Abbildungen der Seite

with an approximation to exactness. It is a tentative art, to succeed in which demands a quickness of eye, tact, thought, and invention, which are not to be learned by study, nor without a connatural aptitude, to be acquired by experience. And it is the possession of this sense, exercised by patient observation, and fortified with a just reliance on the vis medicatrix, the self-adjusting tendency of nature, that constitutes the physician, as imagination constitutes the poet, and brings it to pass, that sometimes an old apothecary, not very far removed from an old woman, whose ordinary conversation partakes largely of the character of twaddle, who can seldom give any rational account of a case or prescription, acquires a reputation of infallibility, as if he had made a truce with death,—while men of talent and erudition are admired and neglected, The truth is, that there is a good deal of the mysterious in whatever is practical. It is not only in the concerns of the spirit that man walks by faith. Wherever there is life there is a mystery.

But neither genius nor science will avail the physician, if he want confidence in himself, and cannot create a confidence in others. He must also, by persuasion or authority, obtain a mastery over his patients, and over all about them. The occasional success of bullying doctors arises from the fear they inspire, which enforces a strict observation of their directions. A medical man stands in the situation of a father confessor. He has to extract truth from reluctant penitents; he has to inflict severe penance on peccant nature. But to this end, the sarcastic coarseness of a bully is far less effectual than the mild firmness of a Quaker. Some have ascribed the success of Dr. Fothergill to the novelty of a Quaker doctor. But this was, in fact, nothing new. There were two physicians of the same persuasion practising in London at the commencement of his career. Nor was his rise by any means sudden. He sought no sinister paths to popularity. His beneficence, great as it was, was never speculative. He proportioned his givings to his earnings. Without any remarkable brilliancy of talent, without any striking originality of practice, he gained the confidence of those who needed his assistance, chiefly by convincing them that he wished to do them good for their own sakes.

The medical profession, in respect of the spirit in which they pursue their occupation, may be divided into four classes, corresponding to four classes of clerical teachers : Ist, Those who have been put into the profession, or chosen it at random, because they must be somethingloungers who feel their business a toil and a constraint, who at best only desire to escape disgrace and make a living-correlative to the gentle. men in orders, and the drudging curates,-a very unprofitable race when gentlemen, a very unhappy and mischievous one when otherwise. 2d. Those who pursue their trade eagerly and diligently for money or advancement-correspondent to the preferment hunters of the church, and the popular preachers and Tartuffes of all denominations, who will generally be respectable, or otherwise, as their rank and connections give them more or less of character to lose. 3d. The votaries of science, to whom knowledge is an ultimate object, and practice chiefly valued as the means of increasing and certifying knowledge-correspondent to the speculative theologians—the students of religious learning-a class highly estimable and necessary, who answer their vocation well, and dignify their rank, whatever it may be: and 4th, The philanthropists, to whom knowledge is only a secondary object, valued as it is the means of abating pain and preserving life-correlative to those christian teachers and pastors who are animated with the true and faithful love of souls. Among these, it is delightful to find men of all ranks but rank with them is nothing: these are illuminated with a light, in which there may be many colours, but there is no darkness. To this class did Fothergill belong. Yet he, too, was a lover of knowledge for its own sake: a careful investigator of nature, whether she displayed herself in the marvellous human frame, or in the multitudinous vari. eties of plants, shells, minerals :-glad, when he could, to discover a use in her works, and glad at all times to acknowledge them the works of God.

“The uniformity of a professional life,” says one of Dr. Fothergill's biographers, “is seldom interrupted : it therefore furnishes few par. ticulars worthy of being recorded. The transactions of one day seldom differ from those of another. In Dr. Fothergill's case, perhaps, there was as little variety as ever fell to the share of any one man. His popularity continued undiminished as long as his health and strength would allow him to attend on his patients; and during a long series of years his diligence was unabated.”

