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Title: A Treatise on the Crime of Onan - Illustrated with a Variety of Cases, Together with the Method of Cure
Author: Tissot, M.
Language: English
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                           The CRIME of ONAN;

                            ILLUSTRATED with
                           A VARIETY of CASES,
                              Together with
                           The METHOD of CURE.

                ——_Propriis extinctum vivere criminibus._

                           By M. TISSOT, M. D.

                                AUTHOR of
             _Advice to the People in general with regard to
                             their Health_.

                             TRANSLATED from
                   The THIRD EDITION of the ORIGINAL.

                  Printed for B. THOMAS, in the Strand.


_While I was composing in Latin the Original of this small Production, I
was sensible of its defects, and, in the Preface to it, made my apology
for them. But, after the Performance appeared in print, they struck me
much more forcibly; and when I came to examine the French translation of
it, which I had been desired to revise, I judged them intolerable._

_Besides a number of new observations necessarily to be added, there were
faults to be remedied, in the method, and some articles which, being no
more than the first outline, insufficient to convey what I had to say,
required a fuller extent to be given them._

_So many corrections rendered the Work almost a new one, and made it
considerably longer. The difficulty of carrying on this undertaking in a
living language, and all the disagreeable circumstances that must cleave
to it, did not escape me. Nothing could have determined me to engage in
it, but the prospect of the utility to mankind of such an undertaking
well executed, which is, however, what I dare not boast of. It is only my
intention that I can warrant. The crimes of one’s fellow creatures afford
but a melancholic object to concern one’s self with: the consideration
of them can only afflict and mortify one: a sentiment ballanced by no
pleasure but that of hoping to contribute to the diminution of their
frequency, and to alleviate the sufferings which are the consequences of

_But what has given me much more trouble, in this Work, than if I had
written it in Latin, is the embarrassment of expressing images, of which
the terms and descriptions are declared indecent by use. A dispensation,
however, from a due attention to these scruples would have been very
disagreeable to my own disposition, with which I could never have
reconciled any labor at the expence of what I pride myself on, a due
regard for the laws of decency. Yet to this duty it is that are owing the
great difficulties that stopped me at every step. I dare aver, then, that
I have neglected no precaution for giving to this Work all the modesty in
the expressions that the subject would admit. There are, indeed, certain
objectionable images inseparable from this matter; but how could I avoid
them? Was it fit for me, on such important objects, to keep silence?
Doubtless not. The sacred Authors, the Fathers of the Church, who almost
all wrote in living languages; the Theological Writers, have not thought
themselves obliged to pass over in silence the crimes of obscenity,
because they could not be pointed out without naming them, without
words, in short. I judged myself authorised to follow their example,
and I dare say, with St. AUGUSTIN, “If what I have written scandalizes
any vitious persons, let them rather blame their own turpitude than
the words which I have been obliged to make use of, for explaining my
thoughts on the act of generation in mankind. I hope that the truly
modest and virtuous reader will easily forgive the expressions which I
have been forced to employ.” I will add to what this great Divine says,
that I hope to merit the grateful acknowledgment and approbation of the
moral and the sensible, who know the general proneness of the world to
wicked practices, and who will approve, if not my success, at least the
intention of my undertaking._

_I have not in this, no more than in my first edition, touched upon the
moral part, and that for HORACE’s reason_,

    ——Quod medicorum est
    Promittunt Medici——

_I have proposed to myself to write on the diseases produced by
self-pollution, and not on the crime of self-pollution, considered as
a crime; is it not proof enough of its being one, the demonstrating
that it is an act of self-murther? Whoever knows mankind, will not
be difficultly persuaded, that it is easier to give them an aversion
against a vice, by the fear of a present evil, than by reasons founded
on principles, of which there is not care enough taken to inculcate to
them all the truth and solidity. I have applied to myself what an author,
whose name will pass to the remotest posterity, as an honor to the age
in which he lived, makes a Clergyman say: “We are put upon undertaking
to prove the utility of prayer, to a man who does not believe there is a
God; and the necessity of fasting, to one who has, all his life, denied
the immortality of the soul: such an attempt is rather difficult, and
the laugh is not on our side[1].” MARPHURIUS doubted of every thing till
SGANARELLE broke his bones; and then MARPHURIUS believed._

_These ZOÏLUSES of society and literature, who themselves do nothing,
and blame every thing that is done, will have the assurance to say, that
this Work is fitter to spread than to stop this vice, and that it will
make it known to such as would otherwise have remained in ignorance of
it. I shall make them no answer; they deserve none; it is debasing one’s
self to do them that honor: but there are those of weak though virtuous
minds, upon whom these objections might make an impression: to these
I owe a general reflexion, it is this, that, in that point of light,
my Book is liable to no worse exception than what might be made to all
books of morality: they must be all prohibited, if pointing out the
dangers of a vice was the way to multiply it. The sacred writings, those
of the Fathers, those of the Casuists, ought all to be forbidden before
mine is so. Besides, what young person is likely to think of reading a
Treatise of Physic on a matter of which he does not so much as know the
name? It is to be wished, indeed, that this Book were become familiar to
all persons to whom the education of youth is committed; it might be of
service to them to set an early watch; and detect, in time, any practice
of this detestable habit; it would enable them to take the precautions
they should judge necessary for preventing the consequences._

_Those who do not understand Latin, will, perhaps, find fault with there
being too many verses in that language; my answer is, that there are
none which are not connected with the subject, since there is not one
that was not recalled to my mind by the chain of ideas. I have, however,
so disposed them, that they may be skipped without any injury to the
thread of the discourse. Those who understand them, will rather be
pleased with me for them: a traveller is, in the midst of a dreary barren
heath, rejoiced at the sight of a spot of verdure. In short, if it is a
fault, it is not, I hope, more than a venial one, and on so disgustful a
subject, some relaxation from it may be forgiven the author. If there are
no quotations from the Poets in our own language, which would have been
more natural, that is no fault of mine; I knew of none to be quoted._

_This Work, however, has nothing in common with the English one upon
this subject, under the title of ONANIA; and except about two pages and
a half, which I have extracted from it, that rhapsody has been of no use
to me. Those who shall read both performances will, I hope, be sensible
of the total difference there is between them. Those who shall only read
this one of mine, might, without this advertence, be deceived by the
affinity of the titles[2], and be led to imagine some resemblance between
the two books; happily there is none._

_This new edition, is, by the additions, augmented almost a third, and I
hope they will meet with a favorable reception from all competent judges.
There will probably be two objections made to me: the one, that I have
added a great number of observations and authorities, which are little
more than repetitions of those that were already in the first edition;
the other, that in some places I have too much departed from my leading
or principal title, and that I have considered the danger from the
pleasures of love under a general point of view._

_To the first objection, I answer, that in a matter of this nature,
where there is less hope of convincing by reasons than of terrifying by
examples, one can hardly accumulate too many._

_To the second, I say, first, that when two matters are intimately
connected, the more you endeavour to detach one, the worse you treat of
it; secondly, that I was glad to render this Work of as much general
utility as possible._

_I have been told, that it is the reading of that part, that caused
horror to an illustrious Professor: I do not believe it. But if it should
be true, I would desire him to peruse this Preface, which I must suppose
had in such case escaped him._

_In writing upon Inoculation, I had proposed to myself to propagate the
method that I judged the properest to stop the ravages of that murderous
distemper; and I have had the satisfaction of doing, at least, some good:
in composing this Work, I have been encouraged by the hope of checking
the progress of a corruption more rife, more destructive perhaps than
the small-pox itself, and so much the more to be dreaded, for that its
operations being carried on in the shades of secrecy and mystery, it
undermines without noise, without even those, who are its victims,
suspecting its malignity. It was of the greatest importance to make
its dangers known. May that Power, to whom every thing is subordinate,
vouchsafe to my views that blessing without which our best endeavours can
be of no avail!_ PAUL plants, APOLLOS cultivates, but increase is from
GOD alone.


    _INTRODUCTION_,                                           Page xiii.

                               ARTICLE I.

                             _The SYMPTOMS._

    Sect.  I. _Description drawn from the Works of Physicians_,    P. 1.

          II. _Observations communicated_,                           17.

         III. _Descriptions taken from the Book entitled ONANIA_,    20.

          IV. _The AUTHOR’s Observations_,                           24.

           V. _Consequences of self-pollution to the female sex_,    46.

                               ARTICLE II.

                              _The CAUSES._

    Sect. VI. _Importance of the seminal liquid_,                    56.

         VII. _An examination of the circumstances which accompany
                 the emission_,                                      68.

        VIII. _Causes of the dangers particular to self-pollution_,  86.

                              ARTICLE III.

                          CURATIVE INDICATIONS.

    Sect. IX. _Means of Cure proposed by other Physicians_,         106.

           X. _The AUTHOR’s Practice_,                              122.
              _Air_,                                                126.
              _Aliments_,                                           131.
              _Sleep_,                                              151.
              _Motion_,                                             155.
              _Evacuations_,                                        157.
              _The Passions_,                                       160.
              _Remedies_.                                           163.

                               ARTICLE IV.

                   _Accessory, or Relative DISEASES._

    Sect. XI. _Nocturnal Pollutions_,                               195.

         XII. _The Gleet, or simple Gonorrhœa_,                     218.


Man is every instant losing something of himself, and if he was not
continually repairing that loss, he would soon necessarily fall into a
weakness productive of death. This reparation is effected by aliments.
But these aliments must undergo in the body different preparations, which
are comprehended under the name of nutrition. But when that nutrition
is either not performed, or deficiently so, all these aliments become
useless, and do not hinder the falling into all the evils which are the
consequence of atrophy or inanition. Of all the causes that may hinder
nutrition, there is not perhaps a more common one than over-abundant
evacuations. Such is the fabric of our machine, and in general of all
human machines, that for aliments to acquire the degree of preparation
necessary to repair the body, there must remain in it a certain quantity
of humors well elaborated, and, if I may use the expression, naturalised
to it. If this condition of them is defective, the digestion and coction
of the aliments remains imperfect, and so much the more imperfect, as
the humor that is needed requires the most elaboration, and is of the
most importance.

A healthy robust nurse, from whom the taking some pounds of blood in
twenty-four hours, would probably kill, would furnish to her child
the same quantity of milk, for four or five days running, without any
sensible inconvenience to her, because milk is, of all the humors,
that which requires the least elaboration, being, a secretion almost
distinct from the humors of the body; whereas blood is an essential of
life. There is another humor, the seminal liquid, which has so great an
influence over the forces of the body, and over the accomplishment of
the digestions which repair them, that the Physicians of all ages have
unanimously believed, that the loss of one ounce of this humor weakened
more than the loss of forty ounces of blood.

Some idea may be gathered of its importance, from observing the effects
which it operates on its first beginning to form itself: the voice, the
aspect of the physiognomy, even the lineaments themselves of the face
undergo an alteration: the beard appears, the whole body often takes
another air, from the muscles acquiring a largeness and firmness that
constitute a sensible difference between the body of an adult and, that
of a young man who has not passed the season of pubescence. All these
developements are stopped or hindered by the loss of the organ which
serves for the separation of that liquid which produces them; very just
observations having proved, that the amputation of the testicles, even in
the age of virility, has occasioned the shedding of the beard, and the
return of an infantine voice[3]. After that, can there be any doubt of
the power of its action over the whole body? Does not it sensibly give
reason for apprehending the multitude of evils which must arise from
the waste or profusion of so pretious an humor? Its natural destination
determines the only allowable means of its evacuation. Disorders will
sometimes occasion its efflux. It may be involuntarily lost through the
effect of lascivious dreams. The author of _Genesis_ has left us the
history of the crime of ONAN, doubtless in order to transmit with it that
of his punishment; and we learn from GALEN, that DIOGENES was guilty of
the like pollution.

If the dangerous consequences of the over-abundant loss of this humor
depended only on the quantity, or were the same, quantity for quantity,
with the other humors, it would not, in a physical light, be of much
importance, in which of the above ways the evacuation was made. But
the manner or form here is as essential a point, as the substance of
the thing itself, if I may be indulged this expression, my subject
authorising such licence of language. Too considerable a quantity of
the seminal humor, lost in the natural way, brings on very grievous
disorders, but which are much worse when the same quantity has been
wasted out of the course of nature. Those disorders, which such as
exhaust themselves in the natural commerce of the sexes, bring upon
themselves, are dreadful; but those are much more so which are produced
by self-pollution. It is these last that are properly the objects of this
work; but the intimate connexion which they have with the first, hinders
the separation of them in the description. It is then the description
common to both, that shall form the _first Article_. This shall be
followed by the explanation of the Causes, a _second Article_, in which
I shall state those that render the consequences from self-pollution the
most dangerous: The Means of Cure, and Remarks on some Diseases that
have an affinity to that cause, shall conclude the Work. I will add
throughout, the Observations of the best Authors to those which I have
myself made.




_Description drawn from the Works of Physicians._

Hippocrates, the most antient and the most exact of all the observers
of Nature, has already described the evils produced by excessive
venery, under the name of the Dorsal Consumption, in Latin, _Tabes
dorsalis_[4].—“This disease (says he) proceeds from the spinal marrow.
It attacks young married folks, or those addicted to lustful excesses.
They have no fever, and though they eat as much as usual, they turn lean,
and waste away. They imagine they feel something, as it were like ants,
descending from the head, and creeping down the back-bone. In their
evacuations by stool or urine, they lose abundance of the seminal liquid
much thinner than it naturally is. They are unfit for generation, and
are often busied in the act of it, in their dreams. Walking, especially
in any bad road, soon puts them out of breath, weakens them, brings
on heavinesses of head; they have a kind of tingling in their ears; at
length an acute fever (_lypiria_) terminates their days.”

Some Physicians have attributed to the same cause, a disease which
HIPPOCRATES describes elsewhere[5], and which has some affinity to the
first: this last they call “the secondary _tabes dorsalis_.” But the
continuance under it of the bodily strength, which he particularly
specifies, appears to me a convincing proof, that this last disease does
not acknowledge the same cause as the first. It seems rather a rheumatic
affection. For example, CELSUS, in his excellent book on the preservation
of health, says, “the pleasures of coition are always pernicious to weak
constitutions, and the frequent use of them enfeebles the strong.[6]”

Nothing can be conceived more dreadful than the description which ARETÆUS
has left us of the evils produced by an over-abundant evacuation of that
humor. “The young (says he) contract the looks and the infirmities of old
age; they become pale, effeminate, torpid, inactive, stupid, and even
drivellers; their bodies are bent, their legs refuse their office; they
have a general distaste, and grow unfit for all the offices of life;
many fall into a palsy[7].” In another place he sets down the pleasures
of venery among the six causes that produce the palsy.

GALEN has seen the same cause produce diseases of the brain and nerves,
and destroy the vital force[8].

He says in another place, that a man who was not thoroughly recovered of
a violent disorder, died on the same night that he acquitted himself of
the nuptial function with his wife.[9]

PLINY the Naturalist tells us, that _Cornelius Gallus_, a Prætor advanced
in years, and _Titus Ætherius_, died in the act itself of coition.[10]

“The stomach (says ÆTIUS) is weakened; the transgressor falls into a
paleness, leanness, dryness; his eyes are hollowed in his head[11].”

These attestations of the most authoritative among the antients, are
confirmed by a crowd among the moderns.

SANCTORIUS, who has, with the greatest accuracy, examined all the causes
that act upon the human body, has observed, that this one weakened the
stomach, ruined the digestions, hindered the insensible perspiration,
the interruptions or disorders of which are attended with such bad
consequences, produced a heat in the liver and kidneys, disposed for the
stone, diminished the natural heat, and commonly drew after it a weakness
of the eyes[12].

LOMMIUS, in his excellent Commentaries on the passage I have quoted
from _Celsus_, seconds the testimonies of his author, with his own
observations. “Too frequent emissions (says he) of the seminal liquid
relax, drain, weaken, enervate, and produce a multitude of evils;
apoplexies, lethargies, epilepsies, a dozingness, maladies of the eyes,
loss of sight, tremors, palsies, convulsions, and of all the kinds of
gout, the most painful one[13].”

There is no reading without horror, the description left us by TULPIUS,
that celebrated Burgomaster and Physician of Amsterdam. “Not only (says
he) the spinal marrow wastes away, but both body and mind languish alike;
the individual perishes miserably. _Samuel Vespretius_ was attacked with
the defluxion of an excessively acrid humor, which first seized the back
part of his head and the nape of his neck: thence it passed to the spine,
the loins, the haunches, and the joints of the thigh, occasioning to the
unhappy patient such acute pains and tortures, that he became totally
disfigured, and fell into a slow fever, that kept consuming him, but not
so fast as he could have wished, his condition being so intolerable, that
he frequently invoked death before it came to his deliverance from his

Nothing (says a celebrated Physician of Louvain) so much weakens the
vital faculties, and abridges life[15].

BLANCARD had seen simple gonorrhœas, consumptions, and dropsies all
acknowledging this cause[16].

MUYS had seen a man as yet unbroken with age, attacked with a spontaneous
gangrene in the foot, which he attributed to venereal excesses[17].

The _Memoirs of curious Naturalists_ mention the circumstance of a loss
of sight, the observation of which deserves a recital at large. “It is
(says the author) unconceivable, what a sympathy the repositories of the
seminal humor have with the whole body, but especially with the eyes.
_Salmuth_ saw a learned hypochondriac run raving mad, and another man,
whose brain was so dried up, that it might be heard shaking as it were
loose within the skull; both owing to their having abandoned themselves
to excesses of venery. I myself saw a man of fifty-nine years of age,
who, three weeks after marriage with a young woman, fell into sudden
blindness, and died at the end of four months[18].”

The over-dissipation of the animal spirits weakens the stomach, palls the
appetite, and nutrition no longer proceeding in its due course or degree,
all the parts languish, and an epilepsy is sometimes the consequence[19].

We cannot, it is true, say that the animal spirits and the seminal
humor are the same thing, but observation has taught us, as will be
subsequently seen, that these two fluids have a great affinity.

M. HOFFMAN has seen the most dreadful accidents follow a waste of the

“After a long course of nocturnal pollutions (says he) not only the
strength diminishes, the body is emaciated, the face turns pale, but
moreover the memory fails, a continual sensation of cold seizes all
the limbs, the sight dims, the voice grows hoarse[20]; the whole body
insensibly decays; the sleep, disturbed by uneasy dreams, brings with
it no refreshment, and one feels pains like those which follow a severe

In his consultation for a young man, who, among other disorders, had
brought upon himself a weakness in the eyes, by self-pollution: “I have
(says he) seen many examples of persons, who, even in the age of full
growth, that is to say, when the body is come to the plenary enjoyment
of its vigor, had drawn upon themselves not only a redness and extreme
pains in the eyes, but also so great a weakness of the sight, as to be no
longer able to read or write. I have even seen two instances of a _gutta
serena_ produced by this cause[22].”

It will probably not be unpleasing here, the specifying the history of
the disease which gave rise to the consultation precedently quoted.

“A young man having, from the age of fifteen, abandoned himself to the
practice of self-pollution, had, by the frequency of that act till the
age of twenty-three, brought upon himself such a disorder of the head,
and especially such a weakness in the eyes, that they particularly were
seized with violent convulsions at the time of the seminal emission.
If he attempted to read, he felt a dizziness somewhat like that of
drunkenness. The _pupilla_ was extraordinarily dilated. He suffered
extreme pains in the eye; his eyelids felt heavy, and glewed up every
night; his eyes were always suffused with tears, and in the two corners
of them, both very painful, there was constantly gathering a whitish
matter. Though he ate his meals chearfully, he was reduced to extreme
leanness, and as soon as he had eaten, he would fall into a kind of
drunken stupor.”

The same author has preserved to us another observation on a case,
of which he himself had been an ocular witness, and which deserves a
place here. “A young man about eighteen years of age, having had an
over-frequent intercourse with a servant-maid, fell all on a sudden into
a great faintness, with a general tremor in all his limbs; his face
flushed, and a very weak pulse. He was recovered out of this slate, in
about an hour’s time, but he remained under a general languor. The same
fit frequently returned, with an intolerable anguish, and in eight days
time brought on a contraction and a tumor of the right arm, with a pain
at his elbow, which redoubled at every fit. This disorder proceeded for
some time augmenting, notwithstanding all the remedies that were used.
However, M. Hoffman cured him at length[23].”

M. BOERHAAVE paints these disorders with that energy and exactness which
characterise all his descriptions.

“An excessive profusion (says he) of the seminal humor produces
lassitude, feebleness, immobility, convulsions, emaciation, desiccation,
pains in the membranes of the brain; it obtunds the senses, and
especially the sight; it brings on the _tabes dorsalis_, a general
torpor, and various other diseases which have an affinity to those[24].”

It would not be right here to omit the observations which this great man
communicated to his hearers, on his explaining this aphorism to them, and
which turn upon the different means of evacuation.

“I have (says he) seen a patient, whose illness began by a languor
and weakness all over his body, especially towards the loins; it
was accompanied with such a motion of the tendons, such periodical
convulsions, and wasting away, as were enough to destroy the whole body:
he also felt a pain in the membranes of the brain, a pain which the
patients call a dry burning heat, with which the noble parts are, in
this case, continually affected.

“I have also seen a young man seized with a _tabes dorsalis_. He had
been an extremely pretty figure, and though he had been often admonished
against the over-indulgence of venery, he would still abandon himself
to it, and became so deformed before his death, that all that muscular
roundness, which appears over the spinal apophyses of the loins, was
entirely sunk and flattened. In this case the brain seems to be consumed,
and, in fact, the patients become stupid. The body loses all its
suppleness to such a degree, that I never saw such immobility produced by
any other cause. The eyes also contract a notable dimness, or difficulty
of seeing[25].”

M. de SENAC, in his first edition of his Essays, set forth the dangers
of self-pollution, and denounced to the victims of this infamy all
the infirmities of the most languishing old age, in the flower of
their youth. In the following editions may be seen his reasons for the
suppression of this passage, and of some others.

Mr. LUDWIG, in his description of the evils attending over-abundant
evacuations, does not forget the seminal one.

“The young (says he) of either sex, who abandon themselves to
lasciviousness, ruin their health, by a dissipation of that strength
which by nature was designed to bring their body to its greatest point of
vigor. In short, they fall into a consumption[26].”

M. de GORTER enters into particulars of the most dreadful accidents
deriving from this cause; but as it would be of too great a length to
copy him, I refer to his work those who understand the language in which
he wrote[27].

M. VAN SWIETEN, after a recital of the above-quoted description of the
_tabes dorsalis_ by HIPPOCRATES, adds:

“I have seen all these symptoms, besides many more, befall those who
had abandoned themselves to the infamy of self-pollutions. During three
years, I employed, in vain, all the aids of the medical art, for a young
man, who, by this vile habit, had brought on himself erratic, surprizing,
and general pains, with a sensation sometimes of heat, sometimes of a
very irksome cold all over his body, but especially towards the loins.
These pains having, afterwards, been a little diminished, he felt so
great a cold in his thighs and legs, although those parts seemed to the
touch to have preserved their natural warmth, that he was continually
warming himself at the fire, even during the greatest heats of the
summer. But what more particularly astonished me, was a continual motion
of rotation in the testicles, and the patient complained grievously of a
like motion which he felt in his loins[28].”

This narration does not inform us whether this wretched object terminated
his life at the end of the three years, or, what is worse, yet continued
to languish on, for some time longer; for there could hardly be a third

M. KLOEKOFF, in a very good work on those distempers of the mind which
depend on the body, confirms, by his observations, what has been here
advanced on this subject.

“Too great a dissipation of the seminal humor weakens the springs of
action in all the solids; thence arise weakness, laziness, listlessness,
hectics, the _tabes dorsalis_, a torpor, and depravation of the senses,
stupidity, madness, epilepsies, convulsions[29].”

M. HOFFMAN had already remarked, that young people who abandoned
themselves to that shameful practice of self-pollution, “lost, little by
little, the faculties of the understanding, especially the memory, and
became intirely unapt for study[30].”

M. LEWIS describes all these evils: but I shall only transcribe from
his work, what relates to the detriment occasioned to the intellectual

“All the evils which arise from excesses committed with women, are also
effected in early life, by that abominable practice in school-boys,
a practice which I cannot describe in terms odious enough, _pollutio
sui_, which, actuated more by vitiousness than by sense and reason, and
ignorant of the mischievous consequences, they repeat, &c. &c.[31] ... So
intimately are the mind and body blended together, that there cannot be
any disease of the one which will not influence the other; but in none is
the _mind_ more deeply affected than in this. To add to his infelicity,
a melancholy gloom attends the patient, and silence and solitude are
anxiously sought after.—The chearful haunts of men no longer delight him;
he is absent in company, and will have no part of the conversation. He
is not happy even in his friend: a sense of his misfortune, and perhaps
the aggravating circumstance of having brought it upon himself, for ever
hang on his mind. The company of the female sex he loves indeed, but the
apprehensions that he may be cut off from nuptial felicity, interrupts
the fruition of their pleasing converse. Thus deeply dejected, he
excludes himself from society, wanders in retirement, and it is well if
he seeks not to destroy himself at last[32].”

Fresh observations, subsequently introduced, will confirm the truth of
the preceding dreadful description. That one furnished by M. STORCKE,
in the valuable work which he has published on the history and cure of
diseases, is not less terrible: but I refer the curious to the work
itself, which no physician would wish to be without. The passage I
allude to is in his _Medicus annuus_, T. ii. p. 215, &c. But before I
terminate this Section, I shall here conclusively add a passage in that
excellent work, with which M. GAUBIUS has lately enriched the medical
art. He not only paints the evils, but points out the causes of them,
with that force, that truth, that sagacity, that exactness, which can
belong to none but so great a master. It is a most valuable extract;
and that the coloring of it may appear in its true lustre, I subjoin
to the translation the original of it, in the language of the author’s

“An immoderate profusion of seed is pernicious, not only through the
waste of that most useful humor, but also through the over-frequent
repetition of that convulsive motion which is produced by the emission.
For the highest pitch of that pleasure is immediately succeeded by so
universal a relaxation of the animal strength, as cannot be borne often
without a consequential enervity. The more frequent a draught there is
on the secretory ducts of the body, the greater is the derivation of
the respective humors of the secretions; so that in the case of the
liquid being repeatedly attracted to the parts of generation, the rest
of the secretions are depauperated: thence, from excesses of venery
follow, weariness, weakness, immobility, a tottering gait, pains of the
head, convulsions, a hebetation of all the senses, and especially of
the sight, blindness, intellectual imbecillity, a feverish circulation,
dryness, leanness, a phthisis, a _tabes dorsalis_, an effeminate habit
of body. These evils are liable to augment and become incurable through
that perpetual pruriency for venery which the mind does not less than
the body at length contract; and from which it follows, that obscene
imaginations haunt even the dreams of persons so affected, and that
the parts prone to the libidinous turgescence are, on every occasion,
impetuously sollicited, while the quantity of the repaired seminal fluid,
were it never so small, occasions constantly a troublesome stimulation,
and is ready to start from its relaxed repositories with any the least
endeavour, or even without any endeavor at all. Whence it is clear why an
excess of this nature is so capable of blasting the flower of youth[33].”


_Observations communicated._

I shall preserve no other order than that of the dates of my receiving
these observations.

“I have (says my illustrious friend M. ZIMMERMANN,) seen a man of
twenty-three years of age, who became epileptic, after having weakened
himself by frequent self-pollutions. As often as he had nocturnal
pollutions, he fell into a complete fit of epilepsy. The same thing
happened to him after any commission of that act, from which however
he would not abstain, notwithstanding those consequences, and all the
admonitions against it. Having, however, abstained from it for some time,
I cured him of the nocturnal pollutions, and had even hopes of removing
his epilepsy, of which the fits were already gone off. He had recovered
his strength, his stomach, his sleep, and a very good color, after having
looked like a corpse. But being returned to his acts of self-pollution,
which were always followed by an attack of the epilepsy, he came at
length to be taken with fits in the street, and he was found one morning
dead in his chamber, fallen out of his bed, and bathed in his own blood.”

May I be allowed one question, which occurred to me when I read this
observation? It is this: Can such as blow their brain out with a pistol,
who drown themselves in a river, or cut their own throats, be accounted
more guilty of self-murther than this man?

My friend adds, without entering into particulars, that he knows another
who is in the same case: I have since learnt, that he ended his days in
the same manner.

“I knew (says Mr. ZIMMERMANN) a man of great genius, and of almost
universal knowledge, whom frequent pollutions had reduced to lose all
the activity of his understanding, and whose body was exactly in the
condition of the patient that consulted Boerhaave[34].”

Of this case I shall hereafter take notice.

I owe the two following facts to M. RAST, junior, an eminent Physician of
Lions, with whom I had the pleasure of passing some months at Montpelier.

A young man at Montpelier, a student of physic, perished by his excesses
in the practice of self-pollution. His imagination was so horror-struck,
that he died in a sort of despair, fancying that he saw hell open, on the
side of him, to receive him.

A child of that town, not above six or seven years old, taught, I
believe, by a servant-maid, practised it so frequently; that a hectic
fever coming on, soon cut him off. His fury of passion for this act was
so great, that there was no hindering him to the very last days of his
life. When it was represented to him that he was hastening his death, his
comfort, he said, was, that he should the sooner rejoin his father, who
was dead a few months before.

M. MIEG, a celebrated physician of Basil, well known in the literary
world by some excellent dissertations, and to whom his country is obliged
for his introduction of inoculation, of which he continues the practice
with great ability and equal success, has communicated to me a letter
of the Professor STEHELIN, a name ever dear to literature, in which I
have found many interesting and useful observations. Some I reserve for
properer places in the course of this work. Here I shall but subjoin two

The son of M. ——, aged about fourteen or fifteen years, died of
convulsions, and a kind of epilepsy, of which the original cause
was self-pollution. In vain was he attended by the most experienced
physicians of the town.

I also know a young lady of twelve or thirteen years old, who by this
execrable practice has drawn upon herself a consumption, together with
a timpanous abdomen, the _fluor albus_, and an incontinence of urine.
Though medicines have alleviated her complaints, she is still but in a
languishing condition, and I dread fatal consequences.


