Front Page Titles (by Subject) CLASS I.: PHYSIOLOGY, ANATOMY, ETC. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
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CLASS I.: PHYSIOLOGY, ANATOMY, ETC. - 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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PHYSIOLOGY, ANATOMY, ETC.
This class contains twenty-eight books, and embraces an account of every thing connected with the human body, from its first formation of elementary matter; together with much physiological inquiry as to respiration, the pulse, muscular motion, generation, &c., all highly interesting, and containing the germs of many of the theories, or rather hypotheses of the present period.
The First Class consists of those works of Galen, that may be considered as chiefly belonging to Physiology; wherein is to be found abundant matter for speculation, as well as much of a practical nature. Here are nearly thirty distinct tracts, some consisting of several books or chapters; and in point of interest, scarcely yielding to any writings downwards to the present time. Sterne says, “I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and cry, ’tis all barren;—and so it is: and so is all the world to him who will not cultivate the fruits it offers.”—(Sentimental Journey.) And in like manner, I would say, that whoever could read this class of Galen’s writings, without feeling his whole soul pressing forward, sympathetically, to pay his respectful homage to the greatest ornament of the medical profession, must be incapable of appreciating truth and merit, because appearing in an ancient dress; whilst he receives with avidity, the plagiarisms and dicta of our schools; unconscious, that what is praiseworthy therein, is mostly derived from ancient authority, which their teachers profess to despise! whilst what is the reverse, is generally of “domestic manufacture!”—Ed.
GALENI, DE ELEMENTIS, LIBRI DUO.
of the elements.
The first book is taken up with considering the nature of an element. It is regarded as being scarcely cognizable to the senses, in consequence of its minuteness, but rather, appreciable by reason. Inquiry is made as to the number of elements, if one, or more; and attempts are made to prove that one alone is insufficient. This, although the belief of many, is refuted by reasons deduced from various considerations, as well as from the discrepancy of those who maintained the opinion; and the conclusion is drawn, that the idea is ridiculous, whether maintained by philosophers or physicians, that there is but a single element, either of man, or of the universe; for even they who most warmly contend for this opinion, can come to no agreement as to what this element is; and the author criticises them accordingly; more particularly Melissus. As chiefly speculative, this book, as well as the second on the same subject, is perhaps, of little absolute importance, further, than as they afford us the first views of philosophers and of medical men, on several particulars; from which, as a foundation, various hypotheses sprang up, and fructified, or decayed, in due proportion to the ingenuity of their respective proprietors. As a matter of curiosity, more than of real importance, it however is deserving of a full translation.
It is translated into Latin, from the Greek, by N. Leonicenus (Basil Ed.), and by Victor Trincavellius (Venice Ed.)
GALENI, DE TEMPERAMENTIS, LIBRI TRES.
thom. linacer, translator.
Hypothetical as are these three books, they are abundantly interesting and entertaining. The subject commences, by showing why it deserved investigation. Its division by different persons, some into two, others into four temperaments, together with the omissions of the older writers, are referred to. Some remarks relating to spring and autumn follow, and animadversions on the errors of nomenclature among the ancients; the right signification of names in connexion with temperament, together with the different accommodation of the same name, and the number and distinction of the temperaments, are fully considered.
The second book begins with a brief repetition of the preceding, and then notices the temperament of different ages, and explains them, together with the contrary arguments of many, on these particulars; it enters into the consideration of the temperaments of different parts, as evinced to the senses and reason; and by various qualities, such as thickness, tenuity, roughness, smoothness, &c.
In the third book the temperaments, or degrees of medicines, are considered, and the means by which any article becomes possessed of power. The difference of substances received into the body, assimilation of particles, spontaneous combustion, with a digression to the combustion of the Roman fleet by Archimedes with specula, all are considered; and also aliment, in its variety, and as differing from medicines. These last are divided under four orders, and are treated of, together with the difference produced in them from mixture, or variety of administration, viz., whether applied externally, or internally taken. Notice is taken of the harmless nature of the poison of the viper, or of a rabid animal, when internally received, and its opposite tendency if externally applied. Experimental experience of the knowledge of remedies is insisted on, and much variety of particular subjects connected with this, is interspersed; together with a concise abstract of the whole treatise, which concludes the book.
GALENI, IN LIBRUM HIPPOCRATIS, DE NATURA HUMANA, COMMENTARIA DUO.
two commentaries of galen on the books of hippocrates, entitled, “of the nature of man.”
h. c. campensis, translator.
These two commentaries seem to be merely an appendage to the preceding books on the elements of bodies. They are comments on that work of Hippocrates, translated above, De Natura Humana, and by Haller and others, De Natura Hominis. Galen considers all, beyond that which his first commentary embraces, as spurious, and not coming from the pen of Hippocrates. He ascribes it to Polybius, his son-in-law. They are, nevertheless, closely connected, and are not devoid of interest. They advert chiefly to the four elements of nature, and to four in the human body, as influencing health and disease; and they give the general opinions, (and the diversity also,) of physicians, as to what man consists of, viz.: of blood, bile, &c. We here find some remarks on the blood-vessels, in which some of the errors of that period, are intermingled with truths of later date; and adequate, if duly weighed with other parts, to assure us of a conviction of a circulation, even in yet more remote times, although its route was imperfectly comprehended.—Galen correctly observes, that our judgment is not always to be captivated by demonstration, but that reason is to have fair play; and he points out the error of some of those assumed demonstrations: such as, of four pair of vessels proceeding from the head; which, so far from being the case, as asserted by some, not any of the best anatomists had ever advanced. Much might be here adduced in order to aid our estimate of the extent to which the views of a circulation were really carried.
GALENI, DE ATRA BILE, LIBELLUS.
of the atrabilis, or black bile.
b. sylvaneus, translator.
This may be regarded as a treatise of some importance, in so far as it affords a view of the opinions of the ancients respecting the nature of this presumed peculiar principle of the body, the atrabilis, or black bile, as contra-distinguished from the yellow or natural bile, and as the supposed and abundant source of disease. After some censures on the writings of Plistonicus, Praxagoras, and Philotimus, on the subject of atrabilis, and praises of Hippocrates and Rufus for their statements; he adverts to the humours, and to their necessity in the body, among which is atrabilis. He rebukes the Erasistratians, Asclepiadeans, and Methodists, some of whom ventured to say, that any information as to the humours was useless in medicine.a He sets off, in speaking of the humours, with the blood; and notices the difference of colour between that of the arteries and veins; its coagulation out of the body, and in the body, as in the belly, intestines, bladder, lungs, windpipe and other parts: he mentions the healthy and unhealthy appearance of it, as to its colour and consistence; and states that it is sometimes like tar or pitch (“liquidæ pici similis,” p. 154, Bas. ed.) He considers the arterial and venous blood as being the same, and therefore entitled to one appellation; and proceeds to the notice of some other humours, pointing out their difference, &c., from the blood, and dwells particularly on the atrabilis, which is precisely expressed by our English word melancholy, i. e., μελας χολη, or black bile. He next adverts to several diseases assumed to be produced by its presence, &c. Other particulars are mentioned, and receive an explanation, different, perhaps, from that now given, but probably not more satisfactory; such for instance as the occasional injury sustained by curing hemorrhoids, &c., and other chronic complaints, and varicose ulcers of the leg, &c. All the humours are considered as being contained in the blood, (in venis, arteriisque,) and to be the source of health, when in due proportion, otherwise, as leading to disease, if this proportion is altered, either generally or locally. This change is often apparent in the modified appearance of the blood itself. The causes that augment or diminish the atrabilis are mentioned. He then opposes Erasistratus in his opinion as to the use of the spleen, and maintains that some of his views would lead to the belief that all kinds of evacuation, by bleeding, purging, &c., were equally beneficial at all times, and hence, that the daily observations of physicians in these particulars, are altogether useless. Much praise is bestowed on Hippocrates; and reference is made to Melampus, who treated affections arising from atrabilis, three hundred years before Erasistratus, who has said nothing, or but little, about it. Considering this humour to be contained in the blood, some remarks follow, which, although founded on an erroneous basis, yet they go to accredit a belief in a circulation, for, without such a supposition, even the erroneous foundation is itself devoid of sense.a A full persuasion of a circulation here, and elsewhere, seems unqualified: the qua via is not established by him, and is of no importance; it is in part apparently here, and throughout his writings. Its full perfection is not yet determined. Galen has done his part and full proportion towards it.—He terminates this book by referring to his own experience as to the importance and necessity of the atrabilis to the system, (longa experientia mihi certo cognita, compertaque sunt,) and although our present theories discard this humour, practically, it is admitted on many occasions.
GALENI, DE OPTIMA CORPORIS CONSTITUTIONE.
of the best bodily constitution.
f. balamio, translator.
In what this best constitution consists, is well laid down by Galen, viz., in an harmonious temperament of all the parts of the body, as well as in their proper situation, size, figure, number, and connexion. Health is stated to consist in that sound and wholesome state, in which all the actions of nature are correctly performed. What these are, are then more fully explained; and the opposite, or ill state of the body, is incidentally brought into view.
GALENI, DE BONA HABITUDINE, LIBER.
of a good constitution or habit of body.
This book seems a necessary continuation of the preceding. Galen commences by stating what he means by habit, viz.: that it is a permanent and durable affection, whether that be good or bad; the latter may be such, either simply, or comparatively; but the former is simply so, in the best constitution. Such was the case with Milo, Hercules, Achilles, &c., differing from that of the athletæ, as is explained, and comparisons drawn between them. The athletæ, from their immoderate diet, or increased circulation (sanguine nimium aucto), are sometimes suffocated, or rupture a vessel in the lungs or liver. A case is detailed from Hippocrates, of the sudden loss of speech from vascular repletion.
GALENI, DE OSSIBUS, LIBER.
of the bones.
This book, addressed to beginners (ad tyrones) affirms the absolute necessity to the physician, of being acquainted with the natural connexion of the bones. Galen traces their nature, uses, differences, and parts; their twofold mode of union, and the subordinate species, &c. Some remarks indicate his observations to have been made on the human body (humani corporis ossium, invicem cohærentium universa compactio sceletos appellatur), and not of brutes only. In a succession of chapters, he follows up a brief description of the bones of every part of the body, in a sufficient manner for the purpose of beginners; remarking at the conclusion, that the few rudiments of osteology thus laid down, he thinks adequate to the wants of a tyro; that the junction of all the bones, constitutes a skeleton, and, that as for sundry small bones, such as the sesamoid, it is not requisite to notice them here. He nowhere speaks as though his osteology was derived from brutes; and, such is the importance he attaches to the subject, the mind is forcibly impressed that his observations are derived from man, chiefly.
GALENI, DE MUSCULORUM DISSECTIONE.
of muscular dissection.
a. gagaldinus, translator.
This book is introduced into the Venice edition of Galen’s works, but seems wanting in that of Basil. It appears, however, to have an important connexion with several of the succeeding books, which treat of dissection of the nerves, arteries, and veins, as well as with the preceding treatise; completing thereby the brief view of these parts; and thus preparing us for a more compendious work succeeding to them, “De Anatomicis administrationibus,” of which, most unfortunately, several books are lost. I introduce it here, as following the order in the Venice copy, and principally to afford the outline of its proemium, or preface. It commences by saying, that no one had written on the subject of muscular dissection without error; but that Marinus is the most accurate of such writers. Yet that, as in one book, he could not detail every thing, therefore, the works of Pelops, Lycus, and Ælian, should be consulted. Pelops (3d book of the Instit. of Hippoc.) dissected the muscles, as well as all the other parts of the body. Lycus composed a large book on the same subject; and Ælian, in a compend that he formed of the anatomical writings of his father, together with many other particulars, also wrote on muscular anatomy. The works of Lycus, owing to much prolix interpretation, and intermixture of logical questions with those arising out of dissection, besides much that relates to diseases, were scarcely connected with muscular dissection. Ælian and Pelops noticed. carefully the objects presented to them, and which Galen was therefore the less induced to describe (quod et ego nihilo secius nunc facere decrevi), since he had, in two commentaries, elsewhere treated on muscular motion, wherein all that was useful in these particulars, is noticed. Exclusive of which, every thing that relates to the best mode of dissection, not of the muscles only, but of every other part, is detailed in the anatomical tracts; hence he deemed it useless to write expressly on the subject, saving, that he thought fit to state whatever was discovered in his own dissections, and collect into one book all that the authors abovementioned might have omitted, or otherwise incorrectly noticed. Besides, adds Galen, “numerous friends required me to communicate, together with my own, such particulars as they themselves had observed in their own private dissections.” He has given us merely the heads of what is demonstrated in other books, and those simply as helps to the memory.
The above explains sufficiently the character of the present book, which proceeds, in thirty-five chapters, to give a concise notice of the muscles, beginning with the platysma myoides, and other muscles of the head and neck, and proceeding downwards to the feet.
GALENI, DE NERVORUM DISSECTIONE, AD TYRONES.
of the dissection of the nerves.
same translator, ven.—ant. fortoloversus, basil.
In this book, the nerves are described, as being the organs of sense and motion, arising partly from the brain, and in part from the spinal marrow. Notice is taken of the anterior ventricles of the brain, and of the optic and other nerves up to the seventh pair, with their subdivisions, distributions, and inter-communications (qui inter se conjungantur), and of the discordant opinions of anatomists with respect to them; with an explanation of the causes of their ignorance of the subject. The close connexion of the nerve with the carotid arteries is mentioned, and enables him in another place (De Decretis Hipp. et Plat.) to explain some erroneous experiments on those arteries, leading to their incorrect denomination; after which the nerves of the spine and loins are mentioned.
GALENI, DE VENARUM, ARTERIARUMQUE DISSECTIONE.
of the dissection of the veins and arteries.
ant. fortolo, translator.
This book is addressed by Galen, to his beloved Antisthenes; and is a compend, requested by him on the subject, to refresh his memory as to what he has observed in the dissection of monkeys (simiæ);—but he states, that a more exact account is contained in his books of anatomy, not of the above parts only, but of all others. In order that Antisthenes may the more readily comprehend him, he desires him, in imagination, to look at the trunk of a tree; its lower part terminating in numerous roots, the upper, in many branches and twigs, as affording an idea of the blood-vessels; and to which they have been likened by Hippocrates and other celebrated anatomists, for facilitating their teaching. Thus, adds Galen, the veins that are spread over the belly and intestines, respond to the roots of the tree; whilst those termed hepatic and cavæ, (jecorarium, tum cavam,) are, as it were, the trunk of all the veins distributed throughout the body. For a like reason, the arteries, having their origin in the heart, are in part, spread through the lungs, and may be regarded as the root, in their short series of distribution. Pursuing this train of ideas, he goes on to point out the distribution of the veins that proceed from the portæ of the liver, to the intestines, spleen, stomach, &c.,—and then those of the vena cava; mentions its conjunction with the axillary vein, and its ramifications down to the hand; the division of this vein, and of those veins going to the anterior part of the thorax, both internally and externally; and from the cava adjacent to the clavicle, &c. Of the external and internal jugulars, &c.; all of which is, he says, more fully stated in his anatomical books. He proceeds to those below the diaphragm, and to the divisions of the descending cava; the minute and capillary branches in the kidneys, testes, spine, &c.; the deltoid divarication of the cava in the loins, and its further subdivisions. He then mentions in like manner the arteries and their subdivisions, and adverts to such veins as are found unaccompanied by arteries, and of the latter, such as have no accompanying veins.
