George Atherton Aitken.

The life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians online

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simplidter et secundum quid, provided Martin would part with
matcrialifer ct formal'dcr : but it was found that, without the
help of the defensive ai'mour of those distinctions, the argu-
ments cut so deep, that they fetched blood at ever}" stroke.


Their theses were picked out of Suarez, Thomas Aquinas, and
other learned writers on those subjects, I shall gi\e the
reader a taste of some of them.

I. If the innate desire of the knowledge of metaphj^sics
was the cause of the fall of Adam ; and the arhor por-
phyrlana the tree of knowledge of good and evil ?

II. If transcendental goodness could be truly predicated of
the devil ? Affirmed.

III. Whether one or many be first ? or if one doth not sup-
pose the notion of many ? Suarez.

IV. If the desire of news in mankind be appetitus innatus,
not elicitus ? Affirmed.

V. Whether there is m human understandings potential

falsities ? Affirmed.
VI. Whether God loves a possible angel better than an
actually-existent fly ? Denied.
VII, If angels pass from one extreme to another, mthout
going through the middle ? Aquinas.
VIII. If angels loiow things more clearly in a morning?
IX. Whether every angel hears what one angel says to
another ? Denied. Aquinas.
X. If temptation be proprium quarto modo of the devil?

Denied. Aquinas.
XI. Whether one devil can illuminate another ? Aquinas.
XII. If there would have been any females born in the state
of innocence ? Aquinas.
XIII. If the creation was finished in six days, because six is
the most perfect number ; or if six be the most peifect
number, because the Creation was finished in six days ?

There were several others, of which in the course of the
life of this learned person we may have occasion to
treat : and one particularly that remains undecided to
this day ; it was taken from the learned Suarez.

XIV. An prater esse reale actualis essentice sit aliud esse 'faeces-
sariuni quo res actualiter existat ? In English thus :



Whether besides the real being of actual being, there be
any other being necessary to cause a thing to be ?

This brings into my mind a project to banish metaphysics
out of Spain, which it was supposed might be effectuated by
this method : that nobody should use any compound or de-
compound of the substantial verbs but as they are read in the
common conjugations ; for eveiy body will allow, that if you
debar a metaphysician from ens, essentia, entitas, suhsistentia,
&c., there is an end of him.

Crambe regretted extremely that substantial forms, a race of
harmless beings which had lasted for many years, and afforded
a comfortable subsistence to many poor philosophers, should be
now hunted down like so many wolves, without the possibility
of a retreat. He considered that it had gone much harder with
them than with essences, which had retired from the schools
into the apothecaries' shops, where some of them had been
advanced to the degree of quintessences. He thought there
should be a retreat for poor substantial forms, among the gentle-
man-ushers at Court ; and that there were indeed substantial
forms, such as forms of prayer, forms of government, wdthout
which the things themselves could never long subsist. He also
used to wonder that there was not a reward for such as could
find out a fourth figure in logic, as well as for those who
should discover the longitude.



Cornelius, it is certain, had a most superstitious veneration
for the ancients ; and if they contradicted each other, his reason
was so pliant and ductile, that he was always of the ojoinion of
the last he read. But he reckoned it a point of honour never
to be vanquished in a dispute ; from which quality he acquired
the title of the Invincible Doctor. While the professor of
anatomy was demonstrating to his son the several kinds of
intestines, Cornelius affirmed that there were only two, the
colon and the aichos, according to Hippocrates, who it was im-
possible could ever be mistaken. It was in vain to assure him
this error proceeded from want of accuracy in dividing the
whole canal of the guts : ' Say what you please,' he replied, ' this
is both mine and Hippocrates' opmion.' 'You may with equal


