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this? :' 'Doctor, pray be plain with me, and let me truly know what I am to expect. Don't flatter a sick man, but tell me, am I like to recover or no ?' That pain, you see, which he suffers, does not at all trouble him. He is only afraid he shall die. Secure him against that danger, and all is well with him. Cut, slash, burn-no pain is grievous if it promise to set us out of the danger of death.
“When the other doctor comes, the physician of the soul I mean, whose coming bodes no good to the body, he tells the decumbent a long story of the pains and miseries of life, in order to make his nunc dimittis go down the easier. But that method seldom takes ; for not one of a hundred is so bad but he is content to live, and put the rest to the venture. The fear of death is generally more grievous than all the cruel pains of a wretched life. But since we must have pain while we live, give me the pain of the gout, which has no danger attending it.”
We solicit the attention of our readers to the following passage, which affords a happy specimen of an objection fairly stated and readily obviated.
“Here some malevolent adversary may importunely object, • did never any man die of the gout ? To this I answer (1.) I have not yet affirmed that the gout can make a man immortal; though I will boldly say thus much, it very often keeps a man alive till all his friends are weary of him.
“ But (2.) should I venture to say that the gout has in itself the power to make a man immortal, it ought not to seem so very strange, all things being considered. If that be true which some authors write of the noble Paracelsus, he had the secret to make a man immortal ; and I would not say he lied, though himself died about forty; for perhaps he did not like his company: but it must have been by way of his discovery to give any man the gout when he pleased. In that I am positive. " Here the objector will scornfully put me in mind, that
gouty persons scape death no more than other men, which is very true; but that is, because men are fools, and don't know when they are safe. They must be curing the gout, forsooth; and to that end they deal with the doctor, i. e. with the factor of death, the emissary of hell, the purveyor of the grave; damned alchymist, good at calcining nothing but living bodies into dust and ashes. Let every one bear his own burden. The gout has nothing to do with the carnage of the doctor.”
Philander states as his next argument in favour of the gout, that it " is no constant companion, but allows its patients lucid, joyous intervals.” In support of this argument, he launches out into a metaphysical dissertation on the aptitude of the human mind to be delighted with variety. Upon this principle the vicissitudes of nature are grateful to the human
feelings, and man contemplates the earth, the sea, and the firmament, with ever-new pleasure. Having despatched this preliminary disquisition, he applies his doctrine, (as the divines say,) in the following terms.
“ That reverend Calvinist, Dr. Twiss, affirms that it is better to be damned than annihilated. I might, I suppose, with less offence affirm, that 'twas better to be dead than never to be sick of the gout. Nay, this I am sure of, that all the sober and experienced people will be so far from taking offence, that I shall have them on my side if I venture on that paradox. For how often have I heard a grave adviser, one that has tried health and sickness alternately for many years, tell some robust, young, riotous fellow, that he knew not the value of health. No! how should he, having never been sick? But why should his sober adviser press him to be careful of his health ? That's the way never to understand the deliciousness of it. By that time he gets the gout, he'll thoroughly understand the matter, I'll warrant him. Set me two men together, one that never knew pain, and another newly recovered of the gout. Observe them both narrowly. In the former, perhaps, you may perceive an easy, even temper ; but the latter is ravished with joys and satisfactions, which if his tongue does not declare, his hands and feet and gestures shall. Such are the lucid intervals between heart-breaking fits of the gout, worth all the ravings and roarings which the violent paroxysm forces from the tortured patient. And who would spoil the refined pleasure of his recovery, by wishing to have one angry throb, one heavy groan, abated him?"
After indulging for some time in this sort of badinage, our author advances to his third position, namely that "the gout presents us with a perpetual almanack.” This useful implement, he observes, has one singular advantage, namely, that it is never out of the way, but it is always ready for use, being safely deposited in the internodia of the bones. In comparison with it he holds very cheap barometers, thermometers, and other inventions of men. These serve more for curiosity than use; their indications are fallible and uncertain. Lilly and Gadbury were frequently mistaken in their prognostics; but the “ bone almanack” is sensible of all changes, and unerring in its predictions. After a renewed philippic against the physicians, he declares that people of good sense are content to let the gout take its course, and are, moreover, proud to publish the advantages which they derive from this visitation.
“ For instance," says he, “ as to the foreknowledge of the weather; the gout never twitches their nerves, but they will be telling others what changes are near at hand. Now," continues he, “ what I propose is this, that people should not think it enough to know thus much of the gout, but study to improve and encrease their knowledge. For, no doubt, more may be made of this blessing than ever yet was done by the happy man that has enjoyed it longest. I am persuaded that if the fortunate patient would be at the pains to observe all the motions of the gout, in his pinching, smarting, galling accesses ; in his gnawing, stabbing, burning paroxysms; in his evacuating, tender, remitting recesses; he might quickly come to wind a storm so long before, that, in a short time, no owners would think their ship safe but with a gouty master; nor would any experienced seaman that wanted a ship offer himself to the merchants but upon crutches.”
The mention of crutches reminds our author that it may possibly be objected to the honour of the gout, that it reduces the patient to the state of a cripple. We cannot enter at large into the argument by which he rebuts, or rather counterbalances, this objection. Suffice it to state, that by a reference to a certain queen of the Amazons for the fact, and to Montaigne for its physiological reasons, he demonstrates, to his own satisfaction, that cripples are, in certain important requisites, peculiarly well qualified to obtain the good graces of the fair sexes.
