Physician, Patient, Physic.

Physician, Patient, Physic.

     Of those diverse gifts which our apostle Paul saith God hath bestowed on man, this of physic is not the least, but most necessary, and especially conducing to the good of mankind. Next therefore to God in all our extremities ("for of the most high cometh healing," Ecclus. xxxviii. 2.) we must seek to, and rely upon the Physician, who is Manus Dei, saith Hierophilus, and to whom he hath given knowledge, that he might be glorified in his wondrous works. "With such doth he heal men, and take away their pains," Ecclus. xxxviii. 6. 7. "when thou hast need of him, let him not go from thee. The hour may come that their enterprises may have good success," ver. 13. It is not therefore to be doubted, that if we seek a physician as we ought, we may be eased of our infirmities, such a one I mean as is sufficient, and worthily so called; for there be many mountebanks, quacksalvers, empirics, in every street almost, and in every village, that take upon them this name, make this noble and profitable art to be evil spoken of and contemned, by reason of these base and illiterate artificers: but such a physician I speak of, as is approved, learned, skilful, honest, &c., of whose duty Wecker, Antid. cap. 2. and Syntax. med. Crato, Julius Alexandrinus medic. Heurnius prax. med. lib. 3. cap. 1. &c. treat at large. For this particular disease, him that shall take upon him to cure it, Paracelsus will have to be a magician, a chemist, a philosopher, an astrologer; Thurnesserus, Severinus the Dane, and some other of his followers, require as much: "many of them cannot be cured but by magic." Paracelsus is so stiff for those chemical medicines, that in his cures he will admit almost of no other physic, deriding in the mean time Hippocrates, Galen, and all their followers: but magic, and all such remedies I have already censured, and shall speak of chemistry elsewhere. Astrology is required by many famous physicians, by Ficinus, Crato, Fernelius; doubted of, and exploded by others: I will not take upon me to decide the controversy myself, Johannes Hossurtus, Thomas Boderius, and Maginus in the preface to his mathematical physic, shall determine for me. Many physicians explode astrology in physic (saith he), there is no use of it, unam artem ac quasi temerarium insectantur, ac gloriam sibi ab ejus imperitia, aucupari: but I will reprove physicians by physicians, that defend and profess it, Hippocrates, Galen, Avicen. &c., that count them butchers without it, homicidas medicos Astrologiæ ignaros, &c. Paracelsus goes farther, and will have his physician predestinated to this man's cure, this malady; and time of cure, the scheme of each geniture inspected, gathering of herbs, of administering astrologically observed; in which Thurnesserus and some iatromathematical professors, are too superstitious in my judgment. "Hellebore will help, but not alway, not given by every physician," &c. but these men are too peremptory and self-conceited as I think. But what do I do, interposing in that which is beyond my reach? A blind man cannot judge of colours, nor I peradventure of these things. Only thus much I would require, honesty in every physician, that he be not over-careless or covetous, harpy-like to make a prey of his patient; Carnificis namque est (as Wecker notes) inter ipsos cruciatus ingens precium exposcere, as a hungry chirurgeon often produces and wire-draws his cure, so long as there is any hope of pay, Non missura cutem, nisi plena cruoris hirudo. ("The leech never releases the skin until he is filled with blood.") Many of them, to get a fee, will give physic to every one that comes, when there is no cause, and they do so irritare silentem morbum, as Heurnius complains, stir up a silent disease, as it often falleth out, which by good counsel, good advice alone, might have been happily composed, or by rectification of those six non-natural things otherwise cured. This is Naturæ bellum inferre, to oppugn nature, and to make a strong body weak. Arnoldus in his 8 and 11 Aphorisms gives cautions against, and expressly forbiddeth it. "A wise physician will not give physic, but upon necessity, and first try medicinal diet, before he proceed to medicinal cure." In another place he laughs those men to scorn, that think longis syrupis expugnare dæmones et animi phantasmata, they can purge fantastical imaginations and the devil by physic. Another caution is, that they proceed upon good grounds, if so be there be need of physic, and not mistake the disease; they are often deceived by the similitude of symptoms, saith Heurnius, and I could give instance in many consultations, wherein they have prescribed opposite physic. Sometimes they go too perfunctorily to work, in not prescribing a just course of physic: To stir up the humour, and not to purge it, doth often more harm than good. Montanus consil. 30. inveighs against such perturbations, "that purge to the halves, tire nature, and molest the body to no purpose." 'Tis a crabbed humour to purge, and as Laurentius calls this disease, the reproach of physicians: Bessardus, flagellum medicorum, their lash; and for that cause, more carefully to be respected. Though the patient be averse, saith Laurentius, desire help, and refuse it again, though he neglect his own health, it behoves a good physician not to leave him helpless. But most part they offend in that other extreme, they prescribe too much physic, and tire out their bodies with continual potions, to no purpose. Aetius tetrabib. 2. 2. ser. cap. 90. will have them by all means therefore "to give some respite to nature," to leave off now and then; and Laelius a Fonte Eugubinus in his consultations, found it (as he there witnesseth) often verified by experience, "that after a deal of physic to no purpose, left to themselves, they have recovered." 'Tis that which Nic. Piso, Donatus Altomarus, still inculcate, dare requiem naturæ, to give nature rest.

 

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