AN SANGUIS IN ARTERIIS NATURA CONTINEATUR.
is blood naturally contained in the arteries?
m. rota, translator.
This book may be regarded as closely connected with the preceding one. That blood is naturally contained in the arteries is a proposition fully considered, and maintained by Galen, in opposition to Erasistratus and others. That they do contain it, he affirms from the fact, that it flows therefrom when they are wounded; it must, therefore, either exist there, or flow into them from some other source. Now, if they contained air, and the blood came from some other part, then the air should issue first,—which is not the case: a demonstration, says Galen, sufficient for those, who like him, are slaves to no sect; and who are capable of distinguishing true from false reasoning. But, as all physicians are not of that description, he deemed it right to oppose them; since the followers of Erasistratus contradicted him, and asserted that his deductions were false. The dispute seemed to be, whether air alone is naturally contained in the arteries, or blood only, or both together. His opponents appear to have been somewhat divided among themselves as to their views, and equally so, as to where the air or spirit came from. Galen pursues them regularly in their explanations, points out the absurdities and difficulties of their opinions, and proposes a query for Erasistratus himself to resolve, as to what would result from a would of an artery in the arm. In this quotation, one part is particularly deserving of attention, “Ab ea vero quæ descendit (the descending artery from the heart) aliæ (arteriæ) quæcunque in reliquum corpus diffunduntur; manifestum est hasce quoque omnes ad extremas usque ipsarum partes vacuas reddi oportere. Cum primum vero ad ultimas arteriarum partes vacuitas pervenerit, è venis in arteria, adapertis ipsarum ostiolis, quod solum contingit ubi totus spiritus exierit, sanguis transit,” &c.—“Atque ita sanguis spiritum sequens, ab arteria brachii susceptus in vulnus feretur, sicque universus sanguis, quisquis in toto corpore fuerit, ad acus puncturam confluct,—atqui hoc nimium etiam verest. Videmus enim ab una quavis arteria (modo capacitatis alicujus sit) in fluxum supprimas, universum è toto corpore sanguinem erumpere.”
From this, as well as from numerous other parts, it plainly appears that a passage, or circulation of the blood from the veins into the arteries is fully asserted, although the route is not particularly pointed out. The fact of its adoption seems absolute, from the necessity insisted on, of arresting the flow of blood from its local point of discharge, in order to prevent its total and complete evacuation. The admirers of Harvey, in giving him the merit of the full discovery of the circulation, will do well to ponder on this part of Galen’s writings; and honestly estimate what proportion of that alleged discovery should be awarded to his great predecessor.
Pursuing his objections to the views of Erasistratus, and his derision of the ignorance of his followers, as either forgetting or misunderstanding what their master says of the mesenteric arteries, (Bas. ed. p. 219,) some of the remarks made, would seem to indicate an acquaintance with, or at least a sight of the lacteals, which were mistaken for arteries. Galen affirms that nature does nothing in vain; and he draws an analogy from the stomachs of oxen, all varying, yet tending to one and the same end, towards which each one has its own peculiar office. So with the arteries and veins; blood is contained in each, dissimilar in constitution, for some specific object, as he elsewhere (aliis in libris) explains. That blood is there, he demonstrates by laying bare an artery, and then tying it in two places; on opening the intervening part, nothing but blood is to be found. He notices the ignorance of the Erasistratians as to Dialectics; and sarcastically laughs at them (Bas. ed. 222). He adverts to other difficulties, &c., and explains how the arteries are filled, maintaining the power of the heart in the distention of the arteries, and referring its further consideration to another place, (De Decretis Hipp. et Plat.) He next adverts to an experiment which deserves our especial notice, inasmuch as it forestalls what has been repeated since by Harvey, and by others near to our own time, by persons who seem not always to have known that it originated with this great master of our science; or if so, they have given it as their own without any notice of Galen.a
A full translation of this book would be useful.
GALENI, DE ANATOMICIS ADMINISTRATIONIBUS.
anatomical investigations, in nine books.
j. andernach, translator.
Bas. Ed., 226 to 394.
Of these most interesting books of Galen we have already stated that part of the ninth, all of the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, are lost; and as we shall see shortly, a sixteenth also.—An hiatus, maxime deflendus!
Galen begins by stating his reasons for writing on the subject of anatomy. He informs us that he had previously written on it, at the period of his return from Greece to Rome, in the beginning of the reign of Antoninus,a and who was then ruling. He states why he resumed the subject; one reason he assigns, was the intreaty of Flavius Boethus, a particular friend, and a great lover of anatomy, (anatomicæ speculationis amore flagrat, quam mortalium qui vixerunt unquam, ullus alius, &c.,) to whom he gave the copy in his possession on his departure from Rome, together with some other works. This copy he could not recover, on the demise of Boethus; and it would seem that he lost another, by a destructive fire at Rome.b Being now again urgently intreated by his friends, he was compelled to resume his pen;—and herein, we see a full display of the benefit of printing! Had Galen not written this third copy, we should now have been utterly unable to appreciate the anatomical merits of this wonderful man! He offers another reason, viz., that the work would be greatly improved, from various circumstances. He makes reference to anatomical books by Hippocrates and Erasistratus, besides commentaries on some, on living dissections (præter illos de vivis resecandis, item de mortuis, &c.,)—and informs us that he had composed a large work (ingens volumen) on the use of particular parts, in seventeen books, which he sent to Boethus; and notices three commentaries of his own, on the motion of the thorax and lungs, composed by him in his youth. He appears to have met with difficulties on the death of his friend, which, with other circumstances, impelled him to the steps he pursued. He adds, that he had shown Boethus many dissections, at which were always present Eudemus the peripatetic, and Alexander of Damascus, now (says he) holding at Athens, the public profession of that sect;—and hence, continues he, in order to oblige Boethus, I was at length induced to compose these principles of anatomy.
In the second chapter of this book, he enters more immediately into his subject. He says that the whole figure of the body is dependent on the bony fabric; and on this proposition, he proceeds to state, that, of all animals, the monkey, in its interior conformation, of muscles, arteries, nerves, &c., most resembles man, for such is the case in respect to his osteology. But how could Galen draw this analogy between man and apes, if he had not equally employed himself in the dissection of both? Yet, from this very chapter, have been drawn the principal arguments of those, who confine his anatomical researches to brutes alone! Indeed, he recommends an accurate knowledge of the bones, not from books merely, but from practice, and demonstration in the human subject.a Should difficulties present in this, he then commends the ape for dissection, giving a caution to select a species that most resembled man. I am, therefore, fully persuaded myself, from the general tenor of the chapter, that Galen did pursue his anatomical researches on man, and recurred to brutes, only for the purpose of comparative anatomy, or in a case of need; as is further shown by the following words (p. 230): “Ossium, ut dixi, omnium natura perdiscenda est, sive in humana, sive in simiæ corpore, modo possis; præstaret autem in utroque,”—and soon after, “Præstiteret sic instructum esse, ut si quando simiæ copia non datur, aliorum animantium corpora queas incidere,” &c.b
Galen, in the third chapter, adverts to the importance of a knowledge of the muscles, and to the neglect of the ancients in dissecting them. He mentions a prolix commentary on the subject, of five thousand verses, and notices its omissions; shows the high value of their acquaintance to the surgeon in particular, from the frequent occurrence of deep-seated abscesses and ulcers among them, and from other assigned reasons; and he affirms, that he who is best acquainted with them, will cut when necessary, with more self-possession. All this, taken in connexion, impels me the more strongly to believe, that dissection was then far from being confined to brutes; but that, at least in his hands, it was intimately associated with human anatomy. It may, perhaps, strengthen this opinion, to add, that in this part, as well as elsewhere, Galen refers to the ignorance of many in this respect. Certainly, says he, we shall grievously offend all those who have neglected anatomy; nor is it at all surprising that such should be the case with many; since, whatever they may say in behalf of it, it is a fact, that they would not put themselves out of the way in its pursuit. He gives one instance in a member of his own family, (probably a student,) who, on first taking up the subject of dissection, and skinning a monkey for the purpose, considered it as a degradation—but, from Galen’s account, he soon became partial to it; as will be the case inevitably with all, who, after the first impressions of disgust have subsided, pursue it diligently, and with a sincere desire for improvement.
In the fourth chapter, he thinks it expedient to explain his reasons for opposing the ancient anatomists, by pointing out their numerous contradictions; and the great discordance in their disputes respecting muscles having several heads and one tendon, and of others having only one head, and several tendons. All this is now, of but small importance, further, than as it tends to prove, that, even before his time, anatomy was in all probability as extensively pursued as in the present day, comparative, as well as human. Having disposed of these preliminary observations, Galen now proceeds to the consideration of the muscles and tendons of the arms and hands; on which he lays great stress, greater indeed than on those of other parts; inasmuch as he ascribes the vast superiority of man to brutes, chiefly to the wonderful construction and adaptation of those parts in him, and to their being peculiar to man alone. He is very minute in this examination and description, and probably, an accurate examination and a comparison of these parts, by a competent anatomist, both in man and in the monkey, might determine whether the description given by Galen, is derived from dissections of man alone, or of both.
This second book of Galen’s anatomy, is even of superior interest to the preceding, since it fully and conclusively evidences the great extension of anatomical research among the ancients; and which we cannot question, without placing a seal upon almost the only writer whose works have escaped the ravages of time, and which are worthy of consideration. He begins by explaining the paucity of ancient anatomical writers, and if words have any meaning, we have in his statement the strongest reason to believe, that anatomy was infinitely more extended then, than it is at present! So far from being confined to the dissecting-room of the physician or surgeon, it seems to have constituted a part of regular instruction under the parental roof, even from childhood! Monkeys must have been as plenty as mushrooms, if such universal dissections had to depend on them alone. Let us hear his account of the matter. In the first chapter of this book, he says, that “it was altogether useless for the ancients to write commentaries on this subject, inasmuch as it was pursued at home from childhood (a pueritia), by reading and writing, and by the dissection of dead bodies (cadaverum); and this, not among physicians only, but also by philosophers. A memory thus early exercised, was not to be readily obliterated. In process of time, however, it seems to have become customary to extend this instruction to strangers, as well as to children, (non liberis modo, sed alienis etiam artem communicare honestum esse consuerant,) who consequently were no longer exercised in actual dissections; and its early exercise in youth, being thus abolished, the knowledge of anatomy was of a more superficial character.” Galen then proceeds to show how things went on from bad to worse, and so limited in operation, that commentaries on the subject became necessary, in order to preserve what was known.
It does not appear, however, that such commentaries were wanting, even anterior to this period; for we find, in fact, that Galen refers to books on this subject; he mentions one of Diocles, as the most ancient that had reached them; and that after him, the writings of some of the elder, and many of the younger physicians had come to hand, (“post hunc alii quidam veterum medicorum, neque pauci ex junioribus, quorum prius mentio facta est,” &c.,) in which anatomy was so intermingled with other branches of medical science, such as diagnostics, prognostics, therapeutics, &c., that it was comparatively useless. He points out an example of this in Hippocrates, and adds, that “as there is danger of such works being lost, either from the negligence of the age as to acquiring information, or from the discontinuance in the instruction of youth, I think it expedient to write on the subject myself (merito commentarios scribimus); more especially, since some persons invidiously withhold their own information from others.” The above, and other remarks of a like nature, sufficiently explain, I apprehend, the character and standing of anatomy, both in the time of Galen, and that which preceded. Its importance is still further enhanced by Galen, in pointing out its close connexion with surgery, as in the case of wounds, the extraction of darts, excision of bones—luxations, compound fractures, opening of fistulæ, of sinuses, abscesses, and the like; adding, that without a knowledge of the situation of a principal nerve, muscle, artery, or vein, a surgeon would prove himself the author of death, rather than the preserver of life! He then states what he considers best to be known, practically, and as of far more importance than mere speculation, which, although of interest to the mere philosopher, is so to the physician in a degree infinitely inferior.
It may not be improper, here to inquire into the causes which led to the opinion of Galen being unacquainted with human anatomy, and that his dissections were limited to the brute creation, and principally to that of monkeys. In this inquiry we are reluctantly led to tarnish the name of a man, long venerated and esteemed as among the earliest and best anatomists, and who has even been considered by many as the father of this important foundation of the science of medicine; I mean Vesalius! It is to him chiefly, that this derogation to the claims of Galen is owing; others have only followed in his footsteps, from placing unbounded reliance on his good faith; and from ignorance, I apprehend, of the writings of Galen themselves; for certainly, this illustrious man has not wanted strenuous advocates in his behalf, among those who evidently had made those writings the subject of study and reflection.
Fabricius (J. A., in his Elenchus Medicorum Veterum, article Galenus. Bibliotheca Græca, vol. xiii. p. 165), speaking of some of the writers of the life of Galen, &c., adverts to J. Woweranus, Th. Reinesius, and Caspar Hoffmannus,—who, “non sine causa dissentiunt a Vesalio et Amato, qui Galenum secuisse humana corpora negant,” &c., although they admitted his dissection of brutes. Now, in order to strengthen this dissent of the above-named writers to Vesalius, it is necessary to adduce facts that have never been denied, that I know of; facts, derived from some of his contemporaries and associates, and others of later date.