The fourth argument which Philander brings forward in favour of the gout is, that “gouty persons are most free from the head-ache.” In proving this proposition, he displays a large store of physiological learning, and talks very knowingly of nerves, fibres, and membranes; of the two meninges, the pericranium and the periostia ; of the muscles and the panniculus carnosus. In short, he evinces a familiarity of acquaintance with the structure of the head, which would not disgrace a Gall or a Spurzheim. He also treats of vicious humours being set on fire, wasted and evacuated, with all the gravity with which medical practitioners of the old school were so long wont to impose upon their patients, the public and themselves, whilst they disguised their ignorance by " heaping up words without knowledge.' In the same satirical spirit, he describes the “ inimicous contesting particles thrown off from boiling blood and turgid nervous juice," as falling down to the remote parts of the body. To this physical operation, he gravely attributes the clearness of the understanding and the activity of thought which he avers to be generated by the transfer of disease from the head to the lower extremities, which takes place in a regular fit of the gout.
This doctrine he follows up by asserting, on the alleged authority of Confucius, the celebrated Chinese philosopher, that, though a gouty person may possibly be a knave; no instance occurs of such an one being a fool; since the visitation, under the pain of which he is apt, in his ignorance and incon
siderateness, to complain, is " a perfect deletory of folly.” As madness is nearly allied to folly, he speculates upon the idea, that the gout may be applied for the cure of this extreme of mental malady. “And then,” he remarks, " for the recovery of those poor creatures to their wits again, it will not need much consideration, whether they ought not to be excused the hard blows which their barbarous keepers deal them; and the therapeutic method of purging, bleeding, cupping, fluxing, vomiting, clystering, juleps, apozems, powders, confections, epithems, and cataplasms, with which the more barbarous doctors torment them; and instead of all their learned tortures, indulged (for a time only) in a little intemperance, as to wine or women, or so; or the scholar's delight of feeding worthily, and sleeping heartily, that they might get the gout, and then their madness was cured.”
It being thus evinced, that the gout is a specific for the prevention of the head-ache, the next step, in the vindication of its honour, is argument the fifth, viz.," that it preserves its patients from the great danger of fevers." Here we have, again, a keen ridicule of the jargon and slang of the schools of medicine.
“Every one knows,” says Philander, “ that a fever is a high, disorderly motion, or overboiling, of the blood, which seldom, or never, happens to gouty persons; because the malignant recrements of the blood, and nervous juice, which occasion fevers, are continually deposited in the joints of gouty persons, are there imprisoned, wasted, and consumed, by the purging, healing, cleansing, sanative fire of the burning gout. There is a natural motion and heat of the blood, partly on its natural crasis and constitution, (for, being composed of spirit, salt, and sulphur, principles vigorous and active, it spontaneously grows turgid and tumultuous, like generous wine, in narrow vessel pent,) and partly to the ferment implanted in the heart, which rarifies the liquor passing through its channels, and forces it to rise with a frothy effervescence.”
Maintaining that the gout cools down this effervescence, our author professes to pity the young and healthy, whose blood flows temperately; not, indeed, for their present ease, but because of their imminent danger. From his illustration of this danger, we may gather, that his pamphlet was written soon after the sea-fight off La Hogue.
“ For when a royal sun of France blazes and perishes in flames, painted by a brave Russel's masterly hand; when a vanquished admiral shifts off in boat inglorious ; a king of equal valour, from a safe station, all the while beholding the Monsieur's prudent care, serve a great comniander; when a haughty mareschal is beat out of the
strongest bulwark, that fenced his master's treacherous rapine; and to induce that master of his for once to keep the cartel, can, in spite of all his blustering, part with his sword ; when rebel invaders are disappointed, and execrable assassins punished ;- at such tempting occasions as these, who can forfear a rightful, lawful, and brim-full glass? Yet, on so solemn a festival, if the healthy gives Nature but a fillip, it may, perchance, throw him into a fever, and that fever, perchance, cost him his life. Whereas, the man that's obnoxious to the gout, cheerfully ventures the duty of the day, well knowing, that when the worst comes to the worst, 'tis but roaring in purgatory some forty days, or so; and by that time the gout has wasted and cleansed off the tartareous recrements of undigested Falern, who knows but good news may come to make another holiday? Purgatory, which cleanses the souls of the departed from their filth, and renders them, like burnt tobacco-pipes, clean and pure, and fit for Paradise, is a true picture of the fire of the gout, which spreads the morbific matter, that might otherwise throw the body into a hellish fever.”
The crown of all these recommendations of the gout, is to be found in Philander's sixth argument, namely," that it cannot be cured,” which dictum, with an imposing gravity, he represents as a rude and vulgar mode of asserting, that the blessings which he has antecedently shewn to be incident to this bodily affection, will endure to the termination of the life of him who is so fortunate as to be visited by them. He expresses his extreme surprise, that any one should wish to rid himself of a companion, in default of whose due attendance, he may become obnoxious to fever and head-ache, be blinded in his understanding, lose the relish of health, and the safety of his life. To secure the advantage to be derived from this companion, he once more admonishes his friend to beware of tampering with the doctor; and holds out to him, as a warning, the example of Asa, the king of Israël, who, being diseased in his feet, “sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians,” and, consequently, slept with his fathers. This leads him to a renewed attack upon medical practitioners, whom he proposes, by a bill in parliament, which he styles, a “strong cathartic act,” to purge out of his majesty's dominions. He then, briefly, recapitulates some of his principal pleas in favour of the gout; and hastily concludes, on the relaxation of a paroxysm, under the stimulus of which, he declares, he had been induced to write.
We have been somewhat copious in our extracts from this Letter, because it is a publication which our London friends cannot procure by a simple note, addressed to their bookseller in ordinary; and which our country readers cannot, as a matter of course, receive as per order, by return of waggon, van, coach, or canal-boat. It is only to be found by those pains