_Descriptions taken from the book intitled ONANIA._

Since the publication of this work, I have learnt, from a very
respectable quarter, that an entire faith ought not to be given to
the English collection, and that this reason, together with certain
calumnies, some obscenities, and the forgery of an imperial privilege,
had made the German translation be prohibited in the Empire. These
motives would have determined me to suppress all that I had extracted
from that work, but some considerations have induced me to preserve it,
under the modification of this præ-advertisement. The first is, that some
of these reasons concern only the German edition. Another is, that though
there may be some facts invented, as indeed some of them plainly enough
appear to carry with them a stamp of falsity, it is yet proved, that the
greatest number of them are but too true. In short, a third consideration
which determined me, is what I find in the above-mentioned letter of
M. STEHELIN. “I have (says he) received a letter from M. Hoffman of
Maestrich, in which he acquaints me of his having seen a practiser of
self-pollution, who had already drawn on himself a _tabes dorsalis_,
which he had, without success, attempted to cure, and the patient was
afterwards cured by the remedies of the _Onania_, of which Dr. BECKERS
of London is supposeably the author, and so well cured, that he has
recovered his corpulence, is strong and healthy, and has four children.”

The English book of _Onania_ is a perfect chaos, and the most indigested
work that has been produced a long time. It is only the observations that
can bear reading. All the reflections of the author, whom I could not
believe a physician, are nothing but theological or moral trivialisms.
I shall not extract from all this work, which is rather of the longest,
any thing but a description of the most common accidents, of which the
patients complain. The vivacity, the pathetic expressions of pain and
repentance, which are found in a few of the letters in that book, I omit
in this extract; but the want of them ought not to weaken the impression
of horror which the reading of the facts themselves should inspire, as it
is on the facts that the impression depends; and the readers will rather
have to thank me for sparing him the perusal of a much greater number of
others, without order or diction. I shall class under six heads those
evils of which the English patients complain, and begin with the most
grievous, those of the soul.

_First._ All the intellectual faculties are weakened; the memory fails;
the ideas are confused or clouded; the patients sometimes even fall into
a slight degree of insanity; they are continually under a kind of inward
restlessness, and feel a constant anguish, with such pangs of confidence
and remorse, as make them shed tears in bitterness of heart. They are
subject to giddiness; all the senses, and especially those of seeing
and hearing, grow weaker and weaker; their sleep, if sleep they can, is
disturbed by disagreeable or frightful dreams.

2. The bodily strength entirely fails; the growth of those who have not
done growing, and who abandon themselves to this detestable practice,
is considerably checked. Some can get no sleep at all, others are in a
state of continual dozing. All of them almost become hypochondriacs,
or hysteric, and are overwhelmed with all the evils that attend those
dreadful disorders; melancholy, sighs, tears, palpitations; suffocations,
fainting fits. Some have been known to spit calcarious matter. Coughs, a
slow fever, consumptions, are the punishments which some find in their
own crimes.

3. The most acute pains are another subject of complaint in the patients.
One complains of his head, another of his breast, the stomach, the
intestines, aches of external rheumatisms; some are affected with an
obtuse sensation of pain in all the parts of the body, on the slightest

4. There are not only to be seen pimples on the face, which is one of the
commonest symptoms, but even blotches, or suppurative pustules, on the
face, nose, breast, thighs, with cruel itchings on those parts. Nay, one
patient complained of fleshy excrescences on his forehead.

5. The organs of generation come in also for their share of the
sufferings, of which they are themselves the primary cause. Many patients
become incapable of erection; in others, the seminal humor comes away in
the moment of the slightest stimulation, and of the weakest erection;
some will even evacuate it on going to stool. Numbers are attacked with
an habitual gonorrhœa, which intirely destroys constitutional vigor, and
the matter of it resembles a fetid _sanies_, or foul mucosity. Others are
tormented with painful priapisms. Dysuries, stranguries, heat of urine,
a weakening of its spirt, put the patients to cruel inconveniences and
pains. Some have very painful tumors in the testicles, in the penis, the
bladder, the spermatic string. In short, either the impossibility of
coition, or the depravation of the seminal humor, renders incapable of
procreation almost all those who have long abandoned themselves to this

6. The functions of the intestines are sometimes totally disordered, and
some patients complain of an obstinate costiveness, others of the piles,
or of the running of a fetid matter from the fundament.

This last observation reminds me of a young man, who, after every act of
self-pollution, was attacked with a diarrhœa, which must be an additional
cause of a diminution of strength to him.


_The Author’s Observations._

The object of description occurring in my first observation is dreadful;
I was myself frighted at the first time of my seeing the unfortunate
sufferer, who is the subject of it. Then it was that I felt, more than I
had ever before done, the necessity of pointing put to young people, all
the horrors of that precipice down which they voluntarily cast themselves.

L. D——, a watchmaker, had been clear of vice, and enjoyed a good state
of health, till the age of seventeen, when he gave himself up to
self-pollution, which he repeated every day, and often thrice a day,
when the ejaculation was always preceded and accompanied by a slight
fainting fit, or privation of the senses, and a convulsive motion of the
exterior muscles of the head, which drew it strongly backward, while his
neck swelled prodigiously. There had not passed a whole year, before
he began to feel a great weakness after each act: this warning was not
sufficient to draw him out of the mire. His soul, wholly ingrossed by
the filth of this obscenity, was no longer capable of any other ideas,
and the reiterations of his crime became every day more frequent,
till he found himself in a condition, that gave him apprehensions of
death. Sensible of his danger too late, the mischief had made too great
a progress to admit of a cure. The parts of generation were become
so irritable, and so weak, that there did not need any fresh act on
the part of that wretched object, to make them let go the seed. The
slightest irritation procured, instantly, an imperfect erection, which
was immediately followed by an evacuation of that liquid, and this daily
augmented his weakness. That convulsion, which before he was not used
to experience but just at the time of the consummation of the act, and
which ceased at the same time, was become habitual, and often attacked
him without any apparent cause, with such violence too, that during
the time of the fit, which sometimes lasted fifteen hours, and never
less than eight, he suffered, in the nape of his neck, such violent
pains, that commonly his outcries sounded like piteous howlings, and
it was impossible for him, while the fit lasted, to swallow any thing
whatever, liquid or solid. He had contracted a hoarseness of voice, but
I did not observe it more so out of the fit than in it. He totally lost
his strength. Incapable of every thing, overwhelmed with misery, he
languished, almost without any assistence, for some months; being the
more to be pitied, for that some remains of memory, which however it was
not long till that was abolished, only served constantly to recall to
him the causes of his wretchedness, and to augment to him the horrors
of remorse. I was told his condition. I went to him, and found him less
a living creature than a cadaverous figure, lying upon straw, meagre,
pale, sallow, sending forth an infectious smell, and himself almost
incapable of any motion. He bled at the nose a pale and watery blood, and
was continually foaming at the mouth: attacked too with a diarrhœa, his
excrements came from him without his perceiving it; the flux of his seed
was continual; his eyes bleared, dim, or extinguished, had lost their
faculty of motion; his pulse was extremely low, yet quick and frequent;
his breathing very laborious, his leanness excessive, except just in
his feet, which began to be œdematous. The disorder of his mind was
not less than that of his body; without ideas, without memory, without
reflections, without anxiety about his fate, without any other sensation
but that of a pain which returned with every fit, at least once in three
days. A being much below that of a brute; a sight, of which there is no
conception can reach the horror. It was not easy to make out that he had
ever belonged to the human species. I procured for him quickly enough the
relief of destroying those violent convulsive fits, which recalled him
to the power of feeling, only by the pain they brought with them; but
satisfied with having mitigated his tortures, I discontinued remedies,
which could have no efficacy on the main of his disorder. He died at the
end of a few weeks, in June, 1757, œdematous all over his body.

Not all those who give themselves up to this odious and criminal habit,
are, it is true, so severely punished; but there are none that do not
suffer for it in a less or greater degree. The frequency of the act,
the difference of constitutions, many adventitious circumstances, may
occasion considerable differences.

The pernicious consequences that have fallen under my observation, are,
_first_, a total disorder of the stomach, which in some discovers
itself by loss of appetite, or by a depravation or irregularity of its
cravings; in others, by acute pains, especially in the time of digestion,
by habitual nauseas or vomitings, which resist all remedies, while the
cause, the bad practice, is continued. _Secondly_, A weakening of the
organs of respiration, whence frequently result dry husky coughs, almost
always a hoarseness, a failure of voice, and a shortness of breath, on
any little violence of motion. _Thirdly_, A total relaxation of the
nervous system.

It does not require a very deep knowledge of the animal œconomy, to be
sensible that the three prementioned causes are capable of producing all
the diseases of languor, and experience every day proves their producing
them. The first ill consequences of them, to such as are guilty of
self-pollution, besides those I have just pointed out, are a considerable
diminution of strength, a less or greater paleness, sometimes a slight
but continual jaundice, often pimples, which come and disappear only to
make room for fresh ones, and are constantly reproducing themselves all
over the face, but especially in the forehead, the temples, and about the
nose; a notable leanness; an astonishing sensibility to the changes of
weather, especially to cold; a languor in the eyes, a weakening of the
sight, a great impairment of the faculties, especially of the memory.

“I am sensible (a patient writes me) that this wretched practice has
diminished the strength of my intellectual faculties, and especially of
my memory[35].”

I beg leave to insert here the fragments of some letters, which, combined
together, will form a complete enough description of the natural
disorders produced by self-pollution. The language in which I wrote (the
Latin) hindered me from making use of them in the first edition of this

“I had the misfortune (says the same person, who was by this time arrived
at the age of maturity,) like too many other young people, to suffer
myself to be carried away by the violence of a habit, as pernicious for
the body as for the soul. Age, indeed, assisted by reason, has, for some
time past, corrected this wretched inclination: but the ill is done.
The disorder and extraordinary sensibility of the nervous system, and
the accidents resulting therefrom, are accompanied with a weakness, a
restlessness, a _tædium vitæ_, a sense of distress, that all seem to vie
with each other to afflict me. I am consumed by an almost continued loss
of seed. My face is become as it were cadaverous, so pale, so livid.
The weakness of my body renders all my motions laborious: that of my
legs is often so great, that they can hardly support me, and that I
dare not go out of my room. My digestions are so ill performed, that my
aliments come from me, scarcely more altered, three or four hours after
I have taken them, than when I took them into my stomach. My breast
gets stuffed with phlegm, the load of which throws me into a state of
anguish, and my expectorations into a state of faintness. Here you have
a succinct account of my causes of complaint, which are still aggravated
by the melancholic certainty I have acquired, that every day will yet
be worse than the precedent ones. In a word, I cannot conceive that a
human creature can be afflicted with greater evils than I am. Without the
particular grace of Providence, I could hardly bear up under so heavy a

It was not without shuddering that I red, in another patient’s letter,
the following terrible expressions, which reminded me of some in the
(English) treatise of _Onania_.

“If religion did not restrain me, I should have already put an end to a
life, which is so much the more miserable for its being my own fault that
it is so.”

There cannot surely be in the world a more intolerable condition than
that of anguish: a state of pain is nothing in comparison with it; and
when it is superadded to a croud of other evils, it is not at all
strange that the sufferer should wish for death as his greatest good, and
regard life as a real misfortune, if the name of life can be given to so
deplorable a state.

    _Vivere cum nequeam, sit mihi posse mori;_
    _Dulce mori miseris, sed mors optata recedit._

The following description is less long, and not quite so terrible as the
first one.

“I had the misfortune, in my tenderest youth, being, to the best of
my remembrance, not above eight or ten years of age, to contract
that pernicious habit of self-pollution, which very early ruined my
constitution; but especially, for some years past, I find myself under an
extraordinary oppression: my nerves are extremely weak, my hands without
strength, always shaking, and in a perpetual sweat. I have violent pains
in my stomach, arms, legs, sometimes in my loins, and in my breast.
I am often troubled with a cough; my eyes are always weak and dim; I
have a devouring appetite, and yet I grow very lean, and never but look
extremely ill.”

In the Section on the method of cure, will be seen the success of the
remedies in this case.

“Nature herself (says a third correspondent) opened my eyes to the cause
of that languor under which I found myself, and to the danger of that
abyss into which I was precipitating myself. Pimples or eruptions on the
part which was the instrument of my crime, and the faintness I felt in
the midst of the act itself, left me no room to doubt of the cause of my

I might add here a great number of cases of this nature, on which I have
been consulted since the second edition of this work, but they would be
useless repetitions. I shall only confine myself to two or three of the
most recent.

A man in the flower of his age wrote to me, but the other day, in the
following terms.

“In my early youth I contracted a most dreadful habit, which has ruined
my health. I am overwhelmed with stoppages and giddinesses of my head,
which give me room to apprehend an apoplexy. I have been bled for
them; but those who advised me, are sensible they were in the wrong of
it. I have a contraction of my breast, and consequently a difficulty
of breathing. I have frequently pains of the stomach, and I suffer
successively almost all over my body. In the day-time I am heavy,
inclined to doze, and restless; in the night my sleep is disturbed and
agitated, and does not refresh or repair me. I have often itchings; I am
pale, my eyes are weak and sore, my complexion is jaundiced, and I have
an offensive breath, &c.”

Another writes me thus: “I cannot walk two hundred paces without resting.
My weakness is extreme. I have continual pains all over my body, but
especially in my shoulders. I preserve my appetite, but that is rather a
misfortune to me, as I have pains of the stomach the moment I have eaten,
and throw up whatever I have got down. If I read a page or two, my eyes
water, and are sore. I often sigh involuntarily. _Filo xylino flaccidius
veretrum, omnisque erectionis impotens, semen quidem, manu sollicitum
effluere sinit, nequaquam vero ejaculat, adeo cæterum imminutum et
retractum, ut oculi de sexu vix judicare possint._”

The particulars of this case, with the success of my method of treatment
of it, will appear, in their place, in this work; and I furnish them
with the more reason, for that he was the most weakened and the most
governable of any patient I have seen.

A third, who had abandoned himself to this detestable practice, at
the age of twelve years, appeared to have suffered even more in his
intellectual faculties than in his bodily health. To the following
purpose was the account of himself: “I feel (says he) my warmth sensibly
diminish. My sensations are considerably dulled; the fire of my
imagination greatly slackened; the sense of my existence infinitely less
quick; every thing that passes at present before me appears to me like
a dream; I have difficulty of conception, and less presence of mind; in
short, I feel I am perishing, though I preserve my sleep, my appetite,
and am not much altered in my looks.”

A consequence, and not a rare one, of this practice, is the
Hypochondrialgia, and if those who are Hypochondriacs, from other
causes, abandon themselves to it, all the symptoms of that disorder
are exasperated by it, and it becomes incurable. I have seen the most
cruel inquietude, agitations, anxieties result from these two causes
united; and repeated observations have proved to me, that, in those
Hypochondriacs, who are subject sometimes to attacks of delirium, or
frenzy, self-pollution always hastens on the fits. The brain, weakened
by this double cause, successively loses its faculties, and the patients
fall at length into a state of an idiotism, which is never interrupted
but by some attacks of madness.

The _Memoirs of curious Naturalists_ mention a melancholic man, who,
in pursuance of Horace’s advice, used, sometimes, to seek in wine, a
diversion from his melancholy, and who, in the honey-moon of his second
marriage, having indulged excessively the pleasures of coition, fell into
so dreadful a frenzy, that it was necessary to chain him down[36].

JAKIN, in his Commentaries upon RHAZES, has preserved to us the
history of a melancholic man, whom excesses of that kind threw into a
consumption, attended with a frenzy, which made an end of him in a few

It is well known that the epileptical paroxysms, accompanied with an
effusion of the seminal liquid, leave a greater faintness and stupor than
other fits, without that symptom. Coition will provoke and bring on the
fits of that disorder, in those who are subject to it; and it is to this
cause that M. VAN SWIETEN imputes the great faintness into which those
fall, who have frequent returns of those fits[38]. The late M. DIDIER
knew a merchant of Montpelier, who never performed the act of coition
without having immediately after it an attack of the epilepsy[39]. GALEN
makes the like observation[40]. The Observations of HENRICUS AB HEERS,
not to mention many others, attest the like effect[41].

M. VAN SWIETEN knew an epileptic patient, who was attacked with a fit on
his wedding night[42].

M. HOFFMAN knew a woman, who was very lewd, and who, for the most part,
had a fit of the epilepsy after every act of venery[43].

And here it may not be improper to introduce what M. BOERHAAVE says,
in his treatise on the Disorders of the Nerves, that in the venereal
ardor, all the nerves are affected, sometimes even to death. He mentions
the example of a woman, who, after every coition, fell constantly into
a pretty long fainting fit; and that of a man, who died in the act of
his first coition, the force of the spasm having instantaneously thrown
him into a total palsy. And I find in the excellent work with which M.
DE SAUVAGES has lately inriched the physical world, a most singular,
and perhaps before unheard of, case of a man, who, in the midst of the
act used to be attacked (and this disorder lasted twelve years) with a
spasm, which threw his whole body into a state of rigescence, with loss
of sense: _Ita ut illum præ oneris impotentia in alteram lecti partem
excutere cogeretur uxor, ut evacuatio spermatis lenta flaccidoque veretro
demum succedebat, remittente corporis rigiditate_[44].

I know several cases which have some affinity to this. M. DE HALLER
has specified a great many, in his remarks on the Institutes of
BOERHAAVE[45]; and there are numbers to be seen in the works of other

It has precedently been remarked, that self-pollution would produce this
dreadful disorder, and that happens oftener than is imagined: Can it then
be surprizing, that the acts of it should recall the fits, as I have more
than once seen it in persons subject to the epilepsy; or is it strange
that they should render it incurable?

This total rigescence or inflexibility of the body, of which M. BOERHAAVE
makes mention, is one of the most uncommon symptoms; I never saw it above
once, but then it was in the most consummate degree. The ill had begun
by a stiffness of the neck and spine, and successively spread to all the
limbs: this was the case of an unfortunate young man, whom I saw some
time before his death. Uncapable of lying on the bed in any other posture
but the supine one, and without power to move hand or foot, immoveable,
in short, and reduced to receive no aliments but as they were put into
his mouth; he languished a few weeks in this deplorable condition, and
died, or rather went out like a taper, almost without any indication of

I have since seen another terrible example of this total and mortal
rigescence, which will deserve a specification here.

On the 10th of February, 1760, I was called to visit, in the country, a
man of about forty years of age, who had been very strong and robust,
but who had been guilty of great excesses with women and wine, and who
had moreover often exercised himself at trials of bodily strength. It
was some months precedently that his disorder had begun by a weakness in
his legs which made him stagger as he walked, as if he had been drunk.
Sometimes he would actually fall down, though on the plainest ground. He
could not descend any steps without a great deal of trouble, and hardly
durst stir out of his apartment. His hands shook terribly; it was with
much difficulty he could write a few words, and those sadly scrawled.
But he could dictate readily enough, though his tongue, which had never
had any great volubility, began to have rather somewhat less. His memory
was good, and the only thing that could make any detriment to his
intellects to be suspected, was, that he was less attentive to the _game
of draughts_, and that his countenance was a good deal altered. He had
an appetite, and slept; but it was with difficulty he could turn himself
in his bed.

It appeared to me, that his excesses with women and wine were the
primary cause of his disorder, and I judged, that his straining in his
trials of bodily strength might be the reason why his muscles were
more particularly attacked. The season was rather unfavorable to the
employment of remedies, and yet it was requisite, in the mean while, to
stop the progress of the disease. I advised him frictions of the whole
body, with flannel, and other corroboratives; proposing to myself to
augment the doses with the adjunction of the cold-bath, in the beginning
of the summer. At the end of some weeks the tremors of his hand appeared
some what abated. In the month of April there was a conciliation held
on him, in which his disorder was imputed to an accident of his having,
about two years before, written, for some months, in a room newly
plaistered and damp. Upon this there were applied warm baths, unctuous
frictions, powders said to be diaphoretic and antispasmodic; but no
alteration for the better followed. In the month of June, a second
consultation decided for his going to the baths of Leuk, in Valais: he
went, and on his return he had more tremors, and a greater stiffness.
Since then (September, 1760) till the month of January 1764, I have not
seen him above three or four times.

In 1762, on the credit of some advertisement, he sent for, from
Frankfort, the medicines of the _Onania_, which did him no service.
Last year, he took others from some foreign physician, but with as
little success. His disorder had, from the beginning, made slow but
daily advances, and many months before his death, he could no longer
support himself on his legs, nor could he so much as move his hands or
arms. The embarrassment of his tongue increased, and his voice failed
him to such a degree, that there was no hearing easily what he said.
The extensor muscles of the head let it continually fall on the breast.
He had constantly an uneasiness in his back: his sleep and appetite
successively diminished: the last months of his life he could hardly
swallow any thing. Since Christmas an oppression came on him, with an
irregular fever. His eyes grew dim in a singular manner. When I saw him
again in the month of January, he used to pass the whole day, and a great
part of the night, in an elbow-chair, leaning backward, his feet extended
on a chair, his head falling down every instant on his breast, having
always a person standing near him, and constantly employed in changing
his attitude, lifting his head up to feed him, to give him snuff, to
blow his nose; and to make out, by listening attentively, what he said.
The last days of his life he was reduced to pronounce his words letter
by letter, which were taken down in writing just as he could articulate
them. Finding that I gave him no hopes, and that I only employed some
lenitives for his oppression and fever, urged, at length, by a desire of
living, he opened himself in, confidence to one of his friends, for his
immediately acquainting me of it, as the cause to which he imputed all
his illness, and which was his self-pollution, having begun that infamous
practice many years ago, and continued it as long as he could; adding,
that he had felt this disorder increase in proportion to his delivering
himself up to it. This confession he confirmed to me some days afterward,
and withal, that it was on this account that he had been determined to
send for the medicines of the _Onania_.

Excess of venery does not only produce the languors of chronical
diseases, but sometimes throws into acute ones, and always aggravates
any disorders that proceed from other causes; it easily produces
malignancies, which, in my opinion, are but a failure of the forces of

HIPPOCRATES, in his histories of epidemical diseases, has, of old, left
us his observation on a young man, who, after excesses of wine and
venery, was seized with a fever, accompanied by the most vexatious and
irregular symptoms, and which proved mortal[46].

All that M. HOFFMAN says on this head deserves a reference to it. After
having spoke of the danger of the pleasures of love, for wounded persons,
he examines that of such as, having a fever, will nevertheless venture
upon them. He begins by quoting an observation of FABRICIUS HILDANUS,
who says, that a man having had a commerce with a woman, the tenth day
of a pleurisy, which had had a favourable crisis from a profuse sweat,
was attacked with a violent fever and remarkable tremors, and died the
thirteenth day. He gives you afterwards the history of a man of fifty
years of age, gouty, and much addicted to venery and wine, who, in
the first days of his recovery from a false pleurisy, was attacked,
immediately after a coition, with a general tremor, an excessive flushing
in the face, a fever, and all the symptoms of the disorder from which he
was recovering, but much more violent than the first time, and was in a
much greater danger. He tells you too of a man, who never indulged any
venereal excesses without having, for many days afterwards, fits of an
intermittent fever. He concludes with a case from BARTHOLINUS, who saw
a new-married man attacked, on the next morning of his wedding night,
after conjugal excesses, with an acute fever, a great lowness of spirits,
faintnesses, nauseas of the stomach, an immoderate thirst, lightness of
head, want of sleep, and anxieties; but who was cured by rest and some

M. CHESNEAU saw a young married couple, attacked, the first week of their
wedding, with a violent continual fever, with a flushing in the face,
which was also considerably swelled: both of them had a great pain in the
small of their back, and both perished in a few days[48].

M. VANDERMONDE describes a fever produced by the same cause, a very
tedious fever, and attended with the most dreadful symptoms, but of
which the issue was more happy than in the case adduced by HIPPOCRATES.
I will not here recite the description of it, because of its length; but
I earnestly recommend to physicians the reading it in the work itself,
which is now easily to be come at any where. I shall subsequently and in
another place speak of the method of cure.

M. DE SAUVAGES describes this disorder under the title of the _burning
fever of the exhausted_: the pulse is sometimes strong and full, at
others weak and low. The urines are red, the skin dry and hot, the
thirst considerable. They have nauseas, and cannot sleep[49].

In 1761 and 1762 I saw two young men both very healthy, very strong, and
vigorous, who were attacked, the one on the next morning the other on the
next night of their respective weddings, with a violent fever, without
any shudder, their pulse quick and hard, lightness of head, many slight
convulsive motions, an intolerable restlessness, and the skin very dry.
The second was extremely thirsty, and made water with great difficulty.
I imagined, at first, that an excess of wine might have some share in
these accidents, but I was fully convinced to the contrary, at least
by the second. They were both of them cured in about two days time, a
circumstance, which, joined to the epoch of their disorder, and to its
symptoms, leaves no doubt about the cause of it.

Careful observations and sad experience have taught me, that acute
disorders were always very dangerous in persons accustomed to
self-pollution; their progress is commonly irregular, their symptoms
unaccountable, their periods interverted. The constitution affords no
resources; Art is obliged to do every thing, and as it never procures
perfect _Crises_, when, after a great deal of pains, the disease is
got under, the patient remains rather in a state of languor than of
recovery, which exacts a continuation of the most assiduous care, to
hinder him from falling into some chronical disorder.

I find that FONSECA has already stated this danger. “Many young persons
(says he) and those very robust ones, are either attacked, after excesses
with women, on the same night, with an acute fever that kills them, or
fall into grievous disorders, of which they find it a difficult matter
to be cured; for when the body is weakened by venereal excesses, if it
should be attacked with an acute distemper, there is no remedy[50].”

A young lad, not quite sixteen, had abandoned himself to self-pollution,
with such a rage, that, at length, instead of seed, he only brought
blood, of which the emission was soon followed by excessive pains, and by
an inflammation of all the organs of generation. Happening to be in the
country, I was consulted. I ordered extremely emollient cataplasms, which
produced the effect I expected from them: but I have since learnt, that
he died soon after of the small-pox; and do not in the least doubt of
the hurt he did his constitution by the fury of that infamous practice,
having much contributed to render that distemper mortal. What a warning
should not this be to young people!

All those who have sometimes occasion to have the venereal disorder under
their cure, know that it frequently becomes mortal, in such as have had
their constitution impaired or worn out by frequency of debauchery. I
have seen the most deplorable objects in that way.


_Consequences of self-pollution to the female sex._

The preceding observations appear, all of them (except that from Mr.
STEHELIN, which concludes the second Section,) to concern principally
the men: but it would be an essential imperfection, in a treatise on
this subject, to omit an admonition to the female sex, of their exposing
themselves to the same dangers, on their pursuing the same depraved
course. There are numerous examples of their having drawn upon themselves
all the evils I have set forth, and women but too often perish miserably
the victims of this detestable lewdness. The English treatise upon
_Onania_ is full of confessions of this kind, which there is no reading
without being seized with horror and compassion; the malignity of the
disorders occasioned by it, seems even to have a superior degree of
activity among the women, to what it has among the men.

Besides the symptoms which I have already described, the women are
particularly exposed to hysteric fits, or dreadful vaporous affections;
to incurable jaundices, to cruel cramps of the stomach and back; to
sharp prickings of the nose, to the _fluor albus_, of which the acridity
is a perpetual source of the most torturous pains; to the procidentia,
and ulcerations of the womb, and to all the infirmities which are the
consequences of these two disorders; to elongations of the clitoris, and
eruptions on it; to the _furor uterinus_, which, depriving them at once
of modesty and reason, puts them on a level with the most lascivious
brutes, till a desperate death delivers them from pain and infamy.

The face, that faithful mirror of the intellectual and bodily affections,
is the first to give outward signs of the inward disorders. Then that
plumpness, that fresh color, whose union constitutes that air of youth,
which alone can supply the place of beauty, and without which beauty
itself can produce no other impression than that of a cold unconcerned
admiration; that plumpness, I say, that fresh color, are the first to
fade away and disappear: leanness, a sallow complexion, a coarseness
of the skin succeed immediately to them; the eyes lose their lustre,
tarnish, and express, in their languor, that of the whole machine, the
lips lose their vermilion, the teeth their whiteness; in short, it is not
rare that the whole figure receives a considerable damage by the total
deformation of the shape.

The _Rickets_ is a disorder, as to which BOERHAAVE is mistaken, when
he says, it does not attack persons after the age of three years. It
is not uncommon to see young people of both sexes, but especially the
female, who, after their having been well-shaped to the age of eight,
ten, twelve, or fourteen, and even sixteen years, fall, little by little,
into a distortion of shape, through the curvature of the spine; and this
disorder sometimes becomes very considerable. It is not here the place
for entering into particulars of this ailment, nor into an enumeration of
the causes which produce it. HIPPOCRATES has pointed out two[51]. I shall
have, perhaps, occasion of communicating, in another work, what several
observations have taught me on that subject; but what I ought not to omit
here, is, that self-pollution holds the first rank among the causes that
produce it.

M. HOFFMAN having already observed, that young persons, who give
themselves up to the pleasures of venery before they have attained their
full growth, could not thrive, and must rather go back than advance in
their stature[52], I only add, that it is obvious to sense, that a cause
which can hinder growth, must, _a fortiori_, disturb the order, and
produce those irregularities in the course of it, which contribute to the
disorders of which I am treating.

One symptom common to both sexes, and which I place under this head,
because it is the most frequent among women, is that indifference which
this infamous habit leaves for the lawful pleasures of the marriage-bed,
even while the desires of sensuality, and strength are not yet
extinguished; an indifference, which does not only attach numbers to a
single life, but which often pursues even to the nuptial couch.

In the collection of cases made by Dr. BECKERS, a woman confesses, that
this vile habit had got such an ascendant over her senses, that she had
an aversion against the lawful means of satisfying the desires of nature,
in the natural way.

I myself know a man, who being taught these abominations by his tutor,
had the like distaste, on the first of his marriage; and his anguish at
this situation, joined to the faintness contracted by that habit, threw
him into a profound melancholy, which yielded, however, at length, to
the nervous and restorative remedies.

Here, before I proceed farther, let me entreat fathers and mothers to
make their own reflections on the occasion of the misfortune of this last
mentioned patient; and there are more examples than one of the like case.
If one may, to such a degree, be deceived in the choice of those to whom
the important care of forming the head and heart of young persons, what
ought one not to fear from those, who, being only designed to give the
corporal graces and talents of education, are less scrupulously examined
as to their morals? And what ought not one still more to fear from
servants, too often hired without any character of their morals at all.

