Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

governed by particular laws, the study of no other object in nature is capable of disclosing, at least directly, those laws; and that the application of the doctrines which have been most firmly established in other branches of science, to that which has in view the knowledge and slow regulation of the animal economy, necessarily becomes the source of the most pernicious errors." We cannot enter into the merits or defects of the Stahlian system, which has been treated of in Dr. Bostock's work. Cabanis says

that Stahl accomplished in medicine, at least in some respects, what Bacon had merely pointed out, and that the reforms which have been already effected, and those which may hereafter be accomplished, in the same spirit, must be ascribed in a great measure to this extraordinary man.' With the name of Stahl should be associated that of Van Helinont, a man of very inferior talents, but who was gifted by nature with a glowing imagination, and who rushed into the seductive pursuits of alchemy, bringing from the furnace and the crucible a mind inflamed with the loftiest and wildest projects, and most visionary hopes. Yet flashes of true light are seen breaking through the fumes of his superstitious labours ; as it is said of him, that, in pursuing the path of error, he made fortunate discoveries, and that in the language of quackery, he announced the sublimest truths. The fame of Hofman chiefly rests on the distinct manner in which he refers to the nervous system, and the influence of its operations on the phenomena of life. He advanced our knowledge of the laws of animal economy, and his physiological speculations are looked to with respect; his system of solidism, more or less modified, may be said to have given birth to the principles taught in Edinburgh and Montpelier. The humoral pathology was attacked by Baglivi, who placed the chief cause of disease in the altered condition of the solids, and, by drawing attention to the muscular and nervous system, corrected errors which had lasted from the days of Hippocrates. We are now fast descending to modern times, and must be brief. When Sydenham appeared as a physician, the art was still confined to its scholastic forins, and still subservient to erroneous systems and crude theories. Sydenham brought it back to the path of experience and observation. The friend of Locke, for such he was, followed the footsteps of Nature, and interpreted her voice by the principles of philosophy, which he had learned from his illustrious master. His Treatise on the Gout is regarded as a masterpiece of description ; and his ideas on the treatinent of epidemic diseases, in which he followed the sketch of Hippocrates, showed one who investigated with sagacity, and guided his researches with method and judgment. In its leading and primary purpose-its practical application, Sydenham may be called the restorer of medical science. The next great discovery was one, gleams of which were seen above the horizon from time to time by a few keen-sighted and thoughtful observers, but which had never been decidedly acknowledged.* The circulation of the blood, which has immortalized the name of Harvey, had been obscurely hinted at by Servetus, more clearly guessed by Varolius and Columbus, and described with accuracy, and detailed in its important parts by Cæsalpinus, but the complete demonstration of which was reserved for our countryman. This splendid discovery of Harvey gave a new impulse to the medical world, and as philosophy was still in its infancy, very wild

;

* The discovery of the absorbent system, by Apelli and Bartholine, should also be mentioned. See Bostock, p. 155.

a

a

and untenable theories were constantly issuing from the brains of its professors. Some thought the fluids of the human body were acids and alkalies ; others explained the functions of the organs on mathematical theories; others on hydraulic principles; and other speculations on life were formed on the mechanical laws of motion. Fortunately for the advance of science, at this time appeared the learned, profound, and illustrious Boerhaave, a man destined to effect a real revolution in it. The youth of Boerhaave had been employed in the cultivation of the mathematical and physical sciences, by which his mind had gained strength and comprehensiveness, and he had acquired a babit of rigorous discussion and patient research. Then it was, that, to earn a livelihood, he com

a menced his medical career. He had perused the writers of all sects, and of all ages ; he had analysed, illustrated, and commented on their works ; all their opinions were familiar to him, and he had modified, arranged, and combined them in that luminous order for which he was distinguished. He then gave to the world his Institutions of Medicine, and his Aphorisms; two of the most concise, and at the same time comprehensive works which science has produced, and which for variety of matter and extent of views have been compared to those of the illustrious Bacon. His defects seem to consistin a want of acute and practical discernment of disease, arising perhaps from the late period of life in which he commenced the study of medicine, and from a reliance on his chemical knowledge, which in common with others was so imperfect and erroneous. It is said that in the late period of his life he attached less importance to systems, and approached nearer to the opinions of Hippocrates. The defect of Boerhaave's system appears to consist in his regarding the solids too much as mechanical agents, without taking into account the properties which separate them from inanimate bodies ; but he was a learned writer, a sagacious observer, a wise and correct practitioner; and his illustrious pupils, Gaubius and Van Swieten, at once formed their own, and sustained their master's reputation by the talents they displayed, and the high honours they acquired. Of the great Haller we are obliged to speak with a conciseness ill suited to a survey of his splendid talents, and alınost boundless erudition. His patient research and acute investigation were rewarded with the establishment of the theory of irritation and sensibility, as properties attached to the nervous and muscular system. His principles were derived from experiment, and his Elements of Philosophy are considered to have introduced a new æra in medical science. For a minute account of this illustrious philosopher, we refer with pleasure to Dr. Bostock's work.* The service which Haller rendered to Physiology was performed by Cullen to the practice of Medicine, through his extensive research and patient observation. His great merit is shown in the sagacity and diligence with which he described and distinguished the phenomena of disease ; he was equally cautious in theory, as decisive in practice. His general principles are deduced from materials collected by his own observations, and not on the eclectic system of Boerhaave, of connecting the different theories into one consistent whole. It is said that his Physiology and Chemistry are not correct, and that he did not distinguish between the powers of the muscles and nerves, so well described by Haller; but his pathology is respected, and the foundation of bis system, formed on the Vis

[ocr errors]

* Vide p. 197, et seq.

