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gave it credit; whilst the Corpuscularian philosophy, restored by Gassendi, readily united with the reasonings of the chemists; and the philosophy of Des Cartes readily united with both. From all these circumstances, an humoral, and chiefly a chemical, pathology, came to prevail very much till the end of the last century; and has indeed continued to have a great share in our systems, down to the present time.
· It is proper now, however, to observe, that about the beginning of the present (eighteenth) century, when every part of science came to be On a more improved and correct footing, there appeared, in the writings of Stahl, of Hoffman, and of Boerhaave, three new, and considerably different, systems of physic, which have ever since had a great share in directing the practice of it. In order, therefore, to give a nearer view of the present state of physic, I shall offer some remarks upon these different systems; endeavouring to point out the advantages, as well as the disadvantages, of each, and how far they still prevail ; or, according to my judgment, déserve to do so.
I shall begin with considering that of Dr. Stahl, which, I think, appeared first, and for a long time after was the prevailing system in Germany.
The chief and leading principle of this system is, that the rational soul of man governs the whole economy of his body. At all times, physicians have observed, that the animal economy has in it." self a power or condition, by which, in many ipstances, it resists the injuries which threaten Yt; and by which it also, on many occasions, corrects or removes the disorders induced, or arising in it. This power, physicians very anciently attributed, under a vague idea, to an agent in the system, which they called NATURE; and the language of a vis conservatrix et medicatris naturæ, has continued in the schools of medicine from the most ancient times to the present.
Dr. Stahl has explicitly founded his system on the supposition, that the power of nature, so much talked of, is entirely in the rational soul. He supposes, that, upon many occasions, the soul acts independently of the state of the body; and that, without any physical necessity arising from that state, the soul, purely in consequence of its intelligence, perceiving the tendency of noxious powers threatening, or of disorders anywise arising in the system, immediately excites such motions in the body as are suited to obviate the hurtful or pernicious consequences which might otherwise take place. Many of my readers may think it was hardly necessary for me to take notice of a system founded upon so fanciful an hypothesis; but there
is often so much seeming appearance of intelligence and design in the operations of the animal economy, that many eminent persons, as Perrault in France, Nichols and Mead in England, Porterfield and Simson in Scotland, and Gaubius in Hole land, have very much countenanced the same opi. nion, and it is therefore certainly entitled to some regard. It is not, however, necessary for me here to enter into any refutation of it. Dr. Hoffman has done this fully, in his Commentarius de differentia inter Hoffmanni doctrinam medicu-mechanicam et G. E. Stahlii medico-organicam; and both Boerhaave and Haller, though no favourers of materialism, have maintained a doctrine very opposite to that of Stahl.
In my Physiology, I have offered some arguments against the same; and I shall only add now, that whoever considers what has been said by Dr. Nichols in his Oratio de Anima Medica, - and by Dr. Gaubius in some parts of his Patho
logy, must perceive, that the admitting of such a capricious government of the animal economy, as these authors in some instances suppose, would at once lead us to reject all the physical and mechanical reasoning we might employ concerning the human body. Dr. Stahl himself seems to have been aware of this; and therefore, in his preface to Juncker's Conspectus Therapeiæ Specialis, has acknowledged, that his general principle was not at all necessary; which is in effect saying, that it is not compatible with any system of principles that ought to govern our practice. Upon this footing, I might have at once rejected the Stahlian principle: but it is even dangerous to bring any such principle into view ; for, after all Dr. Stahl had said in the passage just now referred to, I find, that, in the whole of their practice, both he and his followers have been very much governed by their general principle. Trusting much to the
constant attention and wisdom of nature, they have · proposed the art of curing by expectation ; have therefore, for the most part, proposed only very inert and frivolous remedies; have zealously opposed the use of some of the most efficacious, such as opium and the Peruvian bark; and are extremely reserved in the use of general remedies, such as bleeding, vomiting, &c.
Although these remarks, upon a system which may now be considered as exploded or neglected, may seem superfluous, I have been willing to give these strictures on the Stahlian system, that I might carry my remarks a little farther, and take this opportunity of observing, that, in whatever manner we may explain what have been called the operations of nature, it appears to me, that the general doctrine of nature curing diseases, the somuch-vaunted Hippocratic method of curing, has often had a very baneful influence on the practice of physic ; as either leading physicians into, or continuing them in, a weak and feeble practice; and, at the same time, superseding or discouraging all the attempts of art. Dr. Huxham has properly observed, that even in the hands of Sydenham, it had this effect. Although it may sometimes avoid the mischiefs of bold and rash practitioners, yet it certainly produces that caution and timidity which have ever opposed the introduction of new and efficacious remedies. The opposition to chemical medicines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the noted condemnation of antimony, by the medical faculty of Paris, are to be attributed chiefly to those prejudices, which the physicians of France did not entirely get the better of for near an hundred years after. We may take notice of the reserve it produced in Boerhaave, with respect to the use of the Peruvian bark. We have had lately published, under the title of Constitutiones Epidemicæ, notes of the particular practice of the late Baron Van Swieten ; upon which the editor very properly observes, that the use of the bark, in intermitting fevers, appears very rarely in that practice; and we know very well where Van Swieten learned that reserve.