The young boy, or rather merely a child, of whom I made mention from M.
RAST, was, as has been remarked, seduced into that vice by a maid-servant.

The English collection of cases of self-pollution is full of the like
examples; and I could produce many instances of young plants blasted
and lost through the villainy of the gardeners intrusted with their
cultivation: and, in that light, there are such gardeners of both sexes.

What remedy, will it be said, is there for such evils? The answer is out
of my sphere; I shall then make it a short one. The most scrupulous
attention ought to be given to the choice of a preceptor; nor ought the
care to end at that, but a watchful eye be kept over him and his pupil;
that sort of watchful eye, which belongs to a sensible and careful father
of a family, and which discovers the most hidden doings in every corner
of the house; that eye, I say, which discovers those antlers of the stag,
which escaped all other eyes, a penetrative vigilance, in short, from
which nothing can be concealed, and which it is possible to have, when
one is in earnest in it.

    _Docuit enim fabula Dominum videre plurimum in rebus suis._

Young persons ought never to be left alone with masters liable to any
suspicion; and all intercourse should be forbidden with the servants.

It is not long since that a girl of about eighteen years of age, who
had enjoyed a very good health, fell into an astonishing weakness; her
strength decayed daily; she was all the day stupified with a kind of
dozing, and all night tormented with a want of sleep, her appetite was
gone, and œdematous swellings spread over her whole body. She consulted
an able surgeon, who, having satisfied himself of there having been no
disorder in the menstrual flux, suspected self-pollution. The effect of
his first question confirmed to him the justness of his suspicion, and
the confession of the patient converted it to a certainty. He made her
sensible of the danger of this practice, a cessation of which, and some
remedies, stopped, in a few days, the progress of the evil, and even
produced some amendment of health.

Besides self-pollution, manual or instrumental, there is another
defilement, or contamination, which may be termed _clitoridian_, of which
the known origin is traced up to the second Sappho.

    _Lesbiades, infamem quæ me fecistis, amatæ._

A vice too common among the Roman women, from that epoch at which the
general dissoluteness of morals began, and which was more than once the
object of the epigrams and satires of those times.

    _Lenonum ancillas posita Laufella corona_
    _Provocat, et tollit pendentis præmia coxæ._
    _Ipsa Medullina frictum crissantis adorat._
    _Palmam inter Dominas virtus natalibus æquat._[53]

Nature, in her sportive indulgence to variety, gives to some women a
degree of resemblance to men, which, for want of sufficient examination,
has, for ages, obtained a belief of that chimæra of Hermaphrodites.
The supernatural size of a part which is commonly a very small one of
the female organ of generation, and upon which M. TRONCHIN has given
a learned dissertation, constitutes the whole wonder, as the odious
abuse of that part does the whole ill. Vain, perhaps, of this sort of
resemblance, there have been some of these imperfect women, who have
usurped the functions of virility. The Greeks call them _Tribades_. They
are a sort of monstrous beings too frequent, and which seduce the young
of the fair sex with the more facility, for their having in their favor,
that reason for loving eunuchs, which Juvenal imputes to some women,

    _Quod abortivo non est opus._

There are not those consequences to be dreaded, the impossibility of
hiding which betrays such as have had complaisances or weaknesses in
the natural way. Of this circumstance the _Tribad_ takes the advantage
to draw the young of her sex into the crime, without her innocent
accomplices even suspecting the danger: and yet it is not less in that
way than in other means of pollutions; the consequences are equally
pernicious. All these deviations from the course of nature lead to
weaknesses, languor, pain, and death. This last kind of lewdness deserves
the more attention, for that it is, in our days, grown frequent, and
that it would not be difficult to find more than one _Laufella_, more
than one _Medullina_, who, like those Roman heroines in obscenity, think
they should slight those extraordinary gifts of nature, if they did not
pervert them to the confusion of the arbitrary distinction of the sex
to which they were born. It is well known, that, some years ago, at
a certain court, a lady was so much in love with a young girl to her
taste, that she conceived a violent jealousy against a celebrated man of
Literature, who had conceived a liking for her.

But it is time to have done with these melancholic instances of the
depravity and turpitude of human nature; I am mortified and sick of
describing them. I will not here then accumulate a greater number of
facts: those which remain for me to specify, will naturally find their
place elsewhere. I shall next pass to an examination of the causes of the
evils proceeding from this practice, after first concluding this Section
with the following general observation.

It is this. Young people born with a weak constitution, have, on a parity
of crimes, much worse consequences to fear, than those who are naturally
vigorous. None escape punishment, but all do not experience it equally
severe. Those especially who have reason to apprehend any hereditary
diseases by the father’s or the mother’s side; such as are threatened
with the gout, the stone, the consumption, the king’s evil; those who
have any touches of a cough, of an asthma, of spitting of blood, of
head-achs, of the epilepsy; those who have any tendency to that kind
of rickets which I have precedently mentioned; all these unfortunates,
I say, ought to be intimately persuaded, that every act of this sort
of debauchery gives a severe blow to his constitution, most certainly
hastens the attack of the evils they dread, renders the fits infinitely
more vexatious, and will throw them, in the flower of their youth, into
all the infirmities of the most languishing old age.

    _Tartareas vivum constat inire vias._




_Importance of the seminal liquid._

How comes it that an over-abundant emission of seed produces all the
evils I have precedently described? This is what I am actually proceeding
to examine. These causes may be reduced to two, to wit,

    The privation of that liquid.

    The circumstances accompanying the emission.

An anatomical particularisation of the organs of this secretion; the
conjectures, more or less probable, on the process of nature in that
secretion; with observations on its sensible qualities, would be so many
points of discussion misplaced here. To prove the utility of that liquid
to the human constitution, is all that is essential to the purposes of
this work; and this is to be done by the testimonies of the most eminent
physicians, including withal a determination of its effects on the body.

The following Section will be appropriated to an examination of the
effects which are produced by the circumstances that accompany the

It was the opinion of HIPPOCRATES, that the seed was a secretion from
the whole body, but especially from the head. “The human seed (says he)
proceeds from all the humors of the body, and is the most essential part
of them. This is proved by the weakness, the faintness, which accompanies
the loss of it in the act of coition, be the quantity never so small.
There are veins and nerves, which, from all the parts in the body, concur
to their centre in the parts of generation; when these are turgid, and
genially heated, there is felt in them a stimulation, or pruriency, which
communicating itself to the whole body, carries with it an impression
of pleasure and glowing warmth; the humors enter into a kind of
fermentation, which separates from them all that is the most precious and
balsamic in them; and this part separated from the rest, is carried, by
means of the spinal marrow, to the organs of generation[54].”

GALEN adopts his ideas. “This humor” (says he) “is but the most
subtile, the most refined part of all the others. It has its proper
veins and nerves, which carries it from the whole body, to the seminal
repositories, the testicles[55].”

In another place, he says: “The loss of the seed is at the same time
attended with a loss of vital spirit, so that it is no wonder that
over-frequent coition should enervate the constitution, since it deprives
the body of its purest essence[56].”

The same author has preserved to us, in his History of Philosophy, the
opinions of several philosophers on this subject. May I be allowed to
recite them here?

ARISTOTLE, whose works of natural philosophy will be in esteem as long as
the value of observations shall be known, with a just allowance at once
for the merit and the difficulty of opening the career of them, calls it
“_the excretion of the ultimate aliment_, (which, in terms more clear,
signifies the most perfectly elaborated part of our aliments) _endowed
with the faculty of reproducing bodies in the likeness of that whereby it
was itself produced_.”

PYTHAGORAS calls it, “_the flower, or quintessence of the purest blood_.”

ALCMÆON, his disciple, a great naturalist and an eminent physician, one
of the first that discovered the importance of dissecting animals, and
of all the heathen philosophers, he that appears to have had the truest
ideas of the nature of the soul, ALCMÆON, I say, calls the seed “_a
portion of the brain_.”

PLATO termed it, “_an emanation from the spinal marrow_.”


EPICURE, that respectable character, who better knew than any one, that
it was pleasure alone that constituted the happiness of man, but who
at the same time fixed the nature of those pleasures by such rules as
the Christian Hero would not disown, or object to them: yes, EPICURE,
whose doctrine has been so cruelly disfigured and blackened by the
Stoics, that those who knew nothing of him but through the chanel of
their information, have suffered themselves to be misled by it in their
opinion, to such a degree, that they have mistaken for a libertine, a
debauchee, a man, “who (as M. FENELON observes) was of an exemplary
continency, and whose morals were extremely regular.” To which I shall
add, that his principles are the most severe censure on the tenets of
his _pretended_ modern sectaries, who knowing nothing of him but his
name, most basely and unworthily misuse it, by employing it to authorise
systems of infamy, which he would abhor, and by which those men of
probity and sense, who love the truth, ought not to permit his memory to
be dishonoured, if so it was that men, themselves lost to honour, could
dishonour any one. EPICURE, I say, looked on the seed as a particle of
the soul and the body, and grounded, upon this idea, his precepts for the
chary preservation of it.

Though many of these opinions differ in some measure, they all agree to
prove how precious this humor was held.

It has been a question whether it has any analogy to any other humor?
Or is it the same with that liquid, which, under the name of the animal
spirits, conveyed by the nerves, concurs to all the functions of the
animal machine that are of any, though ever so little importance, and of
which the depravation produces such an infinity of evils, so frequent
and so unaccountable? To answer this question positively, it would be
requisite first to know intimately the nature of these two humors; and we
are very far from having as yet reached that degree of knowledge: we can
at best propose nothing more than ingenious and probable conjectures.

HOFFMAN says, “It is easy enough to conceive how there is such a close
alliance between the brain and the testicles, since both those organs
separate from the blood the most subtile and the most exquisite lymph,
destined to give force and motion to the parts, and even to have an
influence on the functions of the soul. So that it is not possible but
that an over-abundant dissipation of these liquids should destroy the
strength of the mind and body[57].”

Elsewhere he says, “That the seminal liquid is like the animal spirits,
which are separated from the brain, distributed through all the nerves
of the body, and seems to be of the same nature; whence it comes, that
the more of it is dissipated, the less there is secreted of the animal

M. DE GORTER is in the same idea. “The seed (says he) is the most
perfect, the most importantly essential of all the animal liquids: it
is also the most elaborate; it is the result of all the digestions; its
intimate connection with the animal spirits, proves that, like them, it
draws its origin from the most perfect humors[58].”

In short, it appears by these testimonies, and by a croud of others
which it would be superfluous to quote, that it is a liquid of the
utmost importance; that it might be called the _essential oil_ of the
animal liquids; or, perhaps more correctly, the _spiritus rector_, the
dissipation of which leaves the other humors weak, and, in some measure,
dead or vapid.

But whatever may be the original importance of this humor, it may be
objected, that since it is separated from the others, and deposited in
its appropriate reservoirs, of what use can it be to the body after this
its separation? It is granted, they will say, that an over-abundant
evacuation of those humors, which are in actual circulation through the
vessels, and by that very circulation contribute to nutrition, such as
the blood, the serosity, the lymph, &c. may weaken; but it is not so easy
to conceive how a humor, that is no longer in circulation, that is, in a
state of separation, can produce this effect.

I answer, in the first place, that examples of this kind, and too
frequent not to be generally known, ought to obviate such an objection.
Who might not have observed, that an evacuation of milk (to go no further
than that instance) though moderate and of no long duration, is capable
of weakening a nurse that has not a strong constitution, to such a
degree, that she may feel the influences of it for the rest of her life?
And even the robustest would sink under it, if continued beyond a certain
length of time. The reason is sensibly apparent. Upon evacuating too
often the reservoirs appropriated to the reception of any liquid, the
humors are, by a necessary consequence of the laws of the animal machine,
determined to an afflux thither in the greater abundance. This secretion
becomes excessive, all the others suffer by it, and especially nutrition,
which is but a kind of secretion; the animal constitution falls into
languor and debility.

Secondly, There is an answer, relative to the seed which does not hold
as to the milk, which is only a liquid simply nutritious, of which
an over-abundant secretion does no detriment, but in so much as it
diminishes the quantity of humors: whereas the seed is an active liquid,
of which the presence produces effects necessary to the play of the
organs, which ceases on its evacuation; a liquid, of which, for that very
reason, the superfluous emission is detrimental, in a double view. This
requires explanation.

There are humors, such as those of the sweat and perspiration, which
leave the body as soon as they are separated from the other humors, and
thrown out by the vessels of circulation.

There are others, such as the urine, which, after this separation and
expulsion, are retained, for a certain time, in reservoirs appropriated
for that purpose, and out of which they are not discharged, but when
they are in a quantity great enough to excite, in those reservoirs, an
irritation that mechanically forces them to void them.

There is a third sort of humors, which, like the second, are separated
and retained in their respective reservoirs, not for the purpose of
being, at least intirely, evacuated, but to acquire, in those reservoirs,
a perfection that renders them fit for new, or other functions, when
they return into the mass of humors. Such, among others, is the seminal
liquid. Separated in the testicles, it passes thence, by a duct of some
length, into the seminal vesicules, and being constantly repumped by the
absorbent vessels, it is, successively, by little intervals, returned
into the total mass of the humors. This is a truth demonstrable by many
proofs. One alone may suffice. In a healthy man, the secretion of this
liquid is continually formed in the testicles: it flows into these
reservatories of which the capaciousness is very limited, not perhaps
great enough for what is separated in one day; and yet there are men
so continent as not to evacuate any for whole years. What would become
of it, if it was not continually disposed of, by its re-entry through
the vessels of circulation? A re-entry, that is extremely facilitated
by the structure of all the organs that serve for the separation, the
conveyance, and the preservation of this humor. The veins are there much
more considerable than the arteries, and that in such a proportion as is
observed no where else[59]. It is probable then that this resorption is
not only made in the seminal vesicules, but that it has already taken
place in the testicles, in the _epididymises_, which are a kind of first
reservatory appendant to the testicles, and in the _vasa deferentia_, or
chanel by which the seed is conveyed from the testicles to the seminal

It was not unknown to GALEN that the humors were inriched by the retained
seed, though he was not apprized of the mechanism.

“Every thing (says he) is full of it, with those who abstain from venery;
but there is none of it to be found with those who abandon themselves to
excesses of that sensuality.”

He then labors hard to discover why a small quantity of that liquid can
give so much strength to the body; at length he decides, “that it has an
exquisite virtue, so that it can with surprising quickness communicate
its energy to all parts of the body[60].”

He proves afterwards, by various examples, that a small cause often
produces great effects, and at length concludes thus: “Needs it be any
wonder that the testicles furnish a liquid of a nature to diffuse fresh
vigor over the whole body, when the brain produces motion and sensation,
and the heart gives pulse to the arteries!”

I shall wind up this Section with what one of the greatest men of the age
(M. HALLER) says on the seminal humor.

“The seed is kept in the seminal vesicules till the man makes use of it,
or that nocturnal pollutions deprive him of it. During all that time,
the quantity there is of it excites the animal system to the venereal
act; but the greatest quantity of this seed, the most volatile, the most
odorous, that which has the most strength, is repumped into the blood,
and produces, at its entrance into it, the most surprising changes; the
beard, the hair, calluses; it alters the voice and manner: for it is
not age that produces in animals this change; it is the seed alone that
operates them, and they are never remarked in eunuchs[61].”

How does the seed operate these effects? Ay, that is a problem of which
the solution is not perhaps as yet mature. But this however may, with
great probability, be said, that this liquid is a stimulative, a goad,
that irritates the parts with which it is in contact: its strong odor,
and the palpable irritation it exercises on the organs of generation,
leave, as to that, no doubt; nor is it unconceivable that these acrid
particles, being continually resorbed and removed with the humors,
should, slightly at least, but continually, stimulate the vessels, which,
by that very means, contract themselves with the more force; their action
upon the fluids is then the more efficacious, the circulation the more
animated, the more lively, the nutrition the more exact, and all the
other functions executed in the more perfect manner for it: whereas, when
this aid is denied or failed, several functions never display themselves,
or take place, which is the case in eunuchs[62]; and all are defectively
performed, and the worse for that want.

Here then occurs a natural enough question; it is this: How comes it
that Eunuchs are not afflicted with the same evils as those who exhaust
themselves by excesses of venery?

It is hardly possible to answer this question, satisfactorily, till the
end of the following Section.


_An examination of the circumstances which accompany the emission._

There are several evacuations which are performed imperceptibly: all
the others, except one, are effected in a state of perfect health, with
a facility to which it is owing that they have no influence over the
rest of the machine: the slightest motion of the organ which contains
the matter of them, suffices for the expulsion. The excepted one is the
evacuation of the seed, towards which nothing less is required than a
general commotion, a convulsion of all the parts, an augmentation of
quickness in the course of all the humors, to dislodge and give it issue.

Can it be thought here too hazardous a conjecture to look on this
necessary concurrence of the whole animal system, as a sensible proof of
the influence it has over the whole body?

“Coition (says DEMOCRITUS) is a sort of epilepsy.”

“It is (says M. HALLER) a most violent action, bordering upon convulsion,
and which must therefore astonishingly weaken, being detrimental to the
nervous system.”

It has been seen, in an observation precedently set forth, that an
emission was preceded by actual convulsions, by a sort of epilepsy; and
the same observation furnishes evident proof of the influence which those
violent emotions had on the unhappy man who was subjected to them.

The immediateness of the faintness after the act has to many appeared,
and not without reason, a proof, that it could not be only the privation
of the seed that occasioned it; but what demonstratively proves how much
the spasm or convulsion must weaken, is the weakness incident to those
who are afflicted with convulsive disorders: that which follows the fits
of epilepsy is sometimes excessive.

It could be only to the spasm, or convulsion, that the singular effect
was to be imputed, which coition had on one whose name was AMMAN, and
whose history was preserved to us by PLATERUS. Being advanced in years he
had re-married, and being about to consummate his nuptials, he was seized
with so violent a suffocation, that he was obliged to discontinue the
attempt. The same accident returned every time that he renewed the trial.
He applied, upon this, to a number of quacks. One of them, who had made
him take a great many of his pretended remedies, assured him that he had
no longer any danger to fear. On the faith of his Æsculapius, he ventured
upon a fresh attempt. The same symptom was instantly the consequence:
however, full of confidence, he would persist, and died in the act
itself, in the arms of his wife[63].

Those violent palpitations which sometimes accompany that of coition,
are also a convulsive symptom. HIPPOCRATES speaks of a young man, to
whom excesses of venery and wine had occasioned, among other symptoms,
continual palpitations[64]. And DOLÆUS knew one, who, in the act itself,
was seized with so violent a palpitation, that he must have been
suffocated if he had persisted[65].

The case of the child, above quoted, is also a proof, (which did not
escape the sagacity of M. RAST,) of the power of the convulsive cause;
since at that age he could hardly evacuate any thing but the humor of the
prostates, and not genuine seed.

These remarks have fallen under the observation of a number of good
authors, who have written upon this matter. GALEN seems to have hit upon
them, where he says, “Pleasure itself weakens the vital forces.”

Mr. FLEMING has not omitted the cause, in his fine poem on the maladies
of the nerves:

    _Quin etiam nervos frangit quæcunque voluptas_[66].

SANCTORIUS positively establishes his assertion, that the motions weaken
more than the emission of the seed: and it is surprising that M. DE
GORTER, his commentator, should have sought to persuade the contrary. The
reason which he gives, in his averment that these motions do not weaken
any more than any other motion, “_because they are not convulsive_,”[67]
will persuade no one. One example, could he produce it, would not pass
for a law of nature. LISTER, NOGUEZ, QUINCY, who had commented this work
before him, are not of his opinion; they attribute part of the danger to
the weakness that remains after the convulsions. “Coition (says NOGUEZ)
is itself a convulsion; it disposes the nerves to convulsive motions, and
the slightest occasion consequently produces them.”

J. A. BORELLI, one of the first creators of physiology, had not looked
upon them in the same light as M. GORTER. He is clearly positive upon
this article.

“This act (says he) is accompanied with a sort of convulsive pathos,
which carries with it the most sensible affections of the brain, and of
the whole nervous system[68].”

Mr. SENAC specifically imputes to the nerves the weakness which follows

“The most likely cause (says he) of the fainting fit which comes when
an abscess breaks in the interior of the abdomen, is the action of the
nerves then brought into play. This is confirmed by the ejection, or by
the fits of faintness which follow the effusion of seed; for it is only
to the nerves that this sinking can be imputed[69].”

M. LEWIS[70] attributes more to this cause than to the other, in which
he is of the opinion of SANCTORIUS. Where there is convulsion, the
nervous system is in a state of tension, or, to say more correctly, in
an extraordinary degree of action, of which the necessary consequence is
an excessive relaxation. Every organ, that has been wound up beyond its
natural pitch, falls beneath it; and from that very fall must necessarily
result a bad performance of the functions which depend on it; and as the
nerves have an influence over them all, there is not one of the functions
but what must be more or less disordered when the nerves are weakened.

One reason, too, that may contribute to the weakness of the nervous
system, is the augmentation of the quantity of blood in the brain,
during the venereal act; an augmentation well demonstrated, and which
has gone sometimes so far as to produce an apoplexy. Many examples of it
are furnished by observing practitioners, and HOFFMAN relates one of a
soldier, who, in the rage of lust with which he abandoned himself to this
act, died apoplectic in the very instant of fruition. On being opened,
the brain was found full of blood. It is by this augmentation of blood,
that the reason is explained of those excesses producing madness[71].
Such a quantity of blood distending the nerves, enfeebles them: they can
the less resist impressions, and thence their weakness.

On a reflection upon these two causes, the evacuation of the seed, and
the concomitancy of the convulsive motions, it is easy to explain the
disorder that must result from the excess of them to the animal œconomy.
They may be ranged under three heads.

    The depravation of the digestions.

    The weakening of the brain and of the nervous system.

    The disordering of the perspiration.

We shall see that there is no chronical disease that may not be deduced
from this triple cause.

“The relaxation proceeding from these excesses, disorders the functions
of all the organs,” says one of the authors who has written the
most sensibly on the dietetic branch of physic; and the digestion,
the concoction, the perspiration, and the other evacuations become
respectively faulty: thence results a sensible diminution of strength, of
memory, and even of the understanding; a dimness of the eye-sight, all
the disaffections of the nerves, all kinds of the gout and rheumatism,
an amazing weakness of the back, the consumption, a feebleness of the
organs of generation, bloody urines, head-achs, and a multitude of other
disorders superfluous to specify here; in short, nothing so much abridges
life as the abuse of the pleasures of venery[72].

The stomach is the part the first affected by all the causes of weakness:
this is owing to its being the part of which the functions require the
greatest perfection in the organ. The others are, for the most part
of them, as much passive as active; the stomach is almost intirely
active; so that as soon as its strength diminishes, its functions grow
disordered; an observable truth, which combined with the variety of the
first impressions, often vexatious ones, produced upon this instrument
of digestion by what is taken in at the mouth, combined too, I say, with
the immediately following observation, will account for the frequency,
the oddity, the obstinacy of its ailments. It is of all the parts of the
body that which receives the greatest number of nerves, and in which
therefore, by that very means, there must be distributed the greatest
quantity of animal spirits. Whatever then weakens the action of the one,
and diminishes the quantity or depraves the quality of the other, must
in course more diminish the strength of the stomach than of any other
intestine; and this is what happens in excesses of venery. The importance
of the function to which it is destinated, is the cause, that when it is
ill or deficiently performed, all the others feel it, and are the worse
for it.

    _Hujus enim validus firmat tenor omnia membra;_
    _At contra, ejusdem franguntur cuncta dolore._[73]

From the moment that the digestions are imperfectly performed, the
humors assume a character of crudity, which disqualifies them for all
their destinations, but which, above all, hinders nutrition, upon which
depends the reparation of the vital forces. To be assured of the general
influence of the stomach, there needs only to observe the state of a
person under the complaint of a laborious digestion; his strength fails
in a few minutes; a general uneasiness renders that weakness still harder
to be indured; the organs of sensation grow obtuse; the soul itself
cannot exercise its faculties but imperfectly; the memory, and especially
the imagination, seem annihilated; nothing, in short, makes a man of
sense so nearly resemble a fool, as a painful or defective digestion.

A very curious observation, specified by M. PAYVA, a Portuguese
physician, who resided in Rome, throws a great light on the prodigious
weakness into which an excessive indulgence of venery will throw those
who are guilty of it.

“When (says he) the desires of the sensual joy are, in young people,
risen to the greatest height, they feel a kind of agreeable sensation at
the orifice of the stomach; but if they satisfy these desires with too
great an impetuosity, and beyond their strength, they feel, in the same
place, an extremely disgustful sensation, with something of a bitterness
in it they cannot express; they pay dearly besides for their excesses,
by the leanness and marasmus, &c. into which they fall[74].”

ARETÆUS had, before him, taken notice of this truth[75], and BOERHAAVE
employs the same expressions as PAYVA, with this addition, that that
sense of pain goes off in proportion as they recover their strength[76].
He informs, in another place, the same thing, joining thereto a very
useful practical rule, which is, that on the coming on of epileptic fits,
after venereal excesses, care should be taken to strengthen the nerves of
the stomach[77].

Secondly, The weakness of the nervous system, which disposes to all
the paralytic and spasmodic accidents, is produced, as I have before
observed, by the convulsive motions which accompany the emission, and,
in the second place, by the disorder of the digestions: when these are
faulty, the nerves suffer by it, and suffer the more, for that the
fluid with which they are imbibed, being the very ultimate elaboration
of coction, and that which requires the greatest perfection of that
elaboration; when, I say, that coction is faulty, it is of all the animal
fluids that which is thereby the most sensibly affected, and upon which
the crudity of the rest of the humors has the most influence. In short,
what augments this weakness, is an evacuation of a humor that has great
affinity to the animal spirits, and which, by reason of that affinity,
cannot be evacuated without diminishing the strength of the nervous
system, which I cannot help attributing to those spirits, notwithstanding
the modest doubts of some great men, who dare not affirm any thing, in
natural philosophy, the truth of which does not fall under the senses,
and notwithstanding the objections of some subaltern or systematical

Besides: independently of the damage resulting from this evacuation,
relatively to the quantity of the animal spirits, it hurts, by its
depriving the vessels of that gentle stimulation produced by the absorbed
seed, and which contributes so much to the coction of those spirits.
It is pernicious, then, both by its drawing off a part of the animal
spirits, or, at least, of a very pretious humor, and by diminishing the
coction, without which those spirits can, at best, be only imperfectly
and insufficiently prepared.

There is between the diseases of the stomach to those of the nerves,
and from those of the nerves again to those of the stomach, a vitious
circle. The first beget the second, and these, once formed, contribute
infinitely to augment them. If daily observation were not to prove it,
the bare anatomical inspection of the stomach would carry sufficient
conviction with it. The quantity of nerves distributed through it, is
abundantly a demonstration how necessary they are to its functions, and
how, consequently, those functions must be disordered when the nerves are
not in good condition.

Thirdly, Perspiration does not proceed kindly in that case. SANCTORIUS
has even determined the quantity diminished by it; and this evacuation,
the most considerable of all the others, cannot be suppressed without
there resulting from it a croud of different symptoms.

It is easily then conceivable that there can be no disorder which may not
be produced by this triple cause. I will not enter into the explanation
of all the particular symptoms; such a particularization would too much
expand this little work, and could not interest the physicians to whom
it would be superfluous. What M. DE GORTER has said upon it, is worth

M. CLIFTON WINTRINGHAM has very sensibly particularised the dangers of
this evacuation with respect to the gouty, and his explanation merits

The late M. GUNZIUS, snatched from the medical career in the flower of
his age, has given a very ingenious mechanical explanation[80] of the
inconveniences resulting from this excess to the faculty of respiration.
He speaks, on this occasion, of a man who had thereby brought upon
himself a continual cough; a symptom which I myself observed in a young
man who died a victim of self-pollution.

He was come to Montpelier, to pursue there his studies. His excesses in
that infamous practice had thrown him into a consumption, and I recollect
that his cough was so strong and so continual, that it disturbed all
his neighbours. He was frequently blooded, which must have been, I
supposed, by way of making the quicker dispatch of his sufferings. A
consultation on his case, prescribed his going home, and living there
upon turtle-broth. His residence was, if I am not mistaken, in Dauphiny.
The persons consulted promised him a complete cure; but he died two hours
after the consultation. How curious an one! and what physicians must
they have been who were consulted!

But what is the least easy to conceive, or rather, what is beyond all
comprehension, is, that of its prodigious weakening of the faculties of
the soul.

The solution of this problem is connected with the question
undeterminable by us, of the mutual influence of the two substances
upon each other, upon which we are reduced to the observation of these
phenomenons, without being able to account for them. We are ignorant of
the nature both of the spirit and of the body; but we know that they are
so intimately united, that all the changes that the one undergoes are
felt by the other: a circulation a little more or less quick, the blood
a little more or less thick, some ounces more or less of aliments, the
same quantity of one aliment rather than of another, a dish of coffee
instead of a glass of wine, a sleep more or less long or tranquil, a
stool a little more or less copious, a perspiration too profuse or too
languid, will totally change our manner of seeing or judging of objects:
From one hour to another, the revolutions of the machine bring with them
different sensations, different thoughts, and, arbitrarily, form to us
new principles of vices and of virtues; so just is the idea of the poet
who first wrote Satires in France.

    _Tout, suivant l’intellect, change d’ordre et de rang:_
    _Ainsi, c’est la nature et l’humeur des personnes,_
    _Et non la qualité, qui rend les choses bonnes,_
    _C’est un mal bien etrange au cerveau des humains._[81]

So exact is the description which LUCRETIUS has furnished of this
intimate union:

      ——_Gigni pariter cum corpore, et una_
    _Crescere sentimus, pariterq; senescere mentem._
    _Nam velut infirmo pueri teneroque vagantur_
    _Corpore; sic animi sequitur sententia tenuis:_
    _Inde ubi robustis adolevit viribus ætas,_
    _Consilium quoque majus, et auctior est animi vis:_
    _Post ubi jam validis quassatu’st viribus ævi_
    _Corpus; et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus._
    _Claudicat ingenium, delirat linguaque, mensque:_
    _Omnia deficiunt, atque uno tempore desunt;_
    _Quin etiam morbis in corporis avius errat_
    _Sæpe animus, dementit enim, deliraque fatur._[82]

Observation also teaches us, that of all the diseases there is not one
that affects more quickly the soul, than those of the nervous system: of
this the epileptics, who, at the end of a certain number of years, most
commonly fall into a state of imbecillity, furnish a melancholy proof,
which may, at the same time, give us to understand, that it is not at all
surprising that those acts, which, as has been precedently remarked, are
always in a small degree epileptic, should produce such a weakening of
the brain, and, consequentially, of the vital faculties.

