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vigations of the Phænicians must have contributed much to the advancement of astronomy and geography. It was in the ages of which we are now speaking, that these people undertook those voyages of great extent which liave rendered their names so famous in antiquity. They passed the itraits of Cadiz, and trusting themselves on the ocean, they advanced on one side to the western extremity of Spain, and on the other to the coast of that part of Africa which is wathed by the Atlantic i. The discovery which the Phænicians made of the help they could draw from the observation of the polar star to direct the course of a vessel, was the cause of the success which accompanied their maritime enterprises. I reserve the circumstances of them for the article of navigation. The details into which I shall then enter, will make us better perceive to what degree the Phoe-' nicians must have possessed, even in the ages which at present fix our attention, the principal parts of mathematical fciences.
H Istory, in the ages we are at present speaking of, will
furnish us with many lights on the state of sciences in Egypt. I fall treat each object separately, and under different articles; and I hall shew their state and progress relatively to the times which make the subject of the second part
made of physicians by profession before the time of Moses. I have related the ways which they used originally in treate ing the fick, and the expedient they had invented to the end that every body might profit by particular discoveries. They exposed the sick in public to enable them to receive the falutary counsels which each could give them !. It is proper to remark, that then they did not know writing. Since the invention of that art they put in practice a.l. other custom which must still have contributed more to make known the different remedies which they could use. Those who had been attacked with any distemper, put in writing how and by what means they had been cured. These memoirs were placed in their temples to serve for the instruction of the public. Every one had a right to go and consult them, and to chuse the remedy of which he thought he had need *.
Afterwards, the number of these receipts being augmented, it became necessary to put them in order. Those who were charged with this care, came to know more particularly the composition of the different remedies. By comparing the one with the other, they learned to judge of their virtue, They acquired by that means more exact knowledge than what they had before. They began from that time to consult these sorts of persons, and to call them on critical occasions. As Moses speaks of physicians by name`, we may, I think, refer to the ages in which he lived, the origin of that profeffion.
We ought to look upon the Egyptians as the first who reduced into principles, and subjected to certain rules, the vague and arbitrary practices by which they were guided
See parti. book 3. chap. I.
* Jn Egypt, these sorts of registers were deposited in the temple of Vulcan at Memphis. Galen, de compofit. medicament, per genera, l. 5. c. 2. t. 13. p. 775. edit. Charterii.
The same custom was also observed in other countries. See Plin. 1. 29. C.1.p.493.; Paus. 1. 2. c. 27. & 36. ; Strabo, 1. 8. p. 575.
It was from these registers, according to Pliny and Strabo, that Hippocrates had drawn a great part of his knowledge. Plin. loco cit.; Strabo, 1, 14. p. 972. • Exod. c. 21. V, 19
for a long time. They passed in antiquity for having cultivated medicine more anciently and more learnedly than any other people a. It is not very difficult to give a reason for this. There never had been a country where physicians had been, and still are more necesary than in Egypt. The overflowings of the Nile exposed them at all times to frequent maladies. The waters of that river having no free course during the two months and an half which precede the summer-solstice, it must necessarily happen that they should be corrupted ..
When the inundations are great, the Nile in retiring forms marshes which infect the
These standing waters have always occasioned in Egypt epidemic distempers. They must particularly have felt the pernicious effects in the first ages, when they had not yet taken the necessary precautions to facilitate the running off of the waters. But these very precautions must have been for a long time baneful to the inhabitants of that climate. The moving of the earth occafioned by the construction and maintaining of that innumerable quantity of canals with which Egypt was formerly watered, and the works which they must have made to drain the morasses, must have produced most troublesome accidents. It is known what malignant vapours these forts of earths just moved produce.
Besides, the inhabitants of the cities and the villages which were not upon the borders of the Nile, did only drink for the greatest part of the year standing and corrupt water 4.
That of the wells is not better r. Springs are extremely uncommon in Egypt. It is a sort of prodigy to meet with one i.
