Bartholomew's- 
Hospital, and one of the greatest botanists of his age. 

Thomas Muffet, M.D., the learned friend of distinguished 
physicians and naturalists, was esteemed in his day the famous orna- 
ment of the body of physicians (died 1604). 

Berenger of Carpi (died 1527) flourished at Bologna (15 18). He 
was a zealous anatomist, and declared that he had " dissected more 
than one hundred human bodies." He was the first who recognised 
the larger proportional size of the male chest than the female, and the 
converse concerning the pelvis. He discovered the two arytenoid 
cartilages in the larynx, first accurately described the thymus, and gave 
a good description of the brain and the internal ear, in which he 
noticed the malleus and incus. He rectified some of the mistakes of 
Mondino, but was, like all other anatomists before Harvey, deeply per- 
plexed about the heart and the circulation. He investigated the 
structure of the valves of the heart. 

The art of midwifery, up to the middle of the sixteenth century, 
was in the lowest possible condition. In 1521, a doctor named Veites 
was condemned to the flames in Hamburg, for engaging in the business 
of midwifery. In the year 1500, the wife of one Jacob Nufer, of 
Thurgau, a Swiss sow-gelder, being in peril of her hfe in pregnancy, 
though thirteen midwives and several surgeons had attempted to 
deliver her in the ordinary way, it occurred to her husband to ask 
permission of the authorities, and the help of God, to deliver her " as 
he would a sow." He was completely successful, and thus performed 
the first Caesarian operation on the living patient, who lived to bear 

^ Times, May 20, 1876, p. 6. Hallam, Literary History^ etc., vol. ii. p. 233, 


several other children in the natural way, and died at the age of 
seventy-seven. Another sow-gelder performed the operation of ovari- 
otomy on his own daughter, in the sixteenth century. 

Francois Rousset (about 1581), physician to the Duke of Savoy, 
was thelirst to'wnte "upon the Caesarian operation. The improvement 
in printing and engraving caused the works of the Greek, Roman, and 
Arabian writers to be more widely known, and manuals were published 
for the instruction of midwives. The first book of this kind was by 
EucHARius RoSLEiN, at Worms, called the Rose Garden for Midivives 
(15 13). Vesalius (1543) rendered great services to the obstetric 
art by his anatomical teaching; and when Rousset published his treatise, 
the operation became popular, and was constantly performed on the 
living subject, sometimes even when it was not absolutely necessary. 
PiNEAU, a surgeon of Paris, in 1589, first suggested division of the 
pubes to facilitate difficult labour. 

In the year 1535 (27 Henry VIIL), Wood says* that at Oxford 
"divers scholars, upon a foresight of the ruin of the clergy, had and 
did now betake themselves to physick, who as yet raw and inexpert 
would adventure to practise, to the utter undoing of many. The said 
visitors ordered, therefore, that none should practise or exercise that 
faculty unless he had been examined by the physick professor con- 
cerning his knowledge therein. Which order, being of great moment, 
was the year following confirmed by the king, and power by him 
granted to the professor and successors to examine those that were to 
practise according to the Visitor's Order." 

Pierre Franco {c. 1560) was a Swiss or French surgeon, and a 
famous lithotomist, who performed the high operation for the first time 
in 1560, with success, on a child aged two years. Recognising the 
dangers of this method, he introduced a new method in the operation 
known as perineal lithotomy, which was called the lateral method. 
He preceded Pare in improvements in dealing with strangulated 
hernia by the operation known as herniotomy. He was one of the 
first to re-introduce into midwifery practice the operation known 
as "turning," in difficult labour. The operation was a familiar one 
amongst the Hindus, and had been known to the later Graeco-Roman 
school, but had fallen into disuse until Pare, Franco, and Guillemeau 
devoted themselves to the improvement of this neglected branch of the 
heahng art with great success. 

Andrew Libavius (1546-16 16), physician at Coburg, is said by 

' Hist. Oxford^ vol. ii. p. 62. 


Sprengel to have been the person who began to cultivate chemistry, as 
distinct from all theosophical fancies of his predecessors. 

Conrad Gesner, the miracle of learning, whom we have already 
mentioned, devoted great attention to gynaecology, and wrote learnedly 
and without prejudice upon medicine. 

Dr. Henry Alkins (born 1558) was one of the principal physicians 
of James I. While president of the Royal College, the first London 
Pharmacopoeia was published in 1618. 

John Bannister was a voluminous writer on surgery who practised 
in London, and wrote a treatise on surgery in 1575. 

Thomas Gale (i 507-1 586), the " English Pare," was a mihtary 
surgeon, under Henry VHL and Elizabeth, who taught that gun-shot 
[wounds were not poisoned as was commonly supposed, but were to be 
[treated as ordinary wounds. 

William Bulleyn (died 1576) was a famous physician and botanist 
|n the reigns of the later Tudors. He wrote The Govern?nent of Health 
[(1548), Book of Simples y and other works. 

Frescatorius (1483-15 5 3) was the first to publish a description of 
^phus fever. Dr. Mead says^ that he knew that "consumption is 
contagious, and is contracted by living with a phthisical person, by the 
gliding of the corrupted and putrified juices [of the sick] into the 
lungs of the sound man." He inferred the microbes which we see. 

G. Baillou (1536-1614) was the first to describe clearly the diseases 
whooping cough and croup. 

Alexander Benedetti (died 1525) was an anatomist, who made 
important observations on gall-stones. 

Felix Platter (1536-1614), a professor at Basle, must ever be 
gratefully remembered for his humane and wise opposition to the 
cruel treatment of the insane by coercive measures, which unhappily 
were in fashion up to recent times. He suggested the division of 
diseases into three classes: (i) Mental disorders; (2) Pains, fevers, etc. ; 
(3) Deformities and defects of secretion. 

A book which contains directions for identifying simples and prepar- 
ing compound medicines is called a Pharmacopoeia. The first work of 
this character, which was pubHshed under Government authority, was 
that of Nuremberg, in 151 2. A student, Valerius Cordus, passing 
through the city, exhibited a recipe book, which he had compiled from 
the writings of the most eminent physicians of the town. He was urged 
to print it for the benefit of the apothecaries. The College of Medicine 
at Florence issued the Antidot avium Florentinum^ somewhat earlier, 

^ De viorhis contagiosisy lib. ii. cap. ix. 


but merely on its own authority. Dr. A. Foes used the term pharrat 
copoeia first as a distinct title for his work published at Basle, in 1561] 

CosTANzo Varolius of Bologna (1545-15 7 5), one of the greatesf 
of the Italian anatomists, described the optic nerves and many important 
points in the anatomy of the brain. 

VoLCHER Goiter, of Groningen (i 534-1 600), was a pupil of Fallopius 
and Eustachius, who was distinguished for his important researches on 
the cartilages, bones, nerves, and the anatomy of the foetal skeleton. 

Fabricius, of Acquapendente (i 537-1619), a pupil of Fallopius, and 
a distinguished anatomist, made important researches on the structure 
of animals in general. His famous discovery of the valves of the 
veins and his investigations concerning their use led Harvey to make 
the discovery of the circulation of the blood. 

