18th-century Physician Quotes
There are some modern practitioners, who declaim against medical theory in general, not considering that to think is to theorize; and that no one can direct a method of cure to a person labouring under disease, without thinking, that is, without theorizing; and happy therefore is the patient, whose physician possesses the best theory.
It is in vain to attempt to measure a quantity which escapes our notice, and which history cannot ascertain; and we might just as well attempt to measure the distance of the stars without a parallax, as to calculate the destruction of the solid land without a measure corresponding to the whole.
I shall be better satisfied if the same can be said of me as was said of the prophet of old, "That I walked in the fear of the Lord, and begat sons and daughters" [Genesis 5:22], than if it were inscribed on my tombstone that I governed the councils or commanded the arms of the whole continent of America.
But since the brain, as well as the cerebellum, is composed of many parts, variously figured, it is possible, that nature, which never works in vain, has destined those parts to various uses, so that the various faculties of the mind seem to require different portions of the cerebrum and cerebellum for their production.
And it has been sarcastically said, that there is a wide difference between a good physician and a bad one, but a small difference between a good physician and no physician at all; by which it is meant to insinuate, that the mischievous officiousness of art does commonly more than counterbalance any benefit derivable from it.
Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.
Let us not be attached to systems, but to truth; and when Nature speaks, let us listen to her voice in preference to that of a Stahl or a Lavoissier, a Descartes or a Newton. Whatever may be the result of our experiments, we shall profit by them: as we run the risqué of losing nothing but error, let us hasten to subject ourselves to that loss.