Besides, from the report of travellers, the air there is
* Hom. Odyff. 1. 4. v. 231.; Isocrat. in Bufirid. p. 329.; Plin, 1. 7. c. 56. p. 414.; Clem. Alex. strom.1.1.p.362.
• Voyage de l'Egypte par Granger, p. 19. & 20.
very unwholesomes. There reign annually in Egypt from the vernal equinox to une jammer-lolstice deadly malig. nant fevers. In autumn, their thighs and knees are surrounded with carbuncles, ivnici kill the patients in tivo or three days. At the time of the increase of the Nile, the greitest part of the inhabitants are attacked with obstinate dvienteries cauled hy the waters of that river, which at that time are greatly loaded with salts a,
The ferere weather is above all the most dangerous in Egypt. . As the fin is very hot in thefe climates, it raises a great quantity of exlialations and malignant vapours, which cause great deflasions on the eyes; from hence it coines that we lee jo many blind people there s.
This country is also subject to a very singular and very frequent inconveniency. When they are attacked with it, they think all their bones are brokey, Thele accidents are produced hy the winds which blow in Egypt. As they are loaded with many falts, they occasion frightful pains in all parts of the body, often even palsies, which they cure with great difficulty. Thus we fee very few robust people, and scarce any old ones' in Egypt 2. It was apparently the same when Jacob passed through it with his whole family. We Thall be tenipted to imagine, that the Egyptians had not been accustomed to have seen persons of a very advanced age, hy Pharaoh's question to Jacob about the age of that patriarch
Egypt having been exposed at all times to fo great a number of general and habitual distenpers, they must
i Gemelli, t. 1. p. 33. & 113.
* Maillet, p. 15.; Granger, p. 22.; Voyage au Levant par Corneille le
2 Granger, p. 24. & 27. * It is true, Herodotus says, that after the Lybians there were no men on the earth more healthy than the Egyptians. He attributes this good health to the tenperature of the air which is always equal, 1. 2. n. 77.
But it must be observed, that Herodotus only peaks of a particular di. ftrict. Travellers agree generally enough, that Egypt is a very unwholesome country. We might join to the testimonies that we have already cited, that of Pietre della Valle, 1.p. 325. and of Gemelli, t. 1. p. 33. We may likewise see what Pliny says of the maladies peculiar to Egypt, f. 26.
have tried very early to find out the proper means to remedy them. From hence came physicians.
We may conclude from what we find in history, about the practice of the Egyptians, that these people had been the first who had perceived the necessity of dividing among many persons the different objects of medicine.
The ancients tell us, there has been no country where physicians were in such great numbers as in Egypt. They inform us at the same time, that those who exercised that profeffion, did not undertake to treat indifferently all sorts of distempers. They had for distempers of the eyes, for those of the head, for those of the teeth. The distempers of the bowels, and the other internal maladies, had likewise their particular physicians a, The Egyptians were not a long time in comprehending that the life and study of one man was not fufficient to be instructed perfectly in all the parts of a science so extensive as phyfic. It was for this reason they obliged those who embraced that profesion, only to apply themselves to one sort of distemper, and to make that the only object of their study. The ancient authors, by instructing us in this practice, have transınitted nothing to us of the nature of the remedies which the Egyptians used. They have only given us general notions on this subject. We know only that these people made a vast use of regimen and purging drinks * Persuaded that all distempers came from the aliments, they looked upon the remedies which tended to evacuate the humours as the most proper to preserve health b. We fee farther; by the exposure which an ancient author has made of their system of physic, that they excluded every remedy whose application might become dangerous. They only employed those which they might use as fafely as their daily food,
It appears further, that these people were as much busied
a Herod. 1. 2. n.8.1.
* They believe the purge of the Egyptians was a fort of horse-radim, or an herb which resembles celery. There are even some who will have it that it was a composition not unlike beer. Le Clerc hist. de la medic. 1. 1. c. 18.
• Herod. l. 2. n. 77.; Diod. l. 1. p. 73.
cllocrat. in Bufir, p. 329,