Gasserius (1561-1616) investigated the anatomy of the vocal organs, 
discovered the muscles of the ossicles of the ear, and practised broncho- 
tomy, which he had learned from Fabricius. He was professor at 
Padua, and a teacher of Harvey. 

Spigel (15 78-1625) made researches on the liver, a lobulus of which 
bears his name. 

Glaus Worm (i 588-1654) first described the small bones of the 
skull, now called " Wormian " bones. 

It was not till the sixteenth century that France contributed her quota 
to the list of great anatomists. Nothing shows more clearly the diffi- 
culty with which learning was spread in the times of which we write 
than the fact that the works of the early Italian anatomists were alto- 
gether unknown in France until a hundred years after they were 

Jacques Dubois (1478-1555) taught anatomy at Paris, and was pro- 
fessor of surgery to the Royal Gollege. He was an irrational admirer 
of Galen. The carcases of dogs and other animals were the materials 
from which he taught ; it does not appear that it was possible to obtain 
human subjects for dissection without robbing the cemeteries. 

Gharles Etienne (1503-64) was the first to detect valves in the 
orifices of the hepatic veins. He knew nothing of the researches of 
Achillini concerning the brain, although they were made sixty years 
before; yet his investigations of the structure of the nervous system 
were most important, and his demonstration of the existence of a canal 
running through the whole length of the spinal cord, which had not 
previously been suspected, entitles him to a high place in the history of 

1 Ency. Brit. 


A new era in the history of anatomy was inaugurated by the appear- 
ance of Andrew Vesalius (15 14-1564), a Fleming, who pursued the 
study with the greatest assiduity at Venice, and demonstrated it at 
Padua before he was twenty-two. He remained there seven years, then 
went to Bologna and thence to Pisa. He is known as the first author 
of a systematic and comprehensive view of human anatomy. He 
recognised the necessity of divesting the science of the current mis- 
representations of ignorance and fancy. . 

Vesalius especially contributed to our knowledge of the circulatory 
organs ; it was he who, by his study of the structure of the heart and the 
mechanism of its valves, stimulated his pupils and fellow-students to 
pursue a course of research which ended at last in Harvey's immortal 
discovery. Besides these researches on the vascular system, he first 
accurately described the sphenoid bone and the sternum. He described 
the omentum, the pylorus, the mediastinum and pleura, and gave the 
fullest description of the brain which, up to that time, had appeared. 
Splendid as were his researches, and valuable as were his writings, it was 
perhaps by the way in which he stimulated inquiry in others that he 
rendered the greatest services to anatomical science. 

Dr. Molony, writing in the Bi-itish Medical Jourfial^ December 31, 
1892, says: "I recently secured possession of his works, entitled 
AndrecB. Vesalii Invictissimi Caroli V. Imperatoris Medici Opera Omnia. 
It is a curious work in two immense folio volumes, written in fairly good 
Latin. It has several plates representing the surgical instruments of the 
period, dissections, and, it must be added, quadrupeds of all sorts tied 
up evidently awaiting vivisection. 

*' The preface consists of a lengthy and appreciative life of Vesalius, 
from which it seems that he was born in 15 14, at Brussels, where his 
father was court physician. As a boy he seems to have shown a taste 
for comparative anatomy, ' puer animalium penetralia nudare atque 
viscera inspicere soleret.' His anatomical studies were at all times 
pursued under difficulties. He obtained the bodies of criminals by 
bribing the judges^ ' corpora nactus eorum, in cubicula vexit, suosque 
in usus per tres et ultra septimanas asservavit. Horretne legenti animus? 
O juvenilis ardor, repagula eluctatur ferrea ! Tali opus erat ingenio, 
artibus bis, at nobile conderet opus,' He does not seem to have been 
married, if we may judge from the following extract : * Aetate vero in- 
tegra^ uxore, liberis, rei familiaris omni cura liber, totum se immersit in 

"Vesalius was an enthusiastic surgeon, and apparently looked down 
upon the physicians of the period : ' Jocatus medicos reliquos syrupis 
praescribendis unice occupari.' His success aroused the jealousy of his 


contemporaries. Among others he came into collision with Sylvius of 
Paris, Eustachius of Rome, and Fallopius of Padua. Mention is also 
made of 'Joannis Caji Medici Celebris Britanni.' It would be interest- 
ing to ascertain who this was. [No doubt it was Caius.] 

"The end of Vesalius was tragic enough. 'Hispanum curabat nobilem 
petiit ab amicis defuncti corpus aperire ut mortis scrutaretur causam. 
Quo concesso, visum cor in aperto jam pectore adhuc palpitans.' The 
punishment ordered for this was a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On his 
return voyage he was wrecked on the island of Zacinthus. ' Inops, 
in loco solitario, omnique carens subsidio miserabiliter vitam finivit 

" Vesalius," says Portal, " appears to me one of the greatest men 
who ever existed. Let the astronomers vaunt their Copernicus, the 
natural philosophers their Galileo and Torricelli, the mathematicians 
their Pascal, the geographers their Columbus, I shall always place 
Vesalius above all their heroes. The first study for man is man. 
Vesalius has this noble object in view, and has admirably attained it ; 
he has made on himself and his fellows such discoveries as Columbus 
could only make by travelHng to the extremity of the world. The dis- 
coveries of Vesalius are of direct importance to man ; by acquiring 
fresh knowledge of his own structure, man seems to enlarge his exist- 
ence ; while discoveries in geography or astronomy affect him but in a 
very indirect manner." 

The zeal of Vesalius and his fellow-students of anatomy often led 
them to weird adventures. Hallam says : ^ " they prowled by night in 
charnel-houses, they dug up the dead from the graves, they climbed the 
gibbet, in fear and silence, to steal the mouldering carcase of the mur- 
derer; the risk of ignominious punishment, and the secret stings of 
superstitious remorse, exalting no doubt the delight of these useful but 
not very enviable pursuits." Vesalius, as has been said above, was- 
once absurdly accused of dissecting a Spanish gentleman before he was 
dead. He only escaped the punishment of death by undertaking a 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, during which he was shipwrecked, and died 
of famine in one of the Greek islands.^ 

Gabriel Fallopius (1523-1562) was a prominent pupil of Vesahus 
who studied the anastomoses (the blending together) of the blood-vessels. 
His researches in the anatomy of the bones and the internal ear greatly 
advanced anatomical knowledge. He discovered the tubes connected 
with the womb, called after him the " Fallopian tubes." Fallopius is. 
described as a savant distinguished by his sense of justice, his modesty 

^ Literature of Europe^ chap. ix. sect. 2, 13. 
2 Portal, Tirahoschi, ix. 34. 


and gentleness; yet Dr. Baas says,^ " the fact that even Fallopio did not 
shrink from accepting the gift of some convicts, and then poisoning 
them — indeed, when the first experiment proved a failure, he tried it 
again with better success — is characteristic of the zeal of the age in the 
investigation of the human body, and of the barbarous idea that might 
makes right towards those guilty before the law ! " 

EusTACHius was a contemporary of Vesalius. He divides with him 
the honour of having created the science of human anatomy. His 
name is perpetuated by the tube in the internal ear, called the " Eusta- 
chian tube." His researches on the anatomy of the internal part of the 
organ of hearing, his studies in the anatomy of the teeth, in which he 
was the pioneer, his famous Anatomical Engravings^ and his labours 
in connection with the intimate structure of the organs of the body, 
taken in connection with their relative anatomy, prove that he laboured 
for the advancement of the knowledge of the structure of the human 
frame with the utmost assiduity and success. 