The weakening of the brain, and of the nervous system, is followed by
that of the senses, which is nothing but natural.

SANCTORIUS, HOFFMAN, and some others, have endeavoured at explaining why
the sight more especially suffers; but their reasons, however founded
on truth, do not appear to me sufficient. The principal ones, and which
are drawn from qualities particular to this organ, are, the multitude of
parts that constitute the eye, and which being, all of them, susceptible
of different ailments, render it infinitely more subject than the others,
to disorders. In the next place the nerves serve here for various uses,
and are very numerous. In short, the afflux of humors to that part,
during the time of the act, an afflux of which the sparkling perceived
in the eyes of animals, at that juncture, forms a sensible proof,
produces in the vessels of the eye, at first a weakness, and afterwards
obstructions, of which a loss of sight is the necessary consequence.

Nor is it actually difficult to answer the question above proposed, why
it is that Eunuchs, who have no seed, are not exposed to the disorders we
have precedently described?

Of this there are two very sufficient reasons.

The _first_ is, that if Eunuchs do not actually draw from this liquid
those advantages which are produced by its being prepared and resorbed;
on the other hand, they lose nothing of that precious part of the blood
which is destined to become seed. It is true, they do not experience
those changes which are owing to the preparation of the seed, and which
have been above set forth; but then again, they cannot be exposed to the
evils which proceed from a privation of this non-prepared humor. The
seed, if I could have leave to employ terms of metaphysic, is either seed
imperfect, and _in fieri_, or seed _in potentia_; which is that precious
part of the humors separated by the testicles, and seed actually made, or
_in actu_. If the first is not separated, the animal machine is deprived
of the advantages it draws from the seed prepared, and does not undergo
the changes which depend on it, but then it is not depauperated: it does
not gain, indeed, neither does it lose; the body remains in a sort of
state of puerility. When the seed is separated and evacuated, it is then
a privation, a real impoverishment.

The _second_ reason is, that the Eunuchs escape that kind of spasm or
convulsion, to which I have imputed a great part of the evils which are
the consequence of excesses in this way.

The accidents which, on the like account, befall the women, are to be
accounted for in the like manner with those of the men. The humor which
they lose being less precious, less elaborate, than the seed of the
man, the loss of it does not perhaps so quickly produce a weakness; but
when they go to excesses, the nervous system being, in them, weaker,
and naturally more disposed to spasm or convulsion, the fits are more
violent. Sudden excesses will throw them into fits somewhat a-kin to
those of the young man whom I mentioned at the end of the fourth section.
I have also seen a melancholic instance of this kind.

In 1746 a girl of the age of about twenty three years challenged, to the
combat of venery, six Spanish dragoons, and bore their assaults for a
whole night in a house at the gates of Montpellier. In the morning she
was brought into the town, dying, and weltering in her own blood, which
issued from the womb. It would have afforded matter of instruction, to
have been satisfied whether that effusion of blood was the consequence of
some hurt, or whether it depended on the dilatation of the vessels, by
the augmentation of the action of the womb.


_Causes of the dangers particular to self-pollution._

It has been precedently observed, that self-pollution is more pernicious
than excesses with women. Those who, on every occasion, bring a
particular Providence into play, will assign for a reason, that it is the
special will of God, in punishment of this crime. Persuaded as I am, that
bodies have been, primordially from their creation, subjected to laws,
which necessarily regulate all their motions, and of which the Deity does
not probably change the œconomy, unless in a small number of reserved
cases, I should not chuse to have recourse to miraculous causes, but
when there is found a manifest opposition to natural ones. This is not
the case here: every thing may be very well explained by the laws of the
mechanism of the body, and by those of its union with the soul.

This common custom of a recourse to supernatural causes, has been
anciently combated by HIPPOCRATES, who speaking of a disease which the
Scythians imputed to its being a particular punishment inflicted by God,
makes this fine reflexion:

“It is true (says he) that this disease comes from God; but not, in any
other sense, than as all other diseases come from him: one does not
come from him more than another; because all of them follow his laws of
nature, by which every thing is governed[83].”

SANCTORIUS, in his Observations, furnishes us with one primary cause of
this particular danger:

“Moderate coition (says he) is rather of service, when it is sollicited
by nature: when it is sollicited by the imagination, it weakens all the
faculties of the soul, and especially the memory[84].”

It is not difficult to explain the cause of this. Nature, in a state of
health, does not inspire with desires, but when the seminal vesicules
are full of a quantity of liquor, which has acquired a degree of
inspissation, that renders the resorption of it the more difficult;
which is a sign that the evacuation of it will not sensibly weaken the
body. But such is the organisation of the parts of generation, that
their action, and the desires consequential thereto, are not only put
into play, by the presence of a redundancy of seminal humor, but the
imagination has also a great influence over those parts. Imagination can,
by laying itself out for the excital of desires, and by busying itself
with objects present, or of its own formation, put the parts into a state
which produces those desires, and those desires impell to an action, so
much the more pernicious for its being the less necessary.

It is, with regard to this organ of a natural necessity, as it is with
regard to all the others, who are never beneficially brought into play,
but when they are so by nature herself. Hunger and thirst point out the
need of a recourse to meat and drink; but if more is taken of them than
these sensations require, the surplusage hurts and weakens the body.
The need of going to stool or urine are equally limited to certain
natural conditions; but a bad habit may so far pervert or deprave the
constitution of those organs, that the necessity of evacuation will
cease to depend on the quantity of matters to be evacuated. Men subject
themselves to false wants, and such is the case of those addicted to
self-pollution. It is imagination and habit that sollicit them; it is not
nature. They rob nature of what is necessary to her, and of which, for
that very reason, she is so chary, and loath to part with it.

In short, in consequence of this law of the animal œconomy, that humors
will tend to where there is an irritation, so it will happen, that,
after a certain time, there will be a continual afflux of humors to
the irritated parts of generation: that case will come into existence,
which HIPPOCRATES has already observed, “When a man exercises the act of
coition, the seminal veins dilate, and attract the seed[85].”

It may be remarked here, that there is in self-pollution particularly
a danger for children before they arrive to the age of puberty. It is
happily not common to find such monsters, of either sex, as to debauch
children before that epoch; but it is but too common for children of that
age to debauch themselves. A great number of circumstances may concur to
keep a lewd commerce with others at a distance from them, or at least to
moderate it; but a solitary lewdness meets with no obstacle, and knows no

A second cause is, the tyranny which this odious practice gains over
the senses, and which the author of the _English Onania_ describes very

“This impurity has no sooner subdued the heart, than it pursues the
criminal every where: it takes hold of him, and engrosses his thoughts
at all times and in all places: in the midst of the most serious
occupations, even in acts of devotion, he is in prey to sensual desires
and to lascivious ideas, which never leave him free[86].”

Nothing can be more infeebling than this continual stretch of the mind,
ingrossed by the same object. The self-pollutor, perpetually abandoned
to his obscene meditations, is, in this regard, something in the case
of the man of letters, who fixes all his attention on one point, and it
is rare that such an excess is not pernicious. That part of the brain
which is then in action, makes an effort, which may be compared to that
of a muscle long and violently on the stretch: thence results, either
such a mobility, that there is no stopping the activity of the part,
which is notably the case of self-pollution, or an incapacity of action.
Exhausted, at length, by a continual fatigue, these wretched beings fall
into all the diseases of the brain; melancholy, catalepsy, epilepsy,
imbecillity, loss of sense, weakness of the nervous system, and a croud
of the like evils[87].

This cause of disorder does an infinite mischief to a number of young
people, in that, when even their faculties are not as yet extinct, the
use of them is perverted. To whatever vocation they devote themselves,
there is no making a proficiency in any thing, without a degree of
application, of which this pernicious habit renders them incapable. Among
even those who dedicate themselves to nothing, and the class of these is
but too numerous, there are some, whom that vacuity more than commonly
misbecomes; an air of absence, of embarrassment, of giddiness, adds to
the circumstance of their being good for nothing, that of their being
disgustfully so.

I could point out some, whom this incapacity of fixing themselves to any
thing, combined with the diminution of their faculties, disables from
ever being of any use or value in society. Melancholic condition! which
sinks the man beneath the brute, and, very justly renders an object
rather of contempt than of pity to his fellow-creatures!

From these two causes there necessarily results a third; and that is the
frequency itself of the act. As soon as the habit has gained a little
strength, both body and soul concur in sollicitation to this crime.
The soul, immersed in obscene ideas, is almost constantly exciting to
lascivious acts, and if ever she is, for some moments, interrupted
by other thoughts, the acrid humors, which irritate the organs of
generation, soon recall her attention, and drag her back again to her

How fit would these truths, collected from observation, be to check
youth, if they could but foresee that in this case one false step would
bring on another; that they will become slaves to the temptation; that
in proportion as the motives of their seduction increase, that reason of
theirs, which ought to restrain them, will grow weaker and weaker; and
that they will, in a little time, find themselves cast away in a sea of
misery, without, perhaps, the aid of any the least plank, to bring them
to the shore again.

If sometimes their beginning infirmities give them strong and salutary
advice, if the danger terrifies them for some moments, their rage of
debauchery replunges them again, so that it may well be said of them,

    _Virtutem videant intabescantque relicta._

In the mean while the danger is actual, the destruction so imminent, that
short indeed is the time of opportunity for amendment.

                ——_cinis et manes et fabula fies:_
    _Vive memor lethi: fugit hora: hoc quod loquor inde est._

While I studied in Geneva, a time, of which the remembrance will be dear
to me for the rest of my life, one of my condisciples was come to that
state of horror, that he was not master enough of himself to abstain
from these abominations, even during the time of the lessons. He did not
wait long for his punishment: and perished miserably of a consumption,
in about two years time. A similar case to this may be found in the

The ingenious author, who, from the Latin edition of this work, furnished
the extract in the excellent Latin Journal of Literature, which, about a
twelvemonth, made its first appearance at Berne, tells you, with regard
to this observation, that a whole college had recourse to this filthy
practice, by way of an amusement, to avoid falling asleep, at the lessons
of scholastic metaphysics, which a very old professor used to teach them,
as he nodded between sleeping and waking[89]. But this little story seems
to me less fit to prove what I have been physically advancing, than the
actual horrid dissoluteness into which the contagion of example may
plunge a number of young people. The same author has recently published
a work, which I have not as yet had the advantage of perusing, but to
which an excellent judge assigns a rank among the best productions of
this age. There he mentions, that, in a certain town, there was some
years ago discovered a whole society of wicked boys, from fourteen to
fifteen years old, who met to practise this vice, and that a whole school
was to this moment infected with it.[90]

The health of a young Prince was daily declining, without any one’s
being able to discover the cause of it. At length his surgeon suspected
it, watched him, and surprized him in the fact. He confessed, that one
of his _valets de chambre_ had taught him the practice, and that he had
been often guilty of it. The habit was so strong upon him, that the most
pressing considerations, and the most strenuously inforced, could not
break him of it. The evil was constantly gaining ground; his strength was
daily wasting; and there was no such thing as saving him, but by keeping
guard over him, so as not to let him be a moment out of sight, for above
eight months.

A patient, in one of his letters, gave me a lively description of the
difficulties of his victory.

“There are great efforts (these are his terms) required to conquer a
habit, that is every instant urging its recalls to us. I own to you,
with blushes, that the bare sight of a female, no matter what she is,
is enough to excite my desires. I do not even need that provocative; my
polluted imagination is but too ready to present constantly to me objects
of concupiscence. It is true that this passion never rekindles in me
without my remembring, at the same time, your good advice: I struggle
with myself; but even that struggle fatigues and exhausts me. If you
could but find and suggest to me the means of diverting my thoughts from
such objects, I believe my cure would be soon effected.”

It has been seen, in my extract from the English _Onania_, that a
frequent repetition had produced in a woman the _furor uterinus_. The
habit of being ingrossed by one idea renders one incapable of having any
others; it usurps the sole dominion of the mind, and reigns despotically.
The organs constantly irritated contract a morbific disposition, which
becomes an ever present goad, independent of all external cause. There
are disorders of the urinary passages which give a constant tendency
to make water; the reiterated irritation of the organs of generation
produces a disorder, in its way, analogous to that. It is therefore not
surprizing if the concurrence of these two causes, moral and natural,
combined, should throw one into that horrid disorder: and how powerful
ought this idea to be, for inspiring a salutary terror to all in any
danger of being in this case, and who have as yet any traces of reason or
shame left!

A fourth cause to self-pollutors of their waste of strength, is, that
independently of their frequency of emissions of seed, that frequency
of their erections, though imperfect ones, of which they complain,
considerably exhausts them. Every part, that is in a state of tension,
produces an expence of the vital forces, and they have none to spare:
the animal spirits croud thither in the greater abundance, and dissipate
themselves. This is a great cause of weakness: they are proportionably
deficient in the other functions, which are, in course, thereby
imperfectly executed; and the concurrence of these two causes has the
most dangerous consequences.

Another mischief, to which this fourth cause subjects self-pollutors,
is a sort of paralytical affection of the organs of generation, whence
follow impotency, incapacity of erection, and the simple gonorrhœa; for,
the relaxed parts suffer the true seminal liquid to come from them as
fast as it arrives, and the humor separated by the prostates to keep
continually oozing, and, in short, all the internal membrane of the
urethra acquires a catarrhous disposition to furnish a gleet, much of
the same nature as the _fluor albus_ in women: a catarrhous disposition,
which, let me here somewhat digressively remark, is less rare and more
general to the parts of the human body than is commonly imagined; not
being confined to the membrane that invests the nostrils, the throat,
the lungs, but which often attacks all the cavities of the intestines,
where the disease is not discerned, because not suspected, and must, for
want of that knowledge, be improperly prescribed for: nor would it be
difficult to collect, from various medical observations, examples of this
disorder having been mistaken for some other, and attempted to be cured

An able surgeon, once, mentioned to me a man, who, from a singularity of
taste, used to indulge his debauchery with the lowest street-walkers, and
being accustomed to satisfy his desires with them, in a standing posture,
against some wall or bulk, fell into a wasting, accompanied with the
most cruel pains of his loins, and with an atrophy or shrivelling of his
thighs and legs, combined with a palsy in those parts, which seemed to
be a consequence of the attitude in which he used to indulge his dirty
amours. After having kept his bed about a month, he died in a condition
equally fit to inspire compassion and terror.

But does not this observation furnish also a fifth cause of the dangers
particular to self-pollution?

When one loses one’s strength by two means at once, the weakness must be
considerably augmented. A person who is standing upright, or sitting, has
need for the supporting himself in those postures, and especially in the
first, of putting into action a great number of the muscular parts; and
this action dissipates the animal spirits. Weak persons, who cannot keep,
for an instant, in a standing posture, without feeling a weakness, and
the sick, that cannot sit up without the like uneasiness, very evidently
prove this. But in lying down, or in the being extended at full length,
there is not required the same strain on the vital strength. Thence it
is clear enough, that the same act, performed in the one or in the other
attitude, will produce a much greater weakening in the first than in the
last case.

SANCTORIUS has not failed to point out the danger of this attitude:
“_Usus coïtus stando, lædit, nam musculos et eorum utilem perspirationem

Other observations, well examined, afford a sixth cause, which may,
at the first superficial view, appear of the slightest, but which no
intelligent naturalist will readily pronounce null.

All living bodies perspire. Every instant there exhales through, perhaps,
one half of the pores of our skin, a humor of extreme tenuity, and which
is a great deal more considerable than all our other evacuations: at
the same time, another kind of pores admit a part of the fluids which
surround us, and convey them into the vessels. These are _the invisible
torrents_ (to use M. SENAC’s happy expression) that have their egress and
regress into our body[91]. It stands demonstrated, that, in some cases,
this insorption is enormous. The strong and healthy perspire the most:
the weak, who have hardly any atmosphere of their own, inhale more. Now
the miasms, or perspired matter of healthy persons, contains something
nutritious and corroborative, which inhaled by another, contributes to
give him vigor. These are observations, which explain why the _young
virgin_, selected to cherish DAVID, by lying in his bosom, gave him
strength; why the same experiment has succeeded with other old men, to
whom it had been prescribed; why that process weakens the young person,
who loses, without receiving anything; or rather receives, in return,
faint, sickly, corrupt, putrid exhalations, which cannot but be noxious.

Now, in the time of coition, people perspire more than at any other, the
force of the circulation being augmented. This perspiration is also,
probably, more active, more spirituous, than at any other time: it is a
real loss that is, on that occasion, sustained, and which takes place, in
whatever manner the emission of the seed is made, as it depends on the
agitation that accompanies it. In coition it is reciprocal, and then, the
one inhales what the other perspires. This exchange stands unquestionably
proved by sure observations. I saw myself, not long ago, one, who having
no gonorrhœa, no cutaneous symptom of the _lues_, had given the venereal
distemper to a woman, who, at that instant was giving him the itch in
exchange. In coition, then, there is a sort of mutual compensation of
loss on both sides. But in the case of self-pollution, the person guilty
of it loses, and in lieu of his loss, receives nothing.

An observation of the effect of the passions discovers a seventh cause
of evil, in the difference between those who indulge themselves with
women, and the self-pollutors; a difference which is intirely to the
disadvantage of these last.

That joy which is allied to the soul, and which it is so very right
essentially to distinguish from that merely corporal pleasure, in
which the man shares but with the brute, and from which it is totally
different; that joy, I say, aids the digestions, animates circulation,
favors all the functions, restores the vital forces, cherishes, and
supports them. Where it is found combined or united with the pleasures
of love, it contributes to repair that strength which those pleasures
may have diminished or exhausted. This stands proved by observation.
SANCTORIUS has remarked it.

“A man (says he) after an excessive coition with a woman he loves, and
has passionately desired, does not feel that fatigue of weakness which
one would naturally suppose would be the consequence of such an excess;
because the joy of the soul augments the power of the heart, favors the
functions, and repairs the losses.”

It is upon this principle that VENETTE, in whose work there may be seen
a good chapter on the dangers of pushing the pleasures of love to an
excess, establishes it as a maxim, that an union with a beautiful woman
is less apt to exhaust the strength, than with a homely one.

“Beauty (says he) has charms which dilate the heart, and multiply the
vital spirits, that proceed from it. We may very well believe, with St.
CHRYSOSTOM, that to excite one’s self repugnantly to the laws of nature,
is, in that respect, a much greater crime than the other.”

And, in fact, can there be a doubt of Nature’s not having annexed more
joy to the pleasures procured by the means which are in her appointed
course, than by any which are out of it?

An eighth and last cause which augments the dangers of self-pollution, is
the regrets, the horrors, which cannot fail of being the consequence of
it, when once one’s eyes come to be opened on the crime and its dangers.

    _Miseri quorum gaudia crimen habent!_

    _Wretched are those joys which are obnoxious to remorse!_

And, surely, if there are any human beings in this case, the
self-pollutors must be among them.

When the veil is drawn, the representation of their conduct appears to
them in all its most hideous colors and aspects. They find themselves
guilty of a crime, of which divine justice would not postpone the
punishment, but punished it immediately with death; a crime reputed a
very great one even by the heathens themselves.

    _Hoc nihil esse putas! scelus est; mihi crede, sed ingens_
      _Quantum, vix, animo concipis ipse tuo._

The shame that pursues them infinitely augments their misery. Such, it
is true, is the dissoluteness in some places, that debauches with women
are hardly looked upon there, but as matter of custom; the guilty of
them make no mystery of it, and have no notion of their being the more
contemptible for it: But where is the self-pollutor that dares avow his
infamy? Ought not this necessity of wrapping himself up in the shades of
secrecy, appear, in his own eyes, a proof of the criminality of this act?
What numbers have not perished for their never having dared to reveal the
cause of their evils?

It appears a natural sentiment in several letters of the _Onania_, “_I
would rather die than appear before you, after such a confession._”

And indeed one cannot help being infinitely more ready to excuse a man,
who being seduced by that inclination which Nature has ingraved on all
hearts, and of which she makes use for the preservation of the species,
is in no wrong but that of not respecting the boundaries set by the
laws, and by health. He is one carried away by his passions, and who is
wanting to himself. We are much more willing to absolve such an one, than
him who in his sin violates all the laws of Nature, perverting all her
sentiments, and disappoints all her ends. Sensible of how great a horror
he must be in to society, if his crime was known, that idea alone must
incessantly torment him.

“It seems to me (says one of these criminals, a fragment of whose letter
I have above quoted) as if every one could read in my face, the infamous
cause of my ailments, and this idea renders company insupportable to me.”

They fall into melancholy and despair; of which examples may have been
seen in the fourth Section of this work, and they labor under all the
evils that are brought on by a continuity of dejection or sadness,
without having, and this is dreadful indeed for a criminal, any pretext
of justification, any motive of comfort. And what are the effects of such
a melancholy? A relaxation of the fibres, a lentor of the circulation,
imperfection of the digestions, a deficient nutrition, obstructions
occasioned by those shrinkings or contractions which most particularly
seem the effect of sadness or melancholy: [“the strainers of the liver,
says SENAC, close themselves, and the bilious overflow spreads over the
whole body:”] spasms, convulsions, palsies, pains, increase of anguish
_ad infinitum_; with all the train of evils consequential to these.

It would be superfluous to enlarge more here on the dangers particular to
self-pollution: they are but too real, and too self-evident: I proceed to
the last part of this work, the methods of cure.




_Means of Cure proposed by other Physicians._

There are some diseases against which the success of remedies is next
to sure. Those which are the consequences of venereal exhaustion, and,
_a fortiori_, of self-pollution, do not enter into this class; and the
prognostic which is to be made of them, when they shall have arrived at a
certain degree, has nothing in it but what is desperately terrible.

HIPPOCRATES has, in such case, denounced DEATH. “_It is a deplorable
disorder_, says BOERHAAVE; _I have often seen it, but could never cure

M. VAN SWIETEN had, for three years, a patient whom he mentions for it,
under his hands, without success. I have seen some perish miserably
of this disorder. There were even others of those patients, to whom I
could not so much as give relief. Yet these examples should not intirely
discourage: there are not wanting instances of a happier issue. Some
may be found in the collection of the _Onania_, and in the Observations
of Physicians; my own practice has furnished me some. In the same place
where HIPPOCRATES gives a description of this disease, he points out
means of cure.

“When, (says he,) the patient is in this condition, let there be
fomentations made for him, over his whole body; then give him a medicine
that may provoke a puke; after that, another to purge his head, and then
a cathartic by stool. After the purgatives, give whey or asses milk;
after that, cows milk for forty days. While he drinks milk, he must
abstain from flesh meats, and in the evening he may have some boiled
wheat. After his milk diet is over, he should be nourished with the most
tender meats, beginning with a small quantity, and by this means he
will recover afresh. For a whole twelvemonth he must avoid all kind of
debauchery, all venereal indulgence, and all immoderate exercise; he must
confine himself to walks, in which he will do well to avoid the cold, or
the sun.”

It is remarkable here, that HIPPOCRATES begins the method of cure by an
emetic, and by purging. Now there is a danger of such an authority’s
obtaining the force of a law, and yet the observation of this law would,
in a number of cases, be pernicious. But it is easy to get rid of this
perplexity, by observing, that he only ordered purgatives in a view
to divert the fluxion which he supposed threw itself from the head on
the spine of the back; and that, in another place, he puts those who
are sick, after venereal excesses, in the catalogue of those to whom
no purgatives should be given, “_because not only they can do no good,
but, on the contrary, they may do a great deal of harm_[93].” So that
it is this last rule which must be considered as the general one: the
first constitutes an exception, and an exception which appears founded
on a theory, of which the error is now discovered, and which especially
therefore ought to have no force.

In HOFFMAN’s dissertation, which I have already often quoted, there are
to be found two observations, that should recommend great circumspection
as to the use of emetics. They are as follow:

A man of fifty years of age, having, for a long time, indulged himself
in excesses with women, fell into a state of languor, emaciation, and
consumptiveness. His sight grew dim, so that at length objects appeared
to him as if he saw them through a cloud. It was at this epoch that he
took an emetic by way of preventing a fever, which he apprehended, after
a long use of eating ham. This medicine made his head swell, and totally
deprived him of his eye-sight.

A common prostitute, who, every time that she had commerce with a man,
felt a dimness in her eyes come upon her, having taken an emetic, lost
her eye-sight intirely[94].

M. BOERHAAVE seems to have rather meant to establish the difficulties of
the cure, than to point out the means of obtaining it.

“There are (says he) little hopes of cure; the milk passes too easily;
the exercise of riding does no good to this kind of patients; they
complain that these remedies weaken them; and, in fact, exercise
encreases the waste of their seed, in the course of their nocturnal
pollutions by dreams, and at the same time diminishes their strength.
When the day re-appears, they quit their beds, all bathed in their
own sweat, and but the weaker for even their sleep; they cannot bear
aromatics, of which the effects are also dangerous. The only resource,
in these cases, is that of aliments, a moderate exercise of the body,
bathing the feet, and frictions used with precaution[95].”

Among the consultations of this great man, which M. DE HALLER has added
to the edition which he has procured to us of them, there is one for a
man, who had rendered himself totally impotent for the joys of love.

“A man (as the case is stated) has so much weakened the organs of
generation, that the seed comes away of itself, every time that he has
any beginning of erection, for that is never a complete one[96], and the
seed never spurts forth with any force, but dribbles away, drop by drop,
which renders him impotent; his memory, stomach, loins, legs, are totally

M. BOERHAAVE answered: “These disorders are always extremely hard to
cure: they hardly ever declare themselves, but when the body has lost
so much of its vital forces, that the remedies remain without efficacy.
However, it may not be amiss to try what the following ones will produce.

“_First_, A dry and temperate regimen, composed of fowls, of beef, of
mutton, of kid, all rather roasted than boiled, a small quantity of ale,
but excellent in its kind, of a very little wine, but then that wine
must be of a very generous restorative sort.

“_Secondly_, A great deal of exercise, augmented, by due degrees; it
should only border upon weariness, and always be taken fasting.

“_Thirdly_, Frictions, with a flannel perfumed with the smoke of incense,
to be used to the loins, the abdominal region, the _pubis_, the groin,
the scrotum, and regularly repeated night and morning.

“_Fourthly_, He should take, every two hours, half a drachm of the
following kind of electuary:

    “℞. _Terr. Japon. dr._ iv. _Opoponac. dr._ v. _Cort. Peruv.
    dr._ vi. _Conserv. rosar. rub. unc._ i. _Olib. dr._ ii. _Succ.
    acac. unc._ ß. _Sir. Kerm. q. s. f. l. a. cond._

“Immediately after which he should drink half an ounce of the following
medicinal wine:

    “℞. _Rad. cariophil. mont. Pœn. mar. ana unc._ i. _Cort. rad.
    capp. tamarisc. ana unc._ iß. _Lign. agalloch. ver. unc._ i.
    _Vin. Gall. alb. lib._ vi. _f. l. a. vin. med._

“I hope (added BOERHAAVE) that the patient will be cured, after having
employed this regimen for two months.”

But he would not make use of it, and died, in a few weeks, of a malignant
flux. What would have been the effect of this remedy? That can be only

M. ZIMMERMANN wrote to me, that he had made a patient try it for two
months, but without any success.

M. HOFFMAN sets forth the precautions which he conceived ought to be
taken, and the methods to be employed.

“We must (says he) avoid all the remedies which do not agree with
weak habits of body, or that may weaken still more those who are
already enervated: such are all astringents, all over-refrigerants,
all saturnines, nitrous, acid, and especially narcotic medicines: all
these are pernicious in cases of this kind, and unfortunately there is,
however, too much use made of them.

“The end to be proposed is to re-establish the vital forces, and to
restore to the fibres the tension they have lost. Heating remedies,
volatiles, aromatics, those that have an agreeable but strong odor, are
not proper here: nothing but the mildest aliments should be allowed,
such as are the fittest to repair that nutritious gelatinous substance,
which immoderate evacuations will have destroyed: such are strong broths
of beef, of veal, of capon, with a little of wine, of lemon-juice, of
salt, of nutmeg, and cloves. To the use of this diet may beneficially be
joined, those remedies which favor perspiration, and which reanimate the
languishing tone of the fibres.”

In another consultation for a self-pollutor, he ordered the taking,
every morning, a certain measure of asses milk mixed with a third of the
quantity of _Selter-water_.

It would be useless here to quote the precepts, or observations of other
authors. I shall content myself with relating here a very instructive
case, such as it stands in a thesis of M. WESPREMI, which thesis includes
fourteen observations, all interesting ones[97].

“W. CONYBEARE, about thirty-six years old, had had, for six years
past, his eyes so dimmed, without any apparent blemish in them, that
he saw all objects as it were through a thick cloud. He had been
successively in the three most celebrated hospitals in London, St.
Thomas’s, St. Bartholomew’s, and St. George’s; at length, about two
years ago, he came to ours. In all the others, after other remedies,
it had been tried whether a mercurial salivation might not cure this
kind of _gutta serena_. The physicians were tired out, and the patient
quite discouraged. On my interrogating him very particularly, and very
carefully, upon his illness, he told me, that, from time to time, he felt
a pain all along the spine of his back, especially when he stooped to
take up any thing; that his legs were so weak, that he could scarce stand
a minute upright, without leaning, which if he did not, his legs would
tremble, and he had then a vertigo and dizziness; that his memory was so
weakened, that he sometimes appeared stupid; and I could myself observe,
that he was greatly emaciated. All this made me suspect, that his _gutta
serena_ might be no other than the symptom of a more dreadful disorder,
and that the patient was attacked with a real _tabes dorsalis_.

“I pathetically urged him to own to me, whether he had not polluted
himself with the abominable crime of ONAN, which intirely destroys the
balsamic parts of the nervous fluid. After much hesitation, and blushing,
he confessed it. I ordered him to take, over night, two mercurial
pills, containing six grains each, of _mercurius dulcis_, and the next
day an ounce of purgative salts, and to repeat that four times in the
space of fifteen days. On the expiration of that term, I made him,
according to the prescription of HIPPOCRATES, live forty days intirely
upon a milk-diet, during which time he used to have himself, two or
three times a week, rubbed, as he went to bed. At the end of this method
of treatment, he returned from the country, in a much better condition
than he had gone thither. I advised him, afterwards the cold-bath for
three weeks. For two months together he took, twice a day, the mineral
electuary and volatile julep, to which he joined frictions, and the
bathing his feet. These remedies so far restored his health, that he
wanted to resume the exercise of his trade, which was that of a baker;
but I advised him to betake himself to some other business, being afraid
that his inhaling the flower, that rises in the kneading, might form in
his as yet weak stomach and breast, a paste, of which the effects might
be dangerous.”

