It is now less than three hundred years since this dot in creation-our globe-was held by all its inhabitants to be the centre and major part of the universe. Its surface was supposed to be the main theater of all cosmic events, and the course of all other celestial bodies was thought to have special reference to it.
This, Galileo and the host of brilliant men who have followed in his path have proven to be the very opposite from true; and thus we behold all old philosophy in defect, from the reason that the most important elements to a solution were unrecognized.
The magical growth of astronomical science is just in the infancy of its most glorious mission-that of expanding and purifying the mind of man, and of compelling us more clearly and truly to comprehend the laws of our existence and relations, by demonstrating to us that our world is governed by a fragment of the great law that permeates and circumvents all infinity; and thus our relations are with all space, all matter and all time.
“There is no limit to the stars. Do they go on, the one behind the other, without end? I answer, No. Then, do you mean to say there is a limit to Creation? I answer, No. I mean to say that the stars are grouped together in mighty clusters of millions and millions, as distant from our clusters as is our sun from their suns.
“Herschel it was that solved this problem. He commences his investigations by examining the most brilliant part of the Milky Way. He takes a telescope and finds that this soft spot yields to him one hundred beautiful stars, in the distance appearing the size of hazle-nuts. He takes a greater telescope; four new stars are brought up, and the others grow brighter and more beautiful. He takes his forty-feet telescope, and he sees all clear, the stars shining like great diamonds, and in the shade beyond all is blank. This at once settles the question. There are no more stars beyond that limit, and, no matter how great the depths, he has reached them all. But, do we stop here? I answer, No. When we have reached the utmost limits of our own mighty clusters, then it is that we begin an investigation of a far different kind. We pass the confines of our own Universe, and sweep on through space, millions of miles, till, looking behind, we see the stars that compose our own system lying in one vast cluster; but before, all is blank. Is there nothing there hid in the dark, unfathomable realms? There are some dim, hazy spots looming up in the distance. Bring to our aid the telescope-Lo! there burst into view tens of thousands, suns and stars! Here is another universe burst in upon us, and there is not only one; they are scattered by hundreds and thousands through space Let any one look out at night and count the stars. You can do it. It has been done. And no eye has ever been able to count above the horizon, at one time, over fifteen hundred stars. How close do they appear to be one to another, and how numerous their hosts. Yet there are more of these mighty universes scattered through space than there are stars in our system. There is one in the constellation of Hercules, which examined with a telescope of low power, presents the appearance of a milky spot, but with the mighty instrument we use, it is discovered to contain one thousand stars, occupying so small a point in space, that it would seem you might almost group them in your hand. Yet they are so far separated, that light, which travels twelve millions of miles in a minute, require ten thousand years to cross the diameter of its orbit.
Bearing in mind that we thus swing in illimitable space, surrounded by countless myriads of worlds and stellar systems, from all of which we must necessarily receive more or less degrees of influence, every thing in Nature wears a new aspect. We have opened to us a new field of causes, and are enabled more fully to comprehend the phenomena of nature, and to discover their unity.
All this has intimate relation with the vocation of the physician. The great result struggled for, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, by the human kind, is to prolong life and to promote happiness; and in proportion as we become intimate with universal laws, in precisely that ratio will we be enabled to control those conditions which ultimate in either health or disease. To ascertain what drug will cure an aliment at present existing, is certainly of much use; but in reality, when compared with the grand question of prevention, it holds but a subaltern office, for not a week may pass before inappreciable influences may so modify the nature of the disease, that the remedy becomes wholly inert. And indeed, permitting the above idea a little latitude, it can hardly but be deemed more than probable that Pathology, like all other things connected with human unfoldment, is submitted to a succession of forms, consistent with the different strata or ages of society.
Of infinitely greater value is the discovery of causes than the discovery of endemic application of drugs. What the disciples of Medicine require, and without which they cannot retrieve their calling from the not altogether undeserved stigma of empiricism and quackery; is that which will enable them, by the aid of a well recognized general law, to defend their vocation as a positive science. Let us not then, after the manner of the Alchymists, by the monotonous and soporific glimmer of an imprisoned lamp, but as men of broad facts, expanded minds and worthy inhabitants of our age, seek in wide nature and in open air the elixer vitae.
We most fully believe too that the time is not far remote, when the laws of life and health will, by being revealed, declare medicine a science, as demonstrable as is Chemistry, and will place it upon such a footing that the indolent, ignorant knave cannot-as he now can-pursue it with as much eclat, and sometimes success, as one who is its industrious and thorough student.
Geologists have their maps; there are Geological, Baro metrical, Hyetal, Isothermal and a host of kindred charts:- even the sea and winds are discovering to us their mysteries, and the powers that immediately govern them are in their true and connected relations rapidly expanding to our senses. We cannot restrain the human instinct of pride, when we contrast Pliny's philosophy of the winds with that of our Maury. Instead of the malignant inhabitants of Darkness, from whence-infuriated by some human deed-they rush out to devastate the face of the earth, we find that they are the children of the golden sunlight and the cool, quiet night; and to them we are indebted for the most of our enjoyment, our health, and in fact our very life.
In all our labors connected with natural laws, perhaps it were well for us to consider them as possessing two sources. It is probably true; and at least, convenient. The one source, terrene, emanating from our own planet, and the other extraterrene, or the influences which other heavenly bodies impart to our globe.
|The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 02, 1858, pages 70-73
|Fragmenta by Analectes.
|errors only; interlinks; formatting