J. C. Aranzi (i 530-1589), of Bologna, gave the first correct account 
of the anatomy of the foetus, and his description of that of the brain is 
exceedingly minute and lucid. He named the hippocampus, described 
the choroid plexus, and the fourth ventricle under the name of the cistern 
of the cerebellum. 

Columbus (died 1559) was a pupil of Vesalius, whom he succeeded in 
the chair of anatomy at Padua. He had a glimpse of how the blood 
passes from the right to the left side of the heart, but he had no true 
knowledge of the circulation. 

Michael Servetus (1511-1553) was either a pupil or fellow-student 
of Vesalius, who, in 1553, described accurately the pulmonary circula- 
tion. He recognised that the change from venous into arterial blood 
took place in the lungs, and not in the left ventricle. He was a pioneer 
in physiological science by his great discovery of the respiratory changes 
in the lungs. 

Levasseur (about 1540), says Hallam,^ appears to have known the 
circulation of the blood through the lungs, the valves of the veins, and 
their direction and purpose. 

Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1546-15 99) was a professor at Bologna, whose 
name is famous in the history of surgery from his skill in performing 
"plastic operations." Rhinoplastic operation is a term in surgery 
sometimes synonymous with the Taliacotian operation, which is a process 
for forming an artificial nose. It consists in bringing down a piece of 
flesh from the forehead, and while preserving its attachment to the living 

^ Hist. Med., p. 427. 

^ Lit. of Europe, chap. ix. sect. 2. 


structures, causing it to adhere to the anterior part of the remains of t 
nose. Tagliacozzi, himself, to replace the lost substance employed t 
skin of the upper part of the arm, as Branca did previously. Patients 
flocked to him from all parts of Europe. The world was, as usual, 
ungrateful ; the great surgeon was considered to have presumptuously 
interfered with the authority of Providence. Noses and lips which the 
Divinity had destroyed as a punishment for the sins of men had been 
restored by this daring man. After his death some nuns heard voices 
in their convent crying for several weeks : " Tagliacozzi is damned ! " 
By the direction of the clergy of Bologna his corpse was taken from the 
grave and re-interred in unconsecrated ground.^ We are not in a position 
to sneer at this, for the preachers of the nineteenth century said something 
very similar of the use of chloroform in midwifery only a few years ago. 
In 1742 the Faculty of Paris declared Tagliacozzi's operation impossible; 
but the English journals, in 1794, discovered that such a method of 
surgical procedure had been in use in India from ancient times, and then 
the scientific world tried the experiment and succeeded perfectly. 

Ambroise Pare, " the father of French surgery " (i 509-1 590), availed 
himself of the opportunities offered him in military surgery during the 
campaign of Francis I. in Piedmont. It was the practice of the time 
to treat gunshot wounds with hot oil — a treatment which Pard revolu- 
tionized by using merely a simple bandage. 

In 1545 be attended the lectures of Sylvius at Paris, and became 
prosector to that great anatomist. His book on Anatomy was published 
five years later. By his employment of the ligature for large arteries, 
he was able so completely to control haemorrhage that he was able to 
practise amputation on a larger scale than had before been attempted. 
Pare is considered as the first who regularly employed the ligature after 
amputation. He declares in his Apologie that the invention was due to 
the ancients, and he explains their use of it, although he ascribes to 
inspiration of the Deity his own first adoption of the practice. 

The PHILOSOPHER Ramus in 1562 urged Charles IX. of France to 
establish schools for clinical teaching, such as already existed at Padua. 

Robert Fludd, M.D., or in the Latin style he affected, Robertus 
DE Fluctibus, was born in 1574 ; he was an ardent supporter of the 
Rosicrucian philosophy. He had a strong leaning towards chemistry, 
but had little faith in orthodox medicine. His medical ideas consisted 
of a mysterious mixture of divinity, chemistry, natural philosophy, and 

In 1573 Harrison, in his unpublished Chronologie, remarks that 

^ Puschmann's Hist. Med. Education, p. 305. 



" these claies the taking in of the smoke of the Indian herb called 
tabaco, by an instrument like a little ladell, is gretly taken up and 
used in England against rewmes." 

It was not till 1576 that croup was well understood. Laennec thinks 
it was quite unknown to the Greek and Arabian physicians ; but Forbes 
says that it was known to Hippocrates and Aretaeus, although its 
patliology was not understood. Ballonius was the first who accurately 
described the false membrane, which is a characteristic of the disease.^ 

At the Reformation in England under Ehzabeth, some of the Catholic 
priests who refused to conform to the new religion sought in other pro- 
fessions the means of living. In a curious old book, Tom of all Trades, 
or the Plaifie Faihivay to Preferment, by Thomas Powell (printed 1631), 
there is a story which no doubt was founded in fact. " And heere I 
[remember me of an old tale following, viz., At the beginning of the 
[happy raigne of our late good Queene Elizabeth, divers Commissioners 
)f great place, being authorized to enquire of, and to displace, all such 
fof the Clergie as would not conforme to the reformed Church, one 
[amongst others was Conuented before them, who being asked whether 
Ihe would subscribe or no, denied it, and so consequently was adiudged 
to lose his benefice and to be deprived his function ; wherevpon, in his 
[impatience, he said, ' That if they (meaning the Commissioners) held 
;this course it would cost many a man's life.' For which the Com- 
missioners called him backe againe, and charged him that he had spoke 
treasonable and seditious words, tending to the raysing of a rebellion or 
some tumult in the Land j for which he should receive the reward of a 
Traytor. And being asked whether hee spake those words or no, he 
acknowledged it, and tooke vpon him the lustification thereof; 'for, 
said he, *yee have taken from me my lining and profession of the 
Ministrie ; Schollership is all my portion, and I have no other meanes 
now left for my maintenance but to turn Phisiiio7i \ and before I shalbe 
absolute Master of that Misterie (God he knowes) how many mens 
lives it will cost. For few Phisitio?is vse to try experiments vpon their 
owne bodies.' 

" With vs, it is a Profession can maintaine but a few. And diuers of 
those more indebted to opinion than learning, and (for the most part) 
better qualified in discoursing their travailes than in discerning their 
patients malladies. For it is growne to be a very huswiues trade, where 
fortune prevailes more than skill." 

A writer in Hood's Every-Day Book, on the date February 25, 
says that the monks knew of more than three hundred species of 
medicinal plants which were used in general for medicines by the 
^ Laennec, Diseases of the Chesty etc., p 112. 

