(From mater, a mother). Matter; substance. In strictly logical disquisitions, material is in opposition to modal, the one signifying as a cause, a substance, the other a peculiar state; thus a sword inflicting a wound is a material cause of pain, spasm only modal. To come nearer, a calculus in the gall duct is a material cause, the same effect from violent passion modal only. This is nearly the meaning of Dr. Cullen, when he distinguishes sensation of impression from sensations of consciousness; but this distinction is seldom attended to in the undiscriminating, flowery, pages which by courtesy are now styled medical. If we were to refer to works where strict logical discrimination is pursued with rigour, they would be those published during the presidency of Stahl at the university of Halle. The minute precision of the author's reasoning (Stahl himself) is highly gratifying, while the obscurity of the language and manner would repel every modern reader.
Materia Medica. The last article suggests to us a logical inaccuracy in the title, which strictly implies material substances employed in the cure of diseases. We must, however, extend these views, and, with the spirit of the best authors, follow their example, by considering, under this title, every means of relieving the maladies to which human nature is subject. The field which this inquiry opens to our view is immense. It not only includes a consideration of the properties and use of each of these means, but the mode of investigating these properties, of arranging our copious list of remedies, so as to assist not only our explanations of their virtues, but the choice of our remedies in any given emergency, and to point out the distinctions which, from different circumstances, may guide us in our preference of one to another. Not the least important object in this disquisition is the conduct and merits of the different authors in this department of medicine.
The knowledge of medicines must have been coeval with the existence of the human race. Mankind was always subject to diseases and accidents, and would naturally seek for remedies. There is consequently no race, however uncultivated, but has its materia medica, and modes of cure, often rash, violent, and injudicious, but sometimes discriminated with precision, and adapted with skill. It were to be wished that botanical inquirers had more often, in their itineraries, preserved these rude modes of treatment as Linnaeus has done in his Flora Laponica. The scattered limbs, however, exist, and will repay the trouble of collecting.
The Greeks, who made every thing their own, and often created a fabulous personage, to whom they gave the honour of a discovery, for which they were indebted to their neighbours on the continent of Asia, attributed the achillea to Achilles, the teucrium to Teucer, and the artemisia to Artemis. Their famous AEs-culapiuswas probably only an Egyptian title (haskelab), the father of wisdom. The materia medica of Hippocrates (for it would be to fill our pages very uselessly to copy all the fables recorded on this subject) was very simple; but even the few remedies which he employed were in part rejected by Erasistratus. The empiricism and credulity of Serapion and his followers introduced numerous disgusting and ridiculous remedies; many of which were continued in the foreign pharmacopoeias in the last century, and Vogel even condescends to notice several of them. Themison, the supposed founder of the methodic sect, gibeted in the satires of Juvenal as a most unsuccessful practitioner, recommended medicines of activity, as the aloes, the scammony, etc. He first employed leeches, and preferred these and cupping glasses to general bleeding. He seems to have rejected with indignation the ridiculous remedies of the empirics; but if we may trust his copyist Coelius Aurelianus, employed some which were scarcely less absurd. The rage for compound medicines seems to have begun with Themison, but it increased with his followers, particularly Andromachus and others, down to the era of Galen, to whom the materia medica is greatly indebted for his attentive inquiries into the nature and country of the different medicines, though the real knowledge of their effects was obscured by the numerous ingredients of each formula. The authority of Galen, and the use of compound medicines continued, we know, for many centuries; and we have not long escaped from the trammels of his authority.
While, however, the infallibity of Galen remained unquestioned, the Arabians greatly enriched the materia medica by those medicines which their climate, or their connection with India, had introduced to their notice. The purgatives of their predecessors were the mild herbaceous vegetables, or the more acrid drastics; but the Arabians introduced the manna, senna, and myrobolans. They varied also the formulae, and rendered them more agreeable by the addition of syrups; and they were undoubtedly acquainted with distillation, though they seem to have only employed this process in the preparation of simple waters and distilled oils. They added also musk, mace, cloves, etc. which are still retained; the precious stones, leaf gold, and silver, which are now neglected. They injured this branch of medicine by their fondness for compounds, in which they exceeded the Greeks; and, by their hieroglyphics, their metaphorical language, their comparison of the stars with diseases, and the metals with remedies, are supposed to have occasioned those wild extravagances which for ages led philosophers in pursuit of the art of making gold, and physicians in that of compounding an universal medicine.
