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488

HIPPOCRATES.

there some ingenuity and skill, but which are still sufficiently full of difficulties and inconsistencies to betray at once their origin.

So much space has been taken up with the pre­liminary, but most indispensable step of determin­ing which are the genuine works of Hippocrates, and which are spurious, that a very slight sketch of his opinions is all that can be now attempted, and for a fuller account the reader must be referred to the works of Le Clerc, Haller, Sprengel, &c., or to some of those which relate especially to Hippo­crates. He divides the causes of disease into two principal classes; the one comprehending the in­fluence of seasons, climates, water, situation, &c., and the other consisting of more personal and pri­vate causes, such as result from the particular kind and amount of food and exercise in which each separate individual indulges himself. The modifi­cations of the atmosphere dependent on different seasons and climates is a subject which was suc­cessfully treated by Hippocrates, and which is still far from exhausted by all the researches of modern science. He considered that while heat and cold, moisture and dryness, succeeded one another throughout the year, the human body underwent certain analogous changes, which influenced the diseases of the period ; and on this basis was founded the doctrine of pathological constitutions, corresponding to particular conditions of the at­mosphere, so that, whenever the year or the season exhibited a special character in which such or such a temperature prevailed, those persons who were exposed to its influence were affected by a series of disorders, all bearing the same stamp. (How plainly the same idea runs through the Observati-ones Medicae of Sydenham, our " English Hippo­crates " need not be pointed out to those who are at all familiar with his^ works.) The belief in the influence which different climates exercise on the human/frame follows naturally from the theory just 1 mentioned ; for, in fact, a climate may be con­sidered as nothing more than a permanent season, whose effects may be expected to be more power­ful, inasmuch as the cause is ever at work upon mankind. Accordingly, Hippocrates attributes to climate both the conformation of the body and the disposition of the mind—indeed, almost every thing ; and if the Greeks were found to be hardy freemen, and the Asiatics effeminate slaves, he accounts for the difference of their characters by that of the climates in which they lived. With, respect to the second class of causes producing disease, he attributed all sorts of disorders to a vicious system of diet, which, whether excessive or defective, he considered to be equally injurious; and in the same way he supposed that, when bo­dily exercise was either too much indulged in or entirely neglected, the health was equally likely to suffer, though by different forms of disease. Into all the minutiae of the " Humoral Pathology " (as it was called), which kept its ground in Europe as the prevailing doctrine of all the medical sects for more than twenty centuries, it would be out of place to enter here. It will be sufficient to remind the reader that the four fluids or humours of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) were supposed to be the primary seat of disease ; that health was the result of the due combination (or crasis) of these, and that, when this crasis was disturbed, disease was the consequence ; that, in the course of a disorder that was proceeding fa-

HIPPOCRATES.

vourably, these humours underwent a certain change in quality (or coctiori), which was the sign of returning health, as preparing the way for the expulsion of the morbid matter, or crisis; and that these crises had a tendency to occur 'at certain stated periods, which were hence called "critical days." (Brit, and For. Med. Rev.)

The medical practice of Hippocrates was cautious and feeble, so much so, that he was in after times reproached with letting his patients die, by doing nothing to keep them alive. It consisted chiefly in watching the operations of nature, and pro­moting the critical evacuations mentioned above ; so that attention to diet and regimen was the principal and often the only remedy that he em­ployed. Several hundred substances have been enumerated which are used medicinally in different parts of the Hippocratic Collection ; of these, by far the greater portion belong to the vegetable kingdom, as it would be in vain to look for any traces of chemistry in these early writings. In surgery, he is the author of the frequently quoted maxim, that " what cannot be cured by medicines is cured by the knife ; and what cannot be cured by the knife is cured by fire." The anatomical knowledge displayed in different parts of the Hip­pocratic Collection is scanty and contradictory, so much so, that the discrepancies on this subject constitute an important criterion in deciding the genuineness of the different treatises.

With regard to the personal character of Hip­pocrates, though he says little or nothing expressly about himself, yet it is impossible to avoid drawing certain conclusions from the characteristic passages scattered through the pages of his writings. He was evidently a person who not only had had great experience, but who also knew how to turn it to the best account; and the number of moral reflections and apophthegms that we meet with in his writings, some of which (as, for example, " Life is short, and Art is long ") have acquired a sort of proverbial notoriety, show him to have been a profound thinker. He appears to have felt the moral obligations and responsibilities of his profession, and often tries to impress upon his readers the duties of care and attention, and kind­ness towards the sick, saying that a physician's first and chief consideration ought to be the re­storing his patient to health. The style of the Hippocratic writings, which are in the Ionic dialect, is so concise as to be sometimes extremely obscure; though this charge, which is as old as the time of Galen, is often brought too indiscriminately against the whole collection, whereas it applies, in fact-especially only to certain treatises, which seem to be merely a collection of notes, such as De Hu-moribus, De A limento, De Officina Medici, &c. In those writings, which are universally allowed to be genuine, we do not find this excessive brevity, though even these are in general by no means easy. (Brit, and For. Med. Rev.)

Of the great number of books published on the subject of the Hippocratic Collection, only a very few of the most modern and most useful can be here enumerated; a fuller list may be found in Choulant's Handb. der Bucherkunde fur die Aeltere Medicin, or his Biblioth. Medico-His-tor. ; or in Ackermann's Historia Literaria Hippo-cratis. Foesii Oeconomia Hippocratis is a very copious and learned lexicon, published in fol. Francof. 1588, and Genev. 1662. Sprengel's

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