B B 


religious orders before the Reformation. The Protestants, the more 
efficiently to root out Popery, changed the Catholic names of many of 
these. Thus the virgin's boiver of the monastic physician was changed 
into flammula Jovis ; the hedge hyssop into gratiola ; St. Johti's wort 
became hypericum ; fletir de St. Louis was called iris; palma Christ i 
became ricinus ; Our Master wort was christened iniperatona ; sweet bay 
they called iaurtis ; Our Lady's smock was changed into cardamine ; 
Solovwi^s seal into convalhiria ; Our Lady's hair into trichovianes ; balm 
into melissa ; viarjorain into origanum ; herb Trinity into viola tricolor ; 
knee holy \x\\.o rascus ; rosemary into rosmarinus ; marygold into calen- 
dula; and a hundred others. But the old Catholic names cling to the 
plants of the cottage garden, and Star of Bethlehem has not quite given 
place to ornithogalum ; Star of Jerusalem to goat's beard ; nor Lefit lily 
to daffodil. 

The gullibility of mankind has never been exhibited in a clearer light 
than JoHANN Valentin Andrew (1586-1654) succeeded in showing 
in his elaborate joke of the Society of the Rosy-Cross. In 1614 
a famous but entirely fabulous secret society set the scholars ot 
Europe discussing the pretensions of the Rosicrucians, who were said 
to have derived their origin from one Christian Rosenkreuz, two 
hundred years previously. This philosopher, it was said, had made a 
pilgrimage to the East, to learn its hidden wisdom, of which the art of 
making gold was a portion. The character of the society was Christian, 
but anti- Catholic, and its ostensible objects were the study of philosophy 
and the gratuitous healing of the sick. Its device was a cross, with 
four red roses. Andreas was a learned man, but jocular withal ; for no 
sooner had the public eagerly swallowed his story, than he confessed 
the whole was pure invention, and that he had originated the idea with 
the view of ridiculing the alchemists and Theosophists, whose opinions 
were dominating European society. The public, however, liked the 
idea so well that it developed and flourished, and a society was estab- 
lished called Fraternitas Rosce. Crucis. The most celebrated followers 
of the Rosicrucians were Valentine Wiegel, Jacob Boehm, Egidius Gut- 
man, Micha'el Mayer, Oswald CroUius, and Robert Fludd.^ 

De Quincey has traced the connection between the Rosicrucians and 
Freemasons. ** Rosicrucianism," he says, " it is true, is not Free- 
masonry, but the latter borrowed its form from the first." ^ 

Scrofula was anciently treated in a superstitious manner by the 
sovereigns of England and France by imposition of hands. This cere- 
mony is said to have been first performed by Edward the Confessor 

^ Meryon, Hist. Med., vol. i. p. 467. 
^ Works, vol. xiii. p. 394. 


(1042-1066). A special " Service of Healing " was used in the Eng- 
lish Church in the reign of Henry VHI. (1484-1509). 

The ceremonies of blessing cramp-rings on Good Friday, called 
the Hallowing of the Cramp-Rings, is described by Bishop Percy in 
his Northumberland Household BooJz} where we have the following 
account : — 

'' And then the Usher to lay a Carpett for the Kinge to Creepe to the 
Crosse upon. And that done, there shal be a Forme sett upon the 
Carpett, before the Crucifix, and a Cushion laid upon it for the King to 
kneale upon. And the Master of the Jewell Howse ther to be ready 
with the Booke concerninge the Hallowing of the Crampe Rings, and 

iAmner (Almoner) muste kneele on the right hand of the Kinge, hold- 
inge the sayde booke. When that is done the King shall rise and goe 
to the Alter, wheare a Gent. Usher shall be redie with a Cushion for 
the Kinge to kneele upon ; and then the greatest Lords that shall be 
ther to take the Bason with the Rings and beare them after the Kinge 
to offer." 
In the Harleian Manuscripts there is a letter from Lord Chancellor 
Hatton to Sir Thomas Smith, dated Sept. nth, 158--, about a prevailing 
epidemic, and enclosing a ring for Queen Elizabeth to wear between 
her breasts, the said ring having " the virtue to expell infectious airs." ^ 
Andrew Boorde, in his Introduction to Knowledge (1547-48), says: 
** The Kynges of England by the power that God hath gyuen to them, 
dothe make sicke men whole of a sickeness called the kynges euyll. 
The Kynges of England doth halowe euery yere crampe rynges, the 
whyche rynges, worne on ones fynger, dothe helpe them the whyche 
hath the crampe." '^ 

Concerning the king's evil, which Boorde explains is an " euyl 
sickenes or impediment," he advises : *' For this matter let euery man 
make frendes to the Kynges maiestie, for it doth pertayne to a Kynge 
to helpe this infirmitie by the grace the which e is geuen to a Kynge 
anoynted." * 

In Robert Laneham's letter ^ about Queen Elizabeth's visit to Kenil- 
worth Castle, it is told how on July i8th, 1575, her Majesty touched for 
the evil, and that it was " a day of grace." '^ By her highnes accus- 
tumed mercy and charitee, nyne cured of the peynfuU and daungerous 
diseaz, called the kings euill ; for that Kings and Queenz of this Realm 

^ p. 436, ed. 1827. 

'^ Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol, iii. p. 160. 

^ Furnivall's ed. Boorde, Early English Text Society, 1870, p. 121. 

^ Breviary of Health, fol. 80 b, 

* In Dr. FurnivaH's Captain Cox, published for the Ballad Society, 1891, p. 35. 


withoout oother medsin (saue only by handling and prayerz) only doo 
cure it." 

Sir John Fortescue, in his defence of the House of Lancaster against 
that of York, argued that the crown could not descend to a female be- 
cause the Queen is not qualified by the form of anointing her to cure 
the disease called the king's evil. On this account, and more especially 
after the excommunication of Elizabeth by the Pope in 1570, it must 
have been eminently comforting to all concerned to find that the 
power to cure disease by the royal touch had not been affected by the 
change of religion or any other cause. The practice was at its height 
in the reign of Charles 11.^ 

Lord Braybrooke says,^ ** In the first four years after his restoration 
he * touched ' nearly 24,000 people." We find that Dr. Johnson was 
touched by Queen Anne. "The Office for the Healing" continued to 
be printed in the Book of Common Prayer after the accession of the 
House of Hanover. 

The custom evidently arose from the fact that Edward the Confessor 
was a saint as well as a king. William of Malmesbury gives the origin 
of the royal touch in his account of the miracles of Edward : " A 
young woman had married a husband of her own age, but having no 
issue by the union, the humours collecting abundantly about her neck, 
she had contracted a sore disorder, the glands swelling in a dreadful 
manner. Admonished in a dream to have the part affected washed by 
the king, she entered the palace, and the king himself fulfilled this 
labour of love, by rubbing the woman's neck with his fingers dipped in 
water. Joyous health followed his healing hand ; the lurid skin opened, 
so that worms flowed out with the purulent matter, and the tumour 
subsided. But as the orifice of the ulcers was large and unsightly, he 
commanded her to be supported at the royal expense till she should be 
perfectly cured. However, before a week was expired, a fair new skin 
returned, and hid the scars so completely, that nothing of the original 
wound could be discovered ; and within a year becoming the mother of 
twins, she increased the admiration of Edward's hohness. Those who 
knew him more intimately, affirm that he often cured this complaint 
in Normandy ; whence appears how false is their notion, who in our 
times assert, that the cure of this disease does not proceed from 
personal sanctity, but from hereditary virtue in the royal line." ^ 

Many other miracles of healing were attributed to St. Edward. 
Jeremy Collier '^ maintains that the scrofula miracle is hereditary upon 

* Evelyn's Diary, vol. ii. p. 1 5 1. ^ Notes to Pepys' Diary, vol. i. p. 90. 