M. STEHELIN gave some relief to the youth mentioned towards the end of
the second Section, by strengthening baths, by _Tinct. Mart. Ludovic._
and by aperitive broths.

The principal remedies mentioned in the _Onania_ consist of nostrums,
which the author reserved to himself. It may be observed on it,
in general, and the observation is important, that he employed no
_evacuants_, and that only corroboratives constituted the basis of them,
under the names of _The strengthening tincture_, and _The prolific
powder_. They act, without that action’s producing any sensible effect,
but, as the author says, they inrich, strengthen, and nourish the parts
of generation in both sexes. According then to him, they give them
new vigor; they favor the generation of seed, and powerfully restore
oppressed nature: in a word, like all nostrums, they do every thing that
is required of them. There is a third secret remedy mentioned, under the
name of _The restorative draught_, which operates very efficaciously,
and, in fact, if any faith may be given to the testimonies adduced in
favor of these remedies, they have doubtless great virtue. Besides these
three nostrums, he gives some formularies: One is a draught, composed of
amber, aromatics, and of some other remedies of that class: A second is
a liniment, composed of essential oils, of balsams, of acrid tinctures.
Both, these compositions appear to me too stimulative, and as they have
not any experience in their favor, I omit the particularising them. He
specifies two others, which seem more proper.


    ℞. _Flor. siccat. lamii_[98] _mpl._ vi. _Rad. cyper. et
    galangal. ana unc._ ii. _Rad. bist. unc._ i. _Rad. osmund. reg.
    unc._ ii. _Flor. ros. rub. mpl._ iv. _Icthiocoll unc._ iii.
    _Scissa tus mixt. cum aquæ quart._ viii. _ad quartæ partis
    evaporat. coquantur_.

Take a quart of this every day.


    ℞. _Sacchari Saturn. Vitriol, alb. Alum. rup. ana drachm._
    i. _Aq. chalyb. fabr._ ℔ i ß. _per dies decem igne arenæ
    digerantur. Add. Spir. vin. camphorat. cochl._ iii.

Before I go on to the next Section, I think myself bound to mention, that
very sensible views, applicable to the disease of which I am treating,
may be found in a book lately published, intitled, _Precis de Medecine
pratique_, a work of M. LIEUTAUD, physician to the young royal family
of France, who, after having got to himself a distinguished name among
the Anatomists and Physiologists, has moreover secured to himself one
of the first ranks among the practitioners, by his excellent treatise on
intermittent and remittent fevers.

The chapters of his last work relative to the _tabes dorsalis_, are those
which have for their title _calor morbosus_, morbific heat, at disease,
be it here parenthetically remarked, very frequent, of which no one had
before treated, and which has been often subjected to improper methods of
cure, as I have elsewhere lamented, and of which M. LIEUTAUD has been the
first to unfold the symptoms, the nature, and curative indication. _Vires
exhaustæ_, and _anæmia, or deficiency of blood_, a very interesting
chapter, which is intirely and originally that author’s.

M. LEWIS, whose work I could not procure for myself before the impression
of the first edition of mine, is one who has the most of any enlarged
upon the method of cure. I had the pleasure of finding that we agreed
perfectly in our ideas, and that we employed the same remedies,
especially the bark, and the cold bath; a conformity which appears to me
a proof in favor of the practice we have, in this case, both followed. I
shall only quote here the two aphorisms that comprehend the substance of
his doctrine: I shall avail myself of some passages in the explanation
which he gives to them, to confirm, in the following Section, my own

“The cure of this disease (says that able physician) depends as much on
knowing what to avoid as what to do. Without a nice regularity of the
non-naturals, therefore, medicine will have little or no effect. Thus the
salubrity of the air is or great importance; the diet should be analeptic
and cooling; sleep little, and in due season; moderate exercise must be
used, especially riding on horseback. The secretions of the body are
to be regulated if out of order, and the patient should be entertained
with chearful company and mirthful diversions. All the remedies that
are necessary, are derived from the two classes of balsamics and

He recommends strongly, in the place of tea, which, he observes, is
always prejudicial to the nerves, the infusion of mint, or balm, in every
dish of which is to be put a tea-spoonful of the balsamic mixture of
cream and yolks of eggs beat together, with two or three drops of oil
of cinnamon, which he says give a very agreeable flavor, and is highly
grateful to the stomach[100]. This indeed I have had occasion to remark
myself, of its being both balsamic and strengthening; but I shall place
here a remark that may have its use: It is, that M. LEWIS specifies
among the corroboratives, medicines from lead, _Tinct. faturnia_[101];
and I think it my duty to give this caution, without offence to his
authority and to that of other respectable physicians, that the internal
use of all preparations of lead is a real poison, according to the almost
unanimous confession of all the faculty. I have seen the most tragical
effects from it; and the shameless rashness of quacks, furnishes but
too many occasions of observing such. But if the use of it is to be
preserved, like that of some other poisons, let the administration of it
at least be reserved for those who are able to discern its dangers and
its virtues, and not indicated without due precaution in works designed
for the public.

I shall conclude this Section with the method employed by M. STORCK in
the cure of these disorders: it is a very simple and a very efficacious
one. And by comparing all these methods, it will be seen, that they are
all founded on the same principles, all tend to the same end, and all
employ means nearly similar, a conformity which forms a recommendation of
the method, and inspires confidence.

“I begin (says M. STORCK) by trying to restore the patient with
nourishing broths. Rice, oatmeal, barley boiled with broth, or milk,
or milk itself, are all very serviceable; but it must be observed, to
let him eat but little at a time, and often. Should the stomach be so
weakened, which is sometimes the case when the disorder is far advanced,
that it cannot bear even these light aliments without great anguish, the
patient should be put to the female breast of milk, a recourse which has
retrieved many out of the most desperate condition. To restore strength
and activity to the relaxed fibres, I would recommend the use of wine
heated with a hot iron, bark, and cinnamon. As soon as the patient has
strength enough to walk, it will be of infinite service to him, his going
into the purest air of the country, or mountains[102].”



There are some diseases of which it is difficult to discover exactly the
cause, and consequently it must be so to determine the indication, and to
regulate the method of cure; and yet such diseases are easily cured when
those points are once ascertained. It is not so of the _Tabes dorsalis_.
That disease is known, its cause is known: (it is, as M. LEWIS observes,
a particular sort of consumption, _of which the proximate cause is a
general debility of the nerves_:) the indication is easily formed, and
there can be no great differing in opinions about the essential method of
cure: and yet even the best methods often fail; this is a reason the more
for fixing the particulars with exactness.

A general relaxation of the fibres, a weakness of the nervous system, a
depravation of the fluids, are the causes of this evil. It depends on the
weakening of all the parts; the great requisite is to restore strength
to them; this is the sole indication, which has again its respective
subdivisions, derived from the different parts that are weakened; but
as the same remedies are of service in them all, it is needless to
particularise those subdivisions here, which has been already done in
the course of this work.

Those who are totally ignorant of physic, and who nevertheless talk more
of it than those who understand it, will probably think it very easy
to accomplish this indication; and that with good aliments, and the
cordials with which pharmacy abounds, it is a matter of great facility to
restore strength; while, on the contrary, sad experiences have taught our
greatest physicians that nothing could be more difficult.

“_It is easy_ (says M. GORTER) _to diminish the vital forces, but we
have hardly any thing capable to repair them_[103].” This may easily be
conceived, on reflecting, that aliments and remedies are nothing but
the instruments of which Nature makes use to support itself, to repair
her losses, and to remedy the disorders which happen to the body. And
what is Nature? _The aggregate of the forces of the body harmoniously
distributed._ It is the vital force respectively distributed into the
different parts. When those forces are exhausted, Nature it is that
consequently fails; she is the working architect that no longer executes
her functions; furnish her with materials, as long as you please, she
is in no condition to employ them. You may bury an architect, with
all his building, under stone, wood, and mortar, without an inch of
a wall being thereby repaired. Just so it is with diseases dependent
on the destruction of the vital forces: the aliments repair nothing,
the remedies operate nothing. I have seen stomachs so weakened, that
aliments received from it no more preparation than in a vessel of wood:
sometimes they take place in it according to the laws of their specific
gravities, and when, at length, a new ingestion has, by its weight,
irritated the stomach, they have been known, on a slight effort, to come
away, successively, clearly separate one from another. At other times,
through a long stay in the stomach, they corrupt in it, and are vomited
up just as if they had been suffered to putrify in a vessel of silver
or porcelain. What good can be hoped from aliments of this sort? The
exhaustion of strength is not, indeed, so considerable in all: there are
some in whom the vital forces are only weakened without being totally
destroyed; for these there remains some resource in aliments, and even
in remedies. What remains unperished of Nature draws some benefit from
aliments: as to the remedies, they are to be sought for among those which
have been observed to be fittest for re-animating that principle of the
vital action which is verging to extinction: these are the adventitious
aids, with which the architect is to be enabled to work at his task at
the least expence possible of the strength that is left him: sometimes,
too, they serve, as a spur to a weak horse, that may oblige him to make
an effort to get out of a plunge in a slough; but what expertness, what
prudence are not required, to be able at one cast of the eye, to judge
comparatively the depth of the slough, and the strength of the animal? If
the attempt is beyond his strength, that spur will, it is true, oblige
him to make an effort; but if that effort is not sufficient to disengage
him, and bring him into the good road again, it will only serve to
totally exhaust him.

The weakness which is produced by self-pollution, is attended with such
a difficulty in the choice of restorative remedies, as does not occur in
other cases; which is, that those articles must, with the greatest care,
be avoided, that, bringing with them any irritation, might awaken the
sensual passion. In the animal mechanism, that mechanism so different
from the inanimate, and so little subjected to the same rules, there
is a law, that, when the motions augment, the augmentation is the most
considerable in the parts the most susceptible. In self-polluters those
parts are the generative ones. It is in these parts that the effect of
the irritating remedies will the most sensibly manifest itself; and the
dangerous consequences of this effect cannot be too circumstantially
guarded against in the choice of the means of cure. What then are they
to be? This is what I shall examine, after having particularised the
regimen. In this particularisation, I shall follow the common division of
the six non-naturals, as they are termed, Air, Aliments, Rest, Motion,
the natural Evacuations, and the Passions.


Air has the influence over us, that water has over fish, and even a much
more considerable one. Those who know how great a power the air has, and
who also know that there have been Epicures who could, by the taste,
discover not only the river, but even the part of the river out of which
the fish had been taken;

    ——_lupus hic Tiberinus an alto_
    _Captus hiet, pontesne inter jactatus an amnis_
    _Ostia sub Tusci?_

such, I say, will easily be sensible of the importance it is of to the
sick, their breathing one air preferable to another. Such as may have
once entered into a room inhabited without being aired; such as may have
kept walking on the side of a marsh in the heats; or have resided in low
places, surrounded, on all sides, with eminences; such as have made a
transition from a populous town to the country; who have breathed the air
at sun-rise or at mid-day, before or after a shower of rain; all these, I
say, will conceive how great an influence the air has over health.

    _Temperie cœli corpusque, animusque juvatur._

The sick or weakly have, more than others, need of a good air; it is a
remedy that acts, and perhaps the only one that does so, without the
concurrence of our nature’s vital forces, to which it gives no trouble,
and is no draught upon them: and for that very reason, it is of the
greatest importance not to neglect it. That air which is the properest
for a general atony or relaxation, is a dry, temperate air: too moist, or
too hot an air are pernicious. I know one labouring under a disorder of
this kind, whom great heats throw into a total faintness or exhaustion
of strength, and whose state of health varies in summer, according to
the vicissitudes of days less hot or less cold. A cold air is much less
to be dreaded; and it is necessarily, and according to Nature, that
it should be so. Heat relaxes still more the fibres which are already
but too relaxed, and dissolves still more the humors already too much
dissolved: Cold, on the contrary, is a remedy against these two evils.
When the Caribes are attacked with the palsy, after, and in consequence
of those dreadful convulsions of the cholic, to which they are subject,
when they cannot be sent to the warm-baths in the north of Jamaica, the
other expedient is to send them to some place of a colder air than that
of their country; and this bare change of air has always manifestly a
favorable effect.

Another essential quality of the air, is, that it should not be
impregnated with noxious particles: that it should not have lost, by its
stay or stagnation in inhabited places, that kind of reviving quality
which constitutes all its efficacy, and which might be called its vital
spirit as necessary to plants as to animals; and such is the air one
breathes in a country, open, airy, interspersed with the verdure of
herbs, bushes, and trees.

“Let the sick, says ARETÆUS[104], live near meadows, fountains, rivulets;
the freshness they exhale, and the gaiety which those objects inspire,
fortify the mind, restore strength to the body, and give new life.”

The air of the town, continually sucked in and let out again, continually
crouded with foul vapors or infected exhalations, combines at once the
two inconveniences of possessing less of that vital spirit, and of being
big with noxious particles.

On the other hand, the air of the country is enriched with the two
opposite qualities. It is a pure virgin air, an air impregnated with all
that is the most volatile, the most agreeable, the most cordial, in the
effluvia of the plants, and in the vapor of the earth, which is itself
very salubrious.

But it would be of no use to fix on a place with a good air to live in,
if one does not chuse to breathe it. The air of rooms, or chambers, if it
is not continually renewed, is nearly the same in all. It can hardly be
called a change of air, from a close room in town to a close room in the
country. There is no enjoying the benefits of a healthy atmosphere but
in the open fields. If infirmities, or weakness, hinder the procurement
of that benefit, by the going or the being carried thither, at least the
air of the room, or chamber, should be renewed several times in a day;
not simply by opening a door or a window, which renews it only a little,
but in letting into the chamber a torrent of fresh air, by opening, all
at once, two or three different and opposite inlets. There is no disorder
that does not require this precaution; but it is requisite not to expose
the sick person to the force of the current of air, and it is always
very easy to place him out of the power of it.

It is also extremely important to breathe the morning air. Those who
deprive themselves of it, for the sake of remaining in a stifling
atmosphere between four curtains, voluntarily renounce the most
agreeable, and perhaps the most strengthening of all remedies. The
freshness of the night will, by morning, have restored to the air all
its vivifying principle; and the dew which evaporates, by degrees, after
having loaded itself with all the balm of the flowers on which it will
have dwelt, renders the air truly medicinal; you solace yourself in a
vaporous bath of the essence of plants, the air of which you continually
draw in, and of which nothing can be equivalently substituted to the good
effect. The ease, the refreshment, the strength, the appetite, which we
may feel procured by it, for the rest of the day, are a proof in every
one’s power, and a stronger one than all that I could add.

I have, very recently, seen the most sensible effects of it on some
valetudinarians, and especially on such as were hypochondriacs: these
experienced, in the clearest manner, that if they indulged themselves in
breathing the morning air, they were always the more chearful, the more
lively, for the rest of the day; and those who passed that rest of the
day with them, could not, by that mark, be mistaken as to the hour of
their rising.

It is easy then to conceive, how important this effect is for those who
are affected, in any degree, with the _Tabes dorsalis_, who are so often
hypochondriacal; and in whom a return of chearfulness is alone sufficient
to furnish an unquestionable sign of a general amendment of health.


In the choice of Aliments I would recommend the two following rules:

_First_, To take no aliments, but what, under a small volume, contain
a great deal of nourishment, and are of easy digestion. This is an
aphorism of SANCTORIUS: _Coïtus immoderatus postulat cibos paucos et boni

_Secondly_, To avoid all that have any acridity.

It is of great importance to restore to the stomach all its strength; and
nothing is more destructive of the forces of the animal fibres than an
over-stretch; so that the dilatation of the stomach by an over-abundance
of aliments would daily weaken it: besides, if it is too full, weak
persons feel a state of uneasiness, of anguish, of debility, and
melancholy, that augments all their disorders. Both these inconveniences
are prevented by the choice of aliments, such as I have recommended, by
taking of them a little at a time, and frequently. It is essential that
they should afford an easy nutrition: the stomach is in no condition
with persons in their state, to conquer any thing hard of digestion: its
action, which is extremely faint and languid, would be totally destroyed
by aliments too indigest, or of a nature to diminish its strength.

Upon these principles may be formed a catalogue of such as are proper
in this case, and of those which should be excluded. In this last class
are all flesh-meats naturally hard and indigestible; such as pork; all
flesh of old animals; all that has been hardened by salt or smoak, a
preparation which, at the same time, renders them acrid: all that are
too fat, or greasy; a quality which, in any other subject of aliment
whatever, relaxes the fibres of the stomach, diminishes the action,
already too weak, of the digestive juices; they remain indigested,
dispose to obstructions, and acquire, by their stay in the stomach, an
acridity, which, breeding a continual irritation, gives inquietude,
pains, want of rest, anguish, feverishness. In short, there is nothing
which persons of a weak digestion ought more carefully to avoid, than
fat or greasy food. Unfermented pastry-ware, especially when kneaded up
with fat, is another sort of aliment much above the strength of a weak
stomach. Flatulent garden-stuff is also very noxious, by producing a
turgescence that distends it, and at the same time cramps the circulation
in the neighbouring parts; such, in general, are all forts of cabbage, of
leguminous pulse, and such plants as have a taste and smell remarkably
acrid, which last quality renders them noxious, independently of their

Fruits, which are so salutary in acute and inflammatory distempers,
in obstructions, especially those of the liver, and in several other
disorders, are never proper in this case; they weaken, relax, and
enervate the strength of the stomach; they augment the attenuation of the
blood, already too aqueous; and ill digested, they ferment in the stomach
and intestines, and this fermentation sets free an astonishing quantity
of air, which produces enormous distensions, that absolutely disturb
the course of the circulation. I have, in a woman, seen this effect: so
considerable, for her having eaten too many cherries and currants, four
and twenty hours after a very easy delivery, that her belly was stretched
to such a degree as to become livid; she appeared lethargically dozing,
and her pulse was almost imperceptible. Fruits also leave, in the first
passages, a principle of acidity, apt to occasion several dangerous
symptoms, so that it is necessary to abstain almost totally from them.
Crude garden-stuff, vinegar, verjuice, have the like inconveniences, and
deserve the like exclusion.

But though the catalogue of prohibited articles of food be a long one,
that of the allowable ones is still longer. It comprehends the flesh
of all young animals, fed in healthy places, and wholesomely fed; such
especially is that of veal, lamb, or young mutton, young beef, fowl,
pigeon, turkey, partridge. Lark, thrushes, quails, and other wild fowl,
without being absolutely forbidden, are, however, attended with such
inconveniences, as not to allow of their entering into daily food. Fish
is under the same restriction.

But it is not enough only to chuse your flesh-meats with due discernment,
but they must also be properly prepared. The best way is to roast them
by a gentle fire, so as to preserve their gravy, and not dry them up
too much; or to stew them slowly in their own juices. The flesh-meats
that are boiled in too much water, give out to it all that they have of
juiciness, and remain incapable of nourishing: thus they often become
nothing but fleshy fibres deprived of their nutritious juice, and equally
insipid to the taste, and indigestible to the stomach. It is common
for weak persons, and even for such of them as are above all suspicions
of being too nice, not to be able to eat of them without their stomach
being disordered by them. The more tender flesh meats are, the less they
can bear this preparation, which, in the case of sick people, ought
to be reserved for extracting by it from hard or tough meats whatever
nourishment they may contain.

Yet whatever preparation may be carefully employed upon the flesh meats,
there are persons who cannot digest them: and to them it becomes as
necessary to give them the broth, extracted by a gentle boiling; but as
that has too great a tendency to putrefaction, it must be accompanied
with some bread, and a dash of lemon juice, or a little wine: such a
mixture is of the most desirable, in that case, for nourishment. Some
lobsters boiled, and crushed in the broth, heighten its relish, and make
it perhaps more strengthening; but they have the double inconvenience, of
being somewhat heating, and of rendering the broth more susceptible of a
quick corruption; so that on these two accounts it is good to be on one’s

Bread and garden-stuff have not the advantage of containing at once a
great deal of nourishment in a small quantity; but the use of them,
especially of bread, is indispensably necessary, to prevent, not only
the distaste which the use of a regimen consisting totally of animal
meats would not fail of producing, but also that putridity which would
be the consequence of them, if not mixed with vegetables. Without this
precaution, there would soon a spontaneous alkali disclose itself in the
first passages, with all the disorders consequential thereto. I have
seen terrible accidents produced by this regimen, in weak persons, to
whom it had been prescribed. One of the commonest symptoms is, thirst;
they are obliged to drink, and drink weakens them: besides, the liquid
they drink does not easily mix with the humors of the body, as that
mixture depends on the action of the vessels, which is very languid; and
if, unfortunately, as is not unfrequent with those who do not use much
motion, the action of the kidneys diminishes, the liquids pass into the
cellular membrane, and immediately form œdematous swellings there, and,
at length, dropsies of all kinds.

These dangers are prevented by a due alliance of the vegetable regimen
with the animal. The best garden-ware are, the tender roots, herbs of the
endive kind, artichoaks, asparagus. There are some others, which, though
tender, are of disservice; being too cooling, they deaden the strength of
the stomach.

Farinaceous grains, prepared and boiled in cream, with flesh broth,
are an aliment not to be slighted, as it combines every thing that is
nourishing in the two kingdoms animal and vegetable, while their mixture
prevents the danger from each aliment given single; the broth hinders
the meal from turning sour, the meat the broth from putrefying. By
reading, with a little reflexion, observant Naturalists, it may easily be
perceived, that distempers are more malignant in the north of Europe than
in its middle regions: may not that be owing to more flesh meats being
eaten in proportion than vegetables?

What I have above said of fruits, need not, however, hinder, where the
stomach still preserves something of its strength, one’s indulging one’s
self, now and then, with a small quantity of the best chosen for the
sort, and for ripeness; the most watery are those which are the least

Eggs are an aliment of the animal kind, and an aliment extremely useful;
they strengthen greatly, and are easy of digestion, provided that they
have but little or even no preparation by fire, for if the white is
once hardened it does not dissolve again; it becomes heavy, indigest,
and unnutritious: it might then be the aliment of those who digest too
quickly, and not of those who have rather no digestion. The best way of
eating them, is just as they are new laid from the fowl, without any
preparation, or in the shell, after only three or four dips in boiling
water, or stirred into warm, and not boiling broth.

Conclusively; there remains to mention the aliment from milk; which
unites all the qualities that can be desired, without having any of the
inconveniences that are to be dreaded. It is the most simple, the most
easily assimilable, and the quickest restorative: all prepared as it is
by nature, it needs no risk of spoiling it by an artificial preparation:
like the broth of flesh meats it nourishes, but is not susceptible of
putridity; it prevents thirst, it supplies the place of meat and drink;
it keeps up all the secretions; it disposes for tranquil sleep; in short,
it fulfils all the indications that present themselves in this case. M.
LEWIS attests its having produced the best effects[106]. Why then is not
it always employed, always substituted to the other aliments? Answer. For
a reason which is peculiar to it, which unnaturalises its effect, and
which makes it sometimes produce a very different one, from that which
might be hoped from it, or reasonably expected.

This reason is, that sort of decomposition to which it is subject. If the
digestion of it is not very quick, if it stays too long in the stomach,
or if, without too long a stay there, it meets in it with matters of a
nature to hasten that decomposition, it undergoes in the stomach all
the changes, which fall under our observation, out of it. The butyrous,
the caseous, the serous parts separate; the whey sometimes occasions a
quick diarrhœa; sometimes it passes off by the urinary passages, or by
perspiration without nourishing; the other parts, if they stay in the
stomach, are not long before they trouble it, cause uneasy sensations,
bloatedness, loathings, cholics; and if one is not immediately affected
by them, it is because they will have passed into the intestines, where
they may, it is true, remain some time without a sensible prejudice,
but they acquire there a singular acridity, and after a certain time
they produce mischiefs which the delay will not have rendered the less
dangerous; and, indeed, it may be established for a law, that should
render one extremely circumspect in the prescription of it in dangerous
cases, that if it is an aliment of which the digestion is the easiest,
it is also that of which the indigestion is the most noxious. We have
already mentioned the difficulties that BOERHAAVE found in the use of
it; but however great they may be, the advantages to be drawn from it are
so considerable, that it is worth while to study all possible means for
surmounting them, and happily such means there are. They may be ranged
under two classes; attentions to the regimen, and the medicines. Of these
last I shall refer the discussion to one of the following articles.

The attentions to the regimen are, first, the choice of the milk. From
whatever species it may be determined to procure it, the female that
furnishes it should be healthy, and live regular: Secondly, during the
time of taking it, all aliments should be avoided that can turn it sour;
such are all fruits, raw or prepared, and in general every thing that
is acid: Thirdly, it must be taken at times very distant from other
aliments; it not taking kindly any mixture: Fourthly to take only a
little of it at a time: Fifthly, all the while to take care of keeping
the breast, the abdominal region, and the legs extremely warm: and,
above all, Sixthly, (for without this precaution all the others would be
useless,) to be very moderate as to the quantity of even the best chosen
aliments. During this recourse to milk, there should be no trouble given
to the stomach; the smallest over-load, the slightest indigestion, leaves
in it a principle of corruption, which presently turns the milk, and
may, of the most wholesome of aliments, make a poison sometimes very
violent, and, at least, almost always infallibly one, in a greater or
less degree.

Another question occurs: What is the milk that merits preference? In
answer to this, I will not enter into an examination of the various
sorts of milk; this would be over-lengthening my work by an adventitious
subject; for satisfaction in which there are many recourses extant, and
perhaps none better than a dissertation, now indeed out of print, of the
late Mons. d’APPLES, M. D. and Professor of Greek and Morality in this

Now-a-days there are hardly any kinds of milk used but of the female
breast, or of asses milk, the goat’s, or the cow’s. Each has its
different qualities: it is the comparison of these qualities, and of
the indication presented by the disorder, that should determine the
choice from among them. There are few cases in which milk from the cow
may not be succedaneously used for all the others. That from the female
breast is generally believed the most strengthening: it is the notion
of the greatest masters in the art, and yet this opinion bears upon a
ruinous foundation, which is, the women’s making use of animal food,
without considering at the same time that the preference is constantly
given to the milk of a hale robust nurse from the country, who eats no
flesh-meats, or, at least, very little, and who lives only upon bread and
vegetables. I believe, however, that there are cases in which it may be
tried with success. The noble cures operated by the use of it, leave no
doubt of its efficacy; but there is one inconvenience which is peculiar
to it, which is, that it must be taken immediately from the breast that
furnishes it: this is a precaution, of which GALEN has already taken
notice of the necessity, and, in ridicule of those who would not care to
confine themselves to it, he refers them “_like asses, to asses milk_.”
But in the case of recourse to the female breast for lactation, might not
the vessel of conveyance excite those desires which the main point is to
keep under? Might it not expose the patient to the temptation of renewing
the adventure of that Prince, the story of whom CAPIVACCIO has preserved
to us? He had two nurses given him, whose milk produced so good an
effect, that he put them both into a condition of supplying him, at the
end of some months, with new milk on a fresh account, if he should happen
to need it.

It is thought that asses milk has the nearest analogy to that of the
female breast; but, if I may be allowed to say it, this assertion is
rather matter of opinion than of experience. It is the most serous, and,
from that very quality, the most laxative. It is a most pernicious error
the imagining it the most strengthening. Daily observations demonstrate
the contrary, and prove not only that it is not the most efficacious,
but that it is, perhaps, the least so. I have rarely seen any good
effects from it; sometimes I have seen bad ones, and am not the only
one that has seen them. M. DE HALLER, writing to me, says, “It appears
to me, that this same asses milk rarely does what it is desired to do.”
Now, the inutility of a pretended remedy, in disorders where the hopes
of a cure are founded on it, is one of the most grievous defects. M.
HOFFMAN advised it in cases where there were at once an exhaustion and a

Before I quit this subject of Aliments, I ought to conclude with the
counsel of HORACE, to avoid mixtures.

                      ——_nam variæ res_
    _Ut noceant homini credas, memor illius escæ_
    _Quæ simplex olim sederit, at, simul assis_
    _Miscueris elixa: simul conchylia turdis;_
    _Dulcia se in bilem vertent; stomachoque tumultum_
    _Lenta feret pituita._

To sense it is obvious enough, without any need to insist on this advice,
how impossible it is for very different aliments to undergo, within the
same time, a perfect digestion: this mixture it is which is one of the
causes that ruin the healthiest constitutions, and is mortal to weak
ones: it cannot be too carefully avoided.

Another attention equally necessary, and almost equally neglected, is,
a thorough mastication. This is a help to digestion, of which even the
most vigorous stomachs cannot be long deprived, without a notable decline
or diminution; and without which the digestion in weak ones is extremely
imperfect. Nothing but a long and attentive observation could satisfy one
of the infinite importance to health of a careful mastication. I have
seen the most stubborn diseases of the stomach, and the most inveterate
languors, dissipated singly by this attention. On the other hand, I have
seen persons in good health fall into infirmities, when their teeth,
being damaged, no longer suffered them to employ any but an imperfect
mastication; nor recovered they their health, till, after a total loss of
their teeth, their gums acquired such a hardness as to enable them to
supply their function.

So many particulars, so many precautions, so many self-denying
privations, will seem very fit to verify this line of M. PROCOPE,

    _Vivre selon nos loix c’est vivre miserable._

    _By physic’s laws to live ’s a wretched life._

But is there any paying too dear for health? How amply are you satisfied
for the sacrifices you make, by the enjoyment of it, and by the pleasures
it throws into all the moments of your life? “Without health (says
HIPPOCRATES) there can be no enjoyment of any earthly good; honors,
riches, and all other advantages are of no avail[109].”

