Imatges de pÓgina

the kind that comes near this perfection.


it is said, that, at Pisa, in the church of St. John, there is seen, on a stone, an old hermit perfectly painted by nature, sitting near a rivulet, and holding a bell in his hand; and that, in the temple of St. Sophia, at Constantinople, there is to be seen, on a white sacred marble, an image of St. John the Baptist, cloaked with a camel's skin, but so far defective that nature has given him but one foot.

There is an instance in the Mercury of France, for July 1730, of some curious sports of nature on insects. The rector of St. James at Land, within a league of Rennes, found in the month of March, 1730, in the church-yard, a species of butterfly, about two inches long, and half-an-inch broad, having on its head the figure of a death's-head, of the length of one nail, and perfectly imitating those that are represented on the church ornaments which are used for the office of the dead. Two large wings were spotted like a pall, and the whole body covered with a down, or black hair, diversified with black and yellow, bearing some resemblance to yellow.

These freaks of nature are equally extended to animate as to inanimate bodies; and the human species, as well as the brute creation, affords numerous specimens, not only of redundance and deficiency in her work, but a variety of other phenomena not well understood. The march of intellect, however, it is to be hoped, will be as successful in this instance, as in obliterating the hobgoblins of astrologers and quacks who so long have ruled the destiny and health

of their less sagacious fellow-creatures;-and when the public shall become persuaded of the advantages which science may derive from occurrences similar to those we shall enumerate in the next chapter, it will be more disposed to offer them to the consideration of scientific men.




THE power of music over the human mind, as well as its influence on the animal creation, has been variously attested; and its curative virtues have been no less extolled by the ancients.* Martianus Capella assures us, that fevers were removed by songs, and that Asclepiades cured deafness by the sound of the trumpet. Wonderful indeed! that the same noise which would occasion deafness in some, should be a specific for it in others! It is making the viper cure its own bite. But, perhaps Asclepiades was the inventor of the acousticon, or ear-trumpet, which has been thought a modern discovery; or of the speakingtrumpet, which is a kind of cure for distant deafness. These would be admirable proofs of musical power !†

* Dr Burney's History of Music.

It has been asserted by several moderns, that deaf people can hear best in a great noise; perhaps to prove that Greek


We have the testimony of Plutarch, and several other ancient writers, that Thaletas the Cretan, delivered the Lacedemonians from the pestilence by the sweetness of his lyre.

Xenocrates, as Martianus Capella further informs us, employed the sound of instruments in the cure of maniacs; and Apollonius Dyscolus, in his fabulous history (Historia Commentitia) tells us, from Theophrastus's Treatise upon Enthusiasm, that music is a sovereign remedy for a dejection of spirits, and disordered mind; and that the sound of the flute will cure epilepsy and the sciatic gout. Athenæus quotes the same passage from Theophrastus, with this additional circumstance, that, as to the second of these disorders, to render the cure more certain, the flute should play in the Phrygian mode. But Aulus Gellius, who mentions this remedy, seems to administer it in a very different manner, by prescribing to the flute-player a soft and gentle strain, si modulis lenibus, says he, tibicen incinet: for the Phrygian mode was remarkably vehement and furious.

This is what Cœlius Aurelianus calls loca dolentia decantare, enchanting the disordered places. He even tells us how the enchantment is brought about upon these occasions, in saying that the pain is relieved by causing a vibration of the fibres of the afflicted part.

noise could do nothing which the modern cannot operate as effectually and Dr. Willis in particular tells us of a lady who could hear only while a drum was beating, in so much that her husband, the account says, hired a drummer as her servant, in order to enjoy the pleasures of her conversation.

Galen speaks seriously of playing the flute on the suffering part, upon the principle, we suppose, of a medicated vapour bath.

The sound of the flute was likewise a specific for the bite of a viper, according to Theophrastus and Democritus, whose authority Aulus Gellius gives for his belief of the fact. But there is nothing more extraordinary among the virtues attributed to music by the ancients, than what Aristotle relates in its supposed power of softening the rigour of punishment. The Tyrhenians, says he, never scourge their slaves, but by the sound of flutes, looking upon it as an instance of humanity to give some counterpoise to pain, and thinking by such a diversion to lessen the sum total of the punishment. To this account may be added a passage from Jul. Pallus, by which we learn, that in the triremes, or vessels with three banks of oars, there was always a tibicen, or flute-player, not only to mark the time, or cadence for each stroke of the oar, but to sooth and cheer the rowers by the sweetness of the melody. And from this custom Quintilian took occasion to say, that music is the gift of nature, to enable us the more patiently to support toil and labour.*

These are the principal passages which antiquity furnishes, relative to the medicinal effects of music ; in considering which, reliance is placed on the judg

Many of the ancients speak of music as a recipe for every kind of malady, and it is probable that the Latin was præcinere, to charm away pain, incantare to enchant, and our own word incantation, came from the medical use of song.

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