^ JVilliajn of Malmesbury s Chronicle, Book II. chap. 13. 
■* Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain, \o\. i. p. 225. 


all his successors. The curious fact, however, is that the hereditary 
right of succession was repeatedly interrupted, yet the power remained. 
In connection witli this royal touching, pieces of gold were given by the 
sovereigns to be worn by the patients as amulets. They were called 
** touching pieces," and though not absolutely requisite for the cure, 
some persons declared that the disease returned if they lost the coins. 
We can only account for the great efficacy which in some cases seemed 
to have attended the royal treatment, by the confidence and exalted 
expectation awakened in the sufferers by the ceremony, which acted as 
a tonic to the system, and roused the patients' imagination to contribute 
to their own cure.^ 

Chips and handkerchiefs dipped in the blood of King Charles I. are 
said to have been efficacious in curing sick persons in hundreds of cases. 

The College of Physicians of Edinburgh was created by the king's 
letters patent in 1581, one year after the foundation of Edinburgh 
University by James VI. 

In the reign of Elizabeth, when physicians rode on horseback, they 
were seated sideways ; many of them carried muffs, to keep their fingers 
warm when they had to feel their patient's pulse. Twice a year every- 
body was bled — a system which must have caused many disorders. 

Fifteen centuries after the age of Celsus, with the revival of learning 
and science came the revival of human vivisection. Vesalius, as 
above mentioned, is known to have vivisected men ; and in the Sioria 
Universale of Cesare Cantu there is an account of the Duke of 
Florence giving a man for vivisection to Fallopius. This incident 
has been disputed ; but the following series of cases, extracted by Pro- 
fessor Andreozzi from the Criminal Archives of Florence, and publislied 
by him in his book Leggi Penall degli antichi e Cinesi, are beyond ques- 
tion. Cosmo de Medici seems to have taken the anatomists of Pisa 
under his special favour, and to have sent them the miserable convicts 
from the prisons at his option. The following examples are a selection 
from the cases extracted by Signor Andreozzi from the Archivio 
Criminale : — 

"i. January 15th, 1545. — Santa Di Mariotto Tarchi di Mugello, 
wife of Bastiano Lucchese, was condemned to be beheaded for in- 
fanticide. Under the sentence is written, 'Dicta Santa, de mente 
Excell'""' Ducis, fuit missa Pisis, de ea per doctores fieret notomia.' [No 
notice to be found of any execution of the woman, such as would have 
appeared had she been put to death before she was sent to Pisa.] 

"2. December 14th, 1547. — Giulio Mancini Sanese was condemned 

* See for a complete history of the royal gift of healing Pettigrew's Medical 
Superstitions, p. 117. 


for robbery and other offences. Sent to Pisa to be anatomised. * Du- 
catur Pisis, pro faciendo de eo notomia.' 

"3. In the record of prisoners sent away, dated September ist, 1551, 
occurs this entry : — ' Letter to the Commissioner of Castrocaro, that 
Maddalena, who is imprisoned for killing her son, should be sent here, 
if she be likely to recover, as it pleases S. E. that she should be reserved 
for anatomy. Of this nothing is to be said, but she is to be kept in 
hopes. If she is not likely to recover, the executioner is to be sent for 
to decapitate her.* The end of the horrible extract is, — 'Went to Pisa, 
to be made an anatomy,' 

"4. December 12th, 1552. — A man named Zuccheria, accused ot 
piracy, was reserved from hanging, with his comrade, and sent to Pisa, 
*per la notomia.' 

"5. December 22nd, 1552. — 'A certain Uuvo di Paolo was con- 
demned by the Council of Eight to be hanged for poisoning his wife. 
Sentence changed — to be sent for anatomy. Was sent to Pisa on 
January 13th. 

"6. November 14th, 1553. — Marguerita, wife of Biajio d'Anti- 
NORO, condemned to be beheaded for infanticide. . . . December 
20th, * she was released from the fetters and consigned to a familiar, 
who took her to Pisa to the Commissario, 7Cfho gave her, as usual, to the 
anatomist, to make anatomy of her ; which was done' ('che la consegni, 
secondo il solito, al notomista, per fame notomia, come i\x fatto ')." 

"Several other cases, from 1554 to 1570, are recorded, with equally 
unmistakable exactitude. In one instance the condemned man's des- 
tiny was mitigated, and after having been ordered to be sent to Pisa for 
the Commissario to consign to the anatomist, ' when he should ask for 
him, and at his pleasure,* he was mercifully sentenced to be hanged at 
once at Vico, 'by direction of Sua Excellenza Illustrissima.' Two 
unfortunate thieves, Paoli di Giovanni and Vestrino d'Agnolo, were 
sent together by the Council of Eight to be anatomised; the Duke 
having written to say 'that they wanted in Pisa a subject for anatomy.'" 

After the date 1570 no more cases occur in the Archives. 

Francis I. invited the Italian anatomist Vidus Vidius to his royal 
college at Paris. 

Several new medicines were introduced about this period. 

Lemon juice was first spoken of as a remedy for scurvy in 1564. Its 
use was discovered by some Dutch sailors whose ship was laden with 
lemons and oranges from Spain. ^ 

The virtues of sassafras as a medicine for scurvy were discovered, 
according to Cartier, in 1536, on a voyage to explore the coast of 
' Meryon, Hist, Med,, vol. i. p. 423. 


Facsimile of a miniature from the Epistre de Othea, by Christine de Pisan. (Fifteenth century MS. 
in Burgundy Library, Brussels.) 

\_Faee p. 



Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence. The natives advised the sailors 
afflicted with the malady to use the wood of the tree ameda, which was 
thought to have been sassafras.^ 

Sarsaparilla was first brought to Europe by the Spaniards, in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, from Peru and Brazil. 

Guaiacum was introduced into Europe in 1509, and in 15 19 its use 
became common. 

Holinshed complained ^ that estimation and credit given to com- 
pound medicines made with foreign drugs in his time was one great 
cause of the prevailing ignorance of the virtues and uses of "our own 
simples," which he held to be fully as useful as the "salsa parilla, 
mochoacan, etc.," so much in request. " We tread those herbs under 
our feet, whose forces, if we knew and could apply them to our neces- 
sities, we would honour and have in reverence. — Alas ! what have we 
to do with such Arabian and Grecian stuff as is daily brought from 
those parts which lie in another clime .^ — The bodies of such as dwell 
there are of another constitution than ours are here at home. Certes, 
they grow not for us, but for the Arabians and Grecians. — Among the 
Indians, who have the most present cures for every disease of their own 
nation, there is small regard of compound medicines, and less of foreign 
drugs, because they neither know them nor can use them, but work 
wonders even with their own simples." 

