صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the Vanity of any Attempt to rival the Works of God. Nothing is more boasted by the Admirers of Chymistry than that they can, by artificial Heat and Digestion, imitate the Productions of Nature. Let • all these Heroes of Science meet together,' says. Boerhaave, let them take Bread and Wine, the • Food that forms the Blood of Man, and by Alli

milation contributes to the Growth of the Body: • Let them try all their Arts, they shall not be able • from these Materials to produce a single Drop of * Blood. So much is the most common Act of Nature beyond the utmost Efforts of the most extended Science.

From this Time Boerhaave lived with less publick Employment indeed, but not an idle or a useless Life; for besides his Hours' spent in instructing his Scholars, a great Part of his Time was taken up by Patients, who came when the Distemper would admit it, from all Parts of Europe to consult him, or did it by Letters, which in more urgent Cases, were continually sent to inquire his Opinion, and all his Advice.

Of the Sagacity and the wondeiful Penetration with which he often discovered and described at the first sight of a Patient, such Distempers as betray themselves by no Symptoms to common Eyes, such wonderful Relations have been spread over the World, as, though attested beyond doubt, can {carely be credited. I mention none of them, because I have no Opportunity of collecting Testimonies, or distinguishing between those Accounts which are well proved, and those which owe their rise to Fiction and Credulity.

Yet I cannot but implore with the greatest Earnestness such as have been conversant with this great Man, that they will not so far neglect the common Interest of Mankind, as to suffer any of these Circumstances to be lost to Posterity. Men are generally

idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the Industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult. The Skill to which Boerbaave attained by a long and unwearied Observation of Nature, ought therefore to be transmitted in all its Particulars to future Ages, that his Successors may be ashamed to fall below him, and that none may hereafter excuse his Ignorance, by pleading the Impossibility of clearer Knowledge.

Yet so far was this great Master from presumptuous Confidence in his Abilities, that in his Examination of the Sick he was remarkably Circumftantial and Particular. He well knew that the Ori. ginals of Distempers are often at a Distance from their visible Effects; that to acquiesce in Conjecture, where Certainty may be obtained, is either Vanity or Negligence ; and that Life is not to be sacrificed either to an Affectation of quick Discernment, or of crouded Practice, but may be required, if trifled away, at the Hand of the Physician.

About the Middle of the Year 1737 he felt the first Approaches of that fatal Illness that brought him to the Grave ; of which we have inserted an Account, written by himself, September 1738, to a Friend at London; which deserves not only to be preserved, as an historical Relation of the Disease which deprived us of so great a Man, but as a Proof of his Piety and Resignation to the Divine Will.

Æras, labor, corporisque opima pinguetudo, effecerant ante annum, ut inertibus refertum, grave, hebes, plenitudine turgens corpus, anhelum ad motus, minimos, cum sensu suffocationis, pulsu mirifice anomalo, ineptum evaderet ad ulium motum. Urgebat præcipue subsistens prorsus et intercepte respiratio ad primi fomni initia : unde fomnus prorfus prohibebatur cum formi. dabili frangulationis molestia. Hinc hydrops pedum, . crurum, femorum, fcroti, præputii & abdominis. Qué VOL. II.

tamen

tamen omnia sublata. Sed dolor manet in abdomine cum anxietate summa anbe.itu suffocante, & debilitate incredibili. Somno pauco, Boque vago. Per fomnia turbatiffimo. Animus vero rebus ageridis impar. Cum tris lector fellus, neque emergo. Patienter expectans Dei jusja, quibus rejigno data, quæ fola amo, et honoro unice.

In this last Illness, which was to the last Degree lingering, painful, and afflictive, his Constancy and Firmness did not forsake him. He neither intermitted the neceflary Cares of Life, nor forgot the proper Preparations for Death. Though Dejection and Lowners of Spirit was, as he himself tells us, Part of his Distem per, yet even this, in some Measure, gave way to that Vigour which the Soul receives from a Consciousness of Innocence.