C. N. Jenty, in an historical compend, prefixed to his anatomical lectures (3 vols. London, 1757), thus speaks upon the subject, after stating that Vesalius was born at Brussels in 1514, and died in 1564, at the age of fifty; and, that at the time Vesalius appeared, anatomists were so much blindfolded with the authority of Galen, that to have contradicted him had been looked upon as heresy: that Vesalius ventured to expose the mistakes, and correct the errors of Galen, both in physic and anatomy: which led to the censures of some distinguished authors, who charged him “with ignorance, want of honour, vainglory, and plagiarism.” To confirm this, he presents to the reader (p. 94), an extract (translated) from Piccolhominus, whom he calls an author of considerable note. As I possess the work of Piccolhominusa (Prælectiones Anatomicæ, fol. Romæ, 1586), I prefer to give it in his own original words, for Jenty omits a part, of some consequence to the full comprehension of the merited castigation of Vesalius. It will be perceived, that, (referring to his work, p. 207,) he is speaking of the fœtal heart, and lays claim for Galen, to certain parts that have been delivered by Vesalius as discoveries of his own; referring to the sixth book, De Usu Partium, cap. 20, 21, and ch. 6, of fifteenth book, in proof of Vesalius’s dishonest conduct. His words are as follows,—after stating that Vesalius “in magno illo de re anatomica volumine” had not mentioned these particulars from Galen. “Qua ab eo prætermissa, duo perspicuè indicantur; alterum, se in fœtubus dissecandi segnem et ignarum fuisse, cum hanc neque invenerit neque prodiderit; alterum, se libros illos Galeni quos modo commemoravi, nunquam legisse. Nec minus mirari subit Fallopius, qui passim Vesalium divinum appellat! An divinitatis nomen meruerit quòd rei anatomicæ, omniumque corporis humani partium, fuerit inventor primus et observator?” (The above is omitted by Jenty.) “Si mihi aliquando per otium licebit, luculenter commenstrabo, quæcumque bona scribuntur a Vesalio in illo volumine, omnia ex Hippocrate, Aristotele, Galeno, aliisque antiquioribus esse transcripta, horum virorum, nulla prorsus facta mentione; Quæcunque verò falsa, ab eodem scribuntur, quæquam plurima sunt, ex suo furibundo marte prodidisse.” And soon after, he adds, “Ex duobus itaque illis Galeni libris, et locis, in quibus admonet, horum vasorum coitionem in fœtu, nonnulla, veluti problemata eruam, quò res obscurissima, tractatur dilucidè et maximè perspicuè.” A sentence is added here in Jenty’s translation, omitted above, viz., “and though he has secretly stole many things from Galen, yet he never mentions his name, unless it be with a view to find fault with him!”
These are serious charges, we must admit, yet they do not rest on the assertions of Piccolhominus alone,—for Jenty thus proceeds: “The censure of Caius is still more remarkable. We both lodged, says he, in the same quarters at Padua, at the time when Vesalius wrote and prepared his book ‘De Corpora Humana Fabrica.’ One Aldinus Junta, a Venetian printer, employed him to correct the anatomical works of Galen, both Greek and Latin; and for that purpose, several emendations were sent him; but he rendered Galen’s text more corrupt than it was before, with no other view than that he might have somewhat to find fault with:” and though Fallopius owns him to be the father of anatomy, yet he carps at his opinion almost every where.—Columbus talks thus of him: “I cannot but be surprised that he, who on all occasions lashes and chastises Galen for his having described apes and brutes, instead of men, should yet, himself, be so ridiculous, as to describe the larynx, tongue, and eyes of oxen, and not of men; without so much as ever giving a caution with regard to it. He also ascribed muscles to the epiglottis, which are only found in brutes!” Eustachius has also observed of him, that “he described and delineated a dog’s kidney, instead of a man’s.” Arantius styles him the common master of anatomists, but accuses him of having delineated the pudenda of brutes, on account of the scarcity of the bodies of women; whereby it happened that Valverda, and those who immediately followed him, taking things upon trust, split upon the same rock. Johannes B. Carcan Leon speaks of him thus: “It is surprising that Vesalius, whilst he accuses Galen, the chief of physicians and anatomists, of so many blunders and errors, should yet himself, be so justly liable to censure in the same respect; and, what is still worse, by these accusations, he seems widely to have mistaken Galen’s meaning, ascribing to him things he never so much as dreamed of; and affirming, that he denied those things that he insisted on in the most distinct and explicit manner; and whilst he so often wonders at, and finds fault with Galen, he himself deserves to be wondered at, and found fault with.”
I repeat, then, that these particulars respecting Vesalius, are deserving of the strongest reprobation; and yet Galen’s character as an anatomist, has been settled by such an ungenerous conduct. Whatever may be the real standard of Vesalius’s attainments, no one, after reading the above statements of those, whose names are well known in our anatomical researches, will venture to derogate from Galen’s high standard, from the authority of his calumniator, who, in attempting to depress and depreciate him, vainly strove to elevate himself; and merits the contempt of every honourable member of the profession of medicine.
In the third chapter of this second book, we find much to interest, much to instruct us. Galen here enters into some details of the omissions and negligence of preceding anatomists respecting the muscles, nerves, arteries, and veins; and notices the ignorance of many, as to these particulars, even in his time. He adds that such knowledge is so absolutely essential to the medical man, that even the Empirics (the sect), who have written largely against Anatomy, have never dared to condemn it; but, whilst confessing it to be the most useful and important of any of the branches of medicine, they add, that it is attainable by the frequent inspection of wounds! He is wroth that any one should presume to think that a bare inspection of wounds can make an anatomist; and he pursues his remarks with much and well-seasoned sarcastic asperity, concluding that it is scarcely worth while to dispute with such people. He exhorts beginners to attend first to that which is most useful; amongst which he reckons the nerves, the arteries, and veins of such parts as are most likely to come under notice, rather than those deep-seated parts that are less under our control. He lays great stress on this, and tells us he does so, from the fact that he saw around him many who considered themselves very highly accomplished, although altogether ignorant in these particulars. He proceeds, in the subsequent chapters, to speak of the muscles of the thigh, leg, &c.,—and makes a remark that I think adds strength to the impression I have advocated, of his dissections being human, and not limited to brutes; viz., when speaking of the foot of the monkey, he mentions it as being very different from that of man, and repeats the same as to the hands and fingers, which he would scarcely venture to assert without a due acquaintance with each. In the last chapter, some observations occur in opposition to Erasistratus, on the subject of the nails.
Bas. Ed. 267.
This is an important book, and is connected with the nerves, the veins, and arteries of the hand and foot. Galen commences it with animadverting on those persons who make their studies to consist in sophistical discussions, rather than in the faithful and steady pursuit of anatomy. He points continually to the necessity of acquiring a knowledge of the external parts, and to the errors of judgment, and the unhappy results of practice, which an ignorance thereof induces. The extreme neglect he had witnessed in these particulars led him to the greater attention; and he strongly urges all who dissect, to pay early attention to the anatomy of the arteries, the veins, and nerves. We continually, says Galen, meet with physicians who know accurately how many membranes belong to the heart, or muscles to the tongue, with other things of like character; but who are altogether ignorant of the structure of the external parts, and of very much that they ought besides to have known. He gives a case or two in point; and in a succession of chapters, he notices the nerves proceeding from the spine to the arm, &c., the passage of the axillary vessels, the nerves of the thigh, leg, and foot, and their vessels. In chap. ix. he reiterates his views as to the diligence required in investigating the nerves and blood-vessels, and this, from considerations unsurpassed by any that could probably now be advanced by the first surgeons of this period. He here likewise gives a prominent instance of the gross ignorance, and consequent rashness, of a surgeon, who, in some affection of the arm, incautiously employing the scalpel, divided both the nerve and vessels of the part! Alarmed at the great effusion of blood, but expecting nothing more, the vessels were tied (“funibus vasis quæ amputata erant, circumdatis,” p. 284); immediately the patient discovered that he could not move his hand, and that sensation in many parts of the limb was entirely destroyed; on which he exclaimed to the physician, “Wretch, thou hast cut a nerve!” (ενευροϰοπηςας). So that, says Galen, by one single cut a whole limb was rendered useless. Again he refers to the general resemblance between man and the monkey, and commends a frequent recurrence to the latter. He speaks of a book (unfortunately lost) wherein he has treated on the danger of blood-letting; which book, probably, from the mode of expression respecting it, might have enabled us more fully to have appreciated the peculiar subjects of his anatomy (“ut nunc omittam quæ in sanguinis detractione mala designent, ignorantes quæ observanda sint, in singulis cubiti venis: de quibus etiam in libro de mortuorum consectione tractatum est.”) The whole chapter is interesting, whilst the whole book, I think, sufficiently establishes the exercise of anatomy by Galen, as being on the human subject principally, although that of animals was not neglected; and that the assertions of Vesalius and others, are not to be at all relied on, when employed in disparagement of this great man.
BOOKS IV., V.
Bas. Ed. 290.
These two books continue a description of the muscles, viz., of the face, head, neck and scapula, thorax, abdomen, loins and spine, &c., embracing much interesting detail as to the order he had adopted for his anatomical books, &c., and in the first chapter, terms are employed in relation to the monkey, which show that he, at least, knew well the difference of its anatomy from that of man, (“simiam vero ridiculam hominis simulationem existere demonstravimus: ac ob id hominis quidem modo graditur; sed in ipsis principalioribus partibus manca est,” &c.); of which he mentions sufficient proof. He moreover animadverts on the dissections of the physicians of his day, as being of parts the least important; and he esteems it his duty to impress this upon the minds of young men, and to urge them to a more useful line of conduct. This first chapter is, indeed, a kind of summary of the preceding books, and of those that succeed. Some reference is made here to books apparently lost, and which I have already adverted to, as mentioned by the editor of Galen. These books are from the fifth chapter of the ninth book, all the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth books, and in the first chapter, fourth book, he speaks of a “decimus sextus illius operis liber, agit de arteriis, venis et nervis,” in which, he tells us, he has explained what is generally and commonly known respecting them. This must be considered as a great loss, for it would in all probability have enabled us more accurately to appreciate his anatomical skill, and the chief objects of his dissections; and also to estimate more fully his knowledge and views of a circulation of the blood. In the sixth chapter of the fifth book, he makes a slight reference to a singular case, which being more fully detailed in the seventh book, I shall there revert to it. He remarks on the ignorance of the older anatomists respecting the use of the intercostal muscles, notices the diaphragm (phrenes, vel septum transversum), and speaks of it as if it was formed of two muscles, an idea that has been entertained by later writers.a
The subject changes in this book; and those organs are taken up which receive and distribute nourishment, and subserve the excretions, &c. The approximation of the monkey to man is again touched on, and observations are occasionally interspersed, that approximate very closely to the present views on Phrenology, (“nullum itaque miraculum est cujusque animantis internam compositionem ex figura exteriorum clare conspecta prænoscere.” Bas. edit. p. 332.) Indeed, the whole book is in a measure replete with it, together with much other ingenious and instructive matter; all tending to prove that Galen fully deserved the high standing he attained; and must excite our astonishment that worth like his should be now so completely forgotten or underrated, instead of causing him still to occupy the foremost rank, which was awarded formerly, and continued uninterruptedly for more than ten centuries! It might not be amiss at present, for every member of the Profession carefully to peruse these interesting books, and then with candour (if self-love would permit it), contemplate his own attainments, and judge of them by Galen’s standard, instead of estimating Galen by his own dimensions! Perhaps it might lead to the conviction, even though that self-love might receive thereby a deep wound, that “all the talents” have not been limited to the present period of the world, even with the aid of the superior facilities of attaining information which the improvements of philosophy and of education are supposed to afford!
Galen considers the organs of nourishment to be of three kinds, viz.: 1. For reception, digestion, and transmission of food. 2. Receptacula, for excrementitious matters; and 3. Of such as subserve the discharge of those matters. This view of the subject leads to a digression on the difference of stomachs, as connected with the different food of animals; ruminant and non-ruminant animals are noticed; the number of stomachs in the former, and the intention of that singular formation. He then treats of the peritoneum, omentum, mesentery, its arteries and veins; the coats of the stomach and intestines; the variety of the liver in man, and some animals; the spleen, the vessels, and gall-ducts connected with the liver; the kidneys and urinary passages; the various sphincter muscles in different parts; in all of which, the position seems strengthened as to his dissections being human. He tells us, (chap. xiii. p. 346,) that a useless dispute had been sustained by anatomists, respecting the name of the ureter, and if it were more appropriate to call it artery or vein—and then speaks more particularly of the sphincters, their situation and uses.
In this book Galen proceeds to treat of the heart, the lungs, and arteries, as seen, both in the dead, and in the living subject. He tells us the principal organs of breathing (spiritus) are three; the lungs, the heart, and the thorax. He takes notice of the twofold kind of artery, viz.: the one arising from the left ventricle, spreading throughout the body, and pulsating in unison with the heart; the other, called the aspera arteria, the upper part of which has the name of larynx, whilst below, it ramifies by numerous branches through the lungs;—then follows an account of the pleura and pericardium, and a comparison is drawn between the former and the peritoneum; he proceeds to speak of the heart and arteries, and of the different opinions respecting the vessels of the lungs, and of the pulse.a I give a short quotation in a note, which, to many, I doubt not, will be interesting, as would much more of the same nature, in connexion with the subject of the circulation, which has so unadvisedly been entirely ascribed to Harvey. I do not wonder these books have never received an English translation! National pride would be shocked at the trappings which would inevitably fall from the mantle with which he has been invested, and find their original location in that of Galen!
Galen here takes notice of the non-pulsation of the vessels in the lungs;—a circumstance I do not recollect to have met with elsewhere. He further remarks, that it had been conjectured that these vessels are continued into the left ventricle; a conjecture, adds he, not solely probable, but, which seems certain, from the knowledge we have of its functions;—I believe this is the intent of his observation, which is connected with the above consideration of the pulsation or non-pulsation in the lungs. A complete translation of this book would be very desirable, since so much of it will be found to be intimately associated with the subject of the circulation, treating as it does of the heart and its valves, &c., and assuredly forestalling much of Harvey’s assumed discoveries. The largest elephant, and the smallest bird, that breathe, (continues Galen,) have a similarly constructed heart and lungs. And in explaining some of the differences between an artery and a vein, (p. 353,) he adds: “Quales igitur toto corpore existunt arteriæ, tale vas ex dextro cordis sinu procedens, in totum pulmonem serie diffunditur. Quales autem venæ, tale ex sinistro: ut ex tribus vasis pulmonem intertexentibus, quod á sinistro cordis ventriculo proficiscitur, arteria venosa nuncupetur, quod à dextro, arteriosa vena,” &c.
In the thirteenth chapter, Galen reports the case I adverted to in the fifth book, as being here more fully detailed. It is one of singular interest, not only in point of curiosity, but because it really is singular, as being, I believe, the only case of its kind recorded in the Fasti of medicine. It is a case, which, by proving his unrivalled anatomical and surgical skill, must, I think for ever set at rest any doubts as to his dissections having been of the human subject. No one since has had the opportunity of exactly following in his bold and successful attempt.a It is to this effect:—
The son of an actor received an injury on the sternum at some of the gymnastic games of the circus. It was not attended to, and he was supposed to have got well. About four months after, an abscess appeared, the part was incised, and speedily cicatrized. Inflammation again succeeded, and suppuration ensued; again an incision was made, but the part would not heal. At length, a consultation was proposed, to which Galen was invited. On examining the part it was sphacelated, the bone was affected, and even a pulsation of the heart was obvious. No one dared to remove the diseased bone. At length, Galen, without, however, promising a cure, undertook to remove it, at the same time being uncertain of the state of the parts beneath. He accordingly cut away the diseased bone; and the vertex of the pericardium being also in a putrescent state, was likewise removed, thereby leaving the heart entirely bare. In due time the boy recovered perfectly; which, says Galen, could not have happened, if no one had been bold enough to remove the diseased bone, and which no one would have attempted, unless well versed in anatomy, (“nisi in administrationibus anatomicis præ-exercitatus.”)—Another case, related in the same chapter, demonstrates clearly, I think, the employment of ligatures to restrain or arrest hemorrhage. It is of a person who had a portion of putrid flesh removed from an abscess of the arm, by an individual, who from ignorance divided a large artery. The immense discharge of blood so disconcerted him, that, it being deep-seated, he could scarcely secure it, (vix laqueo ipsam possit intercipere.) The danger, however, being arrested from this source, death ensued from gangrene of the artery at the ligature, which extended itself in every direction.—In the first case above narrated, Galen stands unrivalled. The only one at all resembling it, is one mentioned by Harvey, in which the heart was laid bare through the effect of disease, and in which art had no share. The case of removal of the ribs, related by Richerand, is in many particulars different, although it evinces great boldness and decision in him. Its event, at any rate, was unfavourable; and Galen’s case continues as an immortal trophy to his well-established fame. I would here demand, whether such an operation on the living body, can be reasonably ascribed to anatomical skill derived from the dissection of brutes alone? If this is admitted, I would say, that it adds another laurel to his crown; whilst, at the same time, it diminishes the importance of human anatomy!