Carlo Ruini, of Bologna, published in 1598 a work on the anatomy 
of the horse, in which Ercolani has found evidence that he, to some 
extent, anticipated Harvey's discovery.^ 

Nicholas Houel (1520-1585) was born at Paris, 1520. He was a' 
famous and learned pharmacien, who devoted the fortune which he 
acquired by his industry and skill to philanthropic and scientific pur- 
poses. He founded a great orphanage in Paris, and the School of 
Pharmacy of that city owes its origin to him. He wrote a T?'eatise on 
the Plague, and one on the Theriacmn of Mithridates, both published in 
1573. It is to his enlightened and charitable suggestion that dispen- 
saries arose in Paris. His "Garden of Simples" inspired the creation 
of ihtjardin des Planics.^ 

Even at the close of the sixteenth century careful and sober men, as 
Mr. Henry Morley says,^ believed in the miraculous properties of plants 
and animals and parts of animals. When the century commenced, the 
learned and unlearned alike believed in the influences of the stars and 
the interferences of demons with diseases, and in the mysteries of magic. 

* Hakluyt's Voyages, vol. iii. p. 280. * Description of England, chap. xix. 
^ See Gamgee, "Third Historical Fragment," in Lancet, 1876. 

* Cap. Etudes Biographiques, sec. i. pp. 84-89. ^ Cornelius Agrippa, vol. i. p. 62. 


The reason why students of such sciences as existed were punished am 
persecuted was the dread which men had that the knowledge of the 
occult powers of nature would afford the learner undue and mysterious 
power over them. 

Legal Medicine. 

That most important branch of medical science known as Medical 
Jurisprudence, or Forensic Medicine, first took its rise in Germany, 
and, later, was recognised as a necessary branch of study in England. 
Briefly this science may be described as ''that branch of State medicine 
which treats of the application of medical knowledge to the purposes 
of the law." It embraces all questions affecting the civil or social 
rights of individuals, and of injuries to the person. Although we find 
traces of the first principles of this science in ancient times, especially 
in connection with legitimacy, feigned diseases, etc., it is by no means 
certain that even in Rome the law required any medical inspection of 
dead bodies. The science dates only from the sixteenth century. The 
Bishop of Bamberg, in 1507, introduced a penal code requiring the 
production of medical evidence in certain cases. In 1532, Charles V. 
induced the Diet of Ratison to adopt a code in which magistrates were 
ordered to call medical evidence in cases of personal injuries, infanti- 
cide, pretended pregnancy, simulated diseases, and poisoning. The 
actual birth of forensic medicine, however, did not take place until the 
publication, in Germany, in 1553, of the Const itutio Criminals Carolina} 
The difficulties which the infant science had to contend against may be 
estimated from the fact that a few years later a physician named Weiker, 
who declared that witches and demoniacs were simply persons afflicted 
with hypochondriasis and hysteria, and should not be punished, was with 
difficulty saved from the stake by his patron, William, Duke of Cleves. 

Ambrose Park wrote on monsters, simulated diseases, and the art 
of drawing up medico-legal reports. 

In 1621-35 B^ulo Zacchia, of Rome, published a work entitled 
Qucestiones Medico- Legales^ which inaugurated a new era in the history of 
Forensic Medicine. He exhibited immense research in this classical 
work, the materials for which he collected from 460 authors. Con- 
sidering that chemistry and physiology were then so imperfectly under- 
stood, such a work is a proof of the learning and sagacity of the author. 

In 1663 the Danish physician Bartholin proposed the hydrostatic test 
for the determination of live-birth, the method used to-day in examining 
the lungs of an infant to discover whether the child was born alive or 
not, by observing whether they float or sink in water. 

^ Ency. Brit.^ vol. xv. p. 782. 



Bacon and the Inductive Method. — Descartes and Physio!og>'. — Newton. — Boyle 
and the Royal Society. — The P'ounders of the Schools of Medical Science. — 
Sydenham, the English Hippocrates.— Harvey and the Rise of Physiology. — 
The Microscope in Medicine. —Willis and the Reform of Materia Medica. 

The seventeenth century is important in the history of medicine as 
the era of the two greatest discoveries of modern physiology — the cir- 
culation of the blood, and the development of the higher animals from 
the egg (ovum). Both of these are due to Harvey, and both were made 
in the midst of the troubles of the great Civil War. The history of 
medicine is so interwoven at this important period with that of science 
and philosophy in general, that it is necessary to glance awhile at the 
great factors which were working out the advancement of medical 

Amongst the greatest figures on the scientific stage at the beginning 
and middle of the seventeenth century are the following : — 

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the great leader in the reforma- 
tion of modern science, and shares with Descartes the glory of in- 
augurating modern philosophy. His great work, the Novum Organon, 
was given to the world just as authority and dogmatism had been dis- 
carded from scientific thought, and the era of experiment had begun. 
It was not Bacon's contributions ta science, not his discoveries, which 
entitle him to the highest place in the reformation of science, but the 
general spirit of his philosophy and his connected mode of thinking, 
his insistence upon the need for rejecting rash generalization, and 
analysing our experience, employing hypothesis, not by guess work, but 
by the scientific imagination which calls to its assistance experimental 
comparison, verification, and proof. Bacon's philosophy of induction 
was reared upon a foundation of exclusion and elimination. He rele- 
gated theological questions to the region of faith, insisting that experi- 
ence and observation are the only remedies against prejudice and 
error. ^ 

^ See the article on Bacon in Ency. BnL, vol. iii. p. 217. 


The publication of Bacon's Novum Organon in 1620 resulted in the 
formation of a society of learned men, who met together in London 
in 1645 to discuss philosophical subjects and the results of their various 
experiments in science. They are described as *' inquisitive," a term 
which aptly illustrates the temper of the times. Taking nothing upon 
trust, these men inquired for themselves, and left their books to make 
experiment, as Bacon had urged students of nature to do. About 1648-9 
Drs. Wilkins, Wallis, and others removed to Oxford, and with Seth 
Ward, the Hon. Robert Boyle, Petty, and other men of divinity and 
physic, often met in the rooms of Dr. Wilkins at Wadham College, and 
so formed the Philosophical Society of Oxford, which existed only till 
1690. About 1658 the members were dispersed, the majority coming 
to London and attending lectures at Gresham College. Thus, in the 
midst of civil war, thoughtful and inquiring minds found a refuge from 
the quarrels of politicians and the babel of contending parties in the 
pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of research. The Royal 
Society was organized in 1660, and on 22nd April, 1662, Charles IL 
constituted it a body politic and corporate. The Philosophical Trans- 
actions began 6th March, 1664-5. ^^ ^^^^ Newton invented his 
reflecting telescope, and on 28th April, 1686, presented to the Society 
the MS. of his Principia, which the council ordered to be printed. 