About three Weeks before his Death he received à Visit at his Country-house from the Rev. Mr. Schultens, his intimate Friend, who found him fitting without Doors, with his Wife, Sister, and Daughter. After the Compliments of Form, the Ladies withdrew, and left them to private Converfation; when Boerhaave took Occalion to tell him what had been, during his lllness, the chief Subject of his Thoughts. He had never doubted of the fpiritual and immaterial Nature of the Soul,' but declared, that he had lately had a Kind of experiinentál Certainty of the Distinction between corporeal and thinking Substances, which mere Reason and Philosophy cannot ailord; and Opportunities of contemplating the wonderful and inexplicable Union of Soul and Body, which nothing but long Sickness can give. This 'he illustrated by à Description of the Effects, which the Infirmities of his Body had upon his Faculties, which yet they did not fo-oppress or vanquish, but his Soul was always Master of itself, and always resigned to the Pleasure of its Maker.

He related with great Concern, that once his Patience so far gave Way to Extremity of Pain, that after having laid fifteen Hours in exquisite Tortures, he prayed to God that he might be set free by Death.

Mr. Schultens, by Way of Consolation, answered, that he thought such Wishes, when forced by continued and excessive Torments, unavoidable in the present State of human Nature ; that the best of Men, even yob himself, were not able to refrain from such Starts of Impatience: This he did not deny, but said, "He that loves God ought to think ( nothing desirable, but what is most pleasing to the Supreme Goodness.

Such were his Sentiments, and such his Conduct, in this State of Weakness and Pain: As Death approached nearer, he was so far from Terror and Confusion, that he seemed even less sensible of Pain, and more chearful under his Torments, which continued till the 23d Day of September, 1738, on which he died, between Four and Five in the Morning, in the 70th Year of his Age.

Thus died Boerhaave, a Man formed by Nature for great Designs, and guided by Religion in the Exertion of his Abilities : He was of a robust and athletic Constitution of Body, so hardened by early Severities, and wholesome Fatigue, that he was infenable of any Sharpness of Air, or Inclemency of Weather. He was tall, and remarkable for extraordinary Strength : there was in his Air and Mo. tion something rough and 'artless, but so majestic and great at the same Time, that no Man ever looked upon him without Veneration, and a Kind of tacit Submission to the Superiority of his Genius.

The Vigour and Activity of his Mind sparkled vifibly in his Eyes ; nor was it observed that any Change of his Fortune, or Alteration in his af. Q2

fairs,

fairs, whether happy or unfortunate, affected his Countenance

He was always chearful, and desirous of promoting Mirth by a facetious and humourous Conversation. He was never foured by Calumny and De. traction ; nor ever thought it necessary to confute them ; for (they are Sparks,' said he, which, if " you do not blow them, will go out of themselves.'

Yet he took Care never to provoke Enemies by Severity of Censure; for he never dwelt on the Faults or Defects of others ; and was so far from inflaming the Envy of his Rivals, by dwelling on his own Excellencies, that he rarely mentioned himself or his Writings.

He was not to be overawed or depressed by the · Presence, Frowns, or Insolence of great Men; but

pursisted on all Occasions in the right, with a Refo·lution always present, and always calm. He was modest, but not timorous ; and firm without Rudeness.

He could, with uncommon Readiness and Certainty, make a Conjecture of Men's Inclinations and Capacity, by their Aspect.

His Method of Life was to study in the Morning and Evening, and to allot the Middle of the Day to his publick Business. He rose at Four in the Súm. mer, and Five in the Winter. His ufual Exercise was kiding, till, in his latter Years, his Distempers made it more proper for him to walk. When he was weary, he amused himself by playing on the

Violin

His greatest Pleasure was to retire to his House in the Country, where he had a Garden of eight Acres, stored with all the Herbs and Trees which the Climate would bear. Here he used to enjoy his Hours unmolested, and prosecute his Studies without Interruption.

The

« السابقةمتابعة »