Besides, these sacrifices are much less than it is commonly imagined they
are. I could quote many witnesses, to whom, after just the first days,
it no longer cost them any pain to renounce the variety and savoriness
of rich viands, for the sake of a simplicity of regimen: which is what
nature points out, and is the most pleasing to well constituted organs.
A healthy palate, which has all the sensibility that it ought to have,
can have no relish but for plain meats; made dishes and high sauces are
insupportable to it, while, in the least savory aliments, it finds a
relish, and a variety of relish, which escape the depraved, worn out,
or furred organs of taste: so that those who return to the simplicity
of nature in their aliments, whether it is for their health, or from
convinced reason, or from a contracted distaste to high eating, may be
assured, that so fast as they shall recover their health, they will find
in plain aliments a delight of the palate which they did not suspect
in them. A fine ear discerns the slight difference between two notes,
which will have escaped a less sensible ear: just so it is with the
nerves of the organs of taste; when they are in exquisite order, they
perceive the slightest varieties of savors, and are sensible to them;
the water-drinkers meet with waters as flattering to their taste as the
most exquisite Falernian could be to drinkers of wine, and others as
disagreeable to them, as to those the pricked wines of Brie.

But even were there not rational hopes of pleasure in the plain regimen,
and I am sure it is not hard to accommodate one’s self to that which I
have indicated, the satisfaction one must feel, the consideration that,
in submitting to it, one is fulfilling a duty to one’s self, must be a
greatly pressing motive, as well as a justly flattering reward, for those
who can know all the value of the being well with one’s self.

The liquid part of aliments, or the drink, is an article of the regimen
almost as important as the solid, or eating.

All liquids should be forbidden that can augment the weakness or
relaxation, that can diminish the little that remains of the digestive
powers, that can convey any acridity into the humors, or dispose the
nervous system, already too irritable, to a greater mobility. All hot
waters have the first defect, of weakening or relaxing. Tea, with that,
has also all the others: coffee has the two last; so that one ought
rigorously to abstain from them. The author of a work superior to all
encomiums, and of which those who interest themselves in the progress of
the medical art, wait with the greatest impatience for the continuation,
has presented such an account of the danger of these two liquids, as
might very well disgust or deter from the use of them those who find the
greatest pleasure in them[110].

Spirituous liquors, which, at the first view might appear serviceable,
for that they operate precisely the contrary of hot water, of which
they really diminish the danger, if added to it in a small quantity,
are, however, attended with other inconveniences that authorise their
rejection, or at least restrain them to an extremely rare recourse.
Their action is too violent, too transient; they irritate more than
they strengthen, and if they sometimes strengthen, the weakness which
succeeds is greater than before a recourse to them: besides, they give
to the _papillæ_ of the stomach a hardness that robs them of that degree
of sensibility necessary to the creation of an appetite, and take from
the liquids that degree of fluidity which they ought to have in aid of
that sensation; and, indeed, the great drinkers of spirituous liquors are
strangers to it. “Those (says the illustrious author whom I have just
now quoted) who every day drink strong liquors after their meals, by way
of remedying the defects of digestion, could hardly find a more likely
method for accomplishing just the contrary to what they propose, and to
destroy the powers of digestion.”

The best drink is water from the purest spring, mixed, equal parts, with
a wine neither too heady nor too acid: the heady kinds sensibly irritate
the nervous system, and produce in the humors a transient rarefaction,
of which the effect is an extension of the vessels, that leaves them
afterwards the laxer for it, and to augment the dissolution of the
humors: the acid kinds weaken the digestions, irritate, and procure
over-copious urines, which exhaust the patients. The best are those
which have the least of spirit and of salt, the most of terrestrial and
oily, which constitutes what is called racy, generous wines: such are
the red wines of Burgundy, of the Rhône, of Neufchâtel, and a few kinds
in this country, (Lausanne,) the old white wines of Grave, the choice
ones of Pontac, the wines of Spain, Portugal, the Canaries, and, where
procurable, those of Tockay, superior perhaps to those of all the world
besides, both for salubrity and deliciousness to the taste. As to common
use there are none preferable to those of Neufchâtel.

In places where good water is not to be come at, it may be corrected by
filtration, by a hot iron, or an infusion of some agreeable aromatics,
such as cinnamon, aniseed, lemon-peel.

Common beer is noxious. Mum which is properly an extract from grain, both
nourishing and strengthening, may be of great use: rich of spirit, it
enlivens as much as wine, and is more nutritious; it may serve for meat
and drink.

Among the useful drinks, may be ranked chocolate, which belongs perhaps
more properly to the class of solid aliments; the cocoa contains a great
deal of nutritious substance, and the mixture with it of sugar and
aromatics corrects any detriment from its oiliness. “Chocolate made with
milk (says M. LEWIS) in such quantities as to pass easy off the stomach,
is an excellent breakfast for a tabid constitution. I knew a child twelve
years old who was in the last stage of a consumption, when given over
by a Physician, recovered by the mother’s giving her chocolate only,
in small quantities, often repeated. Indeed it is an aliment that for
weak constitutions cannot be too much recommended[111].” Be it, however,
remarked, that there are some to whom it might prove very pernicious.

One general attention to be observed is, that too great a quantity of any
drink whatever should be avoided: it weakens the digestions by relaxing
the stomach; by drowning the digestive juices, and by precipitating the
aliments before they are well digested; it relaxes all the parts, it
dissolves the humors; it disposes to urines and to sweats that exhaust
the patients. I have seen disorders produced by an atony, considerably
lessened, by no other means of assistence, than by a retrenchment of a
part of the liquids for drinking.


What is to be said of sleep, may be reduced to three points; its
duration, the time of taking it, and the precaution necessary for a quiet
undisturbed enjoyment of it.

In grown persons seven hours of sleep, or at the most eight, are
sufficient for any one: there is even a danger in sleeping longer, and
in remaining longer a bed, which throws one into the same disorders as
an excess of rest. If any could wish to indulge it longer, it might be
those who give themselves a great deal of motion, and of violent motion,
during the day time; but it is not those who practise such indulgence;
on the contrary, it is those who lead the most sedentary life. Thus that
term ought never to be exceeded, unless one should be fallen into such
a degree of weakness as not to have the strength necessary left for the
being long up; in which case, however, one should try to keep so as long
as possible. “The more moderate the quantity of his sleep (says Mr.
LEWIS) the sweeter and more invigorating will it be.”

It stands demonstrated, that the air of the night is less healthy than
that of the day, and that the weakly sick are more susceptible of its
influences in the evening than the morning; as then, during our sleep,
we are confined to a small part of the atmosphere, which our bodies also
would not fail of corrupting; it is to sleep that that time should be
appropriated, in which the air is the least healthy, and in which the
being up in it would be the most pernicious; so that it is best to go
to bed early, and rise early. This is a precept so commonly known, that
it may appear trivial to recall it to mind; but it is actually so much
neglected, the consequence of it seems to be so little felt, though
infinitely greater than it is believed to be, that it is very allowable
to suppose it unknown, and to re-inculcate it by an insistence on its
importance, especially to valetudinarians.

Mr. LEWIS gives it for his opinion, “That if a patient lies down at
ten o’ clock, which hour he should never exceed, he ought to rise in
the summer-time at four or five, in the winter at six or seven, under
an absolute prohibition of an indulgence in bed in the morning.” He
recommends even the forming a habit of getting up after one’s first
sleep, and avers, that uneasy as this custom might be at the first, it
would soon become easy and agreeable[112]. A number of examples attest
the salutariness of this advice: there are many valetudinarians who
feel themselves light and well on waking out of their first sleep, and
who experience a laborious restlessness on yielding to the temptation of
going to sleep again: they are as sure of passing a good day of it, if,
at whatever the hour be of their waking out of their first sleep they
immediately get up, as of passing it disagreeably, if they give way to
the second.

Sleep is not tranquil but where there are no causes of irritation: which
ought therefore to be carefully prevented. Three of the most important
attentions are;

_First_, Not to be in a hot air, and to be neither too much nor too
little covered.

_Secondly_, Not to have the feet cold at lying down; an accident common
to weak persons, and which is, for many reasons, hurtful to them. The
rule of HIPPOCRATES should be scrupulously observed, _To sleep in a cool
place, taking care to cover one’s self_[113].

_Thirdly_, And what is yet more important, not to lie down upon a full
stomach: nothing disturbs more the sleep, nor contributes more to render
it disquieting, painful, heavy, or overwhelming, than a laborious
digestion in the night. Depression of spirits, weakness, disgust,
weariness, incapacity of thought or of application to any thing the next
day, are the inevitable consequences.

                ——_vides ut pallidus omnis_
    _Cœna desurgat dubia? Quin corpus onustum,_
    _Hesternis vitiis animum quoque prægravat una_
    _Atque affligit humo divinæ particulam auræ._

On the contrary, nothing is more efficacious toward procuring a sweet,
calm, uninterrupted, refreshing sleep, than a light supper. Freshness,
agility, gaiety, are, the ensuing day, its necessary consequences.

    _Alter, ubi dicto citius curata sopori_
    _Membra dedit, vegetus præscripta ad munia surgit._

“The time of sleep (says Mr. LEWIS, with great reason) is that of
nutrition, and not of digestion.” Accordingly he requires of his patients
the greatest severity as to their supper: he prohibits to them, and
never was a juster prohibition, all flesh-meats at that meal; he allows
them nothing but a little milk, and some bread sippets, and that two
hours before they go to bed that the first digestion may be over before
they lie down to sleep. The Atlantics, who were strangers to an animal
diet, and who never ate any thing that had life, were famous for the
tranquillity of their sleep, and hardly so much as knew what dreams were.


Exercise is a point of absolute necessity. To the weak it is a pain to
take it; and if they have any inclination to melancholy or dejection
of spirit, it is not easy to determine them to motion; and yet nothing
is more apt to augment all the evils that proceed from weakness, than
inactivity; the fibres of the stomach, of the intestines, of the vessels,
are lax; the humors every where stagnate, because the solids have no
longer the strength to impress on them the necessary motion: thence
are generated lodgments of matter, choaked up passages, obstructions,
extravasations; coction, nutrition, the secretions, do not proceed; the
blood remains aqueous, the strength diminishes, and all the symptoms of
the disorder increase. Exercise prevents all these evils, by augmenting
the force of the circulation; all the functions execute themselves as if
there existed in the body a real strength for it, and this regularity
of the functions does not fail soon to give it, so that the effect of
motion is to supplement the vital forces, and to restore them. Another
of its advantages, independent of the augmentation of circulation, is
its enabling one to enjoy an air always new. A person that does not stir,
soon corrupts the air which surrounds him, and becomes noxious to him:
whereas a person in action is continually changing it. Motion may often
supply the place of remedies, but all the remedies in the world cannot
supply the place of motion.

The fatigue of the first days of attempting it, is a rock against which
the faint heart of many of the sick is apt to split; but if they had the
courage to conquer this first obstacle, they would soon be experimentally
sensible, that to this case especially it is that that proverbial saying
is truly applicable, _Il n’y a que les premiers pas qui coûtent_: “It
is only the first steps that are hard to take.” I have been myself
astonished at seeing to what a degree those who had not been disheartened
at the first, acquired strength by exercise. I have seen persons fatigued
with one turn in a garden, arrive, in a few weeks, at being able to take
a walk two leagues, and be the better after it.

The exercise of walking on foot is not the only favorable one. For
persons extremely weak, for such as have a complaint of their bowels
or breast, riding on horseback is even better: but in a still greater
weakness, the motion of a carriage, if not too easy an one, is
preferable. When the weather does not allow of going out, some means
of motions should be contrived, in the house, some not too laborious
occupation, or some exercise of play; such, for example, as the
battledore and shuttle-cock, which diffuses through the whole body an
equable motion.

A return of appetite, of sleep, of chearfulness, are the necessary
consequences of motion; but the precaution should be observed, of not
taking any thing of a violent motion immediately after a meal, and not to
eat while warm from exercise; which should be taken before a meal, with
allowance of some moments of rest before the sitting down to it.


The evacuations are apt to be disordered along with the other functions,
and their disorder increases that of the whole machine; it is then of
importance to give attention thereto, in order to the earliest remedy.
The evacuations which principally require observation are, the stools,
the urines, the perspiration, and the saliva. The best way to keep them
in due order, or to bring them to the point at which they ought to be
at, is to govern one’s self by those precepts which I have laid down on
the other objects of regimen: when those are heedfully attended to in
practice, the evacuations, whose greater or the less regularity is the
barometer of the better or worse state of digestions, proceed regularly
enough. That evacuation which it is of the most importance to favor, as
being the most considerable, is perspiration, which very easily goes
out of order, in weak persons. It may be aided by having the skin very
regularly rubbed with a flesh-brush, or a flannel; but when it is very
languishing indeed, there is not a surer way to restore it, than to put
the whole body immediately into woollen covering. And yet care should be
taken to avoid too warm a dress, for fear of sweating, which is always
detrimental to perspiration; the forced strainers remain the weaker,
and perform their functions the worse: too cool a dress is also to be
shunned, as that is an enemy equally to all cutaneous evacuations. The
part which every person, and especially the weak, ought to keep the
warmest, is the feet. This easy precaution would never be neglected,
if the importance of it to the preservation of the whole machine was
sufficiently known. Frequent catching cold of the feet disposes to the
most terrible chronical diseases. There are many on whom it immediately
produces bad effects. But those especially who are subject to disorders
of the breast, to cholics, or to obstructions, cannot too much guard
against these dangers. Those priests who used to walk bare-footed on the
pavement of the temples were often attacked with violent cholics.

The _saliva_ often is an over abundant secretion in weak persons; which
is owing to a relaxation of the salivary organs. Now if the patients
spit out continually this saliva, thence result two evils; the one,
that they exhaust themselves by this evacuation; the other, that this
humor, so necessary to the work of digestion, which without it operates
but imperfectly, fails, and thereby renders it laborious and defective.
I have already sufficiently explained myself on the dangers of a bad
digestion, not to need here much insistence on those incident to an
evacuation, on which the digestion so essentially depends. For this
reason it is that Mr. LEWIS forbids smoaking to his patients. Smoaking,
among its other inconveniences, disposes to an abundant salivation, by
the irritation it produces on the glands which furnish this secretion.

Might not the inhalation from one person to another, which I have
precedently mentioned, be here recalled to mind as one of the means of
cure? CAPIVACCIO had judged it of use to the person under his care,
that should lie between the two nurses that suckled him; and it is very
probable that the inhalation of their atmosphere contributed perhaps as
much as their milk to restore his strength.

ELIDÆUS, cotemporary with CAPIVACCIO, and preceptor to FORRESTUS, who has
preserved to us this observation[114], advised a young man, who was in
a _marasmus_, to asses milk, and to have his nurse lie in the same bed
with him, who was a woman extremely healthy, and in the flower of her
age: this advice had the greatest success; nor was the compliance with
it discontinued till the patient owned he could no longer resist the
inclination grown upon him, to make an illicit use of the strength that
was returned to him. A remedy, on the foot of this utility by inhalation
might be preserved, and yet the danger be prevented by not mixing the


The intimate union of the soul and body has been precedently mentioned;
how great the influence is of the well-being of the first, over the last,
cannot have escaped comprehension; the sinister effects of melancholy
have been pointed out; so that it is almost needless here to add, that
too great care cannot be taken to avoid the unpleasant sensations of the
soul, and that it is of the highest consequence to procure for it none
but the most agreeable ones; indeed in all distempers, but especially
in those, which, like the _tabes dorsalis_, of themselves dispose to
sadness, a sadness which, by a vitious circle, considerably augments
those distempers. But (and this makes one of the difficulties of the
cure) it often happens that the patients take a kind of pleasure in
this symptom of their disorder, and there is no prevailing on them to
determine upon making any efforts to get the better of it. Besides, not
to deceive ourselves, we must not imagine that it is enough to prescribe
to a person to be chearful, for him to be so. Mirth is voluntary.
Laughing is no more to be commanded than it is to be forbidden. A man can
no more help his being sad, than having a fit of a fever, or the torture
of a tooth-ach. All that can be required or expected of the patients
is, that they will no more refuse their yielding to accept or try the
remedies prescribed to them against their melancholy, than they refuse
yielding to other remedies. Now the remedies are not so much, in this
case, company, (we have already observed that it was displeasing to them,
for particular reasons) as a variety of situations. A continual change
of objects for a succession of ideas that diverts them, and this is what
they need.

Nothing can be more pernicious to persons inclined to deliver themselves
up to one idea, than inaction, or want of occupation. But, above all,
nothing is worse than that for the case here treated of: the patients
cannot too much avoid idleness, and the being too much left or abandoned
to themselves. Rural exercises, or employment, comprehend the most
powerful diversion. M. LEWIS advises, “that the sick should, if possible,
see none but those of their own sex;

    “_Nam non ulla magis vires industria firmat_
    _Quam Venerem et cæci stimulos avertere amoris._

“that they should never be absolutely alone; that they should be kept
from giving themselves up to their own reflexions; that they should be
diverted or kept from reading, or any occupation of the mind; all these,
(as he observes,) being so many causes that exhaust the spirits and
retard the cure.” I should not, however, be for totally debarring them
from all reading. It might be enough to forbid their reading for too long
a time at once, if it were but on account of the weakness of their eyes;
or all reading that should require too much application, but especially
and severely any kind of reading that might recall to their mind ideas,
or to their imagination objects, of which it were to be wished they
should lose the remembrance: but there are subjects which, without much
fixing the attention, and without recalling dangerous images, might
agreeably divert, entertain, and prevent the terrible dangers of a
wearisome idleness.


I shall follow the same order as in the preceding article. I shall point
out the pretended remedies, which are to be avoided, before I enter
on the mention of those which are the eligible ones. I have already
taken notice of a first class of those which should be excluded, the
irritating, the heating, the volatile medicines. There is a second one,
of a very opposite nature, and equally noxious, and that is evacuatives.
I have already observed, that sweats, an over-secretion of the _saliva_,
and too copious urines, exhausted the patient. I shall not then repeat
my premonition against those evacuations: it is consequentially clear
enough, that all the medicines which excite them, should be banished. It
remains then to examine the propriety of bleeding, and of the evacuations
of the _primæ viæ_. The curative indications being to restore strength,
now, in order to judge whether they are proper, it is but to know whether
they can be expected to answer that indication. I shall not be long
on this head. There are two cases in which bleeding restores strength;
in all others, it diminishes it. The first is, when there is too great
an abundance of blood; this is not the case in consumptions; or when
the blood has acquired an inflammatory inspissation, which, rendering
it unfit for its uses, quickly destroys the vital forces; this is the
disorder of the vigorous, of those who have rigid fibres, and a strong
circulation: our sick are in precisely the contrary case; bleeding then
cannot but be hurtful to them. “Every drop of blood, (according to M.
GILCHRIST,) is precious to persons in a consumption: the assimilating
power that repairs it being destroyed, they have not more than barely
sufficient to keep up the circulation, and that but a languid one[115].”
M. LOBB, who has very justly calculated the effects of evacuations, is
positive in this sense. He observes, “that in bodies, which have no more
than the necessary quantity of blood, if that is diminished by bleeding
or other evacuations, the vital forces are at the same time diminished,
the secretions disturbed, and various disorders produced[116].”

The manner in which M. SENAC speaks of bleeding gives it yet more
precisely the exclusion in this case. “If (says he) the thick or red
globules of the blood be deficient, bleeding is useless or rather
pernicious: it ought then to be forbidden in extenuated bodies, where
the blood is in small quantity, or not of due consistence, as when there
comes from the vessels but a liquid that can scarce color linnen or
water[117].” It has been observed, that such is the state of the blood
in those who have hurt themselves by self-pollution; and such it is
generally in the weak and in valetudinarians. Let those who attempt the
cure, in this case, by bleeding, compare that method with this precept
founded on the most enlightened theory, and on numerous practical
observations, well digested by reflection; these constitute the basis of
the work from which I draw it, and then let them judge of the success
they ought to expect.

Those medicines which evacuate the first passages, conduce to the
restoration of strength, when, in those parts, there is formed a lodgment
of matters so considerable by their mass, as to cramp or obstruct the
functions of all the _viscera_, or when there are in the stomach, or in
the first intestines, putrid matters, of which the common effect is a
prodigious weakness. In those cases evacuatives may be prescribed, if
nothing contra-indicates them, if there are no other means of freeing
the first passages, or if there should be any danger in not evacuating
them quickly enough. These three conditions have rarely place in
persons who are in a state of consumption, and in whom the weakness and
atony of the first passages is a counter-indication, ever present, to
purgatives or emetics. There is oftenest another method of procuring
a successive evacuation, which is, the employing the non-astringent
tonics; such are a great number of bitters, which, by restoring play
to the organs, produce the double good effect of digesting what is not
indigestible, and of evacuating the superfluities. In short, there is
rarely any danger in not evacuating them quickly enough. This danger,
indeed, sometimes exists in acute diseases; the acridity of the matters
which the heat augments, and the prodigious re-action of the fibres, may
occasion violent symptoms, which are never seen in chronical disorders or
distempers of languor, in which the evacuatives, properly so called, are,
from that very quality, never, by much, so necessary, and are, as I have
before observed, often contra-indicated. Atony, and the want of action,
are the cause of those gatherings when there are any formed; when they
are evacuated by a purgative, the effect is dissipated, but the cause
which will have produced them is considerably augmented: there remain
to be repaired both the evil that actually exists, and that which the
remedy will have done; if for these a remedy is not quickly provided,
the effect re-produces itself faster than before; and if way is given
to the employing purgatives a-new, the evil is a second time augmented;
besides that the intestines are made thereby to contract indisposition
to stools, which hinders their functions, till at length they arrive at
such a point that there is no obtaining evacuations from them but by
physic. In short, purgatives, in the case of obstructions in the first
passages of weak persons, can produce no diminution of the effect but by
augmenting the causes, nor give a momentary relief but as they make the
disease worse. And yet this method is but too much followed; the sick
generally like it, to them it has an air of quickness or dispatch; and,
indeed, provided that the failure of strength be not too considerable,
they find themselves relieved for a few days. The evil, it is true,
returns, but they had rather impute it to the insufficiency than to the
operation of that remedy, to which they have taken a liking. Besides, the
sick are ever for the present relief, and few physicians have the courage
to oppose this weakness. Yet is it important, as well in physic as in
morality, to know when to sacrifice the present to the future: a neglect
of this law peoples the world with wretches and with valetudinarians.
It were much to be wished, that there should be inculcated to many
physicians, as well as to many patients, that fine passage to be found
in the _Pathologia_ of M. GAUBIUS, upon all the evils which are the
consequence of the abuse of purgatives[118].

Are not there, will it be said, some cases, in which emetics and
purgatives may be admitted for the sick of whom I am treating? Doubtless,
some there are, but they are very rare; and great attention is requisite
not to be mistaken as to the signs which seem to indicate evacuatives,
and which often depend on a cause that is to be attacked by remedies
of quite another nature. I will not enter into a discussion of these
distinctions; that would be quite out of place here; it is enough for me
to observe, that evacuatives are rarely advisable in this disorder. M.
LEWIS is of opinion, “that a gentle emetic may serviceably prepare the
first passages for the other remedies, but would not have that exceeded;”
a multitude of cases have taught me, that even that might and often ought
to be omitted; and I have precedently adduced two observations of M.
HOFFMAN, which prove all the danger for that remedy. But even, without
recourse to experience, common sense alone may suffice to persuade
one, that a remedy which gives convulsions, cannot be very proper for a
disorder which are the effects of repeated convulsions.

It is by combating the cause that the evil is to be destroyed; for as
little as may every day be removed, of that cause, one may be pretty sure
that the effect will disappear, without the danger of a return. If it
is against the effect only that the procedure of the cure is levelled,
the work of each day is not only of no service to the following one, but
almost always detrimental.

After having indicated what is to be avoided, there remains to examine
what can be done. I have precedently specified the character that the
remedies ought to have; to strengthen without irritating; there are some
that can answer those indications; indeed the catalogue of them is not a
long one, and the two most efficacious are, doubtless, _the bark and the
cold bath_. The first of these medicines has been looked upon, for more
than a century past, independently of its febrifuge virtue, as one of
the most powerful strengtheners, and as an anodyne. The most celebrated
of the modern physicians look on it as a specific in the disorders of
the nerves. I have already shewn, that it was an ingredient in the
prescription above quoted from BOERHAAVE; and M. VANDERMONDE employed
it with great success in the case of a young man under his care, whom
debauches with women had thrown into a deplorable condition[119]. M.
LEWIS prefers it to all the other remedies; and M. STEHELIN, in that
letter of his which I have more than once mentioned, says, he holds it
the most efficacious of any.

Twenty ages of exact and well considered experiences have demonstrated
that the cold baths possess the same qualities. Dr. BAYNARD has more
particularly proved the virtue of them in the disorders produced by
self-pollution, and by excesses of venery; especially in a case, where,
independently of the impotency and of the simple _gonorrhœa_, there was
so great a weakness, augmented, indeed, by bleeding and by purgations,
that the patient was considered as at the gates of death[120].

M. LEWIS does not scruple affirming yet more positively their efficacy.
“Among all the medicines (says he,) whether external or internal, there
is nothing can equal the virtue of the cold bath.... It cools the body
more, strengthens the nerves better, and promotes perspiration more
effectually, than any medicine taken down the throat can do, and will do
as much service in the _tabes dorsalis_, prudently used, as every thing
else put together[121].” It ought even to be remarked, that the cold bath
has, as I have already said of the air, a particular advantage, which is,
that its action depends less on the reaction, which is as much as to say
on the vital forces of nature, than the action of the other remedies:
these only act upon the quick, but the cold bath gives a spring even to
the dead fibres.

The conjunction of the bark with the cold bath stands indicated by the
purity of their virtues; they operated the same effects, and being
combined, they cure those disorders which all the other remedies only
serve to make worse. In their qualities of strengthening, of anodynes,
of febrifuges, they re-invigorate, they lessen the feverish and nervous
heat, they calm the irregular motions produced by the spasmodic
disposition of the nervous system. They remedy the weakness of the
stomach, and very quickly dissipate the pains which are the consequences
of it. They restore appetite, facilitate the digestion and nutrition,
they re-establish all the secretions, and especially perspiration, which
renders them so efficacious in all the catarrhal and cutaneous disorders;
in short, they are remedies for all the diseases caused by weakness,
provided that the patient does not labor under indissoluble obstructions,
inflammations, abscesses, or internal ulcers, conditions which even do
not necessarily or almost necessarily exclude, any thing more than the
cold baths, but which often allow of the bark.

I saw, some years ago, a foreigner, who might be of the age of about
twenty-three or twenty-four, and who, from his tenderest infancy, had
been subject to the torture of the cruellest head-achs, and almost
continual ones considering the frequency and the length of the fits,
which were almost always accompanied with a total loss of appetite.
The evil had been considerably made worse by the use of bleeding, of
evacuatives, of purgative waters, of warm baths, of broths, and a
multitude of other remedies. I prescribed for him the cold bath and the
bark. In a few days, the fits became weaker and weaker, and much less
frequent; the patient, at a month’s end, thought himself almost radically
cured; the cessation of the remedies and the bad weather renewed the
fits, but incomparably less violent than before. He recommenced the same
process of cure the spring following, and his disorder came to be so
slight, that he judged he should need no more of any application; I am
persuaded that the same recourse, once or twice repeated, will radically
cure him.

A man of eight and twenty years old, had, for many years, been cruelly
tormented with an irregular gout, which seized constantly his head, and
occasioned dreadful distortions of his face; he had consulted a number of
physicians, and tried remedies of various kinds, and lately a medicinal
wine composed of the most penetrative aromatics, infused in Spanish
wine; all, and especially the last, had increased his disorder; blisters
had been applied to his legs which brought on violent symptoms; at this
epoch it was that I was consulted. I advised for him, a strong decoction
of bark and of camomile, which he continued for six weeks, and which
restored him to more health, than he had enjoyed for many years. It would
be needless here to adduce a great number of examples, especially foreign
to the case, to prove the strengthening quality of these remedies, which
has been so long demonstrated, and of which every thing in this disorder
indicates the use; an use of which the happiest successes have confirmed
the virtue.

When I employed the bark in a liquid form, I ordered the decoction of
one ounce in twelve ounces of water, or, according to the indication,
of red wine, boiled for two hours in a close vessel, to be taken, at
three ounces a time, three times a day. I time the cold bath in the
evening, when the digestion of the dinner is intirely completed; it
contributes much to procure a quiet sleep. I knew a young man, accustomed
to self-pollution, who used to pass the night in the most sleepless
disquiet, and who was every morning bathed in his own colliquative
sweats; the night that followed the sixth cold bath he slept five hours,
and got up in the morning without sweats, and much refreshed.

Martials are a third remedy, so often used in all cases of weakness,
as not to need any insistence here on their efficacy in quality of
strengtheners; as they contain nothing of an irritating nature, they are
extremely proper in this disorder. They are given in substance or in
infusion; but the best preparation is the chalybeate waters prepared by
nature, and especially the spaw-waters, one of the most powerful tonics
that are known, and a tonic, so far from irritative, that it softens any
acridity that may be in the humors. The gums, myrrh, the bitters, the
mildest aromatics may also be of use. It must be the circumstances that
must decide the choice from among these different remedies. The first of
those that I have indicated, merit, for the most times, the preference;
but there may cases occur which require others; they should, in general,
be selected from the class of the nervous medicines, taking for a guide
of choice, the precautions I have above specified. It is a disorder
of the nerves, and ought to be treated as such; and treated so it has
often been with success, without the cause of it having been known. It
is a truth, and a truth demonstrated by incontestable observations, that
the ignorance of this cause, and a neglect thereto consequential of the
precautions which it exacts, has sometimes frustrated prescriptions to
all appearances the best indicated, without the physicians being able to
penetrate the cause of their failure of success.

I prescribed for the young man, whose case is described in a fragment of
his letters (p. 34.) pills of which mirrh was the basis, with a decoction
of the bark; and this was attended with the happiest success[122]. “I
am every day (as he wrote me sixteen days after his beginning these
remedies) more and more sensible of the great good they do me; my
head-achs are no longer either so frequent or so violent: I have not them
now any more, unless when I apply close; my stomach grows better; I have
now but rarely pains in my limbs.” At the end of a month his cure was
complete, except in this, that he had not, nor perhaps ever will have,
the strength it is probable he would have had but for his misconduct. The
check, which the machine receives in its growing season, has consequences
which are irreparable. Oh, that this truth were but strongly imprinted on
the minds of youth! It has been lately urged with great energy. “Youth”
(says M. LINNÆUS) “is the most important season for forming a robust
constitution. Nothing is more to be dreaded than a premature or excessive
use of the pleasures of venery: thence proceed weaknesses of the eyes,
vertigos, diminution of appetite, and even an enfeeblement of the mental
powers. Bodies enervated in youth never recover their original vigor:
their old age is accelerated and infirm, and their life short[123].”

