« PreviousContinue »
conveyance of my notions : and I have added some particular rules and cautions relating to cathartics, for the fake of young physicians chiefly; who are often disposed too rafhly to attempt, and too eagerly to embrace every novelty in practice, especially when handed down to them from perfons of whom they have a high opinion. For nothing can be fo universally useful, as not to be liable to fone exception; and it is sometimes as great a mark of found judgment, not to do mischief, as to do good *. Wherefore, not only in this case, but in all others within the compass of our art, the physician ought constantly to remember that of the poet to
Nothing does good, but what may als hurt. When I had finished this small work, I thought it might be no less agreeable than useful to the gentlemen of the faculty, if to it I annexed Rhazes's treatise of the finall-pox and measles, faithfully translated from the original Arabic into Latin : as it contains an ample detail of many things relating to the nature and cure of these diseafes, which, making proper allowances for time and place, coincide pretty much with the doctrines I have laid down. And indeed, it has given me no small pleasure, to see my sentiments confirmed by the greatest physician of the age he lived in. But I have often wondered how it came to pass, that this book had never before been published either in Arabic, or in Latin from the Arabic. Robert Stephens was the first who published it in Greek, at the end of his cdition of Alexander Trallian's work in the * Hippocrates in his first book of epidemics. Ovid. triit. lib. ii. ver. 266..
year 1548 *
The Greek copy has been translated into Latin by three several perfons; the first of whom was Georgius Valla of Placentia, whose version was published at Venice, A. D. 1498, and went through several editions. This was followed by a fecond, done by Johannes Guinterius of Andernac, printed at Strasbourg in 1549 : and Nicolaus Macchellus, a physician of Modena, put forth a third, printed at Venice, in 1555, and again, in 1586 t. Now, the Greek copy was not translated directly from the Arabic, but from a Syriac version, which latter feems to have been done for the use of the common people ; and upon comparing the Greek with this Latin tranf. lation from the Arabic, which I now publish, it will appear very inaccurate, by the entire omission of some things, and faulty rendering of others; whether through the insufficiency, or negligence of the Syriac or Greek translator, I shall not determine. But the manner how I acquired my copy is this.
After having caused a diligent search to be made in our public libraries for an Arabic copy of this treatise to no purpose, I wrote to my good friend the celebrated Dr Boerhaave, professor of physic in the university of Leyden, entreating him to inform me, if fuch an one could be found in the public library there, which I knew to be very rich in Arabic manuscripts. A copy was accordingly found, which he got transcribed by the Arabic profeffor, and kindly fent it ou ver to me; but it proved to be full of faults. This, however, I gave at two separate times to two gentlemen of character, to put it into Latin. One was Soo
* The Greek title is, 'Parbyos magi nomax.is + Vid. Fabricii bibl. Græc. vol. xii. p. 692.
lomon Negri, a native of Damascus, extremely well versed in all the oriental tongues ; the other John Gagnier, Arabic reader at Oxford : and they both performed the talk with great diligence. But upon comparing the two versions i observed that they differed in several places, not in the diction only, but even in the sense : wherefore, as I have no knowledge of the Arabic tongue, I could not determine which of the two to prefer. This uncertainty made me apply to my worthy friend, the Reverend Dr Thomas Hunt, for several years past Arabic professor in the university of Oxford, and lately made Hebrew profesfor likewise, who, among his many eminent qualities, is universally esteemed a great master of the eastern languages. This gentleman, at my request, generoully undertook the province of strictly collating the two Latin versions above mentioned with the Arabic copy, in my presence; and out of them he compiled this, which I now give to the public ; and doubtless he would have made it much better, had the Arabic copy been more correct,
London, Sept. 29.
A DISCOURSE on the SMALL
POX and MEASLES.
C H A P.
of the origin of the small-pox.
Efore I enter on the medical part of my subject,
I shall briefly inquire into the origin of the small-pox, and the manner of its propagation from thofe countries where it first appeared, almost over the whole face of the earth, as far as I can trace it in history : for these points once fettled will throw a confiderable light on the nature of the diftemper, and the methods of cure, which I shall propofe in the féquel of the discourse.
That this is a modern disease, whereby I mean, that it was not known to the ancient Greek and Roman physicians, is to me a matter beyond all doubt. For I think they are widely mistaken who endeavour to prove, that the anthrax, epinyctis, and such like eruptions on the skin, were our small.pox : because it is more than probable, that the ancient physicians, who were extremely diligent in the description and distinctive characteristics of all difeafes, would not have been content with barely mentioning this, which is so contagious, and makes such dreadful havock among mankind; but would have minutely described it, had they been acquainted with it.
Wherefore we must have recourse to the writings of the Arabian physicians for the first notices of this disease. The chief of these was Rhazes, who lived about the year of Christ 900. We have a large volume of this great man, published under the title of his Continent, a treasure of physic, which seems to have been compiled from his common-place book. In this he informs us, that a physician, whose name was Aaron, (who wrote thirty books of physic), had treated of the diagnostics, the various kinds, and the method of cure of the small-pox *. Now, this Aaron was born at Alexandria, and in the reign of Mohammed practised about the year 622 t. Whence the learned Dr Freind conjectured, that possibly the small-pox took its rise in Egypt 1. But the origin of the disease is carried farther back than the time of this Aaron, by Dr John James Reiske, who says that he read the following words in an old Arabic manuscript of the public library at Leyden : “ This year, in fine, the small
pox and measles made their first appearance in Ara" bia ||." By this year he means that of the birth of Mohammed, which was the year of Christ 572.
Now, úpon mature consideration of the whole affair, I am inclined to think that there are certain difeases, which are originally engendered and propagated in certain countries, as in their native foil. These by Hippocrates are called diseases of the country t; and some of them, sprung up in various parts of Europe and Asia, from peculiar defects in the air, soil, and waters, he has most accurately described + : but the more modern Greeks call them endemic diseases H.
+ Vid. Abulpharajii hift. 1 Oper. p. 330:
ll Hoc demun anno comparuerunt primum in terris Arabum variolæ & morbilli, Disp. inaug. Lug. Bat. 1746.
+ Νεσήμαία επιχώρια. + Lib. de aëre, aquis, & locis. ++ 'Evenueiss. Vid. Galen, com. i. in epidem. Hip. VOL. II. р
* Contin. 419. 2: dynast. p. 99.