Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE LAW OF HIPPOCRATES. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
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THE LAW OF HIPPOCRATES. - Hippocrates, The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Epitomised from the Original Latin translations, by John Redman Coxe (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846).
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THE LAW OF HIPPOCRATES.
SECTION I.—TREATISE II.
Haller tells us, that this treatise was every where accredited by the ancients, but was rejected by Mercurialis; and that it refers to the education, &c., of the physician. That medicine, although of the highest rank, had yet been extremely degraded, and points out the causes. The rules for its attainment are stated particularly, under six requisites, in order to become fully masters of the science.
As this treatise is short, I have judged it to be sufficiently interesting to give it nearly in detail. It has been, I believe, translated by M. Dacier—but I have never met with it. It has been illustrated by Zwingerus, Heurnius, Fonseca, and others.—Ed.
Of all the arts, medicine is the most illustrious; but the ignorance of its professors, and that of those who judge of their qualifications, is the cause of its having been considered as among the most contemptible. This, in my opinion, arises chiefly, from the circumstance, that medicine is the only profession, for which, in our cities, there is no penalty attached to such as ignorantly pursue it, beyond that of contempt. But ignominy scarcely wounds the ignorant. It is with them, as with the dumb performers of the theatre: they have the form, the dress, and mask of the real actors, but in nothing else do they resemble them. So we find many who are physicians in name and appearance,—but few who are such in reality. Six things are required to constitute a physician:—Natural talents—a good education—a competent instructer—early study—industry, and adequate time. The chief of these, is natural talent. In want of this, all is useless. But if this is possessed, the art may be acquired, by due attainments previously;—and by beginning to study it at an early age, and in a proper place. We must, moreover, be industrious, and continue long in study, by which means the science becomes, as it were, natural,—rapidly increases,—extends its researches, and brings forth mature fruit.
The study of medicine may be compared to the culture of plants. Our nature or disposition is the ground; the precepts of the teacher are the seed; commencing our studies early, resembles the sowing of the seed in a proper season; an appropriate location for the pursuits of study, resembles the surrounding atmosphere which affords nourishment and growth to the plant; diligence in study, is like the various means pursued to render the ground fertile; finally, the long continuance of our studies, resembles the period essential to full and perfect fructification.
Those who fully attend to the above precepts, will attain to a true knowledge of medicine, and should every where be considered as masters of their profession, and not merely nominal physicians. They may come forward with confidence; whilst ignorance proves but a poor foundation, and an empty treasury at all times; the enemy of all confidence and trust; a source of audacity as well as of timidity—since timidity is the offspring of weakness, as audacity is of ignorance. Science and opinion govern the world: the one points out our knowledge—the latter our deficiency. Things of a sacred character should be unveiled to the pure alone; for it is sacrilegious to communicate them to the profane, before they have been initiated into the mysteries of science.
Note.—“Lex, νομος, licet proprie non sit terminus medicus, Hippocrates tamen transsumsit e foro politico in medicum, &c.” De necessitate legum adversus pseudomedicos, vide C. Regies, Camp. Elys. Q. 21. n. 16.—Castelli Lexicon Medicum.