Sixteen hundred years before the times of this great Naturalist,
PLUTARCH, in his valuable work on the education of children, had
recommended the formation of their constitution as a point of the highest
importance. “No care (says he) should be neglected that can contribute to
the elegance and vigor of the body:” (the excesses of which I am treating
are detrimental to both the one and the other;) “for” (adds he) “the
foundation for a healthy old age is to be laid in youth: temperance and
moderation at this early time of life, are a passport to a happy latter

To the account of the preceding case, in which the success appears due
to the bark, I shall subjoin another, in which the cold bath was the
principal remedy.

A young man of a bilious constitution, seduced to libidinous practices
from the age of ten years, had always been, from that time, weak,
languishing, and of an ill habit of body: he had had some bilious
disorders, which it had been very difficult to cure; he was extremely
lean, pale, feeble, melancholic. I prescribed for him the cold bath, and
a powder of cream of tartar, martials, and a very little cinnamon. In
less than six weeks he acquired such a strength as he had never before

One great advantage of the Spaw-waters and of the bark is, that the use
of them agrees with milk, and suffers it to pass. The Spaw-waters are
not the only ones that have this property. HOFFMAN prescribed asses
milk, with a third of Seltzer-water. M. DE LA METTRIE has preserved to
us a curious observation of M. BOERHAAVE; speaking of the Duke of ——,
“This amiable Duke (I translate literally) had thrown himself out of the
nuptial paradise; I brought him into it again by the use of Spaw-waters
with milk[125].”

A weakness of the stomach which causes the digestion to be too slow;
acids; the want of activity in the bile; the obstructions in the
intestines of the abdominal region, are the principal causes that hinder
the digestion of the milk, and counter-indicate its use. The waters which
remedy all these causes cannot but facilitate the digestion; and the
bark, which fulfils the same indications, may also be very well combined
with the milk. These remedies may be employed, either precedently, to
prepare the passages, which is almost always necessary, or at the same

In 1753 I restored, perfectly, a foreigner, who had so exhausted himself
with a woman of the town, that he was grown incapable of any act of
virility; his stomach was also extremely weakened, and the want of
nutrition and sleep had quite emaciated him. At six in the morning he
took six ounces of the bark-decoction, to which he added a spoonfull of
Canary-wine: an hour afterwards he took ten ounces of goats milk, fresh
drawn, with a little sugar, and an ounce of orange-flower-water. He dined
on a cold roast fowl, with a glass of excellent Burgundy, diluted with
an equal part of water. At six in the evening he took a second dose of
the bark; at half an hour after six he went into the cold bath, in which
he staid ten minutes, and immediately on coming out of it, went to bed.
At eight in the evening he took again the same quantity of milk, and got
up from nine till ten. Such was the effect of these remedies, that at
the end of eight days, on seeing me come into his room, he cried out to
me, in a transport of joy, that he had recovered _the external sign of
virility_, if I may make use of M. BUFFON’S expression. In a month, he
had almost intirely retrieved his original vigor.

Some absorbent powders; some spoonfulls of mint-water, often the
addition of only a little sugar; some pills of the extract of the bark
with mastic, which is itself an useful remedy in this case, may also
contribute to prevent the disagreement of the milk. To the mastic, or
to the gum-dragon, might be substituted that gum newly introduced in
some parts of England, under the name of _Gumm. rubrum Gambiense_, upon
which there may be seen a small dissertation in that excellent collection
published by the new Society of Physicians formed at London[126]. It
strengthens, it sweetens: which are the two great indications in the
diseases of which I am treating.

However, if with all the care that may be taken, it should be found
impossible to bear the milk, I should advise trying butter-milk. I
prescribed it with success for a young man, in whom certain symptoms of
vergency to the hypochondriac disorder deterred me from a recourse to
milk itself. The bilious drink the butter-milk with pleasure, and are
always the better for it; and indeed it ought always to be preferred
to milk, where there is a great deal of heat, a feverishness, an
eresipelatous disposition; but it is especially of very great service
when the venereal excesses produce an acute fever, such as was that of
which RAPHAEL died. Notwithstanding the weakness in these erotic fevers,
the tonics would be hurtful; bleeding is dangerous: the famous JOHNSTON,
who died Baron of Ziebendorff, above fourscore years ago, positively
forbad it in this case[127]. Too cooling a method of cure does not
succeed, as the observation of M. VANDERMONDE proves, and as I have
myself seen; but the butter-milk is of service, provided it is not too
unctuous. It calms, it dilutes, it sweetens, it assuages the thirst, it
refreshes, and at the same time nourishes and strengthens, which is of
great importance in this case; one symptom of which is, that strength
melts away in it with an inconceivable quickness. M. GILCHRIST, who does
not lay any great stress on milk in a hectic, commends greatly the use of
butter-milk in that very disorder[128].

Since my last edition of this work, published about four years ago, (it
being now 1764,) I have been consulted by several persons in a state of
enervity or debility. Some have been intirely cured. Many have received
considerable relief; others none at all. When the disease is got to
a certain head, the most that can be hoped for is, that the remedies
will stop the progress of the disorder. Of the successes of some of my
patients I have remained unacquainted.

In almost all my treatment of these cases, milk has been the principal
aliment; while the bark, martials, chalybeate waters, and the cold bath
have been the remedies. Some patients I put intirely into a milk diet;
others only took it once or twice a day.

The patient of whom I particularised the case in the fifth Section,
where I promised an account of my method of management of his disorder,
lived for three months upon nothing but milk, upon bread well-baked,
upon one or two quite new laid eggs, a day, and fair water, just drawn
from the fountain. His milk he took four times a day, twice warm from
the cow without bread, twice warmed on the fire with some bread. The
remedies were an electuary composed of bark, of conserve of orange-peel,
and syrup of mint. His breast was covered with an aromatic strengthening
plaister. His whole body was every morning rubbed down with flannel. He
took as much exercise as he could bear, both on horseback and foot, and
especially he kept much in the open air. His weakness, and his complaints
of his breast, hindered me from advising him the cold bath at that
epoch. The success, however, of the remedies was such, that his strength
returned to him, and his stomach was restored. In a month’s time he was
able to walk a league on foot. His vomitings ceased intirely; the pains
of his breast were considerably diminished, and for these three years
last past he continues in a very tolerable state of health. Little by
little he returned to his usual aliments, having taken a distaste to milk.

The parts of generation are always those that recover their vigor the
slowest. Often too they never regain it, even though the rest of the body
appear to have recovered its natural strength. In this case, it may be
literally prophesied, that the part which has sinned, will be the part
that shall die.

I have always found more facility in curing those who, in the age
of maturity, had exhausted themselves by excesses, in a short time,
than those who, in a longer space of it, had enervated themselves by
pollutions, more rarely practised, but which having been begun in their
tenderest youth, had hindered their growth, and had never allowed them
to come to all their natural strength. The first may be considered as
having had a violent illness, which has consumed all their strength, but
whose organs having acquired all their perfection, however they may have
much suffered, yet, the cessation of the cause of their illness, time, a
good regimen, and proper remedies, may restore them. Whereas the others,
having never let their constitution come to good, how should they be
restored to what they never had? How could they expect that art should
operate in the age of maturity, what they have hindered nature from
operating in the tender season of youth and of puberty? Common sense must
tell one how chimerical such a hope must be; and, indeed, my observations
every day prove to me, that young persons, who have delivered themselves
up to this pollution, in their childhood, in their earliest youth, and
in the epoch of the unfolding of puberty, an epoch which is a crisis
of Nature, for which its whole strength is necessary to her; daily
observation, I say, proves to me, that such young persons must never
expect to be vigorous and robust: they may think themselves very well
off, if they can compass the enjoying a moderate state of health, exempt
from great disorders or great pains.

Those who trust to a tardy repentance, having delayed it to an age, in
which the machine may preserve itself, when it is in good order, but is
not to be repaired without great difficulty, ought not either to have
great hopes. After forty it is rare to grow young again.

When I order the bark with wine, I do not restrict the patient intirely
to a milk diet; but make him take the bark in the morning and the milk
at night. For some patients, however, I have been obliged to invert that
order; the wine taken in the morning not agreeing with their stomach, and
constantly making them vomit.

When I employ mineral waters, I make them drink first some bottles pure,
before I proceed to have them mixed with milk.

When the disorder is inveterate it commonly degenerates into a
_cacochymia_, a general depravation of the humors, or ill habit
of the body; the cure of which must be proceeded upon before you
attempt to restore strength. In this case it is that evacuants are
sometimes indispensably necessary, and prove of great service. Whereas
restoratives, nutritious aliments, milk, ordered in these circumstances,
may throw the patient into a slow fever, and he will rather find his
strength diminish in proportion to the use he makes of them.

When violent excesses shall have thrown one suddenly into such a
considerable weakness as to give room of fear for the patient’s life,
recourse should be had to active cordials. Spanish wines may be given him
with a little bread, or some good broths with new laid eggs: he should
be put to bed directly, and have some flannels applied to his breast,
steeped in wine, warmed with Theriaca.

As to those cases, in which venereal excesses have occasioned an acute
fever, bleeding should not be used, unless indicated by the fullness and
hardness of the pulse; and it is better to take the quantity of blood
at two different times bleeding, than all at once. The white decoction,
barley water with a little milk, some doses of nitre, some glisters with
a decoction of mullein flowers, some warm bathings for the feet; and as
to aliments, some veal-broth, thickened with barley or the like grain;
these are the remedies indicated by right practice, and such as I have
seen succeed very happily and quickly, in those cases in which I have
employed them.

The symptoms rarely require any particular method of cure, and yield to
the general one. You may sometimes, however, join external corroboratives
to the internal ones, where it may be proper to strengthen any particular
part. I have myself often advised, with success, epithems or aromatic
plaisters for the breast. Nor is it sometimes unserviceable to wrap the
testicles in a soft flannel, steeped in some corroborative liquid, and to
support them by means of a suspensory.

Here also may be placed what M. GOTTER says: “I have sometimes cured the
_gutta serena_, occasioned by venereal excesses, by employing internal
corroboratives, and errhines, or nasal cephalic powders, which, by the
slight irritation they produced, determined a greater afflux of the
animal spirits to the optic nerve[129].”

It would be needless here to enter on greater particularities of the
method of cure; whatever extension I might give them, they would never be
sufficient to guide the sick without the assistence of a physician, to
whom they would be superfluous. I have, indeed, treated the more largely
of the regimen, because that, when the disorder has as yet made no great
progress, that alone, joined to the cessation of the cause, might operate
a cure, and that any one might confine himself to it without any danger.

There appears then nothing more for me to say, before I terminate this
part, but to add the preservative cautions. I was sensible that this
article was wanting to the first edition of this work, and that it was
an unjustifiable defect, from the importance of the matter. A gentleman,
celebrated in the Republic of Literature for his works, and yet more
respectable for his talents, his knowledge, and his personal qualities,
than for his name, and for the employments of which he so worthily
acquits himself, in one of the first towns in Switzerland, M. ISELIN, (I
hope he will forgive my naming him,) made me sensible of that my omission
in a very polite manner. I shall quote here an extract of his letter with
the more pleasure, for its pointing out exactly what there remained for
me to do.

“I could wish (says he) to see a work from your hand, in which you would
explain the means the most secure and the least dangerous, by which
parents, during the time of education, and young persons, when they are
left to their own conduct, might the best preserve themselves from that
violence of desires which urges them to those excesses, whence arise such
dreadful diseases, or to disorders that disturb the happiness of society
and their own. I do not doubt of there being a diet that particularly
favors continency. I should think that a work that should teach it us,
combined with a description of the diseases produced by impurity, would
be equivalent to the best treatises of morality on this subject.”

M. ISELIN is doubtless in the right; nothing would be more important than
the combination of the two points he desires; but then nothing would be
more difficult than the detaching them from the other parts not only of
moral but medicinal education. To treat of this article apart, that is
to say, to treat of it well, it would be necessary to establish a great
number of principles, which would swell too much this little work, and
which would, besides, be very foreign to it. Some general precepts,
unconnected with the necessary principles and divisions, would not only
be of little use, but might even become dangerous; so that it is better
to refer such a treatise to the making part of a more considerable one,
upon the means of forming a good constitution, and of giving a youth a
firmly established health; a matter which, though it has been handled
by very able authors, is, hitherto, far, very far from being exhausted;
and upon which there remain a multitude of extremely important things
to be added, as well as upon the disorders incident to that season of
life. So that, though it be against my inclination, I will not here touch
upon this article. All that I can say is, that idleness, inactivity,
too long lying a-bed, too soft a bed, a rich, aromatic, salt, or vinous
diet, dangerous or suspicious acquaintance, licentious works, being
the likeliest causes of seduction into those excesses, they cannot be
too carefully avoided. Diet especially is of extreme importance, and
there is not attention enough had to that particular. Those who educate
youth, ought to have ever present to them that pathetic observation of
St. JEROM: “The forges of Vulcan, the internals of the Vesuvius and the
Mount Olympus do not burn with more flames, than youth pampered with high
meats, and drenched with wines.”

MENJOT, one of LEWIS the XIVth’s Physicians, from about the middle
to the end of the last century, mentions women, that an excess of
_hippocras_ (spiced wine) threw into a venereal extasy. The use of wine
and flesh-meats is so much the more pernicious, for that while they
augment the force of the stimulations of loose desires, they weaken at
the same time that of reason, which ought to resist them. “Wine and
animal food dull the soul,” says PLUTARCH, in his treatise _On the eating
of flesh-meats_, a work which ought to be generally perused. The most
ancient Physicians had already known the influence of regimen over the
morals; they had the idea of a moral medicinal-course; and GALEN has
left us upon that matter a small work, which is, perhaps, the best upon
that subject hitherto extant. Conviction of the reality of his promise
cannot but follow its perusal.

“Let those (says he) who deny that the difference of aliments can render
some temperate, others dissolute; some chaste, others incontinent; some
courageous, others cowardly; some meek, others quarrelsome; some modest,
others overbearing; let those, I say, who deny this truth, come to me;
let them follow my counsels as to eating and drinking, and I promise
them, that they will find great helps therefrom towards moral philosophy;
they will especially feel the faculties of their soul gather greater
strength; they will improve their natural genius, they will acquire more
memory, more prudence, more diligence. I will also tell them what kind of
liquors, what winds, what state of the air, what climates they ought to
shun or chuse[130].”

HIPPOCRATES, PLATO, ARISTOTLE, PLUTARCH, had already left us some very
good things on this important matter, and among the works which remain to
us of the Pythagorean PORPHYRY, that zealous anti-christian of the third
century, there is one, _upon the abstinence of the animal food_, in
which he reproaches FIRMUS CASTRICIUS, to whom he addresses it, for his
having quitted the vegetable diet, though he himself had owned it was the
fittest to preserve health, and to facilitate the study of philosophy;
and he adds, “Since you have taken to the eating of flesh-meat, your
own experience has taught you, that that confession of yours was well
grounded.” There are some very good things in that work.

The most efficacious preservative, the most infallible one is, doubtless,
that which is pointed out by that great man, who, of all men has the
best known his fellow creatures, and all their ways; who has not only
seen what they actually are, but what they have been, what they ought to
be, and what they are capable of becoming; who has the most truly loved
them; who has made the greatest efforts in their favor, and who has been
the most cruelly persecuted by them. “Watch with care (says he) over the
young man. Do not leave him alone either by day or by night. Sleep, at
least, in the same room with him. From the instant that he shall have
contracted that habit, the most fatal one that a young man can inslave
himself to, he will carry to the grave the melancholic effects of it. He
will have his body and his heart for ever enervated by it.” I refer to
the work itself for a perusal of all the excellent things he has said on
this matter[131].

The description of the danger, upon the abandoning one’s self to such
vitious practices, is perhaps one of the most powerful motives of
correcting one’s self of them: it is a dreadful picture, and fit to
make one start back with horror and affright. Let us assemble in one
point of view the principal features of it. A general wasting of the
whole machine; an enfeeblement of all the corporal senses and of all
the faculties of the soul; loss of imagination and memory; imbecillity;
contempt; shame; the ignominy such viciousness drags after it; all the
functions of life disturbed, suspended, or painfully executed; long,
vexatious, unaccountable, disgustful diseases; acute and constantly
regenerating pains; all the infirmities or evils of old age, in the age
of youth and vigor; an unaptitude for all those occupations for which man
is born; the vile character to act of being an useless burthen to the
earth; the mortifications to which such a character is daily exposed; a
distaste for all worthy pleasures; a dull melancholy; an aversion for
society and consequently for one’s self; a horror of life, the dread
of temptations every moment to suicide; an anguish worse than pain; a
remorse worse than anguish, a remorse which daily increasing, and which
doubtless taking a new force, when the soul is no longer weakened by its
ties to the body, will perhaps serve for a torment to all eternity, for
an unextinguishable fire. See here the sketch of the fate reserved for
those who proceed as if they had not it to dread!

Before I quit this article of the method of cure, I ought to observe to
the patients, and it is an observation equally extensible to all who
labor under chronical disorders, especially when they are accompanied
with weakness; that they ought not to hope that, in a few days, those
evils can be repaired or removed, which are the produce of the errors
of years. They must lay their account with being obliged to endure the
tediousness of a long cure, and to confine themselves scrupulously to all
the rules laid down for their regimen. If sometimes they appear trifling
or minute to them, it is because they themselves are not fit judges of
the degree of their importance; it would be better for them constantly
to repeat to themselves, that the irksome tediousness of the most rigid
method of cure is still preferable to a state of any the slightest
disease. Be it allowed me to observe, that for one disorder that remains
uncured through improper treatment, there are a number, which the
indocility of the patients renders incurable, notwithstanding the most
well judged assistance given on the part of the physician.

For the securing success, HIPPOCRATES required that the patient, the
physician, the attendants, should all equally do their duty; if this
concurrence was less rare, the happy issues of disorders would be more
frequent. “Let the patient (says ARIDÆUS) have a good heart, and join
forces with the physician against the disease[132].” I have seen the
most stubborn ones yield to the establishment of this harmony; and
recent observations have demonstrated to me, that the virulence of even
cancerous disorders has submitted to methods of cure, directed perhaps
with some skill, but especially executed with a docility and a regularity
of which the successes constituted the best praise.


_Accessory, or Relative DISEASES._


_Nocturnal Pollutions._

I have shown the dangers of an over-abundant evacuation of the seminal
liquid, by excesses of venery, and by self-pollution: I have also
observed, in the beginning of this work, that it was to be lost both
by nocturnal pollutions through libidinous dreams, and by that running
called the simple _gonorrhœa_. I shall briefly examine these two

Such are the laws that unite the soul to the body, that even when
the senses are locked up by sleep, the soul is taken up with ideas
transmitted to it in the day.

    _Res, quæ in vita usurpant homines, cogitant, curant, vident,_
    _Quæque aiunt vigilantes, agitantque, ea si cui in somno accidunt_
    _Minus mirum est._

Another law of this union is, that without disturbing this imprisonment
of the other senses; or, that I may express myself less equivocally than
in metaphor, without restoring to them their sensibility to external
impressions, the soul can, during sleep, beget the motions necessary
to the execution of those acts of the will, which the ideas on which
she busies herself suggests to her. Taken up with ideas relative to the
pleasures of love, delivered up to lascivious dreams, those objects which
she paints to herself, produce upon the organs of generation the same
motions that they would have produced in the time of being awake, and the
act naturally consummates itself in reality, if it is consummated in the
imagination. The accident to HORACE in one of the places of repose on his
journey to Brundusium, is well known.

    _Hic ego mendacem stultissimus usque puellam,_
    _Ad mediam noctem expecto: somnus tamen aufert_
    _Intentum veneri: tum immundo somnia visu_
    _Nocturnam maculant vestem, ventremque supinum._

The organs of generation, on the other hand, when they are the first
irritated, sometimes excite nothing but the imagination, and bring
on dreams, which terminate as the precedently mentioned ones. These
principles serve to explain the different kinds of these nocturnal

The first is that which proceeds from an over-abundance of the seminal
liquid; it is what persons in the vigor of life, who are sanguine,
hearty, and continent, are liable to. The heat of the bed coming to
rarefy the humors, and the seminal liquid being more susceptible of
rarefaction than any other, the irritated _vesiculæ_ hurry away the
imagination, which, being destitute of the helps that would discover the
illusion to her, delivers herself wholly up to it; the idea of coition
produces the ultimate effect of it, the ejaculation. In this case, this
evacuation is not a disease; it is rather a favorable crisis, that
disembarrasses from a humor, which, in too great an abundance, or too
long retained, might be rather hurtful: and though some Physicians, who
have no faith but in what they themselves have seen, have denied it, it
is not the less true that this liquid may, by its over-abundance, produce
disorders different from the priapism or the _furor uterinus_. I hope I
may be allowed a short digression on this question; it is not a foreign
one to my subject.

GALEN has preserved to us the history of a man and woman to whom the
excess of the seminal liquid was the cause of bad health, and who were
both of them cured by renouncing that continency to which they had taxed
themselves[133]; and he looks on the retention of this humor as capable
of producing very bad effects. I had, at Montpelier, occasion to make an
observation, in every point similar to that great man’s. A widow, of a
healthy vigorous habit of body, of near forty years of age, who had for
a long time been accustomed to the enjoyments of the nuptial bed, and
had been for some years deprived of them, used, from time to time, to
fall into such violent hysteric fits, that she lost the use of her senses
by them: no remedy could dissipate those fits; there was no way to make
her come out of them but by strong frictions of the genital parts, which
procuring to her a convulsive tremor, followed by a copious ejaculation,
she, that instant, recovered her senses.

ZACUTUS LUSITANUS relates a case very similar to this. “A girl (says
he) was in a very violent convulsive paroxysm, so as to be on the point
of suffocation by it; without feeling, without sense, a general tremor
over her whole body, her eyes set; having tried all other remedies in
vain, I ordered an acrid irritative pessary to be applied, which produced
a copious spermatic evacuation, and she immediately recovered her

M. HOFFMAN has also preserved to us the history of a nun, who could not
be recovered out of an hysterical paroxysm but by the excital of that
evacuation. And ZACUTUS, in the same work I have just quoted, speaks of
two men, to whose health the suppression of the pleasures of love was a
detriment. The one was attacked with a swelling at the navel which no
remedy could diminish, and which was dissipated on his marrying: the
other, weakened by his debauches in that way, quitted them all on a
sudden; six months afterwards he had vertigos, and soon afterwards some
attacks of a real epilepsy, which were imputed to some disorders of his
stomach. Accordingly they gave him stomachics, which exasperated his
disorder, and he died in a violent fit of the epilepsy. On being opened,
every thing was found in proper order, except the _vesiculæ seminales_
and the _vasa deferentia_, which were found full of a sperm, green, and
in some places ulcerous[135].

A Physician, respectable for his skill and for his age, and who long
attended the Austrian armies in Italy, told me, he had remarked, that
those German soldiers who were not married, and who lived chastely,
were often attacked with fits of epilepsy, priapisms, or nocturnal
pollutions; accidents which proceeded from an over-abundant secretion of
the seminal liquid; which perhaps too had the more stimulative acridity
from the heat of the country, where the diet is also more rich.

We have from the same Dr. JAQUES, whom I have quoted in the second
Article of this work, a thesis[136], of which M. DE LA METTRIE has
given a translation[137], in which he adduces many examples of diseases
produced by a privation of the pleasures of venery; and M. DE LA METTRIE
mentions another work upon cloistered virginity, of which the object is
the same.

M. ZINDEL published at Basle, about fifteen years ago, a dissertation, in
which he has collected together, scattered observations on the diseases
produced by too rigid a chastity[138]. And here may be placed what M.
DE SAUVAGES says of the dangers of a rigorous chastity to those women
with whose constitutions it does not agree; they are so much the more
the victims of the warmth of it, the more careful they are to conceal
it; they pine, and fall into melancholy, disrelish of life, emaciation,
and pollutions. He adds a case, which furnishes perhaps an example of
the severest trial to which a conflict of constitution and virtue could
expose the party distracted between them: it is that of a young girl,
who, devoured with a raging fire, and yet preserving her soul pure, with
an astonishing fortitude was subject to pollutions even in those moments
in which she was deploring her misfortune at the feet of her confessor, a
decrepid, loathsome old man.[139]

“A young girl, who marries an old husband” (said a new married woman
to her female friend) “had better throw herself into the river, with a
mill-stone about her neck.”

In short, not to mention many others, M. GAUBIUS places excessive
continency in the class of causes of diseases. “It is rare, indeed, (he
says,) that it produces any evils, and yet it has been known so to do,
in some men, born with a warm constitution, and who breed a great deal
of the seminal liquid, and in some women[140].” And he proceeds to an
enumeration of those disorders. The existence then of them is not to
be denied; but the rarity of them may at the same time be affirmed,
especially in the present age, which seems to be the age of sensuality:
and, in truth, we see every day that gross mistake committed, of
attributing indistinctly to this cause, that is to say, to a need of
employment for the organs of generation, all the diseases which attack
marriageable persons of both sexes, and in advising marriage to them as
the only remedy; a remedy often misjudged, often even noxious, because
it cannot destroy the complaints which proceed from other causes of
disorder, and may add to such evils, those which pregnancy and lying-in
commonly produce in persons of a languishing state of health. I return to
the subject of pollutions.

I have shown, that the first kind of them, produced by that
over-abundance of the seminal liquid, which it lessens by evacuation, is
not of itself an evil; but it may become one by recurring too frequently,
and at times when the over-abundance no longer exists. I have also
already observed, that one evacuation disposed for a second, and so
on, so great is the force of habit, which consists in this, that the
reiteration of the same motions gives them the greater facility, insomuch
that they reproduce themselves on the slightest cause; an observation
of great use towards the understanding the animal œconomy, upon which
GALEN, and especially M. MATY[141], have said some excellent things; and
still it has not been treated of to the bottom. From the habit then there
results this inconveniency, that these evacuations become a consequence
of it, independently of the want, and when it no longer exists. Then
they are extremely pernicious, and have all the dangers of an excessive
evacuation procured by other means. SATYRUS surnamed GRAGROPILEX,
residing at Thasus, had had, from the age of twenty-five, frequent
nocturnal pollutions: nay, sometimes the liquid would come from him in
the day time. He died of a consumption in his thirtieth year[142].

M. ZIMMERMAN told me of a man of a remarkably fine genius, to whom
pollutions had caused the loss of all the activity of his understanding,
and whose body was exactly in that condition described by BOERHAAVE
(Section I.) In that Section too may be seen the evils which HOFFMAN
observed consequential to pollutions. The most common symptoms, when
the disorder has not as yet made any great progress, are, a continual
oppression, most considerable in the morning, and acute pains of the
loins. Some months ago I was consulted about a laborer in the vines,
aged about fifty years, before that time very robust, but whom frequent
pollutions had, for three or four months, so prodigiously weakened,
that he could not work but a few hours a day. Often he was even totally
debarred from it by pains in his loins, which confined him to his bed,
and he every day grew leaner. I gave him some advice, of which I could
not learn the execution or effect.

I knew a man who had become deaf for some weeks on his neglecting a cold,
and who, on his having a nocturnal pollution, was, the next day, much
deafer than ordinary, with great restlessness and anxiety; and another,
whose weakness was owing to many causes, and who, after a pollution,
wakes under the greatest oppression, and with so general a numbness, that
he is for an hour like a paralytic, and remains the whole day after under
a great dejection.

In this first class may be put the pollutions of those, who, having been
accustomed to frequent emissions, suddenly suspend them. Such were those
of a woman whom GALEN makes mention; she had been, for some time, in the
state of widow-hood, and the retention of the spermatic liquid brought
upon her disorders of the _uterus_. In her sleep she had convulsive
motions of her loins, arms, and legs, which were accompanied with an
abundant emission of a thick matter, with the same sensations as in the
act of coition[143]. A female dancer had received accidentally a slight
hurt near her left breast; her surgeon prescribed to her rather a strict
diet, and especially forbad her those pleasures to which she was pretty
much accustomed. The third night of the privation, to which she had
submitted without minding the injunctions of diet, she had a pollution,
which returning several times the following nights, made her visibly fall
away, and caused to her violent pains of the loins. Her wound, however,
did not fail of healing, in a great measure, and would have been quite
so, if she had been observant of the surgeon’s rules of diet, who, firm
in the principles of his art, continued his prohibition of venery, and
bled and purged her. Wearied out, at length, and weakened, she left off
his remedies, and, resuming her usual course of life, her weakness and
her pains quickly went off.

But do not let any one, by any means, from this last mentioned
observation, conclude against the utility of the precepts of the
most skillful masters in the art of surgery, who, grounding it on
other observations, strictly forbid coition to the wounded; there
is no practitioner that might not easily have convinced himself how
pernicious it must be to them. I shall only adduce one example, in which
self-pollution was mortal, and of which G. FABRI de Hilden has preserved
to us the history.

COSMUS SLOTAN had amputated the hand of a young man, that was shattered
by a gun-shot wound. As he knew him to be of a very hot constitution,
he had strictly forbid him any commerce with his wife, whom he likewise
apprized of the danger. But when all fear of the worst accidents was
dissipated, and the cure was proceeding in a fair way, the patient
finding desires come upon him, for which his wife refused to have the
complaisance he wanted of her, he, without coition, procured to himself
an emission of the _semen_, which was immediately followed by a fever, by
a delirium, by convulsions, and other violent symptoms, of which he died
in four days time[144].

I knew a young married man, who, having inconsiderately thrown himself
out of the seat of a _cabriolet_, (a chaise,) fell on his side; the
hind-wheel went over his foot, between the heel and the ancle-bone; there
was neither fracture nor luxation, but a considerable contusion: finding
himself recovered at the end of five days, he proceeded with his bride
as if he had had no such accident. Two hours afterwards his leg swelled,
with the most unsufferable torture, and he had a strong fever, which
lasted thirty hours.

