Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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tendeth also to exhibit medicines to exhilarate the
mind, to confirm the courage, to clarify the wits, to
corroborate tlie memory, and the like : but the scru-
ples and superstitions of diet, and other regiment of
the body, in the sect of the Pythagoreans, in the he-
resy of the JManicheans, and in the law of JMahomet,
do exceed : So likewise the ordinances in the cere-
monial law, interdicting the eating of the blood and
the fat, distinguishing between beasts clean and un-
clean for meat, are many and strict. Nay the faith
itself, being clear and serene from all clouds of cere-
mony, yet retaineth the use of fastings, abstinences,
and other ]nacerations and humiliations of the body, as
things real and not figurative. The root and life of all
which prescripts is, besides the ceremony, the consi-
deration of that de])endency which the affections of
the mind are submitted unto upon the state and dis-
position of the body. And if any man of weak judg-
ment do conceive, that this suffering of the mind from
the body, doth either question the immortality, or de-
rogate from the sovereignty of the soul, he may be
taught in easy instances, that the infant in the mo-
ther's womb is compatible with the mother, and yet
separable : and the most absolute monarch is some-
times led by his servants, and yet without subjection.
As for the reciprocal knowledge, which is the opera-
tion of the conceits and passions of the mind upon the
body ; we see all wise physicians, in the prescriptions
of their regiments to their patients, do ever consider
accidentia animi, as of great force to further or hinder
remedies, or recoveries ; and more especially it is an
inquiry of great depth and worth concerning imagi-
nation, how, and how far it altereth the body proper
of the imaginant. For although it hath a manifest
power to hmt, it foUoweth not it hath the same de-
gree of power to help ; no more than a man can con-
clude, that because there be pestilent airs, able sud-


denly to kill a man in health, therefore there should
be sovereign airs, able suddenly to cure a man in
sickness. But the inquisition of this part is of great
use, though it ueedeth, as Socrates said, " a Delian
diver," being difficult and profound. But unto all
this knowledge de communi vinculo, of tlie concord-
ances between the mind and the body, that part of
inquiry is most necessaryj which cQnsicWreth~~of ~the
seats and domiciles, which the several faculties of the
mind do take and occupate in the organs of the body;
which knowledge hath been attempted, and is con-
troverted, and deserveth to be much better inquired.
For the opinion of Plato, who placed the under-
standing in the brain, animosity (which he did un-
fitly call anger, having a greater mixture with pride)
in the heart, and concupiscence or sensuality in the
liver, deserveth not to be despised, but much less to
be allowed. So then we have constituted, as in our
own wish and advice, the inquiry touching human
nature entire, as a just portion of knowledge to be
handled apart.

The knowledge that concemeth man's Body, is
divided as the good of man's body is divided, unto
i^'t' ' which it referreth. The good of man's body is of

four kinds, health, beauty, strength, and pleasure j_
So the knowledges are medicine, or art of cure ; art
of decoration, which is called cosmetic ; art of acti-
vity, which is called athletic; and art voluptuary,"
which Tacitus truly calleth " eruditus luxus." This
subject of man's body is of all other things in nature
most susceptible of remedy ; but then that remedy
is most susceptible of error. For the same subtility
of the subject doth cause large possibility, and easy
failing ; and therefore the inquiry ought to be the
more exact.

To speak therefore of medicine, and to resume
that we have said, ascendinglTlitne" higher ; the an-
cient opinion that man was microcosmus, an ab-
tract or model of tlie world, hatli been fantastically
strained by Paracelsus and the alchemists, as if there
were to be found in man's body certain correspond-


enccs and parallels, wliich should have respect to all
varieties of things, as stars, planets, minerals, which
are extant in the great world. But thus much is
evidently true, that of all Guhstances which nature
hath produced, main's botly is the most extremely
compounded : For we see herbs and plants are nou-
risHedby earth and water ; beasts for the most part
by herhs and fruits ; man hy the flesh of beasts, birds,
fishes, herbs, grains, fruits, water, and tlic manifold
alterations, dressings, and preparations of these several
bodies, before they come to be his food and aliment.
Add hereunto, that beasts have a more simple order
of life, and less change of affections to work upon
their bodies ; whereas man, in his mansion, sleep,
exercise, passions, hath infinite variations; and it can-
not be denicjl, but that the body of man of all other
things is of the most compoiuided mass. The soul
on the other side is the simplest of substances, as is
well expressed :

Purumque reliquit

yEthcreum sensiim, atquc aurai" simplicis io-nem.