[ocr errors]

Medicatrix Naturæ,'* or the regulating powers of life, is philosophical and just. While the fame of Cullen was still in its bloom, and his school possessed some of the most illustrious and intelligent followers, there arose, one among them who had 'sate at the feet of Gamaliel,' but .who, from some accidental pique or caprice, turned against the doctrines of his master ; and though originally bred as an ecclesiastic, astonished the world of science by the daring boldness of the theory he advanced, that was at once to supersede all others, and form as it were a safe and brilliant beacon to guide the practitioner in the cure of all disease. This person was the well known founder of the Brunonian system, which acquired at first, from the planşibility of its doctrines, a most astonishing popularity. The general principles (says Dr. Bostock) of the theory are few and simple. Broun assumed that the living body possesses a specific power or property called excitability; that every thing which affects the body, acts upon this power as an excitement or stimulant ; that the effect of this excitement in its natural state, is to produce the healthy condition of the functions, when excessive it causes exhaustion, termed direct debility; when defective, it produces an accumulation of excitement termed indirect debility. All morbid action is conceived to depend on one or other of these states, and diseases are accordingly arranged in two great corresponding classes, of sthenic or asthenic; while the treatment is solely directed to the general means for increasing or diminishing the excitement, without any regard to specific symptoms, or any consideration but that of degree, or any measure bat that of quantity: Dr. Bostock very judiciously observes, that, however plausible and alluring such doctrines as these may be (for the ice-palaces of theories are far more brilliant and imposing than the plain and solid masonry of practice), they could not be for a moment entertained by any one who had studied the phænomena of disease, or was acquainted with the intricate and complicated relations of the functions and actions of the living system ; it shared the lot therefore of all systems built on so unstable a basis. While the ‘Elementa Medicinæ' were still in repute, another medical theorist, of different talents and acquirements indeed, but of no inferior reputation, drew the attention of the world to his ingenious discussion on the Laws of Life. The Zoonomia, for such is the work to which we allude, of Darwin, came before the world in all the brilliancy of scientific splendour, and with all the imposing grandeur of a finished and elaborate system. It showed a mind furnished with a great variety of acquirement, endued if not with powerful, yet with talents of a superior class ; inventive, ingenious, and fruitful in its resources ; curious in experimental research, familiar with medical practice, and more than usually conversant with elegant and refinedliterature. Darwin was enabled,' says Dr. Bostock, 'to give to his system an imposing aspect of induction and generalization. His speculations, though highly refined, profess to be founded upon facts; and his arrangement and classification, although complicated, seems consistent in all its parts. No theory which had been offered to the public, was more highly elaborated, and appeared to be more firmly supported by experience and observation, while

every adventitious aid was given to it, froin the cultivated taste and extensive information of the writer. Yet the Zoonomia made little im

a

• The Vis Medicatrix of Cullen, differs from the Archæus of Van Helmont, and the Anima of Stahl, as it is supposed not to be a thing added to the body, but one power necessary to its constitution. GENT. MAG, Vol. IV.

D

pression on public opinion ; its leading doctrines rested father on metaphysical than on physical considerations; its fundamental positions were found to be gratuitous; and many of the illustrations, although ingenious, were conceived to be inapplicable and inconclusive. It is now seldom re. ferred to, except as a splendid monument of fruitless labour and misapplied learning. With the name of Darwin, we must close our considerdo tion of the very interesting subject before us. Dr. Bostock has given us an account of the state of medicine subsequent to that time, in France and other nations of Europe, to which we refer our readers. Much improve ment has taken place in the method of practice, in the skillfulness of open rations, and in the materials of pharmacy. Many diseases of an epidemic nature, as Cholera or Influenza, that have assumed an alarming form, and swept with frightful devastation over every part of the globe, have been examined with an anxious care that has not always been crowned with proportional success. Journals have been established for the purpose of recording and more widely circulating the interesting events of individual prac ticé. Medical education has been supplied by the establishment of King's College and the London University, with a course of instruetion complete in all its parts. Many most ingenious inventions have been formed for allaying the torments of disease, and lessening the evils which accompany a long confinement. The present treatment of the gout, compared with that which existed even thirty or forty years since, may be called the triumph of modern skill. That terrific disease the stone has lost much of its former power. The small-pox will soon be known only as one of those scourges of nature that has passed away; and with the improved eure of disease, the important subject of the preservation of health is far better understood; and not only does tlie authority of the medical world, but the undeniable proof of the tables of the annuity offices makes evident, that the result of the improvement of medical knowledge has been crowned with the great object which it sought to attain-the more frequent alleviation of disease, and the increased duration of human life. But there is one essential requisite, Dr. Bostock concludes bis work by saying, without which the best means of improvement can be of no avail_a mind disposed to the te ception of truth, determined to follow it, wherever it may lead the inquirer, united to a high sense of moral obligation which may induce the medical practitioner to bear in mind that his profession is a deposit placed in his hands for the benefit of mankind, and that he ineurs an awful degree of moral responsibility who abuses this sacred trust, or divertb it to a base or selfisl purpose.'

