Had we room, we might enlarge a little on the policy of medicine. Hoffman has left us a dissertation entitled Medicus Politicus, though its object is different; but the art in this age is greatly improved, and an amusing treatise, copied from life, might be easily written. Our object is however to make the practice of medicine respectable, not contemptible.
It was a question suggested respecting surgery, whether it had been improved in later periods. The same question has been agitated respecting medicine, and perhaps it may, in this part of our article, merit a short notice. The argument, that medicine has not improved, has been supported by the most inconclusive reasoning; viz. that we still resort to the older authors, and that diseases are still mortal as before. To engage in an extensive discussion is inadmissible, but, as in the article referred to, we may adduce a few instances.
In the conduct of fevers, is it no improvement that the rigorous abstinence of the early days, enjoined by the ancient physicians, is, at least, abridged or softened? that the great heat, the close rooms, the warm stimulating medicines, and the sudorific regimen of the modern Galenists, are wholly abolished ? It may be asked, whether either plan is justly or advantageously superseded; and we hazard little in replying, that the recoveries under the later mode of treatment exceed those under the former three times told. Death, from a fever, is now comparatively rare: formerly, recovery was equally so; and many, whom we remember among the recoveries, lingered out the remaining period of life without the slightest enjoyment of an hour's perfect health.
In internal inflammations the constitution is equally preserved by the rejection of the indiscriminate bleedings so often and so copiously employed; nor is the excitability exhausted by the numerous blisters applied, under the mistaken idea of derivation. In childbed how is the strength preserved, and inconveniences avoided, by the cool regimen, by the discharges from the bo and the early application of the child to the breast ? How is the strength and health of the child augmented by copious and frequent ablutions ? In dysenteries, what pains are saved by the free use of cooling laxatives; in scirrhous livers, how long is the life comfortably preserved by the free use of mercury ? The paper would fail before we could enumerate the advantages of modern improvements in the practice of medicine. Let us lake up the subject more generally. Abstruse disquisitions respecting the causes of disease, and the operation of remedies, are now seldom indulged. Our indications are more clearly pointed, and the means usually better chosen and more direct; less depending on pathological enquiries, and more closely connected with the changes to be produced. Dr. Friend was supposed to be master of all the medical science of every aera; and yet, if any modern physician, who had for some years escaped from his early studies, were to read his Reflections on. the Practice of the Ancients, they would suppose themselves engaging in a new and most intricate science; so disguised and involved are the most common observations and directions. This was, in fact, our own case.
We had intended to have closed this article with a sketch of a medical library, but we feared to terrify the indolent practitioner, or to repress the timid. Yet perhaps we may find an occasion to resume this subject under a later article, Studium Medicinae. At the conclusion however of so long a work reasons of necessity must at last decide.
Le Clerc Histoire de la Medecine; Friend's History of Physic; Blumenbach's Historia Medicinae Literaria; Schultze Historia Medicinae; Conringii Introductio; Halleri Bibliotheca Medicina Practica.
Medicina forensis et politica. Medicine has for ages been the guide of the police and of justice, without ostensibly mingling in their contests. When Acron of Agrigentum is said to have kindled fires to promote the circulation of air in order to check the plague,of Athens, or Numa constructed sewers to keep the imperial city from the noisome stench of impurities, they acted as able politicians and judicious philosophers; and an early work of Hippocrates on a kindred subject should have particularly fixed the attention of physicians. Many similar regulations are indeed the result of good sense, reduced to practice by an active mind and well directed views; but many years elapsed before regulations of this kind were digested by a regular scientific publication, professedly on the subject. The Criminal Constitution of Carolina was the earliest work in which the rudiments of forensic medicine were developed, and the first edition of this work appeared in the beginning of the 16th century. The origin of political medicine in modern times may be dated about forty years later, and its first publication by Joach. Struppe, at Frankfort, appeared in 1573. His work in quarto contains the necessary precepts for preventing the air from contamination by filth, by injurious occupations, and by sepulture in the midst of cities. He adds regulations respecting the occupations of millers, bakers, butchers, etc, on the proper instructions necessary for midwives, on the establishment of infirmaries, on the propriety of visiting the shops of apothecaries, and of guarding against the arts of quacks. In the same year, he published his Anchor of the Hunger, Thirst, and the Health of Mankind; in which he particularly treats of the substances which may occasionally supply bread, and the means of preserving meat from putrefaction. At the end of the same century, Fortu-natus Fidelis of Sicily published his work on the department of forensic medicine, De Relationibus Medicorum; and, under the name of Reinesius, his Schola Ictorum Medica. The subject was still further pursued by Paul Zacchias, principal physician to the pope, who published his Qusestones Medico-legales in 1621, etc. in nine volumes, quarto, at Rome. About the end of the same century Paul Amman, a native of Breslaw, and a professor at Leipsic, published the Medicina Critica seu Decisora, as well as the Irenicum Numae Pompiliicum Flippocrate; and, in the same century, G. Welsck of Leipsic published his Rationale Vulnerum Lethalium Judicum. We may just add, as objects of curiosity, that this author first described the purple miliary fever of childbed women, as a new disease, in 1655; and, about the same time, a German clergyman first described the method of recovering persons apparently drowned.