Rene Descartes (i 596-1650), the philosopher, applied himself to 
the study of physics in all its branches, but especially to physiology. 
He said that science may be compared to a tree ; metaphysics is the 
root, physics is the trunk, and the three chief branches are mechanics, 
medicine, and morals, — the three applications of our knowledge to the 
outward world, to the human body, and to the conduct of life.^ He 
studied chemistry and anatomy, dissecting the heads of animals in 
order to explain imagination and memory, which he believed to be 
physical processes.^ In 1629 he asks Mersenne to take care of himself, 
" till I find out if there is any means of getting a medical theory based 
on infallible demonstration, which is what I am now inquiring."^ 
Descartes embraced the doctrine of the circulation of the blood as 
discovered by Harvey, and he did much to popularise it, falling in as 
it did with his mechanical theory of life. He thought the nerves were 
tubular vessels which conduct the animal spirits to the muscles, and in 
their turn convey the impressions of the organs to the brain. He 
considered man and the animals were machines. " The animals act 
naturally and by springs, like a watch."'* "The greatest of all the 
prejudices we have retained from our infancy is that of believing that 

^ CEuvres, iii. 24. 2 JUd.^ vi. 234. 

* Ibid., vi. 89. * Ibid., ix. 426. ^ 


the beasts think." ^ Naturally such a monstrous theory did much to 
encourage vivisection, a practice common with Descartes.^ "The 
recluses of Port Royal," says Dr. Wallace, -^ "seized it eagerly, discussed 
automatism, dissected living animals in order to show to a morbid 
curiosity the circulation of the blood, were careless of the cries of 
tortured dogs, and finally embalmed the doctrine in a syllogism of their 
logic : no matter thinks ; every soul of beast is matter, therefore no 
soul of beast thinks. He held that the seat of the mind of man was 
in that structure of the brain called by anatomists the pineal gland." 

Malebranche (1638-17 15) was a disciple of Descartes, who thought 
his system served to explain the mystery of life and thought. In his 
famous Recherche de la Verite he anticipated later discoveries in 
physiology, e.g.. Hartley's principle of the interdependence of vibrations 
in the nervous system and our conscious states. 

Blaise Pascal (i 623-1 662), as a natural philosopher, rendered 
great services to science. The account of his experiments, written in 
1662, on the equilibrium of fluids, entitles him to be considered one of 
the founders of hydrodynamics. His experiments on the pressure of 
the air and his invention for measuring it greatly assisted to advance the 
work begun by Galileo and Torricelli. Not only in the great work 
done, but in those which were undertaken in consequence of his inspi- 
ration, we recognise in Pascal one of the most brilliant scientists of a 
brilliant age. 

HoBBES (1588-1679), the famous author of the Leviathan, en- 
deavoured to base all that he could upon mathematical principles. 
Philosophy, he said, is concerned with the perfect knowledge of truth 
rin all matters whatsoever. If the moral philosophers had done for 
lankind what the geometricians had effected, men would have enjoyed 
an immortal peace. 

Benedict de Spinoza (163 2-1 67 7), the philosopher, had some 
^medical training. His spirit has had a large share in moulding the 
philosophic thought of the nineteenth century. Novalis saw in him 
not an atheist, but a " God-intoxicated man." His philosophy indeed 
was a pure pantheism ; the foundation of his system is the doctrine of 
one infinite substance. All finite things are modes of this substance. 

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the greatest of natural philosophers, 
in the years 1685 and 1686 — years for ever to be remembered in the 
history of science— composed almost the whole of his famous work, the 

Robert Boyle (1626-1691), one of the great nature philosophers of 

* Giuvres, x. 204. ^ Ibid., iv. 452 and 454. 

* Ency. Brit.^ art. "Descartes." 


the seventeenth century, and one of the founders of the Royal Society, 
pubHshed his first book at Oxford, in 1660, entitled Netv Experiments^ 
Physico-Mechanical^ touching the Spring of Air, and its Effects. He was 
at one time deeply interested in alchemy. He was the first great 
investigator who carried out the suggestions of Bacon's Novum Organon. 
He was a patient researcher and observer of facts. 

Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), the author of the celebrated Historical 
and Critical Dictionary, was a sceptic, of a peculiar turn of mind. He 
knew so much concerning every side of every subject which he had 
considered, that he came to the conclusion that certainty was unattain- 

Van Helmont (1578-1644) was one of the most celebrated followers 
of Paracelsus. He learned astronomy, astrology, and philosophy at 
Rouvain, then studied magic under the Jesuits, and afterwards learned 
law, botany, and medicine ; but he became disgusted with the preten- 
sions of the latter science when it failed to cure him of the itch. He 
became a mystic, and attached himself to the principles of Tauler and 
Thomas a Kempis. Then he practised medicine as an act of charity, 
till, falling in with the works of Paracelsus, he devoted ten years to 
their study. He married, and devoted himself to medicine and chemis- 
try, investigating the composition of the water of mineral springs. Few 
men have ever formed a nobler conception of the true physician than 
Van Helmont, or more earnestly endeavoured to live up to it. Not- 
withstanding his mysticism, science owes much to this philosopher, for 
he was an acute chemist. We owe to him the first application of the 
term " gas," in the sense in which it is used at present. He discovered 
that gas is disengaged when heat is applied to various bodies, and when 
acids act upon metals and their carbonates. He discovered carbonic 
acid. He believed in the existence of an Archeus in man and animals, 
which is somewhat like the soul of man after the Fall ; it resides in the 
stomach as creative thought, in the spleen as appetite. This Archeus 
is a ferment, and is the generative principle and basis of life. Disease 
is due to the Fall of Man. The Archeus influus causes general diseases ; 
the Archei insiti, local diseases : dropsy, for example, is due to an ob- 
struction of the passage of the kidney secretion by the enraged Archeus. 
Van Helmont gave wine in fevers, abhorred bleeding, and advocated 
the use of simple chemical medicines. 

Francis de la Boii (Sylvius), (1614-1672) was a physician who 
founded the Medico-Chemical Sect amongst doctors. Health and 
disease he held to be due to the relations of the fluids of the body and 
their neutrality, diseases being caused by their acidity or alkalinity. 

Thomas Goulston, M.D. (died 1632), was a distinguished London 



physician, who was not less famous for his classic learning and theology 
than for the practice of his profession. He founded what are known 
as tlie Goulstonian lectures, which are delivered by one of the four 
youngest doctors of the Royal College of Physicians, London. " A 
dead body was, if possible, to be procured, and two or more diseases 
treated of." 

Thomas Winston, M.D. (born 1575), was professor of physic in 
Gresham College. His lectures included "an entire body of anatomy," 
and were considered, when published, as the most complete and accurate 
then extant in English. 