After these interesting details, Galen proceeds to state, what is to be seen in the thorax, on dissecting a living animal. This is a curious chapter, and in several places, we find expressions and sentences, bearing strongly on the doctrine of a general circulation. We find the pulsation of both sides of the heart particularly adverted to; and even the ultimate motion of the auricles, at lengthened intervals, continued after that of the ventricles had altogether ceased! In the conclusion of this book, Galen again renews his censures against the neglect of anatomy, and ridicules the followers of Erasistratus, who promised to demonstrate and show that the arteries were void of blood. A bet of one thousand drachmas seems to have been proffered, and to have even been deposited by one of the parties. Galen gives a most laughable description of the ensuing dissection, and appears to have enjoyed greatly its failure, in every respect of what was promised. He adds another anecdote with no less humour, of an old man of seventy, (senex quidam septuagenarius,) who also promised to show the artery empty. A comic account is given of the affair, and the deceptions practised in its progress are explained. He ends by saying that such is the audacity of some, who most rashly affirm as facts, what they never witnessed! This remark might, without much difficulty, be verified in the present, as well as in the time of Galen! and that, in every department of medical science.
From some part of this chapter, there is reason to believe that Galen, or some of his contemporaries, had a view of the lacteals; and that they were mistaken for the mesenteric arteries. (Initio, igitur aiunt, simulac mesenterium denudatum fuerit, arterias aëri similes apparere, postea lacte repleta conspici.) He opposes the idea of the arteries being filled with air, and adds, that the very circumstance that is subsequently mentioned of their being filled with milk, sufficiently disproves it. The vessels thus seen, whether by himself or others, must undoubtedly have been the lacteals, as seems indeed to be proved from the very character of the experiment that precedes the statement, and to which reference is made.
The subject of the thorax is here continued; its structure and boundaries—the ribs, clavicle, and muscles; the diaphragm, regarded as the governor or ruler of the motion of the thorax, and as aiding in the function of respiration. The motion of the ribs is considered and explained, and some ancient errors are pointed out. The division of the intercostal muscles, and the symptoms that follow, whether the incision be on one, or on both sides. He notices the dividing the nerves, by which the action of the intercostals is destroyed, and the voice is lost; dividing the spinal marrow in different parts, and of the affection of distant parts thereby produced. He notices and opposes some opinions of Erasistratus; and every circumstance throughout, evinces the indefatigable pursuit of anatomy by Galen; here, chiefly, on (living) animals as the subjects of his experiments, on numerous and highly interesting points. Assuredly we may be allowed to maintain, that no one so fully convinced of the importance of anatomy as he was, could dissect so long, and so accurately, and limit his dissections to brutes alone! The proposition seems to be so unreasonable, that I conceive it to be untenable, and submit the subject to the verdict of the best anatomists of the present day. In the last chapter of this book, he speaks of experiments made on animals, by death from different causes, as drowning, strangling, division of the spinal marrow and large vessels, &c.; some of which, and the results have been since his time repeated, without any reference to his priority. I have wondered much, in my progress through the works of this great writer, where he found time to write, to pursue his researches, and to practise! What an illustrious example does he every where afford to the Profession! How few, alas, will follow in his footsteps!
This book commences with a few remarks on the propriety or utility of dissecting living animals, in order to comprehend the functions of the different parts; the dissection of the dead body pointing out other particulars, but not embracing this.
Imperfect as this book is, after the fifth chapter, as before stated, it yet gives the anatomy of the brain, speaks of its membranes, their vessels and their route; the choroid plexus, ventricles, and many other parts. Whether his descriptions are derived from human, or chiefly from comparative anatomy, such respect has still been paid to him in this department, that the names of most of the parts, as assigned or approved of by him, are continued to the present day. The portion of the book that is lost, would probably have shed greater light on the subject; its loss is a subject of deep regret; yet how much greater that which is felt from the loss of the six or seven books in continuation, can be appreciated only by him, who carefully investigates those writings which we happily possess.a
GALENI, DE UTERI DISSECTIONE.
of the dissection of the uterus.
j. cornario, translator.
Bas. Ed., p. 395.
This book treats, in twelve chapters, of the dissection of the uterus. It points out its situation, size, figure, its cornua, and the sinuses in multiparient animals, but which are not found in women; states the uses of the cornua; and proceeds to consider the connexion, union, dependence, and nourishment of the uterus, by veins and arteries, whose intertexture is adverted to. Here is to be found a tribute to the merits of Herophilus. The coats of the uterus are stated to be two, an external, simple and nervous; and an internal, which is double and vascular. Its neck is then treated of, as being muscular and cartilaginous, and although constricted in common, yet, in partu, it is capable of a most wonderful dilatability. Its coats are noticed, and their varied thickness or tenuity under different states, and periods of life. The female testes (ovaria), and their difference from the male;—their coats, and vessels, extending to the neck of the bladder, and unknown to prior anatomists. The changes which take place in the uterus during pregnancy, from the presence of the fœtus, membranes, &c: these membranes are the chorion, the amnion, and allantoid. Reasons are assigned for the greater facility of conception, just before, or after menstruation. The vascular adherence of the chorion to the uterus; what those vessels are; their existence asserted, although denied by some. The vessels thus distributed through the chorion, at length unite in two trunks, an arterial and venous, each of which is double, and go to constitute the umbilicus, having the allantoid between them. The fluid of the allantoid is said to be yellow, and small in amount; that contained in the amnion is considerable in quantity and whiter.
GALENI, DE INSTRUMENTO ODORATUS.
of the organ of smell.
l. belisarius, translator.
Bas. Ed., p. 403.
Smell, says Galen, signifies not only the immediate perception of odour, but also that power or faculty whence the sense of smell emanates. The nose is not the instrument, but merely the channel of smell; the instrument or organ itself, is somewhere beyond the nose. He then adverts to the openings of the nose or nostrils, and to the different parts within them; some having a connexion with the fauces, and with respiration; others extending to the brain, and by which that organ is enabled to evacuate its humours; the internal lining of the nose, and its nerves are noticed; the nerves, through which the sense of smell is effected, are pretty large and soft, as is the case with those of the eyes, tongue, ears, and mouth of the stomach; but those connected with the touch, are, on the contrary, small and firmer, and are distributed throughout the skin over the body; this sense is, therefore, less acute. These ideas are followed by further remarks on the other senses. Smelling, we are told, does not depend on the air only, as in hearing, nor on moisture only, as in taste, but on both united. Parts of the nose are bony, and are covered with a membrane, proving that neither of these are the instrument of smell; for bone is altogether void of sensibility, and the membranes have not nerves sufficient alone for the purpose; neither have they any affinity to the substance or matter of odour, for no smell is perceptible, unless the air is drawn in: the covering of the palate, fauces, or windpipe is not the instrument; for if we hold the nose, and thus compress the nostrils, no smell is perceived on inspiration. The air, we are told by Galen, is attracted to the brain, either by the motions induced by respiration, or, perhaps, by some proper motion of the brain itself; by which the air follows as the brain contracts itself, and is expelled on its expansion. He gives us some cases of imperfect smell, in which pepper mixed with oil being forcibly snuffed up, a biting sensation was felt in the brain (I presume resembling that which all have experienced by too large a portion of mustard with food, and which is instantly removed by snuffing up the odorant emanation of a piece of bread); from whence he concludes the sense of smell to be seated in the anterior ventricles, and not in the membrane of the nose; in which he opposes the opinions of Aristotle, whose particular views on the subject are largely considered. This is followed by an explanation of the utility of sternutatories in some diseases of the brain, as lethargy, &c., founded on the principles which he advocates; and, if these be admitted, his superstructure is admirably erected upon them.
GALENI, DE USU PARTIUM CORPORIS HUMANI.
of the uses of the different parts of the human body.
in seventeen books.
n. r. calabro, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 418.
BOOKS I., II.
These books are very interesting on many accounts, resembling in various parts those already noticed, De Administrationibus Anatomicis, and, like them, are well deserving of an accurate translation into English. The mere exposé here given, affords a very meagre and imperfect outline of their contents; scarcely, indeed, can it be regarded as a table of contents.
It has been before mentioned, that Galen considered the hand of man, from its peculiarity of structure, as the chief source of his great superiority over every other animal, both as to the operations of the body and the mind; and he enters fully, in these two books, into their consideration; confining his observations almost exclusively thereto, and to the carpus and forearm. It is almost impossible to form a regular abstract of them, sufficiently concise for the object of this compend, and I therefore prefer omitting so mutilated an attempt altogether.a
In this book, the lower extremities are considered. Here, Galen expatiates on man’s superiority, from having only two, instead of four or more legs; and ridicules, very justly, the amazing absurdity of Pindar, in his fanciful production of the Centaurs. He enters into a consideration of “why man was made a biped;” evincing, by his observations throughout, that even in an age of credulity, he possessed in perfection the mens sana, in corpore sano, and that he well knew how to draw the line between truth and falsehood, or fancy, if the term may be thought less offensive. He next takes notice of the erect character or position of man, and points to the physiological reasons of the case. He ridicules the idea of its being intended, as some affirmed (p. 447), “ut ad cœlum promptè suspiciat, et dicere possit, respicio adversus Olympum fronte intrepida,”a —that is, for the purpose of looking towards heaven! and he archly asks, whether they who thought so, had ever seen the fish, that by the Greeks is called ουρανοσχοπον, or looker towards heaven? Now, adds Galen, this fish, from its very formation, must always behold the heavens, but man, only when he throws back his head, and which an ass can perform equally well!—We must not omit here to notice the admirable piety of this pagan philosopher; it is, indeed, exemplified on every appropriate occasion, in various parts of his works; but here, more particularly, this excellent and extraordinary character, after considering the leg, and its instruments of motion, breaks out in admiration of the goodness, the wisdom, and infinite power of the Deity, as exemplified in the works of creation, and especially of man! (p. 495), a rhapsody not undeserving of translation, and of a place in some Christian publication.
Galen now engages in the consideration of the stomach, liver, and other organs appropriated for nourishment; that is, for the digestion of food, and its conveyance to every part; together with the emunctories for the discharge of superfluities, and excrementitious portions, &c. He supports with ardour the important agency of the liver in the process of sanguification, and the whole is accompanied with much interesting matter. In the thirteenth chapter of this book, we find sundry problems respecting the veins, the arteries, and nerves of the liver, that deserve consideration; and it is well remarked, that unless the particular uses of each part are well understood, as is too commonly the case, it would be better to omit its notice altogether. A question is proposed why a double sinus was not given to the liver as well as to the heart; in the consideration of which, expressions are employed which indicate his credence of a circulation; and, so far as relates to the doctrine of hæmatosis, or formation of blood, if any there be now, of superior preponderance; that of Galen, by which this important process is ascribed to one of the largest and most surprising organs of the body, is at least equal to it; and his arguments, &c., on the subject, not inferior to any I have met with in recent publications. He notices the distinctive appearance of the blood in the liver, spleen, and lungs, treats of the intestines, the mesentery, omentum, and other parts, their construction and uses, and in
He considers the remaining organs of nutrition and excretion, the pancreas, kidneys, &c., in the same manner; states his disputes with several persons, in his books De Facultatibus Naturalibus; renews the subject of the mode of excretion, and treats of the diaphragm, and its uses in respiration, and as co-operating in the excretions.
The thorax, with its contents, the lungs and heart, &c., are considered in this book.
The œsophagus, called stomachus ventriculi, is mentioned; and we are told, that fish, having no lungs, have only the heart in the thorax, and therefore are mute; the use of the lungs being that of respiration; and that one of the uses of respiration, is “quod in ipso fervet (the air) et quasi combustum et fuliginosum est, ex ipso profundens,” p. 554,—and which I take to imply, that something is discharged in expiration, of a noxious character, of a burned or carbonated nature;—in other words, expressing what is now familiarly spoken of, as decarbonizing the blood. He lays much stress on the contrivance of nature to prevent any injury to the vena cava, by means of the soft elastic parenchyma of the lungs, with other curious matter, and ventures to apply the same intention, in the formation of the thymus gland. Do we know a more certain explanation? If he is wrong, how can we convict him of error, if we cannot supply one less beset with difficulty? In successive chapters, the heart, its figure, substance, divisions, &c., is taken up; the nutrition of the lungs; the vena arteriosa, and arteria venosa, with many other important subjects, succeed; amidst which, if we cannot find strong evidences of the circulation being known to him, it is, because we will not! The junction of the arteries and veins by anastomosis, is in language too palpable to be mistaken, independently of what is dispersed in one hundred passages of his writings.a I know not that the capillary circulation is now better described, or even understood, than by Galen, sixteen centuries ago; but it signifies nothing to support his claims in opposition to Harvey, who has stated as his own, what was long before known; and almost the whole of which was familiar to Galen. Whenever these books shall receive an English dress, that all may fairly and fully investigate his real claims, the award to Harvey will be reversed, and he will sink greatly from the height to which he by the British nation, to the total exclusion of Galen’s claims, has been so unjustly elevated! It is no wonder that he has never received an English translation! This must be reserved for America!—I say nothing of others, his immediate predecessors and contemporaries, who have had their laurels insidiously abstracted, without acknowledgment, to form the crown that was bestowed upon him; as I am now only concerned for Galen, and have elsewhere fully treated of the whole subject.b —On the valves of the heart, Galen has been sufficiently explicit; and this having been admitted by Harvey, I believe no one has contested the point; how he was led to concede it, I cannot surmise, seeing that with respect to those of the veins, he has arrogated to himself, if not absolutely, yet indirectly, their discovery; and assuredly, also, has claimed that of their presumed use in the system; a use which was announced by Piccolhomini, (perhaps by others,) before Harvey even began the study of medicine! but, eheu, jam satis!—I shall merely mark below a few references to the Basila edition of Galen, (though all should, in fact, be read in connexion, to make the affair completely apparent), in which some idea may be formed, of the true extent to which Galen had carried his views of a circulation. Proof from these and other parts may be deduced, to satisfy every candid mind, that he knew the influence of the right side of the heart, the arterial character of the pulmonary veins, and the venous character of the pulmonary artery. He attacks Asclepiades and others, in a bitter strain of irony, respecting the vessels that go from the lungs, as to their character; and adverts to the valves, the auricles, and ventricles, as to their difference of thickness, and other particulars, in several successive chapters. In the seventeenth, p. 580, in opposition to Erasistratus, he maintains, that the arteries contain blood; and again adverts to their anastomoses with the veins.b He adds, that Erasistratus taught, that inflammation could not possibly take place, except by the flowing of the blood from the veins into the arteries; the absurdity of which he professes to expose, even from Erasistratus himself; and as being a subject he had often considered and disputed about. A dispassionate perusal of this whole book, must, I think, incline the reader to admit the claim of Galen to a knowledge of the circulation, if even not accordant altogether with our present views; but of the truth of which, in all its parts, a doubt may be entertained. His judicious views of the general contrivance of nature cannot be overturned by the sophistry of those, who give to Harvey the exclusive merit of the most interesting discovery in medical science. The remaining chapters of this book, are of equal interest. They treat of the lungs and of the heart, &c., in the fœtal state, together with their functions and peculiarities.a
This book continues the subject of the thorax, lungs, and trachea, the construction of the larynx, its muscles, cartilages, nerves, &c., the os hyoides, diaphragm, &c.; and, as being located on the thorax, he makes a digression to the mammæ.
Treats of the head, the brain, the neck; which last, he notices as being uniformly present in animals having lungs, and as being equally deficient, where the lungs are wanting. The common purposes of the head; the instruments of sense; cerebral nerves; ethmoid bone; meninges; pericranium; cerebellum; ventricles, &c., are all noticed, and sundry criticisms are made on Praxagoras and other philosophers, for their respective opinions.
In this book, the subject of the brain is continued; its arteries, veins, and nerves; its different channels of purgation; the cavernous structure of the cranium; plexus retiforme, and its convolutions as compared with that of the testicle. The mode of entrance of the cerebral vessels is described, and their variation from common distribution; the distinction of hard and soft nerves, and their appropriation to motion or to sense; cranial sutures, squamose bones, &c.
The organ of vision is here considered, its parts described, and an hypothesis on the subject of vision, quite as likely to be correct as those now advanced; at least, as well sustained, and certainly not less interesting, when regarded as the speculation of nearly twenty centuries past.
The remaining parts of the head are here considered; those of the face also, the muscles, teeth, and their variety in different animals; the tongue, pharynx, ears, nose, &c. One chapter, the thirteenth, is chiefly occupied with a consideration of the beauty of the parts, as superadded to their utility; which last is, however, admitted to be superior, inasmuch as it is the primary scope and intention of the whole construction. He then treats of the hair and beard, and attempts an explanation of the exemption of women from the last-named; also, why the eyebrows and lashes always continue of the same length; and much other curious matter, which no one but Galen would have deemed worthy of attention. That pagan philosophy did not alone occupy his mind is obvious, for, (p. 718,) we here find him adverting to the writings of Moses, in reference to some particulars respecting the hair, &c., from which he dissents; although he considers the opinions of Moses to be superior to those of Epicurus, yet maintaining that neither should be followed implicitly. He takes notice of the difference of the skin of different parts; also the motions of certain parts, as of the alæ nasi, &c., and gives some remarks on the bones; and he terminates the book with the following observation, to which every reader will assent, “Nam ita demum naturam maxime admiraberis, si omnia ejus opera perlustraris.”
This book is occupied with the parts common to the neck and head, and its spinal connexions; muscles, ligaments, cartilages, nerves, &c. The vertebræ, spinal marrow, &c., with reasons for, and problems respecting, the difference of size, form, &c., of the vertebræ and parts of the back, with various other matter.
The subject is continued, and is replete with interest, both to the speculative and practical anatomist. The nerves of the vertebræ and neck; of the thorax, and those of the lower extremities. The meningeal coverings of the dorsal medulla. Of the scapula and other parts, with their difference in man and animals or quadrupeds; of the humeral and other articulations, and ending with observations on the wonderful address of nature in all these.
A new subject, of great interest, here breaks in upon us; viz., the importance of the continued life of animals, through the process of generation, resembling in some measure, by such perpetual succession, a species of immortality. To this end, an appropriate set of organs, differing in the sexes of all animals, is provided. In the details hereof, much ingenious speculation and anatomical research are conspicuous. So far as this last respects the dissection of the uterus, it would seem to be principally of that of animals; and hence, several wrong deductions as to the human uterus, appear to be drawn from facts that are strictly correct of the former. The wonderful character and the connexion of the uterus and mammæ are pointed out; the superiority of man, the concurrence of the seminal fluids of both sexes, the production of males or females, the order of the formation of the fœtal parts, the testes, and the surprising distribution of their vessels, all are taken up, and duly considered;—and continued in
Which enters more fully into the character, formation, and structure of the fœtus, and its different parts; its coats, vessels, humours; followed by an inquiry into the reason of its immense liver; and all interspersed with numerous curious physiological questions, viz.; as to the greater strength of the veins in early life, and the more gradual, but progressive augmentation of that of arteries and nerves; why the fœtal lungs are red; the close adhesion of the os uteri in pregnancy, &c., all serving to prove, that Galen was as inquisitive in physiology, as he was observant in practice, and that nothing escaped his penetrating observation and inquiry.
This book goes far, I think, both directly, and by implication, in support of the opinion of Galen being acquainted with, and even of having taught, the fact of a circulation. Such continual implications cannot be ascribed to accident alone; but must be placed to the result of well-founded opinions, arising out of facts, isolated perhaps, but strongly supporting one another and the common doctrines to which they may have given origin. The book is taken up with a general consideration of the common distribution of the arteries and veins throughout the body. The artery, vein, and nerve, Galen calls the common instruments of the whole body, (de communibus totius corporis instrumentis, arteria, vena et nervo prius quidem dum partes exponeremus, verba sæpe fecimus,” &c., ch. i. in initio,) and he repeats, that the great artery arises from the heart, the vein from the liver, and the spinal marrow and nerves from the brain. Now, since, (says he,) they require to be exhibited over the whole body, attend to me whilst I demonstrate the justice of the division. This is his object in the successive chapters of the book, wherein he enters more at large into the origin of the vessels and nerves. He then points out the insertion of the nerves, and notices several in particular, such as, of the voice, the viscera, and intestines, the neck, scapula, and head; the recurrent, those of the thorax, extremities, and of some of the muscles. Then follows the distribution of the great artery, or aorta, its rise, and progress through the body. Nature, says he, curiously derives the arteries that supply the testes and the mammæ from a distance, and gives a reason for this. After this, he proceeds to the ascending branch of the aorta, speaks of the carotids, and notices the insensibility of the arteries and veins, with some other peculiarities respecting them. Some veins are found without corresponding arteries. The artery arising from the left ventricle is the root of all the arteries in the body. The great equality of the distribution of the vessels by nature, and the community of use of the arteries and veins is explicitly stated.a If the books mentioned as being lost, (De Anatomicis Administrationibus should ever be recovered (of which, however, no possible hope remains), I doubt not, that a full elucidation would be found of the interesting subject of the circulation, so as to satisfy every reasonable mind, that Harvey has been adorned unjustly, from the wardrobe of Galen!b
This last book is rather more speculative than the others. It consists of views respecting the proportions which the different parts of the body bear to each other, and to the universe at large; and it contains a kind of recapitulation of the preceding books, points out their utility, and gives numerous references to many of the older poets and writers. Upon the whole, there is a considerable degree of resemblance between these books, and those previously noticed “De Anatomicis Administrationibus.” They tend mutually to support, and often to explain, apparent deficiencies. That they are well deserving of an English translation, no one who has perused, or even inspected them cursorily, could, I think, for an instant hesitate to admit. Even these imperfect outlines, I hope, will tend to forward such an end; or at least, to induce some younger member of the Profession to give an epitome, or a more extensive view than I have been able to afford. A more acceptable present, I cannot believe could be given to the medical community.
GALENI, DE UTILITATE RESPIRATIONIS LIB.
of the utility of respiration.
j. cornario, translator.
Galen proposes a question at the beginning of this book, which it might be well for each one to reflect on,—and candidly say, whether he can better reply to it, than Galen did sixteen centuries ago.
“Quænam est utilitas respirationis?”
Reader, pause here; and recall to mind the various physiological explanations of this wonderful function, since the period of the illustrious man who asks an answer to his question! Examine them well, and say whether you cannot find in Galen a groundwork of them all.
Wherein, he asks, does the utility of respiration depend? He replies, “unquestionably, it is of no common character; we cannot exist for an instant without it; consequently, it does not pertain to any one individual action, but must be connected with life itself: of its high importance, all indeed are convinced. It is even superior to the functions of the stomach or the brain, whose actions are greatly influenced by it.” He then gives a concise statement of the opinions of his predecessors on this head, viz., of Asclepiades, Praxagoras, Philistion, Diocles, Hippocrates, and Erasistratus. His own seems to be, that it is intended for the preservation and regulation of the innate heat, (caloris insiti,) and for affording the animal spirit abounding in the brain. Here, he advances a proposition founded on fact, but erroneous in the deduction from it, at least, to a certain extent, for it is not altogether fallacious. It depended on the imperfect chemical knowledge of that period, (and almost indeed up to the present time,) of the composition of the atmosphere, then regarded as a simple element.
His proposition is, that the use, or benefit of respiration, or rather of the air in inspiration, depends, not upon its actual substance, but rather on some quality connected with it, (“utrum substantia aeris qui per inspirationem advenit, indigemus, an qualitate, an utrioque,”) p. 852; and he thinks he proves it by the fact, that suffocation will ensue, when the lungs are filled with air, as readily as if we did not breathe at all. The theory he adopts, viz., that the air was inspired, with the intention of ventilating the blood, and of cooling it, as some maintained; is quite as well advocated, and with as much ingenuity, as any of the present day respecting this important function. Nay, by a mere trifling alteration of the terms employed, we shall find it differs but little from that now generally adopted. Instead of ventilation, let us employ that of decarbonization of the blood, and consider animal heat as depending on the decomposition of the air inspired. It would indeed seem that Galen actually had an indistinct notion of this very particular, judging from the expressions made use of: “Quando quidem igitur ut ex aere quid adtrahat cor, thoracem id permittere necesse est, permittit autem cum dimensionem transmutat, transmutat autem inspirantibus nobis aut expirantibus, et tunc sanè cor transsumet.” Much, however, must be gratuitous in the suppositions we may make, or be gathered by implication, and a collation and comparison of different passages, rather than by an immediate or direct appeal to an individual part. If in law, it is true, that circumstantial evidence is often of more importance than positive, why should not the same principle obtain in medicine and its branches? Science changes its theoretic speculations, just as the philosophy of the day may render it necessary; and different explanations will consequently be assigned to the same acknowledged fact at different times. This is sufficiently obvious, if we compare the physiological views of the present day, with those of only half a century preceding! If then asked to explain the difference of colour between arterial and venous blood, the reply would have been, that the former was oxygenated, or oxygen was absorbed in the process of respiration; and now, the answer to the same question is, that the venous blood is decarbonized. Now, it need not be said, that neither of these views, nor some others, on the same subject, are universally admitted to be correct, to the reversal of all the others. Nor can it be affirmed, that other views may not arise, from the changes or improvements in philosophy, that will put to flight all our previous hypotheses. What then, with all our boasted superiority, especially in chemical research, are we, in our physiology, as to this important function, in advance of Galen, devoid as he was of the light of science! If we cannot perceive the present doctrines, modified by new terms, to be merely scintillations from his forge; at least we shall find arguments as ingenious, and perhaps facts as numerous, as are to be noticed in our own affirmed, more enlightened publications! at all events, as a physiological curiosity of so ancient a date, a good translation would be acceptable to the Profession, as a just tribute to the memory of a man, who is second to none in the whole train of medical observers!a
GALENI, DE CAUSIS RESPIRATIONIS LIBER.
of the causes of respiration.
j. cornario, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 865.
The causes of respiration, are in this book stated by Galen to be threefold, (tres sint in genere respirationis causæ, facultas voluntaria, instrumenta voluntati subservientia, et ad hæc utilitas ipsa); that is, the faculty or power itself, the organs subserving thereto, and the end, or utility of the function. His statement of the multiform and variety of the instruments employed in the process, is concise and graphic. Some convey the air through appropriate channels, to others fitted for its reception; others are operative in the motion of every essential part; whilst the importance of the spinal nerves is not omitted, as being absolutely essential to the perfection of the process. Much incidental matter is introduced, of great interest; and the whole may be regarded as an appendix to the preceding book.
GALENI, DE PULSUUM USU LIBER.
of the use of the pulse.
t. linacer, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 867.
The intent of this book seems to be, to show that the use of the pulse is that of preserving the innate heat, and of conveying the animal spirits to every part. Now, although the language employed may give a different aspect to our present views on this subject, and that of the circulation, yet I apprehend the doctrine of a circulation is adequately sustained. The influence of ventilating the blood and of cooling it, as has been previously noticed, is here adverted to, and the abstraction of something noxious from it, seems clearly expressed. In fact, except in name, we can almost exclaim, Mutato nomine, de te narratur; for this abstraction of noxious matter, is the present decarbonization of the vital fluid.
Physicians and philosophers alike concluded, p. 867, that respiration and the pulse both tended to one end, or subserved the same intention. Of this, Galen affords proof, as well as that the heat of each part is maintained by the pulse. He mentions the fact, that on opening the ventricles of the heart of an animal, especially the left one, if the finger is immediately introduced, the heat is there felt to be greater, and continues longer than in other parts. He advances several reasons, and some experiments, to prove that the heat flowed from the heart—such as tying the vessels; and he thinks both arteries and veins are engaged in this (p. 870); and from all he says, he deduces the connexion between the pulse and respiration, and speaks without ambiguity of the union of the arteries and veins. If in this book, the candid inquirer cannot find sufficient proof of a circulation being well known to Galen, even if it be not exactly explained and elucidated, as in the present day; and that, moreover, scarcely one fact or proof is adduced by Harvey, that is not equally asserted by Galen; I must confess that I have greatly misunderstood the tenor and intent of all his pages, which go to prove that his actions depended upon such a knowledge and belief; as well as from his necessary conviction of the absolute necessity of such a function to every part of the system, (see p. 872,) in which is to be found, that man is included in the question there considered, and by which he is led to the following conclusion, “et cum semper vacuatas cum arteriis venas deprehendissemus, veram esse sententiam de communibus arteriarum et venarum osculis, et communi de una in alteram per ea transitu, nobis persuasimus,” &c. This junction of the arteries and the veins, seems to have been a prevailing doctrine, equally, as that the arteries derive their power from the heart, and communicate with every part of the body. This communication between the arteries and the veins, is not so luminously explained by Harvey; for it was never understood by him, and he died in uncertainty, whether that communication was direct, by anastomosis, (as sustained by Galen, and as proved by microscopic observations,) or indirect, by an intermediate effusion from the one, and an absorption by the other; yet Harvey is regarded as the full discoverer of the circulation, and all his predecessors are alike consigned to oblivion, nay, in many cases, to contempt and obloquy! A complete translation of the works of Galen would effectually prove the frauds that have been perpetrated, to support the honour of the British nation, which would be tarnished by the abstraction of those laurels that have been so unjustly awarded to a man considered as the glory of their country!
GALENI, DE SUBSTANTIA FACULTATUM NATURALIUM, LIBELLUS.
of the subsistence of natural faculties.
Bas. Ed. p. 877.
The author adverts to the various and contradictory statements given by auditors of what they hear, and refers to Plato as having been thus made to contradict himself; of which, instances are given with respect to his views of an Anima Mundi, and which is more fully noticed in the treatise De Placitis Hipp. et Platonis.
Plants are said to want a principle of motion and of sensation, although it is not uniformly maintained. They are called cold, and animals warm, but this, not absolutely, but relatively; as is indeed also the power ascribed to plants, and which is attributed to nature, rather than to a soul (anima). Reference is made to these views in relation to ethics, inasmuch as respects the certainty, probability, or doubtful character of what is asserted, &c. All admit of a soul, but from being ignorant of its essence, it has been called a power or faculty. The disputes on this point are adverted to, and hence Galen is led to state only what to him appears probable; and which, though not absolutely necessary either to medicine or ethics, is yet an ornament to them. He proceeds to point out, that all bodies consist of four elements mixed and united together; but whether such mixture pervades the essence of bodies, or their qualities only, he professes not to know. Some ideas are thrown out with respect to temperaments and their variations; and it is denied that a knowledge of the essence of the soul is necessary to medicine or to ethics.a He notices the attraction of the natural faculties to familiar objects, and their repulsion of strange ones, without being themselves possessed of sense or recognition. To the natural soul is granted only a notion or idea, that tends to pleasure or to pain; and as to sensible objects, only of that which relates to nourishment; hence it attracts that only which can subserve this intention, and be elaborated through its powers, all which is more extensively pursued; but the inutility of the subject to medicine and to ethics, is again affirmed.
GALENI, DE HIPPOCRATIS ET PLATONIS DECRETIS, (DOGMATIBUS, BAS.) LIBRI NOVEM.
of the dogmas, or opinions of hippocrates and plato.
in nine books.
j. cornario, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 880.
The ensuing nine books are not less deserving of notice than their associates. They consist chiefly of criticisms and reviews of the opinions of preceding writers on a variety of subjects; of Aristotle, Erasistratus, Praxagoras, Chrysippus, the Stoics, and Peripatetics. Much is interspersed of metaphysics, which serves to elucidate many opinions of philosophers respecting the mind, whose seat, according to some, was the heart.
The four first chapters of this book appear to be lost, as it begins abruptly, with, apparently, an account of the same case that is noticed in the seventh De Anat. Administ. It is here introduced, to prove, in opposition to Erasistratus, and his followers, that the cavities of the heart in the living animal are filled with blood, and not with air. By turning to the case in the place referred to, the particulars will be brought to recollection. The slernum being removed, and part of the putrefied pericardium, the heart became conspicuous, as if in an animal dissected for the purpose. The patient recovered, which Galen regards as by no means extraordinary, since the affection was attended by no worse consequences than are daily observed in contusions and other injuries of the thorax; the removal of the pericardium could not be the source of any great danger (“tunica cordi obsita proprium aliquod insigne periculum affert”), as Herophilus and many other physicians have before stated. Occasional notice is given to the blood-vessels (p. 884), indirectly bearing on the circulation; and he here opposes an opinion of Erasistratus, that the arteries terminated in nerves; proving its error, by tracing the progress of the different arteries. Among these, he mentions the carotids, (ϰαρωτιδες seu soporariæ, ex χαρος, sopor,) and points out the error of the name as arising from ignorance in the successors of Hippocrates (p. 885). “Cor cerebro tria vasorum genera connectunt, ex iis inquam quæ toti corpori communia habentur; venæ, arteriæ, nervi. Venæ quæ jugulares appellantur, arteriæquæ carotides, quasi tu soporarias dicas,” &c. He shows the source of the error, from the experiment on which it was founded. In it, the nerve was tied up with the artery, the animal was thereby rendered comatose, which was ascribed solely to the ligature of the artery. However, (adds Galen, setting thereby a noble example to all who are perpetually changing names of long continuance, and even if faulty, perfectly understood,) however, the artery has so long retained the name, that I will not deprive it of it, and as at present fixed, so let it remain, (and thus it has remained to the present time, an evidence of the superior judgment of this great man.) In other parts he has taken up the subject of names, and reprehends the folly of many of them, derived from etymology and supposition. In the ninth chapter of this book we find several pertinent remarks on the subject.
This book is an intermixture of metaphysical and physiological investigation as to the seat of the soul or rational mind, in which those who are fond of such inquiries will find much to interest them. Throughout, expressions appear, which to me, nothing short of a full belief of a circulation would at all justify; the whole sixth chapter is of this description. He states the difference of cutting the three species of vessels, (the nerves being then considered as tubular,) viz., the immediate death, from the immoderate effusion of blood, by dividing the jugular veins or carotid arteries, unless prevented by tying them up; but by tying or cutting the nerve, or by compressing it, the animal merely lost his voice.
BOOKS III., IV., V.
These three books are nearly of the same character as the preceding. Many quotations are given from Homer and Hesiod, as advanced by Chrysippus to sustain his opinions. They are opposed by Galen, and we must here contend for Galen’s prior claim to the doctrines of phrenology, although since slumbering through many centuries before their late resuscitation by Gall and Spurzheim, (p. 982.) “Neque in una tantum animæ parte, neque in una facultate et judicia et affectus existere, ut Chrysippus sentit, sed plures esse, diversusque tum facultates, tum partes.” The whole of the fifth book is, indeed, metaphysical and phrenological, wherein the nature and importance of education are considered, as giving character to man. Few phrenologists can be found, who could not readily and essentially strengthen their opinions by those of Galen.
This is an important book, and one which, if duly translated, would greatly aid in enabling us to judge of Galen’s real estimate and views as to the circulation. A favourite opinion is here enlarged on, viz., the important rank of the liver in the animal economy; perhaps it is nowhere so fully and strongly insisted on, as in this book, which appears almost to have been written with the intent of proving, by reason and experiment, or dissection, that this viscus is the source of the veins, and of hæmatosis, and also of concupiscence (animæ concupiscibilis). Many passages seem adequate to establish the knowledge and views of a circulation,—and a vindication is presented for Hippocrates against the erroneous opinions attributed to him of four pair of vessels arising from the head. His own opinion or hypothesis of the hepatic origin of the veins, is very ingeniously sustained by reasons principally derived from Hippocrates (p. 1010, Bas. ed. refers to his treatise, De Humoribus). In considering the liver as the great organ of hæmatosis, he draws a distinction to this effect,—that a procreative faculty or power exists in it of forming blood, and that it is, as it were, the feeder or nourisher of that faculty. It seems that a belief was entertained by some, that the power of forming the blood was derived from the veins of the heart, and the materials from the liver. All this speculation, ingenious to the full as any on the same subject at the present day, must nevertheless be admitted to be very much of a mystification. Much close attention is required to comprehend it, if, indeed, it will not receive a different meaning, in conformity to the previous impressions of the reader’s mind! He contends, however, that the heart is not the commencing organ of the formation of the blood, but of the arteries only, and that this is conspicuous even in the fœtus, in which he opposes Erasistratus, who maintained the heart to be the beginning of both arteries and veins. He opposes Praxagoras and others, who considered the pulsation of the arteries to depend solely on themselves, and he considers it proved, as he states it, from the pulsation ceasing when the artery is divided. The idea of a circulation was certainly common amongst philosophers, although differently explained by them, long before the time of Galen: even Plato suggests it in a manner no way obscure. “Cor vero qui simul et venarum fons est, et etiam sanguinis qui in omnia membra vehementer circumferatur, in satellitis apparatorisque sedem ac domicilium constituerunt,” &c. (Bas. ed. p. 1026, c.)
This book, in maintaining the origin of the nerves from the brain, and explaining how sense and motion thence arise, falls again into metaphysical disquisitions and criticisms, on the opinions of others. Some phrenology is scattered throughout its pages, and his ideas are given as to the nature and structure of the nerves. He contends that sensation and motion may be maintained, even when the ventricles of the brain are wounded. There appears also an attempt to locate the mind. A nervous fluid is spoken of, and the difference of the optic from other nerves is pointed out. The humours of the eye, and the sense of smell, are treated of, and the opinions of Plato, Aristotle, and others, on these and other subjects, are discussed and opposed. He treats of the spinal marrow, its structure and power, and he affirms that Erasistratus in his old age was acquainted with the true origin of the nerves, but that Aristotle never was.
After a slight recapitulation of the preceding seven books, this proceeds to consider the opinions of Hippocrates and Plato on the subject of the four elements, and of the formation of bodies from them. It then treats of respiration, and of the receptacles for food and drink. From a deficiency or excess of those four elements, it was commonly supposed that disease occurred. In admitting of four humours, their influence in health and disease is upheld, and their modification by season, age, and other causes, is pointed out. Some of the differences of opinion between Hippocrates and Plato are noticed, together with many errors of Erasistratus; on which, however, Galen correctly remarks, that they are by no means deserving of contempt, for that all that may be erroneous, is far from being contemptible; dogmas are uncertain, and arguments that may be satisfactory to many, may yet be inconclusive to others, and such arguments are never wanting in support of our opinions. Among other points considered, he adverts to an opinion maintained by some of the ancients, that fluids, in drinking, passed into the lungs, which he denies, and refutes in the last chapter. (See Hippoc. in περι χαρδιης.)
This, the last of these books, is not less interesting than its predecessors. In some respects, it is even more so, as will be admitted, when it is stated to be an attempt to point out the best method of distinguishing truth from error. Here, the opinions of Hippocrates and Plato on the subject are compared, and the necessity of uniformity is pointed out; and consequently the great importance of such comparisons as to the similarity or dissimilarity of subjects, if you desire not to be deceived;—as with respect to the face and countenance of the sick, and all those other parts from which our judgments may be deduced; and he quotes largely from both writers. He also discusses the intention of the physician in his practice, and takes notice of the great dissimilarity amongst the members of the Profession in this respect. All, he tells us, propose to oppose disease; but some are actuated therein by humanity, some by ambition, avarice, and so forth. (p. 1090.) In an edition of Brown’s Elements, by Beddoes, some years ago, we have in his preface a somewhat analogous generalization of physicians, which he drew up from the medical characters of Great Britain of his day. It is probable he was led to it by the example of Galen; nor is it improbable that the same might not be done in every large city in all parts of the world! The importance of method in investigating and in dividing diseases, is noticed; and the diversity of practice arising from this, is exemplified in pleurisy; some employing bloodletting, others purgatives, fomentations both wet and dry, &c., and equally diversifying their drinks and ptisans, &c.
Dissensions among physicians are injurious, says Galen; therein differing from contrary opinions among artisans, in which opposition tends to improvement. He notices the reasons of such philosophic differences, and proposes sundry queries of utility to, or injurious to physicians and philosophers. Here we may perhaps discover a counterpart in the profession of our own times, in the picture he has drawn of men, who, in opposition to common opinion, most obstinately persist in their own, and feign to believe them implicitly (p. 1100, A., &c.), whilst others, denying the opinions of their opponents, falsify in the most unblushing manner! Had Galen lived in our times, he would not have wanted an ample harvest for his keen and caustic pen.
In considering, in a subsequent part of this book, the providence of a Supreme Being, as exemplified in the structure of the body, he hints at the folly of those who suppose it to be the work of chance; and in a manner both brief and comprehensive he replies thereto, in proof of its extreme absurdity, by recapitulating its wonderful structure, the number of its parts, the uniformity of infinitely numerous beings, the congruity and adaptation of every part, whether single or double, in organization; all proving a divine Architect, and the utter impossibility that a blind chance could have had any influence in the formation of the universe. He again quotes largely from Plato’s Timæus, on the subject of the mind or soul and its faculties, and thus concludes the last of these most interesting commentaries on the Decreta of Hippocrates and Plato. Much unquestionably is speculative and metaphysical; but is it the less interesting from conveying to us the philosophy of the ancients as to the mind and its operations? Are the metaphysical dogmas of the present day so absolutely certain as to be universally admitted? If shadows, clouds, and darkness envelope the metaphysical principles of former times, not less discrepancy of opinion and wild speculation as to mind and its operations will be found in the eighteenth and nineteenth century! A comparison of both would possibly lead to the admission, that the opinions of Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, and such like philosophers, of twenty centuries’ standing, are as likely to be correct, as the many-headed monsters of the present period.
GALENI, DE FACULTATIBUS NATURALIBUS, LIBRI TRES.
of the natural faculties, in three books.
t. linacre, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 1113.
The faculties (powers) are of three kinds, natural, vital, and animal. The first seems principally connected with the liver, and is distributed by the veins to every part; the second is connected with the heart, and through the arteries, with all the body; and the third with the brain, and through the nerves with the whole system. Galen here notices the difference of plants and animals, in the possession by the latter of sense and motion. He considers the difference of simple nature and the soul; sense and voluntary motion being the result of this last, whilst augmentation and increase, are the result of the former. It is the soul that governs; and in order to prevent misrepresentation, he defines the words he uses, and notices some of the opinions of the sophists respecting certain natural changes, such as that of food into blood, &c.; he considers that a certain faculty or power exists in different parts, by which those parts are enabled to induce certain changes. He notices four qualities in matter, two of which, hot and cold, are active, and two, moist and dry, are passive. By the operations of nature, we find three actions or faculties awakened, viz., a generative or productive, an augmentative or inductive of growth,—and one of nutrition; all of which, with other interesting subjects, he separately considers. He opposes the opinion of Asclepiades in relation to a direct passage of drinks to the bladder, and relates an experiment to refute it, viz., that of tying the ureters, and thus examining, from absolute observation, the real mode of transmission, (p. 1125.)
