Imatges de pÓgina
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pure, as spiritual, and as immortal, as our own; but our souls are happily lodged, and thine not so. The windows of its dwelling are closed; it wants air, and is stifled. The madman, in a lucid interval, will reply to them, My friends, you beg the question, as usual. My windows are as wide open as your own, since I can perceive the same objects and listen to the same sounds. It necessarily follows, that my soul makes a bad use of my senses; or that my soul is a vitiated sense, a depraved faculty. In a word, either my soul is itself diseased, or I have no soul.

One of the doctors may reply, My brother, God has possibly created foolish souls, as well as wise ones. The madman will answer,-If I believed what you say, I should be a still greater madman than I am. Have the kindness, you who know so much, to tell me why I am mad?

Supposing the doctors to retain a little sense, they would say, We know nothing about the matter. Neither are they more able to comprehend how a brain possesses regular ideas, and makes a due use of them. They call themselves sages, and are as weak as their patient.

If the interval of reason of the madman lasts long enough, he will say to them,-Miserable mortals, who neither know the cause of my malady, nor how to cure it! Tremble, lest ye become altogether like me, or even still worse than I am! You are not of the highest rank, like Charles VI. of France, Henry VI. of England, and the German emperor Wincenslaus, who all lost their reason in the same century. You have not nearly so much wit as Blaise Pascal, James Abadie, or Jonathan Swift, who all became insane. The last of them founded an hospital for us; shall I go there and retain places for you?

N. B. I regret that Hippocrates should have prescribed the blood of an ass's colt for madness; and am still more sorry, that the Manuel des Dames asserts, that it may be cured by catching the itch. Pleasant prescriptions these, and apparently invented by those who were to take them!




MAGIC is a more plausible science than astrology and the doctrine of genii. As soon as we began to think that there was in man a being quite distinct from matter, and that the understanding exists after death, we gave this understanding a fine subtle aerial body, resembling the body in which it was lodged. Two quite natural reasons introduced this opinion; the first is, that in all languages the soul was called spirit, breath, wind. This spirit, this breath, this wind, was therefore very fine and delicate. The second is, that if the soul of a man had not retained a form similar to that which it possessed during its life, we should not have been able after death to distinguish the soul of one man from that of another. This soul, this shade, which existed, separated from its body, might very well show itself upon occasion, revisit the place which it had inhabited, its parents and friends, speak to them and instruct them. In all this there is no incompatibility.

As departed souls might very well teach those whom they came to visit the secret of conjuring them, they failed not to do so; and the word Abraxa, pronounced with some ceremonies, brought up souls with whom he who pronounced it wished to speak. I suppose an Egyptian saying to a philosopher,-I descend in a right line from the magicians of Pharaoh, who changed rods into serpents, and the waters of the Nile into blood; one of my ancestors married the witch of Endor, who conjured up the soul of Samuel at the request of Saul; she communicated her secrets to her husband, who made her the confidant of his own; I possess this inheritance from my father and mother; my genealogy is well attested; I command the spirits and elements. The philosopher, in reply, will have nothing to do but to demand his protection; for if disposed to deny and dispute, the magician will shut his mouth by saying,-You cannot deny the facts; my ancestors have been incontestibly great magicians, and

you doubt it not; you have no reason to believe that I am inferior to them, particularly when a man of honour like myself assures you that he is a sorcerer. The philosopher, to be sure, might say to him,-Do me the pleasure to conjure up a shade; allow me to speak to a soul; change this water into blood, and this rod into a serpent. The magician will answer,-I work not for philosophers; but I have shown spirits to very respectable ladies, and to simple people who never dispute; you should at least believe that it is very possible for me to have these secrets, since you are forced to confess that my ancestors possessed them. What was done formerly can be done now; and you ought to believe in magic without my being obliged to exercise my art before you.

These reasons are so good, that all nations have had sorcerers. The greatest sorcerers were paid by the state, in order to discover the future clearly in the heart and liver of an ox. Why therefore have others so long been punished with death? They have done more marvellous things; they should therefore be more honoured; above all, their power should be feared. Nothing is more ridiculous than to condemn a true magician to be burnt; for we should presume that he can extinguish the fire and twist the necks of his judges. All that we can do, is to say to him,-My friend, we do not burn you as a true sorcerer, but as a false one; you boast of an admirable art which you possess not; we treat you as a man who utters false money; the more we love the good, the more severely we punish those who give us counterfeits; we know very well that there were formerly venerable conjurors, but we have reason to believe that you are not one, since you suffer yourself to be burnt like a fool.

It is true, that the magician so pushed might say,— My science extends not so far as to extinguish a pile without water, and to kill my judges with words. I can only call up spirits, read the future, and change certain substances into others; my power is bounded; but you should not for that reason burn me at a slow

fire. It is as if you caused a physician to be hanged who could cure fever, and not a paralysis. The judges might however still reasonably observe,-Show us then some secret of your art, or consent to be burned with a good grace.


I WILL suppose that a fair princess who never heard speak of anatomy, is ill either from having eaten or danced too much, or having done too much of what several princesses occasionally do. I suppose that her physician says to her Madam, for your health to be good, it is necessary for your cerebrum and cerebellum to distribute a fine, well-conditioned marrow in the spine of your back down to your highness's rump; and that this marrow should equally animate fifteen pair of nerves, each right and left. It is necessary that your heart should contract and dilate itself with a constantly equal force; and that all the blood which it forces into your arteries should circulate in all these arteries and veins about six hundred times a day.

This blood, in circulating with a rapidity which surpasses that of the Rhone, ought to dispose on its passage of that which continually forms the lymph, urine, bile, &c. of your highness, of that which furnishes all these secretions, which insensibly render your skin soft, fresh, and fair, that without them would be yellow, grey, dry, and shrivelled, like old parchment.


Well, sir, the king pays you to attend to all this: fail not to put all things in their place, and to make my liquids circulate so that I may be comfortable. I warn you that I will not suffer with impunity.


Madam, address your orders to the author of nature. The sole power which made millions of planets and comets to revolve round millions of suns, has directed the course of your blood.


What! are you a physician, and can you prescribe nothing?


No, madam; we can only take away from, we can add nothing to nature. Your servants clean your palace, but the architect built it. If your highness has eaten greedily, I can cleanse your entrails with cassia, manna, and pods of senna: it is a broom which I introduce to cleanse your inside. If you have a cancer, I must cut off your breast, but I cannot give you another. Have you a stone in your bladder? I can deliver you from it. I can cut you off a gangrened foot, leaving you to walk on the other. In a word, we physicians perfectly resemble teeth-drawers, who extract a decayed tooth, without the power of substituting a sound one, quacks as they are.


You make me tremble; I believed that physicians cured all maladies.


We infallibly cure all those which cure themselves. It is generally, and with very few exceptions, with internal maladies as with external wounds. Nature alone cures those which are not mortal. Those which are so will find no resource in it.


What! all these secrets for purifying the blood, of which my ladies have spoken to me; this Baume de Vie of the Sieur de Lievre; these packets of the Sieur Arnauld; all these pills so much praised by femmes de chambre



Are so many inventions to get money, and to flatter patients, while nature alone acts.


But there are specifics?


Yes, madam, like the water of youth in romances.


In what then consists medicine?

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