This is in some measure true. Yet if the circumstances of a professional life make but a dull biography, they might furnish very interesting auto-biographies. Every day adds something to their knowledge of mankind. They behold human nature as it were stripped and whipped. It would be truly delightful to read the private minutes of a leech like Fothergill, whose eyes were purged by the euphrasy of benevolence, and to trace the steps, the ramifications of practice, by which he advanced from comparative obscurity to eminence. But no such precious records have fallen under our cognizance.

In 1744, Dr. Fothergill was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians at London, and about the same time was chosen a member

of the Royal Society, then flourishing under the auspices of Martin Folkes.* This proves that he had already distinguished himself by studies not strictly professional. He was a frequent contributor to the Philosophical Transactions. In 1744 he printed Observations on a case published in the last Volume of the Medical Essays, fc. of recovering a man dead in appearance.” The suspension of animation arose from the noxious steam of coals in the pit; he had lain between half an hour and three quarters, and was resuscitated by inflating the lungs with the natural breath, rubbing, &c. From the language of this essay it would seem that the experiment of distending the lungs was then new, and that the art of resuscitation was in its infancy. The Doctor proposes that experiments should be made on the bodies of hanged malefactors. We cannot suspect that he, or any other christian thought a thief should be hanged twice. At different times he contributedan essay on the origin of Amber, by no means as full or satisfactory as it might have been—a review of Gmelin's account of Siberia, and other papers, which shew how much natural philosophy, geography, &c. have

* Martin Folkes was the son of an eminent lawyer and bencher of Gray's Inn, that most sylvan of all inns of court, whose ancient trees and venerable walks remind one more of the groves of Academus than Christ Church meadow itself. No man under sixty should be allowed to enter therein, unless those youths could be revived who performed in the masques of Fletcher and Jonson, when the men of law held high festival before Eliza and our James. Well, but Martin Folkes was born in Queenstreet, Lincoln's-inn-Fields, on the 29th of October, 1690. From the age of nine to sixteen, he was under the tuition of the learned son of the erudite Lewis Capel, sometime Hebrew professor at Saumur, who came to England when that university was suppressed in 1695. After making great proficiency in Greek and Latin, he was entered of Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 1707. His progress in mathematics was wonderful for that period; and at twenty-two he was elected into the Royal Society, an honour which has never ceased to be coveted, notwithstanding the abuse and ridicule that has been constantly thrown on that learned body, even when Sir Isaac Newton was its head. Folkes was chosen a member of the council in 1716, when he made a communication relative to the eclipse of a fixed star in Gemni by the body of Jupiter. In October 1717, at the memorable royal visit, of which we have given so full an account in our life of Bentley, Martin was made Master of Arts by the University of Cambridge. A little while after he had the much higher honour of being appointed by Sir Isaac Newton himself a vice president of the Royal Society. On the death of Sir Isaac, in 1727, he was a candidate for the Presidentship of the Society, and gained several respectable votes, though the election fell on Sir Hans Sloane; but on the death of Sir Hans, he attained that honour. He was also a distinguished antiquary, member of the Antiquarian Society, and of the French Academy of Sciences. He was a great encourager of the fine arts, the friend and patron of Hogarth, by whom his portrait was painted. It is the picture of open-hearted English honesty and hospitality, but does not indicate much intellect. He married an actress, a course less usual then than at present, and died of the palsy in 1754.

improved in the last half century. The Doctor's style is in the highest degree familiar and conversational, free from pedantry and vulgarism, but not remarkable for strength and liveliness. Though a truly religious man, he did not imitate the elder medical writers in interlarding his professional writings with Scripture texts or theological discussion : nor is there any of the Quaker in his compositions, except a general plainness, and absence of ornament. Many of his occasional tracts were printed in the “Medical Observations and Inquiries," a work of which only six volumes were published.

