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PHILOSOPHICAL AND MEDICAL,
SELECTED FROM THE WORKS OF
HEALTH AND MEDICAL WRITINGS
JOHN DOWSON, M.D.
Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London.
" I have been ever puddering in physic all my life.”
LORD BACON to SIR HUMPHREY MAY.
“ When our feelings have been captivated by the history of the transactions
SIR HENRY HALFORD, Bart., P.R.C.P.L.
W.M.- The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England. 15 vol. 8vo, 1825-34, and
L.M.- The Life of Francis Bacon, by Basil Montagu, Esq. 8vo, 1834.
W.-The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscourt St. Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England. Collected and edited by James Spedding, M.Ă., R. L. Ellis, M.A., and D. D. Heath, Barrister-at-Law. 7 vol. 8vo, 1858-61.
L. & L.- The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon, including all his Occasional Works ; with a Commentary by James Spedding.
FRANCIS Bacon was the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal in the reign of Elizabeth, by his second wife Anne, one of the daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, tutor to King Edward the Sixth ; and was born at his father's London residence, York House in the Strand, on the 22nd of January, 1561.
His health is said to have been always delicate, but I find no notice of any particular disorder till after he went to Cam. bridge, with his elder brother Anthony, in April 1573. From a minute account of their expenses, kept by Dr. Whitgift, then Master of Trinity College, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury," with his own hand," and published in the British Magazine for 1848, it appears that his only disorders requiring medical aid, during more than two years' residence at the University, were a sore throat, with probably a swollen gland in the neck, in 1573, and a similar but slighter disorder in 1574. This is inferred from the following entries :
“ogle for frances neck
Anthony was more frequently and more severely ill; indeed he was a great invalid through life.
They left the University at Christmas 1575, and in September 1576, Francis accompanied to Paris Sir Amias Paulet, who was then sent Ambassador to France, and who reported him, in a letter to his father, dated September 1577, “safe, sound, and in good health.” He had, however, while he was at Paris, one little ailment, and his account of it is too characteristic of the great philosopher, who, though capable of the most comprehensive views, thought nothing in nature beneath his notice, to be omitted. “The eye of the understanding” as he says, being
"like the eye of the sense; for as you may see great objects through small crannies or levels, so you may see great axioms of nature through small and contemptible instances.” (W. 11. 377). In his last scientific work, entitled “Sylva Sylvarum: or a Natural History in ten Centuries," which was composed near the close of his life, he says,
“The sympathy of individuals, that have been entire, or have touched, is of all others the most incredible; yet according to our faithful manner of examination of nature, we will make some little mention of it. The taking away of warts, by rubbing them with somewhat that afterwards is put to waste and consume, is a common experiment; and I do apprehend it the rather, because of mine own experience. I had, from my childhood, a wart apon one of my fingers : afterwards, when I was about sixteen years old, being then at Paris, there grew upon
my hands a number of warts (at the least an hundred) in a month's space. The English ambassador's lady, who was a woman far from superstition, told me one day, she would help me away with my warts: whereupon she got a piece of lard, with the skin on, and rubbed the warts all over with the fat side; and amongst the rest, that wart which I
had had from my childhood : then she nailed the piece of lard, with the fat towards the sun, upon a post of her chamber window, which was to the south. The success was, that within five weeks' space all the warts went quite away: and that wart which I had so long endured, for company.
But at the rest I did little marvel, because they came ir a short time, and might go away in a short time again : but the going away of that which had stayed so long, doth yet stick with me." (W. II, 670.)
The subject of sympathies had always great interest for him, but with true philosophical caution he says in the same work, (11. 666) “The relations touching the force of imagination and the secret instincts of nature, are so uncertain, as they require a great deal of examination ere we conclude
them. I would have it first thoroughly inquired whether there be any secret passages of sympathy between persons of near blood; as parents, children, brothers, sisters, nurse-children, husbands, wives, &c. There be many reports in history, that upon the death of persons of such nearness, men have had an inward feeling of it. I myself remember, that being in Paris, and my father dying in London, two or three days before my father's death I had a dream, which I told to divers English gentlemen, that my
father's house in the country was plastered all over with black mortar.” Certain it is that in February 1579, “his father, having accidentally fallen asleep at an open window during the great thaw which followed a great snow, was seized with a sudden illness of which he died in a few days." He had amply provided for his other four sons (three of whom were by his first wife) bui Francis was left with only a fifth part of the fortune intended for him, and therefore had “to study to live," instead of “living to study," which he would have much preferred. “ The law was his most obvious and on