« PreviousContinue »
RHAZES'S TREATISE on the SMALLPOX and MEASLES.
Of the causes of the small pox; and how it comes to pass, that no mortal, except by chance here and there one, escapes from this disease: also a brief account of what Galen has mentioned concerning it.
S to those physicians, who affirm, that the moft excellent Galen has made no mention of the fmall-pox, and therefore that he did not know this diftemper; furely they have either never read his works at all, or only very curforily; nay, moft of them do not know, whether what he plainly fays of it, is to be understood of that difeafe. For Galen, in a certain treatise, fays, this does good this and that way, and also against the small-pox. And in the beginning of the fourteenth book, of pulfes, that the blood is putrefied in an extraordinary degree, and that the inflammation runs fo high, that it burns the skin ; fo that the fmall-pox, and peftilent carbuncle are bred in it, and quite confume it.
And in the ninth treatise of the book of the ufe of the parts, he obferves, that the fuperfluous parts of aliments, which are not turned into blood, and remain in the members, putrefy, and in time increasing do ferment; whence, at last, are generated the peftilential carbuncle, the small-pox, and confluent inflammations.
Lastly, in the fourth part of his commentary up
on the Timæus of Plato, he fays, that the ancients gave the name payμon to every thing which produces redness, as the carbuncle, and fmall-pox; and that these difeafes are bred in thofe in whom bile abounds.
But as for those who allege, that he has proposed no remedy or cure, nor explained the nature of this diftemper, they indeed fay what is true: for he mentions no more than what we have cited. But God knows, whether he might not have done it in fome other books, which have not yet appeared in Arabic.
As for my own part, I have with great diligence inquired of those who understand both the Syriac and Greek language, and defired them to inform me concerning this matter: but not one of them could tell me more than what I have fet down. But this indeed 1 very much wonder at, and why he passed over this distemper in filence; efpecially fince it was frequent in his time, and therefore there was great reafon for his prescribing remedies against it, as he was fo diligent in finding out the caufes and cures of difeafes.
The moderns have, it is true, propofed fome medicines for the cure of the finall-pox, but not distinctly and clearly enough; neither has any one of them explained the cause of it, and why, except here and there one, nobody escapes it; nor fhewed the methods of cure in a right order. Upon which account, I hope that the good man who encouraged me to undertake this work, will have his recompenfe; and that my reward will be doubled, when I fhall have described whatever is neceffary to the cure of this difease in due method, affigning to every thing its proper place, by the help of God.
Wherefore let us begin to recite the efficient cause of this distemper; and why it happens, that scarcely any one mortal efcapes it. And then we will pursue feparately, in the fubfequent chapters, the other things which relate to it; and, with God's affiftance, fhall fly on each head whatever is neceffary for its cure.
I fay then, that the body of man, from the time of his nativity, till he arrives at old age, continually tends to drinefs; and that therefore the blood of infants and children, and, in proportion, the blood of young men, abounds much more with humidity, than the blood of old men, and is alfo hotter. And this indeed Galen teaches us, in his commentaries upon the aphorifms, where he fays, the heat of children is indeed greater in quantity, than the heat of young men ; but the heat of young men is more violent in quality. This alfo is evident from the force of their natural actions, as the digeftion of their food, and accretion in children.
Therefore, the blood of children may be compared to new wine, in which the fermentation leading to ripeness is not yet begun; and the blood of young men to the fame, fermenting and emitting fteams, till it is quiet and ripe. And, laftly, the blood of old men is like to wine, whofe ftrength is gone, fo that it becomes vapid, and begins to grow four.
Now, the fmall-pox arifes, when the blood putrefies and ferments, and the fermenting particles are thrown out of it; the blood of children, like to new wine, being changed to that of young men,
* Here begins the translation of the anonymous Greek interpreter.
which is as wine perfectly ripened. And this fermentation and ebullition is the disease.
And this is the reafon why children, efpecially males, rarely escape being feized with it. For, without doubt, as the wine naturally ferments till it comes to perfection; so the blood undergoes the fame alteration, in paffing from its firft to its fecond state. And there feldom happens a temperament in an infant or child, in which fuch a change can be made in a small time, and without manifeft figns of it as may be judged from their diet, which in infants is milk; and in children, not milky, but their food is stronger, in proportion, than that of other ages, and more compounded. To which it may be added, that in thefe there is, after food, a greater motion of the humours. For thefe reafons, very few children go into life without this diftemper. Befides this, great alterations are made here, by different temperaments, manners of life, and habits; as alfo by the conftitution of the ambient air, and state of the blood, both as to quantity and quality for in fome this flows quicker, in others flower; in fome it abounds, in others it is deficient; in fome it is very bad, in others in a better condition.
As to young men, whereas the change in their blood is already made, its maturation finished, and the particles of moisture, which should cause putrefaction, are now exhaled; hence it follows, that this disease cannot be generated in them, at least but very feldom, that is, in fuch whofe blood ftill abounds with too much humidity, or is very corrupt, with a violent inflammation; or who, perhaps, when they were children, had been attacked with the chickenVOL. II. Y pox,
pox, when their blood had not yet paffed from the first state to the second; or lastly, who have a mơderate heat, that is, without much moisture; and when they had the chicken pox, were of a dry temperament, and lean.
In an advanced age, the diftemper will scarcely appear, unleis perhaps in putrid, malignant, and peftilential conflitutions of the air, in which this disease chiefly rages. For fuch an air difpofes bodies very much to heat and mcifture; and an inflamed air promotes eruptions, by blowing up the fpirit in the ventricles of the heart, and communicating to it the like dispofition, which, by the force of the heart, is fent into the blood, which is in the arteries; and brings it into the fame fate of corruption.
Thus we have fufficiently, though fuccinctly, treated of the caufes of the fmall-pox. We fshall now proceed to fhew, what bodies are most difpofed to this difeafe and the meafles.
CHA P. II.
Of bodies diftofed to the small-fox.
Odies inclined to this difeafe are generally fuch as are moist, pale, and fleshy; the well-coloured alfo, efpecially, if they are ruddy and tending to brown, are difpofed to it, if they are loaded with flesh. So are likewise those who are frequently liable to acute and continual fevers, to running of the eyes, red pimples, and boils, proceeding from the eating of fweet things; as dates, honey, figs, grapes, and all thofe fweets in which there is a grofs hu