Whether this latter conjecture of Boerhaave is well founded or not, the chemical physicians soon succeeded, and the language of Bacon, the earliest of these in the thirteenth century, seems to prove that the torch was lighted from the Arabian flame. Bacon endeavoured only to ward off old age; with Raymond Lully, in the following century, the pursuit of the universal medicine commenced. This pursuit was continued, and the materia medica greatly augmented, by acquisitions from chemical preparations by the Isaacs, Basil Valentine, and many others, down to Paracelsus and Van Hel-mont, the last of whom lived in the beginning of the 17th century. The absurdities of this sect are inconceivable; but they were succeeded by philosophers and physicians, who pursued the same path with more rational views and better success. Sylvius de le Boe, Tachcnius, Quercetanus, Glaser, Schroeder, Lemery, Glauber, and others of the chemical school, the great benefactors of the materia medica, have in succession greatly enriched this science with the chemical remedies which we still employ. During this period the appearance of the lues venerea also added to the materia medica the sarsa, the guaiacum, the china, and some other medicines.
The discovery of Harvey, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, gradually turned the attention of practitioners from the active remedies of the chemists to those which were supposed to act mechanically; and mechanical reasoning soon overturned the whole system of medicine, and changed the language which had been hitherto held respecting the operation of remedies. The good sense of Boerhaave led him to retain the remedies of the chemists while he employed and extended the language of the mechanical physicians, while he studied and enforced the medical observations of Hippocrates and his successors.
With the downfal of the humoral pathology the materia medica experienced little improvement. Dr. Cul-len, who, like Boerhaave, was a chemist before he had completed his medical system, still retained a predilection for chemical remedies, and for the more active forms. He introduced, it is said by Dr. Fordyce, the emetic tartar; and he supported, by his recommendation, the corrosive sublimate, not only in lues, but in. diseases of the skin: a remedy employed externally for this latter complaint by the Arabians. We mention chiefly these circumstances to speak of a new sect, the introducers of medicines formerly accounted poisonous. Van Swieten, by his adopting the use of the corrosive sublimate from the Russians, seems to have first excited the attention of the physicians of Vienna to the vegetable poisons, the hemlock, the aconite, the belladonna, the napellus, the phytolacca, lactuca virosa, etc.; an impulse followed by the introduction or revival of the digitalis, the arsenic, etc. It is not our present object to appreciate the value of this new step; for it belongs to the separate articles. In general, however, we may add, that the real merits of the greater number have by no means answered the expectations excited. Our materia medica, as established by the decision of the colleges of London and Edinburgh, is, at present, confined in the number of its articles: but these are well chosen, active, and effectual. Each practitioner will probably add, from his own predilections, some others; but others, we suspect, will not be found necessary.
The action of medicines depends on a relation between their properties and the living solid, differing in different parts of the system. This relation is, in general, obscure. It is, however, sometimes, and perhaps more frequently than has been supposed, chemical; sometimes purely physical; scarcely in any instance mechanical. It is occasionally connected with the more obvious properties, as the smell and taste of the medicine, but confined in this respect to the vegetable, less strictly to the animal, kingdom. It is sometimes connected with the chemical analysis, or with the natural affinities of a plant. Each mode has been employed in investigating the powers of medicines, and to each we must direct our attention; not perhaps as of peculiar importance, for few medicines have been discovered in this way, but to explain the language and the conduct of authors, and sometimes to correct them.
The olfactory organs are peculiarly acute in the brute creation, but of no great importance to us in our investigation of the properties of medicines. The utility of the smell is limited chiefly to vegetables: but few animal substances discover their powers by these organs, and the insects and the vermes are either without smell, or give faint indications of their qualities in this way. In general, pleasing smells are salutary, and nauseous or foetid ones injurious. Pleasing and nauseous are, however, relative terms; and to our neighbours on the continent the fumet of tainted venison is highly gratifying. Authors who have investigated the powers of medicine by the smell are Linnaeus and Lorry, each of whom we must notice, as they have considered the subject in very different views; while former authors, as Boyle, considered effluvia chiefly as philosophers, and contemplated only the surprising divisibility of matter; or, as Boerhaave, Venel, and Roux, treated of odour as chemists, and endeavoured to separate or combine it in a more durable form.
Linnaeus divides the odours of medicines (Amoeni-tates Academics, iii. 183.) into aromatic, fragrant,