So that it is no marvel though the soul so placed en-
joy uo rest, if that principle be true, that " JNIotus re-
rum est rapidus extra locum, placidus in loco." But
to the purpose : this variable composition of man's
body hath made it as an instrument easy to distemper,
and therefore the poets did vv^eli to conjoin music and
medicine in Apollo, because the office of medicine is
but to tune this £ujjqus luM^P-cf fflaii*sl)ocl^^^
rediiccTt^jto.Ijiu:iiionyv So then the subject being so
variable, hath made the art by consequence more
conjectural ; and the art being conjectural, hath
made so much the more place to be left for im-
posture. For almost all other arts and sciences are
judged by acts or master-pieces, as I may term them,
and not by the successes and events. The lawyer is
judged by the virtue of his pleading, and not by the
issue of the cause. The master of the ship is judged
by the directing his course aright, and not by the for-
tune of the A^oyage. But the physician, and per-
haps the politician, hath no particular acts demon-



strative of his ability, hut is judged most by the event;
which is ever but as it is taken : for who can tell, if a
patient die or recover, or if a state be preserved or
ruined, whether it be art or accident ? And therefore
many times the impostor is prized, and the man of
virtue taxed. Nay, we see the weakness and credu-
lity of men is such, as they will often prefer a moun-
tebank or witch before a learned physician. And
therefore the poets were clear-sighted in discerning
this extreme folly, when they made iE,sculapius and
Circe brother and sister, both children of the sun, as
in the verses ; Mn. vii. 772.

Ipse repertorem medicinae talis et artis

Fulmine Phoebigenam Stygias detrusit ad nndas :

And again.

Dives inaccessos ubi Solis filia luces, etc. ^n vii. 11.
For in all times, in the opinion of the multitude,
witches, and old women, and impostors, have had a
competition with physicians. And what followeth ?
Even this ; that physicians say to themselves, as So-
lomon expresseth it u})on an higher occasion ; " If it
befal to me, as befalleth to the fools, why should I la-
bour to be Uiore wise ? " And therefore I cannot much
blame physicians, that they use commonly to intend
some other art or practice, which they fancy more
than their profession. For you shall have of them, an-
tiquaries, poets, humanists, statesmen, merchants, di-
vines, and in every of these better seen than in their
profession; and no doubt, upon this ground, that
they find that mediocrity and excellency in their- art
maketh no difference in profit or reputation towards
their fortune ; for the weakness of patients, and
sweetness of life, and nature of hope, maketh men de-
pend on physicians with all their defects. But,
nevertheless, these things, which wo have spoken of,
are courses begotten between a little occasion, and a
great deal of sloth and default ; for if we will excite
and awake our observation, we shall sec, in familiar
instances, what a predominant faculty the subtilty of
spirit hath over the variety of matter or form : no-
thing more variable than faces and countenances, yet


men can bear in memory the infinite distinction.? of
them ; nay, a painter with a few shells of colours, and
the benefit of his eye, iind habit of his imagination,
can imitate them all that ever have been, are, or may
be, if they were brought before him. Nothing more
variable than voices, yet men can likewise discern
them personally ; nay, you shall have a buffoon, or
panto))iimus, will express as many as he pleascth.
Nothing more variable than the differing .sounds of
words, yet men have found the way to reduce them
to a few siinple letters. So that it is not the insuffi-
ciency or incapacity of man's mind, but it is the re-
mote standing or placing thereof, that breedcth these
mazes and incomprehensions : for as the sense afar off
is full of mistaking, but is exact at hand, so it is of
the understanding; the remedy whereof is not to
quicken or strengthen the organ, but to go nearer to
the object ; and therefore there is no doubt, but if
the physicians will learn and use the true approaches
and avenues of nature, they may assume as much as
the poet saith :

Et quorum variant morbi, variabimus artes :
Mille niali species, mille salutis erunt.