reason,' answered the professor, 'affirm that a man's liver hath
five lobes, and deny the cu'culation of the blood. ' ' Ocular
demonstration,' said Cornelius, 'seems to be on your side, yet I
shall not give it up : show me any viscus of a human body,
and I will bring you a monster that differs from the common
rule, in the structure of it. If nature shows such variety in the
same age, why may she not have extended it further in
several ages ? Produce me a man now of the age of an ante-
diluvian, of the strength of Samson, or the size of the giants.
If in the whole, why not in parts of the body, may it not be
possible the present generation of men may differ from the
ancients ? The moderns have perhaps lengthened the channel of
the guts by gluttony, and diminished the liver by hard drmking.
Though it shall be demonstrated that modern blood cii'culates,
yet I will believe with Hippocrates, that the blood of the
ancients had a flux and reflux from the heart, like a tide. Con-
sider how luxuiy hath introduced new diseases, and with them,
not improljably, altered the whole course of the fluids. Con-
sider how the current of mighty rivers, nay the veiy channels
of the ocean, are changed from what they were in ancient days ;
and can we be so vain to imagine that the microcosm of the
human body alone is exempted from the fate of all things ? I
question not but plausible conjectures may be made even as to
the time when the blood first began to circulate.' — Such dis-
putes as these frequently perplexed the professor to that degree,
that he would now and then in a passion leave him in the
middle of a lecture, as he did at this time.

There unfortunately happened soon after an unusual acci-
dent, which retarded the prosecution of the studies of Martin.
Having purchased the body of a malefactor, he hired a room for
its dissection near the Pest-fields m St. Giles's, at a little dis-
tance from Tyburn Road. Crambe (to whose care tliis body
was committed) carried it thither about twelve o'clock at night
in a hackney coach, few housekeepers being very willuig to let
their lodgings to such kind of operators. As he was softly
stalkmg up stall's in the dark, with the dead man in his arms,
his burden had like to have slipped from hmi, which he (to
save from falling) grasped so hard about the belly, that it forced
the wind through the anus, with a noise exactly Hke the crepitus
of a living man. Crambe (who did not comprehend how this
part of the animal economy could remain in a dead man) was

z a


so terrified that he threw down the body, ran up to his master,
and had scarce breath to tell him what had happened. Martin
with all his philosophy could not jirevail upon him to I'eturn to
his post, — ' You may say what you please,' quoth Crambe, 'no
man ahve ever broke wind more naturally ; nay, he seemed to
be mightily relieved by it.' The rolling of the corpse down
stairs made such a noise that it awaked the whole house. The
maid shrieked, the landlady cried out. Thieves ! but the land-
lord, in his shirt as he was, taking a candle in one hand, and a
drawn sword in the other, ventured out of the room. The maid
%\'ith only a single petticoat i*an up stairs, but spurning at the
dead body, fell upon it in a swoon. Now the landlord stood
still and listened, then he looked behind him, and ventured
down in this manner one stair after another, till he came where
lay his maid, as dead, upon another coqjse unkno^^^l. The
wife ran into the street, and cried out, Murder ! the watch ran
in, while Martin and Crambe, hearing all this uproar, were
coming down staii-s. The watch miagined they were making
their escape, seized them immediately, and carried them to a
neighbouring Justice ; where, upon searching them, several
kinds of knives and dreadful weapons were found upon them.
The Justice first examined Crambe. — 'Wliat is your name?'
says the Justice. 'I have acquired,' quoth Crambe, 'no great
name as yet ; they call me Crambe or Crambo, no matter
which, as to myself; though it may be some dispute to pos-
teiity. ' ' What is yours and your master's profession ? ' ' It is
our business to imbrue our hands in blood ; we cut off the
heads, and pull out the hearts of those that never injured us ;
^ve rip up big-bellied women, and tear children limb from
limb.' Martin endeavoured to interrupt him ; but the Justice,
being strangely astonished with the frankness of Crambe's con-
fession, ordered hun to proceed ; upon which he made the
following speech : —

' May it j^lease your Worship, as touching the body of this
man, I can answer each head that my accusers allege against
me to a hair. They have hitherto talked like numskulls "svith-
out brains ; but if your Worship will not only give me an ear,
iDut regard me with a favourable eye, I will not be brow-beaten
by the supercilious looks of my adversaries, who now stand
cheek by jowl by your Worship. I will prove to their faces,
that their foul mouths have not opened their lips -without a


falsity ; though they have showed their teeth as if they would
bite off my nose. Now, Sir, that I may fairly slip my neck out
of the collar, I beg this matter may not be slightly skinned
over. Though I have no man here to back me, I will unbosom
myself, since truth is on my side, and shall give them their
bellies-full, though they think they have me upon the hip.
Whei'oas they say I came into their lodgings, with arms, and
murdered this man without their privity, I declare I had not
the least finger in it ; and since I am to stand upon my own
legs, nothing of this matter shall be left till I set it upon a
light foot. In the vein I am in, I cannot for my heart's blood
and guts bear this usage. I shall not spare my lungs to defend
my good name : I was ever reckoned a good liver ; and I think
I have the bowels of compassion. I ask but justice, and from
the crown of my head to the sole of my foot I shall ever
acknowledge myself your Worship's humble servant.'

The Justice stared, the landlord and landlady lifted up their
eyes, and Martin fretted, wdiile Crambe talked in this rambling,
incoherent manner ; till at length Martin begged to be heard.
It was with great difficulty that the Justice was convinced, till
they sent for the finisher of human laws, of M'hom the corpse
had been purchased ; who looking near the left ear, knew his
own work, and gave oath accordingly.

No sooner was Martin got home, but he fell into a passion
at Crambe. 'What demon,' he cried, 'hath possessed thee,
that thou wilt never forsake that impertinent custom of pun-
ning? Neither my counsel nor my example have thus mis-
led thee ; thou governest thyself by most erroneous maxims.'
* Far from it, ' answers Crambe, * my life is as orderly as my
dictionary, for by my dictionary I order my hfe. I have made
a calendar of radical words for all the seasons, months, and days
of the year : eveiy day I am under the dominion of a ceiiain
word : but this day in particular I cannot be misled, for I am
governed by one that rules all sexes, ages, conditions, nay, all
animals, rational and irrational. Who is not governed by the
word ?erf'? Our noblemen and drunkards are pimp-led, phy-
sicians and pulses fee-led, their patients and oranges pil-led, a
new married man and an ass are bride-led, an old married man
and a pack-horse sad-led, cats and dice are rat-led, swine and
nobility are sty-led, a coquette and a tinder-l)ox are spark-led, a
lover and a blunderer are grove-led. And that I may not be


tedious ' 'Which thou art,' replied Martin, stamping with

his foot, * which thou art, I say, beyond all human toleration.
Such an unnatural, unaccountable, uncoherent, unintelligible,

unprofitable ' ' There it is now ! ' interrupted Crambe, ' this

is your day for uns.' Maitin could bear no longer however,

composing his countenance, ' Come hither, ' he cried, ' there are
five pounds, seventeen shillings, and nine-pence : thou hast
been with me eight months, three weeks, two days, and four
hours.' Poor Craml^e, upon tlie receipt of his salary, fell into
tears, flung the money upon the ground, and burst forth in
these words: — '0 Cicero, Cicero! if to pun be a crime, 'tis a
crime I have learned from thee : O Bias, Bias ! if to pun be a
crime, by thy example was I biassed.' — Whereupon Martin
(considering that one of the greatest of orators, and even a sage
of Greece had punned) hesitated, relented, and reinstated Crambe
in his service.


How Martin became a great Critic.

It was a most peculiar talent in Martinus, to convert eveiy
trifle into a serious thing, either in the way of life, or in learn-
ing. This can no way be better exemplified than in the effect
Avhich the puns of Crambe had on the mind and studies of
Martinus. He conceived that somewhat of a like talent to this
of Crainbe, of assembling parallel sounds, either syllables or
words, might conduce to the emendation and correction of
ancient authors, if applied to their works with the same
diligence, and the same liberty. He resolved to try first upon
Virgil, Horace, and Terence ; concluding that, if the most
correct authors could be so sei'ved, with any reputation to the
critic, the amendment and alteration of all the rest would
easily follow ; whereby a new, a vast, nay boundless field of
glory, would be opened to the true and absolute critic.

This specimen on Virgil he has given us, in the Addenda to
his Notes on the Duneiad '. His Terence and Horace are in
every body's hands, under the names of Eichard B^entjley and
Francis H[a]re. And we have convincing proofs that the late
edition of Milton, published in the name of the former of these,
was in truth the work of no other than our Scriblerus.

' See page 369.



Of Martinus's uncommon practice of Physic, and how he
applied himself to the diseases of the mind.

But it is high time to return to the history of the progress of
Martinus in the studies of physic, and to enumerate some at
least of the many discoveries and experiments he made therein.

One of the first was his method of investigating latent dis-
tempers, by the sagacious quality of setting-dogs and pointers.
The success, and the adventures that befel him, when he walked
with these animals, to smell them out in the parks and pubhc
places about London, are what we would willingly relate ; but
that his own account, together with a list of those gentlemen
and ladies at whom they made a full set, will be published in
time convenient. There will also be added the representation
which, on occasion of one distemper, which was become almost
epidemical, he thought himself obliged to lay before both
Houses of Parliament, entitled, A Proposal for a General Flux,
to extenninate at one blow the P— x out of this kingdom.

He next proceeded to an enquiry into the nature and tokens
of virginity, according to the Jewish doctrines, which occa-
sioned that most cuiious treatise of the Purification of Queen
Esther, with a display of her case at large, speedily also to be

But being weary of all practice on foetid bodies, from a
certain niceness of constitution (especially when he attended
Dr. Woodward through a twelvemonth's course of vomition\
he determined to leave it otf entirely, and to apply himself only
to diseases of the mind. He attempted to find out specifics foi"
all the passions ; and as other physicians throw their patients
into sweats, vomits, purgations, &c., he cast them into love,
hatred, hope, fear, joy, grief, &c. And indeed the great irregu-
larity of the passions in the English nation was the chief
motive that induced him to apply his whole studies, while he
continued among us, to the diseases of the mind.

To this purpose he dii-ected, in the first place, his late
acquired skill in anatomy. He considered virtues and vices as
certain habits which proceed from the natural formation and
structure of particular parts of the body. A bird flies because
he has wings, a duck swims because he is web-footed ; and
there can be no question but the aduncity of the pounces


and beaks of the hawks, as well as the length of the fangs, the
sharpness of the teeth, and the strength of the craral and
masseter-miiscles in lions and tigers, are the cause of the great
and habitual immorality of those animals.

Fii'stly. He obsei-ved, that the soul and body mutually
opei-ate upon each other, and therefore if you depiive the mind
of the outward instruments whereby she usually expresseth that
passion, you will in time abate the passion itself, in like manner
as castration abates lust.

Secondly. That the soul in mankind expresseth every passion
by the motion of some particular muscles.

Thirdly. That all muscles grow stronger and thicker by
being much used ; therefore the habitual passions may be dis-
cerned in particular persons by the strength and bigness of the
muscles used in the expression of that passion.

Fourthly. That a muscle may be strengthened or weakened
by weakening or strengthening the force of its antagonist.
These things premised, he took notice.

That complaisance, humility, assent, appr-obation, and
civiUty, were expressed by nodding the head and bowing the
body forward ; on the contrary, dissent, dislike, refusal, pride,
and arrogance, were marked by tossing the head, and bending
the body backwards : which two passions of assent and dissent
the Latins rightly expressed by the words adniicre and ahnuere.
Now he observed that complaisant and civil people had the
flexors of the head veiy strong ; but in the proud and insolent
there was a great overbalance of strength in the extensors of
the neck and muscles of the back, from whence they perform
with great facility the motion of tossing, but with great diffi-
culty that of bowing, and therefore have justly acquired the
title of stiff-necked. In order to reduce such persons to a just
balance, he judged that the pair of muscles called recti mterni,
the mastoidal, with other flexors of the head, neck, and body,
must be strengthened ; their antagonists, the spJenii complexi,
and the extensors of the spine weakened : for which purpose
nature herself seems to have directed mankind to correct this
muscular immorality by tying such fellows neck and heels.

Contrary to this, is the pernicious custom of mothers, who
abolish the natural signature of modesty in their daughters, by
teaching them tossing and bridling, rather than the bashful
posture of stooping, and hanging down the head. Mai-tinus


charged all husbands to take notice of the postvxre of the head of
such as they courted to matrimony, as that upon which their
future happiness did much depend.

Flatterers, who have the flexor muscles so strong that they
are always bowing and cringing, he supposed might in some
measure be corrected by being tied down upon a tree by the
back, like the children of the Indians ; which doctrine was
strongly confirmed by his observing the strength of the Icvatores
scapula : this muscle is called the muscle of patience, because
in that affection of mind, people shrug and raise up the
shoulders to the tip of the ear. This muscle also he observed
to be exceedingly strong and large in henpecked husbands, in
Italians, and English ministers.