<

a

ARCHITECTURAL ANTIQUITIES OF NORMANDY. MR. URBAN,

western suburb of-Rouen, and is, with IN continuation of my former pa- the exception of its nave, the oldest pers on the Antiquities of Normandy, structure still existing, and one of the I shall in this give some account of earliest religious foundations of which the Churches of St. Gervais at Rouen, the ancient capital of the Velocassian and St. Vandrille near Caudebec; for Gauls can boast. The crypt and apsis, the purpose, principallý, 'of corrobo- or east end, are its most interesting rating the opinion now so generally portions. The former is figured and and, I think, truly entertained, that described'in Cotman's splendid work;" the distinguishing features of Saxo- but the editor, without assigning to it Norman architecture may certainly be any positive date, merely states that 'traced to Roman prototypes.

it was built before the eleventh cenThe church of St. Gervais is situated on a gentle eminence, in the north

* Vol. i. p. 56.

tory. There is no reason, however, Even in the grave was this ambitious why we should not boldly advocate, prince exposed to ignominy; for in for this reverend remain, a higher date, 1562, when Caen was sacked by the and deem it really the holy workman: Protestant troops of Chastillon, the ship of St. Victrix, Archbishop of tomb of William was violated, and his Rouen, A. D. 386, whe, having re, bones so widely scattered, that some ceived from St. Ambrose some reliques of them were again brought to the of the martyred St. Gervais, then theatre of his grand oppression, Engfounded and personally assisted (as Jand, he himself informs us, in his discourse But we must now proceed with the S de laude Sanctorum!) in carrying architectural description of our şubthe stones for its construction on his ject, from which its interesting history own proper shoulders, a method of has, perhaps, too long detained us. mortifying the desh to which he sub- Its largest portion is quite modern, in mitted, with a view, no doubt, of add. bad taste, or rather without any taste ing, at the same time, to the sanctity at all, being as plain and as insipid as of this his favourite endowment. Mr. slates and whitewash can render it. Rickman says this crypt was construct. The semicircular wall of the east end ed A.D. 350.

is, however, nearly in its pristine state, The only part, however, of the pre- and highly instructive as a specimen sent church of St. Gervais that is at- of the first transition from the Roman tributable to the piety of St. Victrix, to the Gothic style of architecture. and probably the whole then intended This wall was formerly embellished to be built, is the above-named sub- with engaged columns, which time terraneous chapel; the Christian con- has partly worn away, but of which verts of that day and country nat the capitals remain in sufficiently indaring to erect more lofty edifices. telligible preservation, and are of alBut by whom, and when the super. most pure Roman Doric and lonic structure was raised, is not precisely forms. Some have the common volutes known. It was granted by Duke Ri. at their angles; one has, in place of chard H. A. D. 1020, to Fecamp Ab. these, two erected eagles with disbey, and was afterwards attached to played wings; and another has an upSt. Peter's at Chartres ; but in the right foliaged capital, somewhat in thirteenth century it again passed to Corinthian, and somewhatin the Gothic the Abbots of Fecamp, who continued taste. These capitals, .no doubt, ori. to be the Priors of St. Gervais, until it ginally had an horizontal architrave or eventually became itself an independ. cornice, as the eaves of the roof are ent abbey.

three or four feet higher than their This church, or one of its apart- abaci; and the intervening masonry, ments, was the death - place of the though much abraded, has every apmighty Conqueror of England, in the pearance of being coeval with the 61st year of his age, on the 9th Sept. shafts and capitals; but it affords do A.D. 1087. Having been dangerously traces of the arched forms which at a injured by the pommel of his saddie later period sprung directly from the at the burning of Mantes, when on capitals, when a more complete decahis way to Paris with an intention of dence from pure Roman had ensued revenging an insult expressed toward than the subject now before us demonhim by Philip King of France, he strates. caused himself to be conveyed to the

The crypt, though less illustrative Church of St. Gervais, " ad ecclesiam of Gothic architecture than the wall Sancti Gervasii ;” and there in domo just described, may be considered an non sua,” in the house of another, - example of a primitive Christian Ordericus Vitalis states, and not, as

church, and we shall therefore notice by some said, in a palace at the Mont it with the particularity it merits. It aur Malades, but in presence of the is immediately beneath the eastern sacred relics of Saint Gervais, did this portion of the chancel, from which it most potent hero breathe his last, is entered through a trap-door and

down a narrow fight of eight-and" Deserted in his utmost need

twenty steps of stone. In length it is By those his former bounty fed.”' 35 ft. by 14 in breadth, and 15 in

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »