Imágenes de página



functions ; it follows, that all of them soon begin to languish; and the parts, in their own nature most reparable, now wanting the service of the organs of repair, can no longer be commodiously supplied; but impoverish by degrees, and at length totally fail.

The cause of this revolution lies here, that the spirit, like a gentle flame, is perpetually preying upon the parts ;* and in conjunction with the external air, which also drinks and dries up tangible bodies, at length destroys the work-shop of the body, its instruments and machines; and thus renders them unfit for performing their office. And this is the true process of natural death; which requires to be thoroughly considered : for he who knows not the ways and courses of nature, can never oppose and bend her.t

This enquiry, therefore, consists of two parts; with rcspect, 1. to the consumption or depredation of the body; and, 2. to its repair, or recruit: with a view, as much as possible, to prevent the former and promote the latter. The first has a principal regard to the spirit, and external air, which make the depredation; and the second, to the entire process of alimentation, which supplies the repair.

The enquiry of the consumption has many things in common with inanimate bodies : for the effects which the innate spirit, residing in all tangible substances, whether animate or inanimate, and which the external air produces upon inanimate bodies, are likewise endeavoured upon animate bodies; whilst the interposition of the vital spirit, on one side, checks and restrains their operations; and, on the other, powerfully promotes them. For it is plain, that many ina

* Let'this consideration, of the spirits preying upon the other parts, be duly regarded : it is of great importance to what follows. See Sect. I.

+ As it is necessary he should do, who would endeavour to lengthen the present period of human life.

nimate bodies may endure a long time without repair : whereas animate bodies presently fail, without nourishment and recruit; thus, like fire, becoming extinct.

Our enquiry therefore must be double; and regard first the human body, as a thing inanimate and unsupported by aliment; and secondly, as a thing animate and nourished.*

And this enquiry, we hope, might redound to a general good; if physicians would but exert themselves, and raise their minds above the sordid considerations of cure: not deriving their honour from the necessities of mankind; but becoming ministers to the divine power and goodness, both in prolonging and restoring the life of man: especially as this may be effected by safe, commodious, and not illiberal means; though hitherto unattempted. And certainly it would be an earnest of the divine favour, if, whilst we are journeying to the land of promise, our garments, these frail bodies of ours, were not greatly to wear out in the wilder. ness of this world.

* Observe the sagacity and judgment in distinguishing and fixing the two capital points of the enquiry.

+ See hereafter, Sect, VIII.







ARTICLE I. A PREVIOUS enquiry into the nature of durability, and its degrees, in inanimate and vegetable bodies.

* It may be proper to observe at the entrance of this piece, that each section is what the author understands by a table, which is formed at many different operations of the mind, in the way of so many steps; whence the whole enquiry being artificially broke into a number of distinct and commodiously manageable parts, the mind both at first, and ever afterwards, operates with the greater ease, freedom, and advantage. For thus every table is a separate work, not finished, but left still open to receive farther additions and improvements. And when all the tables shall be perThis article to be prosecuted, not at large, or in due form, but concisely, by certain heads, and as in passage.*


Of dryness, arefaction, and the consumption of inanimate bodies and vegetables; with the manner and process they succeed in, and the ways of preventing and retarding all three: the preserving of bodies in their own state ; and lastly, a more careful enquiry into the ways of softening, mollifying, malaxing, and recovering of bodies after they once begin to be dried.

Nor is a perfect, rigorous enquiry necessary under this article; both as these particulars may be deduced from their proper heads of durability, and are not capital things to the present purpose; though they afford light to the way of prolonging and restoring life in animals.

fected, then, and not till then, will the whole enquiry be finished. So that the understanding has many more steps to take, before it arrives at a plenary knowledge of the form of Life and Death. This advertisement may be less necessary to those who are versed in the author's method of enquiry, laid down and exemplified in the second part of his Novum Organum.

* The directions, occasionally subjoined to these articles of enquiry, were not only intended to regulate the conduct of the author, but likewise the conduct of all future enquirers into the same subject.

From inanimate and vegetable bodies, let the enquiry descend to animals, exclusive of men.

ARTICLE III. Of the long and short life of animals; with the proper circumstances which seem to have a share in the difference.


As the duration of bodies is of two kinds; the one consisting in simple identity, the other in repair; the first whereof obtains only in bodies inanimate; the second, in vegetables and animals, and is performed by alimentation ; the next step of the enquiry must be, into the business of alimentation, with its ways and process.

Neither is exactness required here; because this belongs to the heads of assimilation and alimentation : and need only be touched, as the former, in passage.

The enquiry must next descend to man : and as this is the principal subject of all, the procedure should be here, in every respect, exact and perfect.

ARTICLE V. An enquiry into the length and shortness of life in men, according to the different ages of

« AnteriorContinuar »