Which that they should do, the nobleness of their
art doth deserve, well shadowed by the poets, in that
they made iEsculapius to be the son of the Sun, the
one being the fountain of life, the other as the second
stream ; but infinitely more honoured by the example
of our Saviour, who made the body of man the object
of his miracles, as the soul was the object of his doc-
trine. For we read not that ever he vouchsafed to do
any miracle about honour or money, except that one
for giving tribute to CaBsar, but only about the pre-
serving, sustaining, and healing the body of man.

iSIedicine is a science which hath been, as we have
said, more proiesscdthaiV laboured, and yet more la-
boured than advanced ; the labour having been, in
my judgment, rather in circle than in progression.
For I find much iteration, but small addition. It
considereth the causes of diseases, with the occasions
or impulsions ; the diseases themselves, with the ac-

I 2



cidents ; and the cures, with the preservations. The
deiicicnces which I think good to note, heing a few
of~mtiiiy7"and those such as are of a more open and
manifest nature, I will enumerate and not place.
Narraiioiies The first is tlic discoutinuauce of the ancient and
serious Hiligence of Hippocrates, which used to set
down a narrative of the special cases of his patients,
and how they proceeded, and how they were judged
by recovery or death. Therefore having an example
proper in the father of the art, I shall not need to
allcdge an example foreign, of the wisdom of the
lawyers, who are careful to report new cases and de-
cisions for the direction of future judgments. This
continuance of Medicinal History I find deficient,
which I understand neither to be so infinite as to
extend to every common case, nor so reserved, as to
admit none but wonders ; for many things are new
in the manner, which are not new in the kind ; and
if men will intend to observe, they shall find much
worthy to observe.
Anatomia Ju tlic inquiry which is made by anatomy, I find
comparata. j^^^^,]^ deficicuce '. for they inquire of tli'e'pafts, and
their substances, figures, and collocations ; but they
inquire not of the diversities of the par ts^. the seca'ecies
of the passages, and the seats or nestlings of the
humours, nor much of the footsteps and impressions
of diseases ; the reason of which omission I suppose
to be, because the first inquiry may be satisfied in the
view of one or a few anatomies ; but the latter, being
comparative and casual, must arise from the view of
many. And as to the diversity of parts, there is no
doubt but the facture or framing of the inward parts
is as full of difference as the outward, and in that is
the cause continent of many diseases, which not
being observed, they quarrel many times with the
humours, which are not in fault, the fault being in
the very frame and mechanic of the part, which can-
not be removed by medicine alterative, but must be
accommodated and palliated by diets and medicines
familiar. And for the passages and pores, it is true,
which was anciently noted, that the more subtile


of tliem appear not in anatomies, because tliey are
shut and latent in dead bodies, though they be open
and manifest in life : which being supposed, though
the inhumanity of anatomia vlvorum was by Celsus
justly approved ; yet in regard of the great use of tliis
observation, the inquiry needed not by him so slightly
to have been relinquished altogether, or referred to
the casual practices of surgery, but might have been
well diverted upon dissection of beasts alive,
which, notwithstanding the dissimilitude of their
parts, may sufficiently satisfy this inquiry. And for the
humours, they are commonly passed over in anatomies
as purgaments, whereas it is most necessary to observe,
what cavities, nests, and receptacles the humours do
find in the parts, with the differing kind of the hu-
mour so lodged and received. And as for the foot-
steps of diseases, and their devastations of the inward
parts, impostumations, exulcerations, discontinuations,
putrefactions, consumptions, contractions, extensions,
convulsions, dislocations, obstructions, repletions, to-
gether with all preternatural substances, as stones,
carnosities, excrescences, worms, and the like ; they
ought to have been exactly observed by multitude of
anatomies, and the contribution of mens several ex-
periences, and carefully set down, both historically,
according to the appearances, and artificially, with a
reference to the diseases and symptoms which result-
ed from them, in case where the anatomy is of a de-
funct patient : whereas now, upon opening of bodies,
they are passed over slightly and in silence.

In the inquiry of diseases they do abandon tlie cures inquisuio
of many, some as in their nature incurable, and others ,",'J,"'iTb^
as past the period of cure ; so that Sylla and the tri- sanai)iiii>us
lunvirs never proscribed so many men to die, as they
do by their ignorant edicts, whereof numbers do es-
cape with less difficulty, than they did in the Roman
proscriptions. Therefore I will not doubt to note as
a deficiencc, that they inquire not the perfect cures oT
many diseases, or extremities of diseases, but pro-
nouncing them incurable, do enact a law of neglect,
and exempt ignorance from,discrctlit.