The Anatomy Lecture at Oxford was first proposed to the University 
on Nov. 17th, 1623, with an endowment of £,2^ a year stipend. Out 
of this the reader had " to pay yearly to a skilful Chirurgeon or Dissector 
of the body, to be named by the said reader, the sums of ;^3 and JQ2 
more by the year towards the ordering and burying of the body." ^ Dr. 
Clayton, the King's Professor of Physic, was the first reader, and the 
first chirurgeon was Bernard Wright.^ 

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608-16 7 9), the founder of the 
Mathematical School of Medicine, which attempted to subject to cal- 
culation the phenomena of the living economy, was professor of medi- 
cine at Florence. He restricted the application of his system chiefly 
to muscular motions, or to those which are evidently of a mechanical 
character. Physiology is exceedingly indebted to this school for many 
valuable suggestions, and Boerhaave distinctly acknowledged them in 
his Institutions,^ 

George Joyliffe, M.D. (died 1658), was partly concerned in the 
discovery of the lymphatics. It is not possible to say precisely to whom 
the discovery of the lymphatics was due ; they seem to have been 
observed independently about the year 1651 to 1652 by Rudbeck a 
Swede, by Bartholine a Dane, and by Joyliffe.* 

A new era in medicine was inaugurated by Thomas Sydenham, 
M.D. (1624-1689), "the British Hippocrates," whose only standard 
was observation and experience, and whose faith in the healing power 
of nature was unlimited. He studied at Oxford, but he graduated at 
Cambridge. He was the friend of Locke and of Robert Boyle. He 
was looked upon by the faculty with disfavour as an innovator, because, 
in his own words to Boyle, he endeavoured to reduce practice to a 
greater easiness and plainness. His fame as the father of English 
medicine was posthumous. It was indeed acknowledged in his lifetime 

1 Wood, Hist. Oxford, vol. ii. p. 883. * Ibid. 

^ See Thomson's Life of Cullen, vol. i. p. 212. 
* Munk, Roll of the R.C.P.y etc., p. 281. 


that he rendered good service to medicine by his " expectant " treat- 
ment of small-pox, by his invention of his laudanum (the first form of a 
tincture of opium such as we have it), and for his advocacy of the use 
of Peruvian bark in agues. Yet his professional brethren were inclined 
to look upon him as a sectary, and considerable opposition was mani- 
fested towards him. Arbuthnot, in 1727, styled him " y^imulus Hippo- 
^___crates.'y Boerhaave referred to him as " Anglis lumen, artis Phcebum, 
veram Hippocratici viri speciem." He did the best he could to cure 
his patients without mystery and resort to the traditional and often 
ridiculous dogmas of the medical craft. Many good stories are extant 
which illustrate this fact. He was once called to prescribe for a gentle- 
man who had been subjected to the lowering treatment so much in 
vogue in those days. He found him pitifully depressed. Sydenham 
" conceived that this was occasioned partly by his long illness, partly by 
the previous evacuations, and partly by emptiness. I therefore ordered 
him a roast chicken and a pint of canary." When Blackmore first en- 
gaged in the study of medicine, he asked Dr. Sydenham what authors 
he should read, and was told to study Don Quixote^ " which," he said, 
" is a very good book ; I read it still." He used to say that there were 
cases in his practice Avhere *' I have consulted my patients' safety and 
my own reputation most efiectually by doing nothing at all." 

Sydenham, having long attended a rich man for an illness which had 
arisen and was kept going chiefly by his own indolence and luxurious 
habits, at last told him that he could do no more for him, but that there 
lived at Inverness a certain physician, named Robinson, who would 
doubtless be able to cure him. Provided with a letter of introduction 
and a complete history of the " case," the invalid set out on the long 
journey to Inverness. Arrived at his destination, full of hope and eager 
expectation of a cure, he inquired diligently for Dr. Robinson, only to 
learn that there was no such doctor there, neither had there been in the 
memory of the oldest inhabitant. The gentleman returned to London 
full of indignation against Sydenham, whom he violently rated for send- 
ing him so far on a fool's errand. " But," exclaimed Sydenham, " you 
are in much better health ! " " Yes," replied the patient, " I am now 
well enough, but no thanks to you." " No," answered Sydenham ; " it 
was Dr. Robinson who cured you. I wished to send you a journey 
with some object and interest in view ; in going, you had Dr. Robinson 
and his wonderful cures in contemplation ; and in returning, you were 
\ equally engaged in thinking of scolding me." 

The Civil War, which violently upset the speculations and research at 
Oxford, when, as Antony Wood says, the University was " empty as to 
scholars, but pretty well replenished with Parliamentary soldiers," 



afforded just that stimulus to thought and that upheaval of dogma and 
prejudice which were eminently favourable to the advance of medical 
science. Men had learned to treat old doctrines with little respect for 
their mere antiquity ; authority was discredited, it was subjected to test, 
observation and criticism ; men no longer believed those doctrines 
about God and His counsels which the Fathers and the Church taught 
them about religion, much less were they inclined to bow to Aristotle 
and Galen when they dictated to them on medicine. Anciently, when 
bitten by a mad dog, it was enough for them to believe with the fathers 
of medicine that it was sufficient for the patient to hold some herb dittany 
in tlie left hand, while he scratched his back with the other to ensure 
his future safety. Men took to thinking for themselves ; the spirit of in- 
vestigation was aroused ; men's minds, in every condition of society, in 
every town and village, were aroused to activity. There probably never 
was a time when there was more activity of thought in Oxford than at 
this period. The stimulus of collision evoked many sparks of genius, 
and the Civil War produced at our Universities wholesome disturbance, 
not destruction of any good things. Sydenham, therefore, was distinctly 
the product of his age. He does not seem to have been a very learned 
man, neither, on the other hand, was he wholly untaught. There are not 
many evidences in his works of very wide reading of medical literature, 
though he was a sincere admirer of Hippocrates, evidently from a sound 
acquaintance with his works. Sydenham's first medical work was pub- 
lished in 1666. It consisted of accounts of continued fevers, symptoms 
of the same, of intermittent fevers and small-pox, and was entitled Me- 
iJiodus Ctirandi Febres, Propriis observationibus superstnicta. In it the 
author maintains that " a fever is Nature's engine which she brings into 
the field to remove her enemy, or her handmaid, either for evacuating 
the impurities of the blood, or for reducing it into a new state. 
Secondly, that the true and genuine cure of this sickness consists in 
such a tempering of the commotion of the blood, that it may neither 
exceed nor be too languid." ^ 

It was about this period that Peruvian bark was first introduced into 
European medicine. Perhaps no other drug has ever been so widely 
and deservedly used as this American remedy for fevers, agues, and 
debility. The earliest authenticated account of the use of Cinchona 
bark in medicine is found in 1638, when the Countess of Cinchon, the 
wife of the Governor of Peru, was cured of fever by its administration. 
The Jesuit missionaries are said to have sent accounts of its virtues to 
Europe, in consequence of one of their brethren having been cured of 
fever by taking it at the suggestion of a South American Indian. 
^ Philosophical Transactions, May 7th, 1666. 


The University of Montpellier, at the time of our great Civil War, was 
much derided by the Paris Faculty for its laxity in granting degrees in 
medicine. The enemies of Montpellier said that a three-months' resi- 
dence, and the keeping of an act and opponency, sufficed to make a 
man a Bachelor of Medicine. The professors were accused of neglect- 
ing their lectures and selling their degrees ; but, worse than all, it was 
alleged that blood-letting and purging had fallen into disuse, and that 
the Montpellier treatment was " more expectant than heroic, and more 
tonic than evacuant." ^ Friendly historians, on the other hand, say that 
at this period the medicinal uses of calomel and antimony were better 
taught ther