In giving an explanation of the ureters, (p. 1118,) considerable light is thrown upon the ancient views of different tubes in the body; which, although intended for different purposes, had, nevertheless, the common appellation of phlebs, or vein, given to them. He tells us the ureters are not arteries, since they neither pulsate, nor do they consist of two coats; neither are they veins, since they contain no blood, nor do their coats resemble those of veins; and still less do they resemble nerves; and yet, adds he, every part of the body necessarily consists of an artery, vein, and nerve, or is composed of them. A considerable part of this book involves the consideration of attraction, as explanatory of many of the propositions assumed; such as with respect to the secretion of urine, &c.; and he introduces Epicurus’s explanation of the magnetic attraction of iron, together with his disputes against Asclepiades on this subject, (p. 1128.) This seems a favourite subject, as he strongly opposes both Erasistratus and Asclepiades. In one part, his language is of a strong character, asserting, that in regard to the attraction of the kidneys, Erasistratus was a dissembler, but that Asclepiades was an absolute liar: “itaque Erasistratus dissimulavit, Asclepiades mentitus est,” (p. 1135.) The primary, nay, the exclusive superiority of the arteries, veins, and nerves, in the opinion of the ancients, is here well exemplified: “Si namque ex singulis eorum instrumentorum, venas, nervos, et arterias exemeris, reliquum corpus, quatenus sensu animadverti licet, simplex elementareque est,” &c., (p. 1118.) And elsewhere he says, that if we desire to comprehend the universal powers or faculties of nature, every individual organ must be carefully considered.
This book is deserving of attention in a variety of particulars; and few will read it, I imagine, without admiration and gratification. The same may be said of the second and third books, in which, with the author’s own opinions on the subject of nutrition, &c., we find, in his opposition to many of the philosophical tenets of contemporaries and others, much of the physiology and speculative views of the then existing and preceding ages. The importance of the humours or fluids may be considered as having always stood prominent in the estimation of the ancients, since they, or some of them, counted up no less than ten different kinds, besides the blood, (p. 1159.)
The third book treats rather more particularly of the retentive and expulsive powers, as the preceding did of the attractive. The necessity of such powers is demonstrated in the stomach and uterus, and also in the urinary and gall-bladder; all tending to a general proposition, that there are four faculties or powers in nature, viz.: of appetency, attraction, retention, and expulsion. Towards the close of this third book, Galen explains his reasons for writing them; and they differ but little from those which might now, with great propriety, be advocated by every honourable member of the Profession, viz., to oppose that sophistry, which, under the revered name of science, extends its baneful influence to the younger and ingenuous student, before he can possibly form a correct decision as to the doctrines that are promulgated by his teachers; and by which he becomes bound in fetters, from whose embrace he scarcely ever can effect an escape. This particular chapter (ix. p. 1170,) is one of such importance to truth in our researches, that it is well deserving of general extension in our medical schools!—A chapter of some interest (twelfth) is given, as to the means of exciting the expulsive powers to act. In it, the distention of the uterus, bladder, &c., is considered, and a variety of causes are stated, as inducing abortion. The same channels, it is said, are employed by nature, both for attraction and repulsion, though at different times; thus, the œsophagus, in swallowing food, and in the reverse case of nausea and vomiting; the gall-bladder, filled by regurgitation, and emptied by the same duct. The os uteri, regarded as the passage by which the semen reaches its destination, and that of the expulsion of its fœtal incumbrance.
Several passages in this book, are strongly illustrative of Galen’s knowledge of a circulation, and of the strict and necessary communion between the arteries and the veins (see chap. xiii. p. 1180): “Si enim multis amplisque arteriis præcisis, jugulare per eas animal velis; invenies ejus venas æque atque arterias vacuatas; quod sanè nunquam fieret, nisi inter se haberent altera in alteram ora reclusa,”—and soon after, speaking of the pulmonary artery, he says of the blood that passes into it, “manifestum est, quod in sinistrum sinum transmittitur.” The whole chapter deserves transcribing; and if translated, would, with numerous parts of his writings, greatly surprise the reader, to find that in almost every part, the wonderful Greek had preceded, and pointed out fully, the path, which has so incorrectly tended to establish the undeserved claim of Harvey to the discovery of the circulation of the blood! whilst the undoubted rights of Galen have been trampled under foot, to the disgrace of our profession, and the false honour claimed for him by the British nation!
GALENI, DE MOTU MUSCULORUM, LIBRI DUO.
of muscular motion.
in two books.
n. leoniceno, translator.
Bas. Ed. p. 1182.
These two books on muscular motion are, to say the least of them, equal to any of the lectures delivered on the subject to the London College, under the name of the Croonian Lecture. Indeed, if we take into consideration the remote period at which they were written, perhaps more praise might be claimed for Galen in their behalf. Their general contents can alone be noticed. They present a pretty full statement of every thing that is connected with the subject of which they treat. Commencing with an explanation of a muscle as the instrument of voluntary motion, it considers the action, number, and mode of movement, with the difficulty of comprehending it; its difference from tendon, ligament, nerve, &c.; explains the nature of these, their origin, connexion, &c.; notices the spinal marrow, and its difference from the marrow of the bones; the communication of the brain and spinal marrow with the muscles, through the medium of the nerves; and the result of their division, or injury from any cause, on motion and sensation, &c. The extreme vascularity of the muscles is said to resemble a well-irrigated spot; this vascularity depends on its arteries and veins, which, originating in the heart and liver, are widely distributed through the body of the muscle;—the difference of tendon from nerve and ligament; its mode of insertion in the bone; what muscles (as of the tongue) have no tendon; the dissimilarity of the heart from the common muscles; some muscles, (as of the mouth, &c.,) have no connexion with bone; the œsophagus, &c., the muscles of the rectum, the diaphragm, and other parts, considered; their peculiar actions, as distinct from others accidental to them;—reference is made to the various peculiarities of muscles, and to their fourfold action, viz., of contraction, relaxation of extension, and variation as to these, or permanent tension; which leads to the consideration of the character of swimming, flying, &c., and to the nature of tetanus; reasons assigned why, when a muscle is cut through, and it contracts most powerfully, yet the part to which it is attached is not moved by it; equality of power in opposite muscles, with remarks on Hippocrates’ writings respecting the muscles. In the second book, the high character assigned by Galen to the upper extremities, leads him to a minute detail as to the various muscles of those parts, and to some views as to the exact character of the bones of the arm; the motions of extension and flexion, of pronation and supination, &c.; of the quiescence of muscles in sleep, drunkenness, fatigue, &c.; the best position for sleeping; sleeping whilst walking, of which he gives an instance in his own person; the almost constant tonic action of the temporal muscles; guardianship of the muscles of excretory organs during sleep, &c., except from some causes, as inebriety, phrenitis, &c.; and he condemns those who assert the soul to be quiescent in sleep, since they can feel, and speak, &c., yet all their actions are not natural. Of voluntary, involuntary, and mixed motions; singular case of delirium during thirteen days, relieved and cured by a sudden hemorrhage from the nose, followed by sweat, and having no recollection of his previous state. Galen’s remarks thereon, and analogous cases;—important character of muscles in relation to the retention or expulsion of excrement; in the operations of respiration and the voice, &c.; explanation of expiration and inspiration; diaphragm and other muscles subserving respiration, &c. Many other particulars are noticed, which this scanty outline can scarcely afford a notice of; yet it is probably, adequate to show the high estimate of the subject in the mind of Galen; and that, although much is here unnoticed, he himself has omitted nothing, that directly, or by implication, has connexion with it.
GALENI, DE MOTU THORACIS ET PULMONIS, FRAGMENTUM.
of the motion of the thorax and lungs.
Bas. Ed. p. 1216.
This short treatise, called a fragment, is stated to be found only in ancient translations, and is not in the Greek copies; does not constitute a part of the Venice editions. What is here given, is from the Basil edition, but without the translator’s name. Its purpose is to prove, that naturally, the lungs are devoid of motion, but depend for it on the action of the thorax. The want of connexion of the lungs with the thorax, in which they are loosely suspended, is stated; and this is assigned as a principal cause of the difficulty in affording an explanation; although it is certain, that no motion in them takes place, unless simultaneously with that of the thorax. Galen, however, if the treatise is his, endeavours manfully to meet the difficulty, and solves the problem in a manner not very dissimilar from that which is at present maintained, although perhaps not quite so philosophically illustrated and expressed. (p. 1216.) This great man had not reached the absurdity of his successors in talking familiarly of the horror vacuæ of nature; but confining himself to the simple fact of water rising in a tube, if the air be drawn out of it, he shows that the lungs, following the enlargement of the thorax, the air passes down into them, and is expelled on its contraction; from whence he concludes that the thorax is the prime mover of the lungs. Now, as he has elsewhere demonstrated the action of the intercostals and diaphragm to be the cause of motion in the thorax, so the chain of events is fully established by him, if even we should be disposed to disclaim his hypothesis, but which is too closely linked with his data to be easily rejected.
GALENI, QUOD ANIMI MORES CORPORIS TEMPERATURAS SEQUANTUR.
that the qualities of the mind depend on the temperament of the body.
b. sylvaneus, translator.
Bas. Ed., p. 1218.
This is a very interesting book at the present period, from its metaphysical and phrenological tendency in various parts. From experience, not once or twice, but frequently, (sæpius,) he assures us he had found it to be true, that the powers of the mind (animæfacultates) are closely connected with the temperament (ϰρασις) of the body: nor was this opinion confined to himself, but was sustained by teachers and philosophers after careful inquiry. The affections of infancy indicate great diversity both of mind and body in them: some are timid, some stupid, some generous, others avaricious,—some are impudent and others modest, with many other varieties. Of these species he notices three, as among the most excellent faculties, according to Plato, and yet they appear to act differently in different subjects; from whence Plato seems to have imagined three species or varieties of soul, located, the one in the liver, another in the heart, and a third in the brain. On these defects of Plato, in his consideration of the soul, Galen animadverts; as also on the opinions of Aristotle, the Stoics, and others as to the substance of the soul and its immortality, who appear to have ascribed much to certain qualities of heat, cold, humidity, and dryness, &c., and which leads Galen to ask if dryness is a cause of prudence, and humidity of madness; and to inquire into the peculiar temperament of the body, the heart and liver, and of other points sustained by the philosophers. The influence of the temperament (ϰρασις) of the body in inducing mental affections is considered, and the mind is affirmed to be injured by bodily diseases, such as vitiated humours, or a depraved state from any causes,—“Nemo enim sponte malus est,” (says he in the progress of his observations, p. 1225,) “sed ob corporis pravum habitum, rudemq: educationem fit malus.” Such even was Plato’s opinion, and it seems to be acceded to fully by Galen. He agrees with Aristotle, that different faculties of the mind are influenced by the temperament of the blood; and that the character (animæ temperatura) may be learned from the physiognomy, as derived from the forehead, eyebrows, palpebræ, eyes, and ears; and he proves from Hippocrates, that a diversity of customs, studies, and arts, have their source in the variety of climates and seasons. The meaning of the ancients respecting the term vein as applied to arteries, is adverted to, and he explains that of the pulse, as distinctive of the arterial character, and how used by different persons. After some metaphysical enlargements on the subject of virtue, he considers seemingly the questions of necessity and free will, (p. 1233,) and of the attending difficulties of each; also of a threefold cause of punishment, and inculcates the suppression of vice, by education, study, and discipline. He wonders at the Stoics for thinking all men to be born equally disposed to virtue; but he admits that they become perverted and depraved by their associations. This, says he, could not have been the case with the first man, who had no predecessors; and he seems thus to incline to the doctrine of original sin; yet he lays great stress on discipline, diet, and medicine, in restraining its consequences, which he admits could scarcely be depended on, if that doctrine, (de infantium corruptione) were altogether true.
I know not whether I have entirely succeeded in comprehending his views; but I am sure that phrenologists will here find abundant matter for reflection as to that science, as well as of physiognomy, in the days of Galen; whilst the moralist and metaphysician will not be disappointed on the interesting topics of the origin of virtue and of vice.
GALENI, DE FŒTUUM FORMATIONE LIBER.
of the fœtal formation.
j. cornario, translator.
Bas. Ed., 1237.
Galen begins this book by stating, that from neglect of anatomical research, both physicians and philosophers had erred in their doctrines, and differed from each other in their views of the fœtal formation, and had derived their opinions from an accidental abortion. He tells us that Hippocrates was the first who, founding his remarks on experience, wrote correctly on the subject. Much of what is here given, is necessarily speculative; yet not less probable than the hypotheses of the past and present times, on the mysterious subject of generation, &c. Galen proceeds to treat of the vessels, the membranes, the urachus, and other parts; of the formation of the fœtal skin; of the formation and substance of the liver, which he considers to be anterior to the heart; of the nourishment and growth of the fœtus. He adverts to the common application of the word vein by the ancients, to both arteries and veins; and he assures us that in a fœtus of thirty days, the liver, heart, and brain, were distinctly to be seen. The dissection of living animals is considered useful; and the close and essential connexion of respiration with the motion of the heart, and with life, is particularly insisted on. The sources by which respiration is impeded are stated, such as suffocation from hanging, drowning, inflammation of the fauces, &c., in which last may be discovered many analogies to the circumstances of croup. The extensive distribution of veins over the body; the mutual aid afforded by the brain, and heart, and liver; the importance of which last viscus he considers as every where apparent. On its account he deems the urinary and gall-bladders to have been made, and ingeniously speculates on this point. Explains the use of the double porta to the liver; speaks of the heart, its formation, and its two ventricles; the blood in the left one being hotter than in the right; the inferior temperature of animals not possessed of red blood. Blood is contained in the arteries, though denied by Erasistratus; in many places expressions occur, that bear apparently on his views relative to a circulation, (p. 1243, &c.) This whole book is full of interest, the latter part especially, wherein he speculates on the formative power (causa formatrix—nisus formativus of modern times) of the fœtus; the wisdom and art evinced in its construction, its numerous muscles and bones &c.,—all tending to the infinite power and extent of motion, and of the ends thereby proposed to be attained. He notices, moreover, the beauty and adaptation in the construction of every other part;—the intentions of each part, he says, would, if fully investigated, amount to thousands; adequate, if properly appreciated, alone, to demonstrate omnipotence and infinite wisdom in its construction; and he concludes with a remark that conveys a direct and positive assertion of a circulation, if words have any meaning! “Hoc igitur solum de causa animalia ipsa formante, ut possibile me pronunciare puto, nempe, artem et sapientiam ipsam existere maximam. Quemadmodum et hoc quod post formationem corporis, ipsum universum corpus per omnem vitam tribus principiis motuum gubernetur; eo quod ex cerebro est, per nervos et musculos; quod ex corde, per arterias; et quod ex hepate, per venas.” The remainder of the book indicates the existing state of knowledge as to the soul; by which it would appear, that materialism and immaterialism, then, as now, had their respective partisans; and it may be safely presumed that the dogmas on this mysterious topic were equally unsatisfactory, as are those of present philosophers! “Ex quibus autem principiis hæc fiant, hactenus non fui ausus palàm confessa opinione pronunciare, velut in multis operibus indicavi, et præsertim in eo quo de animæ speciebus tracto, de animæ substantia nullatenus sententiam ferre confisus sum. Neque enim hactenus reperi ullum aliquem, qui mathematicis et liniaribus demonstrationibus uteretur ad adstruendum, num omnino incorporea sit anima, aut corporea, aut prorsus sempiterna, aut corruptilis et interitura, quemadmodum in tractatione de animæ speciebus explicavi.”—I cannot help adding a few words, when he is noticing the order of the progressive formation of the fœtus from the seminal fluid, as first calling into play the vessels which go to form the viscera, of which the heart and liver may be regarded as the foundation of the house, or keel of the ship, and as preparatory to its immediate connexion with the uterus, and progressing in addition and increase of parts: “Nequaquam igitur ab aliorum opificio natura animalium formatrix desistet, sed et venas et arterias semper findens ad adnascendum his alia viscera propellet, quemadmodum et hepar et cor adnasci dictum est, una cum hoc quòd et figuram decentem, et positionem, et quæcunque alia hujusmodi partes habere convenit, debito modo operatur.”