De eutba- Nay farther, 1 esteem it the office of a physician not
riore. ^''^^' only to restore health, but to mitigate pain and dolors,
and not only when such mitigation may conduce to
recovery, but when it may serve to make a fair and
easy passage : for it is no small felicity which Augustus
Csesar was wont to wish to himself, that same eutha-
nasia, and which was specially noted in the death of
Antoninus Pius, whose death was after the fashion and
semblance of a kindly and pleasant sleep, 80 it is
written of Epicurus, that after his disease was judged
desperate, he drowned his stomach and senses with a
large draught and ingurgitation of wine ; whereupon
the epigram was made, " Hinc Stygias ebrius hausife
aquas :" he was not sober enough to taste any bitter-
ness of the Stygian water. But the physicians, con-
trariwise, do make a kind of scruple and religion to stay
with the patient after the disease is deplored ; whereas,
in my judgment, they ought both to inquire the skill,
and to give the attendances for the facilitating and
asswaging of the pains and agonies of death.
Medicinae In tliejconsideration of^tlie cures..Qf diseases^ J find
nSaks. ^ deficience in the receipts of propriety, respecting tLc
particular cures of diseases: for the physicians have
frustrated the fruit of tradition and experience by their
magistralitics, in adding, and taking out, and chang-
ing rjiiid pro quo, in their receipts, at their pleasures,
commanding so over the medicine, as the medicine
cannot command over the disease ; for except it be
treacle, and JVlithridatum, and of late diascordium, and
a few more, tliey tie themselves to no receipts severe-
ly and religiously : for as to the confections of sale
wliich are in the shops, tliey are for readiness, atid not
for i)ropriety ; for they are upon general intentions of
purging, opening, comforting, altering, and not much
appropriated to particular (Hscases ; and tliis is the
cause wliy empirics and old women are more happy
many times in their cures than learned physicians,
because they are more religious in holding their me-
dicines. Therefore here is the deficience which I
find, that physicians have not, partly out of their own
jnacticc, j)artly out of the constant probations reported


in books, and jiartly ont of the traditions of empirics,
set dovCTTTind dcli\crcd over certain cxpcrimentarme-
dicineS^for the cure of particular diseases, besides their
own cbiijcctural and magistral descriptions. For as
they were tlic men of the best composition in the state
of Rome, which either being consuls inclined to the
people, or being tribunes inclined to the senate ; so in
the matter we now handle^ they be the best physicians,
which being learned, incline to the traditions of expe-
rience, or being empirics, incline to the methods of

In preparation of medicines, 1 do find strange, imitatio
especially, considering how mineral medicines have ^^1.1^'"
been extolled, and that they are safer for the outward ct aquis
than inward parts, that no man hath sought to make "i'bus?""
an imitation by art of natural baths, and medicinable
fountains : which nevertheless are confessed to receive
their virtues from minerals ; and not so only, but dis-
cerned and distinguished from what particular mine-
ral they receive tincture, as sulphur, vitriol, steel, or
the like ; which nature, if it may be reduced to com-
positions of art, both the variety of them will be in-
creased, and the temper of them will be more com-

But lest I grow to be more particular than is agree- F'';"

nil lue-

able, either to my intention or to proportion ; I will sive de '

vicibus me-

conclude this part with the note of onc_defieifiiice.mQr_e»Jl^
which seemeth to mc of greatest consequence ; which
is, that the prescripts ill use are too compendious~to
attain their end ; for to my understanding, it is a vain
antl flaTteriiig opinion to tliink any medicine can be
so sovereign, or so happy, as that the receipt or use of
it can work any great effect upon the body of man :
it were a strange speech, which spoken, or spoken oft,
should reclaim a man from a vice to which he were by
nature subject ; it is order, piu'suit, sequence, and in-
terchange of application, which is mighty in nature ;
which although it require more exact knowledge in
prescribing, and more precise obedience in observing,
yet is recompensed with the magnitude of effects. And
although a man would think by the daily visitations