In pursuance of this theoiy, he supposed the constrictors of
the eye-lids must be strengthened in the supercilious, the ab-
ductors in drunkards and contemplative men, who have the
same steady and grave motion of the eye ; that the buccinators
or blowers up of the cheeks, and the dilators of the nose, were
too strong in choleric people ; and therefore nature had again
directed us to a remedy, which was to correct such extra-
ordinary dilatation by pulling by the nose.

The rolHng amorous eye, in the passion of love, might be cor-
rected by frequently looking through glasses. Impertinent
fellows that jump upon tables, and cut capers, might be cured
by relaxing medicines applied to the calves of their legs, which
in such people are too strong.

But there were two cases which he reckoned extremely diffi-
cult. First, affectation, in which there were so many muscles
of the bum, thighs, belly, neck, back, and the whole body, all
in a false tone, that it required an impracticable multiplicity
of applications.

The second case was immoderate laughter : when any of that
risible species were brought to the doctor, and when he con-
sidered what an infinity of muscles these laughing rascals threw
into convulsive motion at the same time ; whether we regard
the spasms of the diaphragm and all the muscles of I'espiration,
the horrible rictus of the mouth, the distoriion of the lower jaw,
the crisping of the nose, twinkling of the eyes, or spherical con-
vexity of the cheeks, with the tremulous succussion of the whole
human body : when he considered, I say, all this, he used to ciy
out. Casus plane deplordbUis ! and give such patients over.



The case of a young Nobleman at Court, with the
Doctor's Prescription for the same.

An eminent instance of Martinus's sagacity in discovering the
distempers of the mind, appeared in the case of a young noble-
man at Couii, who was observed to grow extremely affected in
his speech, and whimsical in all his behaviour. He began to
ask odd questions, talk in verse to himself, shut himself up
from his friends, and be accessible to none but flatterers, poets,
and pickpockets ; till his relations and old acquamtance judged
him to be so far gone, as to be a fit patient for the doctoi*.

As soon as he had heard and examined all the symptoms, he
pronounced his distemper to be love.

His friends assured him that they had with great care observed
all his motions, and were perfectly satisfied there was no woman
in the case. Scriblerus was as positive that he was desperately
in love with some person or other. 'How can this be,' said
his aunt, who came to ask the advice, * when he converses
almost with none but himself ? ' ' Say you so ? ' he replied,
' why then he is in love with himself, one of the most common
cases in the world. I am astonished people do not enough
attend this disease, which has the same causes and symptoms,
and admits of the same cure with the other : especially
since here the case of the patient is the more helpless and
deplorable of the two, as this unfortunate passion is more
blind than the other. There are people who discover, from
their very youth, a most amorous inclination to themselves ;
which is unhappily nursed by such mothers, as, with their
good-will, would never suffer their children to be crossed in
love. Ease, luxury, and idleness, blow up this flame as well
as the other ; constant opportunities of conversation with the
person beloved (the greatest of incentives are here impossible to
be prevented. Bawds and pimps in the other love will be per-
petually doing kind offices, speaking a good word for the
party, and cariying aliout billets-doux. Therefore I ask you,
Madam, if this gentleman has not been much frequented by
flatterers, and a sort of people who bring him dedications and
verses ? ' '0 Lord ! Sir,' quoth the aunt, 'the house is haunted
with them.' 'There it is,' replied Scriblerus, 'those are the
bawds and pimps that go between a man and himself. Are


there no civil ladies, that tell him he dresses well, has a gentle-
manly air, and the like ? ' ' Why ti'uly. Sir, my nephew is not
awkward.' — ' Look you. Madam, this is a misfortune to him : in
former days these sort of lovers were hapj^y in one respect, that
they never had any rivals, but of late they have all the ladies so
—Be pleased to answer a few questions more. Whom does he
generally talk of?' — 'Himself,' quoth the aunt. — 'Whose wit and
breeding does he most commend ? ' — ' His own, 'quoth the aunt. —
' Whom does he Avrite letters to ?' - 'Himself.' — ' Whom does he
dream of?' — 'All the dreams I ever heard were of himself.' —
'Whom is he ogling yonder?' — 'Himself in his looking-glass.' —
' Why does he throw back his head in that languishing posture ?'
— ' Only to be blessed with a smile of hunself as he passes by. ' —

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 31 of 47)