GALENI DE SEMINE, LIBRI DUO.
of the semen, in two books.
j. cornario, translator,
Bas. Ed. 1255.
These books, speculative in a high degree, are yet of great interest, both anatomically and physiologically, and which it would be impossible fully to elucidate in the short compass assigned to this abstract. They contain the opinions of his predecessors, Hippocrates, Aristotle, and others, which he combats or maintains, as they agree with his own. The inquiring and independent mind of Galen, is perhaps no where so well depicted as by himself, in the very commencement of the book, in the consideration of the question, “num intus maneat semen eis quæ sunt concepturæ, an excernatur?” In replying to this, he tells us the investigation of it may be effected in three ways:—first, and most certainly, by a measure which he says he often had pursued with respect to mares, dogs, asses, cows, goats, and sheep; this was by observing, whether after coition, they retained, or discharged the semen. He was told by those well skilled in these affairs (ejusmodi rerum peritis), that they had carefully remarked that when conception was to ensue, the semen was always retained. But, says Galen, “although I confess the fault, and may be reprehended for it, for throughout my life I have adhered to it, I never confided in what others said, unless I was satisfied of the same by my own experience, so far as it was in my power.” Hence, although in the above case, all seemed uniformly to agree, yet he was not satisfied until, with his usual incredulity, he had himself made the experiment, and thereby was convinced of the truth.—Another mode, was by close inquiry of females, and his curiosity was amply satisfied, as to the fact being the same with them as with brutes. The third mode was by consulting the works of all who had written on the subject, and the same opinion was sustained by them.
The progress of fœtation is followed up, and he sustains the idea of the female seed, whose conjunction with that of the male, is essential to the formation of the fœtus, but which idea seems to have been pretty sharply contested. An explanation of the formation of its different parts is attempted, fully equal to any of present notoriety. His chief stress seems to be that of explaining the formation of the heart, the liver, brain, spinal marrow, aorta, and vena cava; and he speaks of four periods in the fœtal progress, viz., 1, as a semiformal matter; 2, a fleshy-form; 3, the distinctive though obscure formation of the limbs; and, 4, their full perfection. In each of these periods, the rise of parts is respectively noticed; as ossification, pellicular covering, &c., and some views are given as to the origin of the semen from the blood. The testes and convolution of their vessels; the results of castration, and various other particulars are noticed in order; with the influence of the semen on the animal economy.
In the second book, he treats more particularly of the female testes: and opposition is made to some opinions of preceding writers. In insisting on the existence of a female seed, and speculating on the resemblance of children to their parents, he lays much stress on this, and affirms that unless possessed of testes and a seminal fluid, the venereal appetite would not be excited in females; he proposes sundry difficult questions, as requiring an answer from those maintaining an opposite opinion; refers to the eggs laid sometimes by hens, and those of fish, without the male co-operation;—the similitude of sex, is also mentioned, in a curious and interesting display of the general difference between the outline and appearance of the male and female, among all classes of animals; by which they are at once discriminated, even at a distance, and before observing the more immediately distinctive criteria of the genital organs; and that even when they materially differ among themselves.—The semen being supposed by many to be derived from every part of the body, it would seem that it was imagined that the different parts in conception, were constituted from that part of the semen derived from its counterpart; and hence, that the parts peculiar to either sex were derived from that alone to which it belonged. A comparison is drawn between the sexual organs, and they are presumed to be nearly the same in both, differing chiefly in the location assigned to them by nature, viz., externally in the male, and internally in the female sex: their nourishment from the same arteries and veins, is insisted on, and the similar origin of their nerves.—The variety of operation, in the works of nature as displayed in animal life, is well delineated. The above is perhaps sufficient to excite to a desire of further investigation of the treatise at large; and it well deserves it. Galen must always be his own and best commentator, for it is uniformly seen (and here particularly,) that although his opinions were the predominant doctrines for so many centuries, yet that he never depended on those of others, when able to verify them himself,—asserting in the seventh aphorism of the sixth Epidemics, that it is a tyranny for any person being constrained to accede to any opinion, without the clearest demonstration of its truth;—and the same is repeated in the seventeenth aphorism of the same book.
AN OMNES PARTICULÆ ANIMALIS QUOD IN UTERO EST, SIMUL FIUNT.
whether all the parts of an animal are simultaneously constituted?
Bas. Ed. p. 1303.
This book, consisting of a single chapter, is said not to be in the Greek copy. Be it as it may, it is a curious little essay, that in the subject-matter has frequently been discussed since the time of Galen, and yet probably not more accurately, or with greater interest. It is simply an inquiry whether all the parts in the fœtal state are formed conjointly, or in due succession.a The conclusion adopted by Galen is, that they are not all constituted at its first formation, for the best reason, that nature does not want them; but that as she does nothing in vain, so she goes on progressively with her charge; and, as the architect, in building a house or ship, begins with the foundation or keel, and makes his additions as the various parts are required, so does nature call up the organs to complete the whole, in the direct order in which they are necessary.
AN ANIMAL SIT ID, QUOD IN UTERO EST.
if what is formed in the womb, is an animal.
h. liman, translator.
Bas. Ed. 1304.
This is stated as being falsely attributed to Galen, and to be the production of some “Iatrophist.” For the reasons assigned, this may probably be the case; and yet, as affording us acquaintance with many speculative notions of the philosophers of Rome, it may be esteemed a choice morsel of curious inquiry, of which much may be said on both sides. It is unnecessary to dwell upon it here; the nature of the inquiry is explained by the title. I shall merely add, that the writer, whoever he be, seems to think the object in question is an animal, and that it is possessed of a soul and of reason; maintaining his opinions promptly, forcibly, and with apparent good faith. He terminates the book with the following apostrophe to the fœtus itself, which the translator treats as ridiculous;—whether meant so by the writer, is problematical! “Sed jam ad fœtum ipsum, tanquam animal id, ut nihil ipsi quo minus homo sit, desit, formatum, nostra vertatur oratio. Prodite quæso è sinibus nihil timentes ò fœtus, neque generis demissionem, neque charissimos alienatos, neque opes auferendas. Non vos multorum calumnia, atque horum qui naturam ipsam injuria afficiunt, excludit malignitas; qua propter eos pœna vos afficietis, ut Pericles, ut Pisistratus, ut Paris, illeque Macedon Alexander, atque Hercules.”
GALENI, DE SEPTIMESTRI PARTU, LIBER.
of the seventh-month birth.
j. cornario, translator.
Much interest will be felt in this short treatise;—the subject of it is not less important now than formerly. Agreeing with Hippocrates, Galen points out the common, minimum, and maximum number of days that go to constitute a seventh-month birth. A computation of the Greek months is given, and calculations as to the days and division of the year. The years are all equal, but considerable variation appears in the months and hours. One hundred and eighty-two days is the period assigned to a seven-month birth, with some slight variation. Perhaps, under some circumstances of a medico-legal investigation, embracing this subject, reference might be usefully had to this treatise.
This terminates the prima classis of Galen’s division. The following is of scarcely inferior interest, but will not occupy so large a space.
[a ]Here we see the first dogmas of exclusive Solidism! A more absurd doctrine never found a place in medical science, with, perhaps, the exception of one founded on it in a great measure, that of sympathy, pushed to the extreme that it has been in the present day!
[a ]Bas. ed. p. 163.
[a ]“Quibus si unum etiam addidero, quod è corporum dissectione colligimus, finem dicendi faciam; est autem id quod dicimus, ejusmodi; arteriam unam è magnis et conspicuis quampiam nudabis, primoque pelle remota ipsam ab adjacenti suppositoq: corpore tandiu separare non graveris, quoad funiculum circumdare valeas: deinde secundum longitudinem arteriam incide, colamumque et concavum et pervium in foramen intrude, vel æneam aliquam fistulam, quò et vulnus obturetur, et sanguis exilire non possit; quoadusque sic se arteriam habere conspicies, ipsam totam pulsare videbis. Cum primum vero obductum laqueum contrahens, arteriæ tunicas calamo obstrinxeris non amplius arteriam ultra laqueum palpitare videbis,” &c.
[a ]Antoninus was born ad 121, and reigned from 161 to 180, dying at fifty-nine years.
[b ]Reference is elsewhere made, by Galen, (de Compos. Medic. per genera,) to this same event; and Justus Lipsius notices the occurrence as follows, in his treatise “de Magnitudine Romana,” Lib. 3, chap. 6, p. 139, 3d ed.: Plantin. Antuerpiæ, 1605, 4to. It is of the celebrated Temple of Peace he speaks—which was larger than the Capitol itself—and in it the most choice and richest deposits were placed, the spoils of a conquered world—such as the golden vessels of the Jewish Temple, &c. &c.
[a ]“Quoniam igitur corporis forma ossibus assimilatur, et his aliarum partium natura respondet, velim te imprimis exactam humanorum ossium cognitionem peritiamque indipisci, non obiter ca spectare, neque etiam ex libris solum discere,” &c., Bas. ed. p. 228. And further on: “Hoc autem sit opus tuum, hoc studium, ut non librorum modo lectura, verum sedula etiam inspectione, fideque oculata, cujusque ossis humani speciem accurate perdiscas,” &c.
[b ]What has been stated both for and against Galen’s anatomy of the human subject, is given pretty fully in Le Clerc.
[a ]By the inscription around the portrait of Piccolhominus, he died at the age of sixty; so that he was nearly contemporary with Vesalius.
[a ]Among others, by Swedenborg, in his Regnum Animale.
[a ]“Quemadmodum pulsans ipsum viscus, cor omnes appellant; sic etiam vasa singula pulsantia, arterias nuncupant. Alias autem omnes arterias, quotquot toto insunt corpore, sensu pulsantes dignoscere nullius est negocii, et omnium ipsarum cum majore arteria continuitas, idem hoc indicat. Verum in pulmone pulsantes sensu admodum evidenter deprehendere nemo potest; verum inde, quod sinistro ventriculo sint continuæ, conjecturam aliquis fecerit. Et si quidam non conjecturam solum, vel probabilem spem, sed certam functionis ipsarum scientiam habere arbitrantur, non tamen eodem modo utrique, quoniam ne ab eisdem quidem opinionibus omnino auspicantur,” &c. &c.—(Frob. 351;—Ven. chap. iv.)
[a ]A heart outside of the chest.—The Baltimore Sun contains the following account of the birth of a living child, with its heart outside of the chest, which was noticed in our Baltimore letter yesterday. The heart is entirely outside of the body, and destitute of any pericardium; thus even without this natural protection it is protruded from the external surface of the chest, which at that point bears a mark resembling a cicatrix, as if the flesh had been opened, the heart pulled out, and the wound suffered to grow up again. Each pulsation, of course, can be distinctly observed, and the whole natural action of this delicate organ is made visible to the immediate investigation of the eye. This remarkable phenomenon in the history of human nature is an absolute and indisputable fact, however unlikely it is to meet with credibility on the part of the public.—Ledger, June, 1846.
[a ]“Discovery of the six missing books of Galen’s principal anatomical work.—We have the following from a learned and much-esteemed correspondent. We beg to direct the particular attention of the Sydenham Society to the discovery.—Lond. Med. Gazette, Dec. 1844, p. 329.
[a ]The treatise on the Hand, by Sir Charles Bell, much as it has been admired, is, in my opinion, infinitely inferior to these books of Galen on the same subject. Indeed his best parts may be regarded as abstracted from those of Galen, clothed in the language of the present age.—Ed.
[a ]“In toto corpore mutua est anastomosis, atque oscillorum apertio arteriis simul et venis; transumuntque ex sese pariter sanguinem et spiritum per invisibiles quasdam atque angustas plane vias,” &c.
[b ]Inquiry into the Claims of Dr. Wm. Harvey to the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood. Philadelphia, 1834.
[a ]Chap. ix. pp. 569, 575; chap. xii. p. 571; chap. xiii. p. 572; chap. xvii. p. 580; &c.
[b ]“Orificiorum arteriarum ad venas apertiones non sine causa neque frustra paravit natura, sed ut respirationis ac pulsuum utilitas non cordi soli atque arteriis, sed cum eis, venis etiam distriburetur.”
[a ]What, really and truly, did Harvey discover and demonstrate as exclusively his own? Surely his admirers and advocates, can immediately place their finger thereto, or they have read him to little purpose! And I challenge them to the direct proof of any part belonging to him. I fear, however, they may have exhausted their praise and adulation on Harvey—and looked over his writings, whilst they have grossly overlooked the immortal pages of Galen! The full translation of this sixth book alone, would appear adequate to every unprejudiced reader to strip the laurels from the brow of Harvey.
[a ]P.841. “Diximus etiam et de vasis quæ ad mammas et testes ferantur, dum communiter et de venis et arteriis ageremus, que utræque communem usum haberent. Pari modo et cum de arteriis ageremus, de venis diximus quæ ad manus perveniunt, quod communis utrarumque sit ratio,” &c.
[b ]This was written before it was known that a discovery had been made of these lost books, as stated in the note at p. 519; and as I have as yet seen no further evidence of the truth of this, I feel no disposition to expunge it.
[a ]It was not until the year 1776, that Dr. Priestley, in the sixty-sixth volume of the London Philosophical Transactions, attempted an explanation of what took place in the process of respiration, by affirming the discharge of phlogiston, at that time a ruling principle in chemistry. In the following year, Lavoisier read, at the sitting of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris, his views of the decomposition of the air in the lungs, to the following effect, viz.: “that it appears that our lungs absorb precisely that portion of atmospheric air, which combines with the metals in calcination; the residue of that air thus decomposed, has different properties, and though always elastic, it can no longer subserve the purpose of respiration.” Seventy years are scarcely passed, and we now no longer admit of phlogiston, nor of the absorption of the air by the lungs. The use of respiration is now considered as being essential to the conversion of the carbon of the venous blood into carbonic acid gas, by which abstraction, the venous is restored to its arterial character:—and this effect, mutato nomine, is precisely the explanation given by Galen more than fifteen hundred years ago.
[a ]“Holy Scripture containeth all thingi necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought necessary or requisite to salvation.”—Sixth Art. of Religion of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
[a ]“Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book were all my members written;