of the physicians, that there ^vc^c a pursuance in the
cure ; yet let a man look into their prescripts and
ministrations, and he shall find them hut inconstan-
cies, and every day's devices, without any settled pro-
vidence or project ; not that every scrupulous or super-
stitious prescript is effectual, no more than every strait
way is the way to heaven, but the truth of the direc-
tion must precede severity of observance.
I -w For Cosmetic, it hath parts civil, and parts cffcmi-
nate :"fbr cleanness of body was ever esteemed to pro-
ceed from a due reverence to God, to society, and to
ourselves. As for artificial decoration, it is well wor-
thy of the deficiences which it hath ; being neitlier
fine enough to deceive, nor handsome to use, nor whole-
some to please.
^ For Athletic, I take the subject of itjaxgely, that

is to say, for any point of ability, whereunto the body
of man may be brought, whether it be of activity, or of
patience ; whereof activity hath two parts,, stren^h anil
swiftness ; and patience likewise hath two parts, hard-
ness asaiiist wants and extremities, and indurance of
pain and torment, whereof we see the practices in tum-
blers, in savages, and in those that suffer punishment :
nay, if there be any other faculty which falls not within
any of the former divisions, as in those that dive, that
obtain a strange power of containing respiration, and
the like, 1 refer it to this part. Of tliese things the
practices are known, but the philosophy that concern-
cth them is not much inquired ; the rather, I think,
because they arc supposed to be obtained, cither by an
aptness of nature, whioli cannot be taught, or only by
continual custom, which is soon prescribed ; which
tliougli it be not true, yet I forbear to note any defi-
ciences, for tlic Olympian p;ames are down long since,
and the mediocrity of these things is for use ; as for
tlie excellency of them, it scrveth for the most part
but for mercenary ostentation.
{/' For arts of Pleasure sensual, the chief deficienccjij
them is of laws to repress them. For as it hath been
well observed, that the arts which flourish in times
while virtue is in growtli, are military, and while vir-
tue is in state, arc liberal, and while virtue is in decli-


nation, arc voluptuary; so I doubt, tliat this age of the
world is somewhat upon the descent of the wheel. With
arts voluptuury I couple practices jocuhir ; for the de-
ceiving of the senses is one of the pleasures of the senses.
As for games of recreation, I hold them to belong to
civil life and education. And tlnis much of that par-
ticular human philosophy which concerns the body,
which is but the tabernacle of the mind.

Foil Human Knowled^Cj which concerns the Mind,
it hatliTwo^iai^s, The oiie that inquiictli of tlic.sub-
sta nce or nature of the soul or mind ; the other.tb^'^t
inquireth of the faculties or functions thereof.

Unto tTicTfirsi of tTiesc,'flie considerations of the
original of the soul, whether it be native or advcntive,
and how far it is exempted from laws of matter, and
of the immortality thereof, and many other points, do
appertain ; whicli have lieen not more laboriously in-
quired than variously reported ; so as the travel therein
taken, seemeth to have been rather in a maze than in
a way. But although I am of opinion, that this knov/-
ledge may be more really and soundly inquired even
in nature than it hath been ; yet I hold, that^iii the
end it must be bounded by religion^ or else it v.ill be
subjecf^fo Jleceit andTdelusiou : for as the substance
of the soul fn the creation was not extracted out of
the mass of heaven and earth, by the benediction of a
producat, but was immediately inspired from God; so
it is not possible that it should be, otherwise than by
accident, subject to the laws of heaven and earth, which
are the subject of philosophy ; and therefore the true
knowledge of the nature, and state of the soul, must
come by the same inspiration that gave the substance.
Unto this part of knowledge touching the soul there
be two appendixes, which, as they have been handled,
have rather vapoured forth fables than kindled truth,
divination, and fascination.

Divination hath been anciently and fitly divided
into arFifrcial, and natural : whereof artificial is, when
the mind maketh a prediction by argument, concluding
upon signs and, tokens : natmal is, vyhen the mind hath
a presentiou by an internal j)ower, without the induce-


ment of a sign. Artificial is of two sorts, either when
the argument is coupled with a derivation of causes,
which is rational ; or when it is only grounded upon
a coincidence of the effect, which is experimental ;
whereof the latter for the most part is superstitious :
such as were the heathen ohservations upon the in-
spection of sacrifices, the flights of birds, the swarm-
ing of bees, and such as was the Chaldean astrology,

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 52)