In 1748, he published the longest and most important of all his writings, “ An Account of the Putrid Sore Throat,a form of disease then newly imported into England, though Dr. Fothergill establishes its identity with the Garrotillo* or gallows disease of the Spaniards, and the morbus strangulatorius of the Italian writers, which first appeared in Spain in 1610, and from thence spread to Malta, Sicily, Otranto, Apulia, Calabria, and the Campagna, in the space of a few years; and breaking out in Naples, in 1618, ravaged the country for upwards of twenty years, leaving many a prolific mother childless, for the pest was particularly obnoxious to children. Such an epicure in cruelty was this malady, as to select black-eyed girls for its peculiar victims. From its fatality to infants, it was called by Marcus Aurelius Severinus, Paedanchone Loimodes the pestiferous Choke-babe. Dr. Fothergill, in the historical part of the tract, shews very considerable reading, for he quotes Johannes Andreas Sgambatus, Johannes Baptista Cortesius, Johannes Antonius Anguilloni, (physician in chief to the Maltese Gallies,) Ludovicus Mercatus, physician to Philip the Second, and to Charles the Third, and other of the illustrious obscure, of whom, though not wholly unacquainted with the backs and titles of the ordinary contents of a medical library, we never chanced to hear or read elsewhere. Yet in this display of research there is no pedantry. It was a real comfort to those who were alarmed by the appearance of a new disease, to be informed that the same malady had visited and quitted other countries in other times : for it adds to the despondency of sickness, and the terror of death itself, when the pain and peril seem strange, and unconformable to the regular course of nature.

. “Ab Hispanis Garrotillo appellatur, ut eadem patiantur Anginâ laborantes quæ facinorosi homines, cum injecto cir cum collem funestrangulantur. Epist. R. Morean ad Th. Barth. Epis. Med. cent. I. p. 336. We cannot congratulate Monsieur Moreau on the conciseness with which he has latinized the operation of hanging, nor should we suppose that a sufficient number of sufferers in the Garrotillo had compared notes with the facinorosi homines in question to ascertain the identity of their sensations.

This morbus strangulatorius made its first attack on the English in 1739. While the poor only suffered, it spread little alarm; but when the two only sons of the Honourable Henry Pelham fell victims to its severity, a panic took possession of the higher orders. But the cases becoming rare, the apprehension subsided. As in most infections, the latter seizures were much less virulent than the earlier ones. “It began, however, to show itself again in 1742, but not so general as to render it the subject of much public discourse ; for though such of the faculty as were in most extensive practice met with it now and then, in the city especially, it remained unknown to the greatest part of practitioners." In the winter of 1746 it broke out again with great violence, particularly at Bromley, in Middlesex. All remedies seemed vain : : many families were left without one child out of many, and houses that had rung with the mirth of childhood, became silent and gloomy in a little week. After a time, the violence of the disorder abated, but it still continued to occur frequently, particularly in Lon. don. Though children were most subject to the infliction, adults did not always escape. Girls were more commonly attacked than boys, women than men, and the feeble than the robust. In the treatment of this complaint Dr. Fothergill was highly successful. At the suggestion of Dr. Letherland, he prescribed a much more genial and strengthening regimen than had before been usual, administering cordials, tonics, and alexipharmics; as bark, contrayerva,* aromatics, carminatives, &c.; nor did he forbid the moderate use of wine.-In what may be considered as the peroration of the essay, he makes the following recapitulation:

1st. That the sore throat attended with ulcers seems to be accompanied with a strong disposition to putrefaction, which affects the habit in general, but the fauces and the parts contiguous in particular. And it seems not unreasonable to suppose,

2. That the cause of this tendency is a putrid virus, or miasma sui generis, introduced into the habit by contagion, principally by means of the breath of the


affected. 3. That this virus, or contagious matter, produces effects more or

• Contrayerva is a South American plant, introduced into Europe by Sir Francis Drake, in 1581. The name signifies counter-poison ; its juice is strong poison, and was formerly used by the Peruvians to envenom their arrows. It was formerly esteemed a most powerful antidote and preservative; but its reputation has fallen off, and it is used only as a gentle stimulant. There is another sort, produced in Virginia, called Serpentaria, from its supposed efficacy against the bites of serpents. It is very aromatic, and by some accounted equal to the Peruvian contrayerva.Rees' Cyclopædia.

« ZurückWeiter »