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spasm. This is like a man mounting upon a load he is going to lift. That there is a power in nature which tends to correct errors and remove diseases, there is no doubt; but this but this power never acts in opposition to itself. The spasm or constriction, the dilatation, the accumulation of blood, and the increased impetus, all exist in the same place, at the same time. Perhaps the teachers of this doctrine are of an opinion, which some say is founded on experience, that to make any thing generally believed, it is necessary to make it as absurd as possible, and to dash beyond all human comprehension. For when any thing is simple, men begin to reason, and when they begin to reason, they may begin to doubt. Gardeners dung their trees to give them nourishment, and they bend the branches, &c. to deprive them of nourishment, what
they call superfluous sap. Fortunately their practice, like that of physic, is not deduced from the theory; for the very method they take to deprive the branch of sap, gives it more. If any person unprejudiced will think but for a moment, and consider the phenomena of inflammation, the tumefaction, and redness, and the remote causes, burning, beating, bruising, compressing, overstretching, overloading, &c. and also the methods of cure, he will be convinced that the proximate cause is quite the reverse of what is now taught, and that it is a diminished action of the vessels of the part, at least that their action is weaker, in proportion, than the other parts of the sanguiferous system; and from this cause, all the phenomena of inflammation can be explained, in one progressive and connected series of cause and effect, and all the
methods of cure appear consistent, according to the laws of nature, without any of that perplexity and contradiction occasioned by setting up two opposite agents. And any person will be convinced that the power of vessels receiving such injuries, and loaded with such burdens, cannot be increased by any means the vis medicatrix naturae can adopt, far less by a spasm which
adds to their burden.
But nothing, perhaps, has tended more to retard improvements and discoveries, than the invention of words without a meaning because we are apt to refer any thing we do not understand to these terms, and thus, thinking we understand it, rest satisfied without further investigation.
So, in former times, every thing was re
ferred to plastic powers; very lately, in our own time, Phlogiston explained every phenomenon in nature.
Now Hydrogen, Carbon, Caloric, and their allies, have supplanted Phlogiston in all his prerogatives; who succeeds them we are not yet certain, but it is said there are already strong symptoms of a revolution. The nerves are thrown out like a bait to fishes; the patient and his friends catch it greedily, and swallowing it like the apple of knowledge, become as wise as the doctor himself. My dear, says the wife, I always told you it was the nerves was the matter with that child, but you never would believe me, now you see the doctor says so too the husband nods assent, and all are satisfied they understand the disease.
The people never heard of nerves, nor ever dreamed it was a disease, till they were taught by professional men; now the man who would venture to tell them it was nonsense, would be reckoned mad. So says the professor; the parson says so too; and who dare speak or think after that?
You must not take the bark off the trees, the gardener says it will kill them; they will all be burnt alive by the heat of summer, and starved to death by the cold of winter.
Another great bar to discovery is the vanity and self-conceit of men; who thinking themselves superior beings, despise nature, and refuse to be taught by her. Anxious to outstrip her, wherever they see an effect, they leave her path, and, always