But return we to the point. It is of great importance early to prevent
the progress of habit; and whatever may be the first cause of the
pollutions, not to suffer them to grow upon one. When they have been a
long while upon one, they are very hard to cure. “There is no disorder
(says HOFFMAN) that more torments the patients, nor gives more trouble to
physicians, than nocturnal pollutions, when they have lasted a long time,
and become habitual, especially if they return every night. The very best
remedies are almost always in vain employed; they even often do more harm
than good[145].”

All the Physicians who have written on this distemper have asserted,
that the cure of it is extremely difficult; and all the Physicians who
occasionally have had it under their cure, have themselves found it so;
nor is there any room for being surprized at it. Unless one either
restore to the organs their strength, and diminish their irritability
during the time that passes between two pollutions, which is impossible;
or on a sudden prevent the return of lascivious dreams, which it is not
easy to do, one may be sure that the pollution will return, and destroy
almost all the good that may have been operated by the small quantity of
remedy applied since the last: so that from the term of one pollution to
that of another, the ground that may have been gained must be infinitely
little, and a great number of remedies must be accumulated before any
sensible good effect can be obtained.

COELIUS AURELIANUS has collected together the best things that the
antients have said on the management in this case.

_First_, He would have the patient avoid, as much as possible, all
libidinous ideas.

_Secondly_, That he should lie on a bed of a hard and refreshing matter;
that he should apply to his loins a thin plate of lead, and to all the
parts which are the seat of the disorder, spunges soaked in water and
vinegar, and cooling things, as the _balaustæ_, _acacia_, _hypocist_, the

_Thirdly_, That he should use no diet but of cooling and yet not laxative
articles of meat and drink.

_Fourthly_, He advises restoratives, or analeptics.

_Fifthly_, The use of the cold-bath.

_Sixthly_, Not to sleep on one’s back, but on one side, or prone.

All this advice is full of sensible things; but let us examine more
distinctly the indication that presents itself. It is to diminish the
quantity of the seminal liquid, and to prevent those lascivious dreams.
Now generally speaking, the diet and the regimen are much more proper
to obtain these ends, than medicines. The fittest aliments are those
which are procured from the vegetable kingdom, pulse, herbs, grain, and
fruits. Among the meats, those which contain the least substance. In both
the one and the other class, the choice should fall on those which have
the least acridity. It has been precedently remarked, what an influence
this regimen has on the tranquillity of sleep; it cannot be too much
recommended to persons afflicted with nocturnal pollutions, to whom that
tranquillity is so necessary. They ought especially to renounce suppers,
or at least never sup but lightly: this single attention contributes more
to operate a cure than all the medicines.

Some years ago I knew a young man, who had almost every night a nocturnal
pollution, and who had before had some fits of the _night-mare_. A
barber-surgeon had ordered him to drink every night, at his lying down,
some glasses of warm water; which, without diminishing the pollutions,
augmented the other complaint. Both these evils then united, and returned
every night. The dream of the _night-mare_ was the phantom of a female,
which caused at the same time his pollution. Weakened by the double
disorder, and by the privation of a tranquil sleep, he was going fast
into a consumption. I prescribed his taking nothing for supper but a
little bread and some raw fruits, and, as he went to bed, to drink a
glass of cold water, with fifteen drops of the anodine mineral liquor of
HOFFMAN. It was not long before he regained his tranquillity of sleep;
his two disorders left him intirely, and he soon recovered his strength.

Heavy, indigest meats, game or venison, especially at night, are a
perfect poison for this disorder; and, I repeat it, without leaving
off suppers, and especially of animal food, all the other remedies
can be of no service. Wine, spirituous liquors, coffee, are, in many
lights, hurtful. The best drink is that of pure water; or there may, to
advantage, in each bottle of it be dissolved a drachm of nitre.

The precept that COELIUS gives for avoiding soft beds, is of the greatest
importance. There should be no feathers suffered in it: straw is
preferable to horse-hair, and I have known some patients receive benefit
from covering the mattrass with leather.

The advice against not lying on one’s back, is especially necessary;
this posture, in the night, contributing to render the sleep the more
agitated, and to heat more the parts of generation.

In short, as habit has, in this case, a very great influence, and that
to break it is the capital point, the following observation may furnish
a means of succeeding. I owe it to an Italian gentleman, respectable
for his virtues, and one of the worthiest characters I ever remember to
have known. He consulted me upon a disorder of a very different kind;
but in order to give me the clearer notions of his present case, he let
me into the history of his health. He had five years before then been
troubled with frequent pollutions, which totally exhausted him. Upon
this he took, over-night, a firm resolution to wake of himself the first
moment that the appearance of a female should strike his imagination;
and, before he fell asleep, he took care to dwell fixedly and strongly on
this idea. This remedy was attended with the happiest success; the idea
of the danger, and his resolution of waking of himself, being closely,
over-night, linked with the idea of a woman, reproduced themselves, in
the midst of his sleep, at the same time, and jointly with this last:
he waked at the time, and this precaution, repeated for some nights,
dissipated the disorder.

But I would not have those two last instances inspire too much security:
there are cases against which the best remedies must fail; that which
HOFFMAN relates[146] is an example; and it would be right to give
before-hand to patients the advice which he gave to his; it is this; that
without a long perseverance in the use of proper remedies, there is no
efficacy to be hoped for from them; or rather, that in such a case, as
that the regimen is the great essential, it is often only by means of a
long observance of it, that any perceptible relief can be obtained. If
remedies are employed, they ought to be regulated by the same indications
as the regimen. It is not long since I knew a copious bleeding carry
off this disorder. Nitrous powders, lemonades, acid spirits, almond
emulsions, may be of service.

M. HOFFMAN prescribed for the self-pollutor, who, after having renounced
his infamous practices, had fallen under the disorder of nocturnal
pollutions, the following powder:

    ℞. _C. C. pphicè ppati. Ossis sepiæ ana unc. ss. Succini cum
    instillat. Olei tartar. per deliquium ppat. dr._ ii. _Cascar.
    dr._ i.

Of which he took one drachm over-night, with black cherry-water; and
in the morning the Seltzer waters with milk; his drink, a ptisan of
_santal_; the China-root, _cichoreum_, _scorzonera_, and _cinnamon_. With
these helps, and a proper diet, the patient got well in a few weeks.
M. ZIMMERMAN, by means of the same powder, has cured “very frequent
pollutions, attended with the common languor in that case, and which
had lasted for several years, in a young man of twenty.” It is not easy
to explain how this powder, which is but a simple absorbent, can do any
good; but I have seen good effects from camphire.

Another sort of pollutions is such as are incident to Hypochondriacs. The
circulation proceeds in them but slowly, especially in the veins of the
Hypogastrium, which is specifically the reason why the parts from which
those veins bring back the blood are often obstructed; the nerves are
easily put into motion; the humors have a character of acridity extremely
fit to irritate; their sleep is commonly disturbed with dreams: here
you have many causes of pollution, and indeed they are much subject to
them. “The imagination (says M. BOERHAAVE) often, during sleep, produces
emissions of the seed. The most sedentary of the men of letters, and the
splenetic, are liable to this accident; and the efflux of the seed is
often so considerable, as to cause them to fall into an atrophy[147].”
This disorder has for them so much the more vexatious consequences, for
that they never give a loose to any excesses of this kind, without being
extremely incommoded, as M. FLEMING has happily expressed it:

    _Non Veneri crebro licet unquam impune litare._

For them there is but one method of cure, which is, to attack the
principal disorder. The removal of the obstructions is the first thing
to be done; after which the cold-bath should be used, and that salutary
bark which God preserve to us. Then is truly the case of recourse to
those two powerful remedies, with which martials may be allied. If
an attention to the choice of aliments is necessary in all cases, it
is particularly so in this. The Hypochondriacs, in general, perform
their digestions very ill; the ill-digested aliments produce flatulent
turgescences, which disturbing the circulation, dispose to pollutions
in two ways; first, by obstructing the return of the blood in the veins
of the genitals; secondly, by disturbing the tranquillity of sleep, and
thereby consequently disposing to dreams. Thence sensibly appears the
reason why PYTHAGORAS forbad his disciples the eating flatulent aliments,
which he, wisely, considered as detrimental both to the clearness and
strength of the intellectual functions, and to corporal chastity. Besides
the two reasons which I have given, I might venture to point out a third,
which I have strongly had room to suspect in two patients; and that is,
the expansion of the air, disengaged from the fluids in the _corpus
cavernosum_, which produced an erection, together with the venereal
pruriency. It is now well known that all our liquids are impregnated
with this fluid, but that so long as they are in perfect health, that
fluid is, as it were, imprisoned, and deprived of all elasticity. Great
Naturalists have been of opinion, that there were but two ways of
restoring to it its elasticity; the one, a considerably greater degree of
heat than is observed in the animal body; and the other, putrefaction.
But a multitude of observations of disorders produced by the air so
dilated, have proved, that, independently of these two causes, there were
other alterations in the fluids, which would have the same effect, and
these alterations appear the most frequent in Hypochondriacs: so that
it is not wonderful that the cavernous parts should be the seat of the
expansion of this diseased air: on the contrary, there is no part which
appears more likely to be exposed to it; and if attention has not thereto
been given before now, it is probably rather for want of observers than
of observableness. Observations, however, clearly evince the necessity
of avoiding those aliments which, abounding more than others in air, are
the more hurtful, both by that which separates from them in the first
passages, and by that which they convey into the blood. Who does not know
that new beer, which is extremely flatulent, occasions violent erections?
Since my last edition of this work, I have seen that M. THIERRY, one of
the most learned Physicians, and of the most celebrated practitioners of
France, has taken notice of these flatulent erections.

And here may be added, as bearing some affinity to this last kind
of pollution, and principally attacking such as are melancholically
affected, a disease that might be called a _furor genitalis_. It differs
from a Priapism, and from the Satyriasis. I shall describe it by an
observation already published in the first Latin edition of this work,
and omitted in the French one.

A man about fifty years of age had labored under it for twenty-four
years, and in all that long term could not pass twenty-four hours without
recourse to women, or to that horrid supplement, self-pollution; and
commonly he would reiterate the act several times a day. The seed was
thin, acrid, unprolific, and the evacuation very quick. His nerves were
excessively weakened: he had violent fits of melancholy, and vapors; his
faculties were stupified, his hearing very indifferent or slow, his eyes
extremely weak; in short, he died in the most wretched condition. I had
never prescribed any thing for him; but he had taken a great number of
remedies. Many of them had done him no service; all those that were of a
hot nature had been prejudicial to him. Only bark, infused in wine, by
order of M. ALBINUS, had relieved him: and the authority of this great
Physician is a fresh, and, surely, a respectable testimony, in favor of
that remedy.

Among the Consultations of M. HOFFMAN may be seen a case nearly similar
to this; the pruriency was almost continual, and body and soul equally


_The GLEET, or simple GONORRHŒA._

“The _Gonorrhœa_ (says GALEN, who knew none but the simple one) is a
running of the seed without erection.” Many authors, in all ages, make
mention of it, and MOSES, the most antient of all. In the observations
of HIPPOCRATES may be seen the example of a Mountaineer, whose disorder
seems to have been a marasmus, and who had an involuntary evacuation of
the urine and seminal liquid[149]. M. BOERHAAVE seems, however, as to
the seminal efflux, to have set down this disorder among the number of
doubtful things. “You may (says he) read in books of physic, that the
seed has sometimes run, without its being perceived or felt. But this
disorder must be extremely rare, as I know of no instance in the which
the seed has come out without some degree of titillation: or else it was
not the true seminal liquid separated in the testicles, and amassed in
the seminal vesicules, though I have seen the liquid of the _prostatæ_
flow forth[150].” This authority is, doubtless, very respectable; but
besides that M. BOERHAAVE does not decisively pronounce on this point, he
has against him all the Physicians; and, not to go out of his own school,
one of his most illustrious disciples, GAUBIUS, admits the evacuation
of the seed without sensation. My own observations leave me no room to
doubt of the existence of both the one and the other disorder. I have
seen men who, after a virulent _gonorrhœa_, after excesses of venery, or
self-pollutions, had a constant running at the yard, but which did not
render them incapable of erection and ejaculation; they even complained,
that a single ejaculation weakened them more than a running of some
weeks; which is an evident proof that the liquid of these two evacuations
was not the same; and that that which comes by a _gonorrhœa_ flows only
from the _prostatæ_, from some other glands about the urethra, from the
follicular cellules distributed over its whole length, or, in short, from
the dilated exhaling vessels. I have seen other men, who, like the first,
had a continual running, but a running which weakened them much more, and
which rendered them incapable of all venereal pruriency, of all erection,
and, from that very circumstance, of all ejaculation, though the
testicles had no appearance of any disqualification for their functions.
It seems to me demonstrated, that, in these last, the true testicular
semen came away without sensation. Those then who know the structure of
the parts of generation, will easily bring themselves to believe, that
the first case must be much more frequent than the last; but of the last
they will also readily conceive the possibility of existence. The authors
of the greatest exactness have called that the true _gonorrhœa_, in which
they apprehended that the matter of the running was the genuine semen;
the other they termed the _spurious_ or _catarrhal gonorrhœa_.

The dangers of the genuine running are very considerable. In the
beginning of the first Section, _On the Symptoms_, the description by
ARETÆUS has been quoted. “How (says he, in the same place) can one avoid
the being weakened, when that which is so essential to the vital forces
is continually slipping away, in waste. It is in the seminal liquid alone
that eminently resides the strength of man.”

CELSUS, who lived before the times of ARETÆUS, says positively, “That
the running of the seed without venereal sensation, brings on a

JOHN, son of ZACHARIAS, more commonly known by the name of ACTUARIUS,
in a work which he composed for the service of the Ambassador whom the
Emperor of Constantinople was sending to the North, is, upon this point,
of the same opinion with the authors I have already quoted. “If (says he)
the running of the seed, which proceeds without erection, and without
sensation, sails for any time, it produces necessarily a consumption and
death; for the most balsamic part of the humors and the animal spirits
are thereby dissipated and lost[152].”

Some of the most modern authors agree also, on this head, with the
antients. “The whole body (says SENNERTUS) becomes emaciated, and
especially the back; the patients grow weaker and weaker; they languish;
they have pains in the loins; they turn hollow-eyed[153].”

BOERHAAVE ranks this _gonorrhœa_ among the causes of the palsy; and it
may be remarked, that he admits in this place a _gonorrhœa_ of pure
seed. “The palsy (says he) which comes from a _gonorrhœa_, is incurable,
because the body is exhausted[154].”

On this matter there may also, in an excellent dissertation of M. KOEMPF,
be found some interesting observations[155].

This disorder may draw its origin from many remote causes. The proximate
cause is always unitedly constituted of a defectiveness or depravity in
the liquids, of which the running consists, they being too thin, and
often too acrid; and of a great relaxation of the parts. The defect in
the liquids denotes a want of elaboration, which is owing to a general
weakness; this requires tonic remedies, which the weakness of the organs
also indicates; the coincident circumstances determine the choice
of them. It would be out of place to enter here on all the relative
particulars, and upon which there may be found instructive lights in
many medical writers, and especially in SENNERTUS, author of the best
compendium of practical physic that we have.

The same remedies as are pointed out in the course of this work, against
the other consequences of pollution, are applicable in this case; the
cold-bath, the bark, martials, and corroboratives. BOERHAAVE says, that
the _hepatica_ (liverwort) produces excellent effects (_egregios sane
præstat usus_) in the inveterate _gonorrhœa_, where it depends on the
relaxation of the organs[156]. Sometimes, to direct the tendency which
habit gives to humors towards the same part, it may not be amiss to
begin by some laxatives: there are even some great Physicians, who have
attributed to them an almost specific efficacy against this disorder;
experience yet more than reason has proved to me the contrary. Those
who will give themselves the trouble of reading the authors whom I have
above quoted, will find that they prescribe nothing laxative. ACTUARIUS
directs “things that strengthen without heating[157].” ARETÆUS, who,
in consideration of the urgency of the danger, recommends an immediate
recourse to remedies, prescribes none but strengtheners, abstinence from
the pleasures of love, and the cold-bath[158].

CELSUS, of whose works both of them have availed themselves, orders
frictions, and especially _baths extremely cold_, (_natationesque quam
frigidissimas_;) he would have nothing eaten or drank but what is cold;
that all aliments should be avoided which may engender crudities, wind,
and augment the acridity of the seed. FERNELIUS orders nutritious
aliments, and restorative electuaries[159].

If the promise of LANGIUS, who said “he would venture to swear for the
efficacy of purgatives and a diet in the cure of this disorder,” be at
all true, it cannot, probably, be relied on, but in that case alone,
where the disorder is produced by a bad diet, which should have given
birth to obstructions in the _hypogastrium_, and made all the humors
degenerate, without the solids having as yet received any considerable
damage; and this case it is that he must only have had in view; for if
the solids had received any material prejudice, the purgatives must
necessarily be aided by corroboratives. Such was the _gonorrhœa_ that
REGIS observed, and of which CRAANEN has preserved to us the particulars.

“A man (says he) of a pituitous constitution, having for along time used
himself to a humid diet, was attacked with the running of a watery,
crude, viscous humor, which came away without perceptible sensation. He
was wasting away, his eyes grew hollow, and he felt a daily decay of
his strength. REGIS began with him by evacuating with purgatives those
pituitous humor.” After which he gave him corroboratives, analeptics, and
desiccative aliments; and if that should not be sufficient, he advised
him a caustic for each leg[160].

But this method of purgatives can never be proper, when this disorder
is the consequence of venereal excesses, and is owing, as SENNERTUS
observes, “to that weakness which the _vesiculæ seminales_ have
contracted by the over-frequent vicissitudes of repletion and inanition.”

A particularisation of some cases will afford a clearer notion of the
true method of cure.

TIMÆUS furnishes us with one, which cannot be better placed than here.

“A young man, (says he,) a student of the Law, of a sanguine
constitution, used to pollute himself manually twice or thrice a day,
and sometimes oftener: he fell into a _gonorrhœa_, accompanied with a
weakness of the whole body. I looked on the _gonorrhœa_ as a consequence
of a relaxation occasioned in the seminal vessels, and on his weakness as
owing to his frequent effusions of seed, which had dissipated the natural
heat, gathered crudities, damaged the nervous system, stupified the soul,
and weakened the whole body.”

[He prescribed for him strengthening cordial wine, with the astringents
and aromatics infused in a strong-bodied red wine, an electuary of the
same nature, and an ointment composed of _oil of roses_, _mastic_,
_nitre_, _bol. armen. terra sigillata_, _balaustæ_, and _white-wax_.]

“The patient was in about a month’s time cured of this shameful disorder;
and I advised him to abstain in future from this infamous practice
of debauchery, and to remember the threat from the Most High, of an
exclusion of the effeminate from the kingdom of Heaven,” 1 COR. vi.[161].

M. ZIMMERMAN writes me as follows: “One of the best Physicians that we
have in Switzerland, M. WEPFER, whose authority cannot be of too great
weight, avers his having cured a continual flux of seed, the consequence
of self-pollution, with the help of the _Tinctur. Mart. Ludovici_. M.
WESLIN of Zurzach has, on his own experience, confirmed to me the same
thing. As for me (adds my friend) I cannot say that I have seen such good
effects from it.”

The Professor M. STEHELIN mentions a man of letters, who was afflicted
with an involuntary efflux of seed, without any ideas of venery, and
who was cured by the use of wine with the martials and the bark. The
remedies, and among others the waters of Swalbach, the embrocating
with cold water the _pubis_ and the _perinæum_, had not the same
success with a young man, who had brought upon himself this disorder by
self-pollution. He adds, that M. DE BONGARS, a celebrated Practitioner
of Physic at Maseck, had cured two persons attacked with a debility of
the _vesiculæ seminales_, by making them take, three times a day, eight
or ten drops of SYDENHAM’s _liquid laudanum_, in a glass of Pontac
wine, and by a decoction of _sarsaparilla_. M. STEHELIN remarks, that
though the opium is contrary to the indications, it has been advised
by ETMULLERUS _against too quick an ejaculation, where owing to an
over-spirituousness in the seed_. Be it here allowed me to add, that
on attentively examining the advice of this famous practitioner, and
on comparing the nature of the disorder, in certain cases, with the
effects of opium, it is not difficult to conceive, that this remedy may
sometimes be useful, but not in the case for which he prescribes it. He
distinguishes, with a great deal of accuracy, the different kinds of
runnings, he assigns the causes and the curative method of each kind, and
then passing on to the ejaculation which comes just on the beginning of
an erection, too quick (_nimis citam_,) he lays down two causes for it;
first, the relaxation of the _vesiculæ seminales_; secondly, too boiling,
too spirituous, too redundant a seminal liquid; and in this case it is
that he orders opium[162]. But on what foundation? Opium, the quality of
which, as a provocative to venery, stands so well demonstrated, a quality
which ETMULLERUS himself points out, both in his small treatise on this
medicine, and in this very place where he gives this advice, cannot but
augment the cause of the disorder, and consequently thereby aggravate
its symptoms. But the cases in which it may be of service, are, on the
contrary, where the humors are crude, thin, aqueous, and the nerves, at
the same time, of an excessive mobility. It is then known to be a remedy
for these different accidents, that it suspends the irritability, and
that it stops all the evacuations except perspiration. It cannot then
be too often inculcated, that the greatest attention must be had not to
prescribe opium, or opiates, but where they are proper, otherwise they
are capable of doing great mischief. M. TRALLES, in his excellent work,
furnishes us with an observation, and the like is to be met with in other
authors, which ought to oblige us to use a great deal of circumspection
as to that medicine.

“A man (says he) who from his youth upwards had had a strong passion for
self-pollutions, which had rendered him extremely weak, never took opium,
either to moderate a cough, or a diarrhœa, or with any other intention,
without having, in the night, and to his great detriment, lascivious
dreams, accompanied with a spermatic emission[163].”

Here may I have leave to state a reflexion which presents itself
naturally? It is this: the error of ETMULLERUS evidently proves:

_First_, How great an influence an exact theory has over practice, which,
without its help, cannot be but often false and erroneous.

_Secondly_, How great an advantage must a man, furnished with such a
theory, united with practice, have over one, who has no guide but a few
observations, or who delivers himself wholly up to a systematical theory?

_Thirdly_, How much may not the reading of even the best practical
authors, but who were destitute of that exact theory which is due to our
times, deceive such as, on the reading of them, can only have an implicit
faith in them, and who are ignorant of those principles which ought to
serve for a touch-stone, to discern, in physic, what is the good ore, or
the base alloy?

I shall conclude with two cases which fell under my observation; a
greater number would be superfluous.

A young man of twenty years old, who had had the misfortune of being
addicted to self-pollution, had been, for two months, attacked with a
continual mucous running, and now and then with nocturnal pollutions,
attended with considerable wastings of his strength; he had frequent and
violent pains of the stomach, he felt his breast extremely weak, and was
apt to sweat much: I ordered him the following electuary:

    ℞. _Condit. rosar. rubr. unc._ iii. _Condit. anthos. Cort.
    Peruv. ana unc._ i. _Mastic. dr._ ii. _Cath. dr._ i. _Olei
    cinnam. gutt._ iii. _Sirup. Cort. aur. q.s.f. electuar. solid._

Of this he took a quarter of an ounce twice a day. In three weeks time he
found himself recovered in all respects; and the running, or gleet, no
longer incommoded him, unless after the nocturnal pollutions, which were
become less frequent; a continuation of the same remedies for fifteen
days more completely restored him.

Two married persons, foreigners, whom I never knew, were attacked almost
at the same time, with a running, accompanied with weakness, and with
pains along the spine of the back. They were very sure there was no
venereal taint in the case, and could impute their disorder to nothing
but conjugal excesses. The running was much the most considerable in the
husband. They had tried various remedies, and all without any effect,
and among others some mercurial pills, which had increased the running.
At length they had me consulted. I prescribed for them the cold-bath,
wine medicated with the bark, steel, and flowers of red roses. They took
regularly my prescription: it was the summer of 1758, when the rains
rendered the use of bathing in the river very difficult: the wife bathed
only once or twice, the husband a dozen of times. At five weeks end,
they sent me word that they were almost totally restored: I advised them
to continue the method till the cure should be completed, which it soon

These happy successes cannot, however, serve for a general foundation of
a favorable prognostic: this disorder is often extremely rebellious, and
even sometimes incurable. Of this I will give but one example, but it is
a demonstrative one.

One of the greatest Practitioners that we have now in Europe, and who has
enriched the medical art with works, all of them excellent, is actually
himself afflicted with a _simple gonorrhœa_, of fifteen years standing,
which not all his skill, nor that of some other Physicians, whom he has
consulted, have been able to dissipate. This sad and vexatious disorder
wastes him away, little by little, and gives room to fear the loss of him
long before the term to which it were to be wished he should arrive, and
to which he might attain in the ordinary course of nature.

It would be needless for me to launch into a farther extension: I have
aimed at omitting nothing that might open the eyes of youth on the
horrors of the precipice they are preparing for themselves. I have done
my best to point out the most proper means of remedying the evils they
will have brought on themselves: I conclude with a repetition of what
I have already said in the course of this work, that some happy cures
ought not to serve for an encouragement of fallacious hopes; those who
are even the most happily cured, find it a hard matter to recover their
pristine vigor, nor can preserve a transitory health but by dint of a
constant attention to regularity, and to the keeping measures with their
constitution; the number of those who never emerge out of a state of
languor, is tenfold to that of those who are cured; and some examples
of persons, who either had not been more than slightly affected, or in
whom a more than ordinary vigorous constitution might occasion the easier
recovery, ought not to be considered as constituting a general rule,

                      ——_Non bene ripæ_
    _Creditur: ipse aries etiam nunc vellera siccat._

_The_ END.


[1] MONTESQUIEU, _Persian Lett._ 49.

[2] The title of the Original French is ONANISME, which is changed in
this translation, to avoid the mistake of the one work for the other.

[3] BOERHAAVE _Prælectiones ad Inst._ §. 658. 1. 5. p. 444. Edit. Goett.

[4] _De Morbis_, Lib. ii. cap. 49. Foes. 479.

[5] _De glandulis._ Foes. p. 273.

[6] _De re medica_, Lib. i. cap. 9 & 11.

[7] _De signis et causis dict. morb._ Lib. ii. cap. 5.

[8] L. i. c. 7. p. 34. Edit. BOERHAAVE.

[9] Comm. tert. in Lib. iii. Hipp. _De morb. vulg._ Oper. Omn. tom. iii.
p. 583.

[10] _Historia mundi_, Lib. vii. cap. 53. p. 124.

[11] _Tetrab._ Serm. iii. cap. 34.

[12] _Medic. Static._ Sect. 6. Aphor. 15. 19. 21. 23 & 24.

[13] _Commentar. de sanitate tuenda_, p. m. 37.

[14] _Obs. Medic._ L. iii. c. 24.

[15] ZIPÆUS, _Fundam. Med._ Part. ii. Art. 6.

[16] _Instit. Medic._ Part. ii. cap. 28.

[17] _Praxis Chirurgic._ Decur. i. Obs. 4.

[18] Decur. ii. Ann. 5. Append. Obs. 88. p. 56.

[19] SCHELAMMER _Ars medendi univers._ Lib. ii. Sect. ii. Cap. iv. §. 23.

[20] _Consult. Cent._ 2 & 3. Cas. 102. T. iii. p. 293.

[21] Same place, Cas. 103.

[22] Same place.

[23] _De morbis ex nimia venere_, § 18. Oper. Omn. Suppl. sec. Pars prim.
p. 496.

[24] _Institut._ § 77. Translated into French by M. D. L. M.

[25] _Comment._ on the foregoing quotation, T. vii. p. 214.

[26] _Institut. physiol._ § 870. 872.

[27] _De insensib. perspir._ cap. ult.

[28] APHOR. 586. T. ii. p. 46.

[29] _De morb. anim. ab infirm. medull. cer._ p. 37.

[30] Opera Omnia, fol. T. iii. p. 295.

[31] Lewis’s _Tab. Dorf._ p. 12.

[32] Lewis’s _Tab. Dors._ p. 16.

[33] _Immoderata seminis profusio, non solum utilissimi humoris jactura,
sed ipso etiam motu convulsivo, quo emittitur, frequentius repetito,
imprimis lædit. Etenim summam voluptatem universalis excipit virium
resolutio, quæ crebro ferri nequit, quin enervet. Colatoria autem
corporis quo magis emulgentur, eo plus humorum aliunde ad se trahunt,
succisque sic ad genitalia derivatis reliquæ partes depauperantur. Inde
ex nimia venere, lassitudo, debilitas, immobilitas, incessus delumbis,
encephali dolores, convulsiones sensuum omnium, maxime visus, hebetatio,
cæcitas, fatuitas, circulatio febrilis, exsiccatio, macies, tabes &
pulmonica & dorsalis, effeminatio. Augentur hæc mala, atque insanabilia
fiunt, ob perpetuum in venerem pruritum, quem mens non minus quam corpus
tandem contrahit, quoque efficitur ut & dormientes obscæna phantasmata
exerceant, & in tentiginem pronæ partes quavis occasione impetum
concipiant, onerique & stimulo sit quamlibet exigua reparati spermatis
copia, levissimo conatu, & vel sine hoc, de relaxatis loculis relapsura.
Quo circa liquet quare adolescentiæ florem adeo pessundet iste excessus._

INSTITUTIONES PATHOLOGIÆ Medicin. Auctore H.D. GAUBIO, Leyden, 1758.

[34] _Consult. Med._ T. ii. p. 16.

[35] Dated the 15th September, 1755.

[36] Decur. ii. ann. 4. Obs. 166. p. 327.

[37] SCHENCKIUS, L. i. Obs. 2. 36.

[38] §. 1077. T. iii. p. 429.

[39] _Quæst. med._ An Epilepsiæ Merc. util.

[40] _De locis affectis_, L. v. c. 6.

[41] _Observationes medicæ_ (_oppido raræ_,) Obs. 18.

[42] §. 1075. T. iii. p. 412.

[43] _De morb. nerv._, p. 462.

[44] _Nosologia methodica, seu classes morborum_, t. 5.

[45] Ad. §. 658. n. f. c. 5. p. 446.

[46] _Epidem._ L. iii. sect. 3. æg. 16. FOES. p. 1117.

[47] _De morb. ex nim. ven._ § 20, 21.

[48] NIC. CHESNEAU _Observ. medic._ lib. v. Obs. 36, 37.

[49] _Nosol._ T. ii, p. 262.

[50] _De sanitate tuenda_, p. 110.

[51] _Aphor._ sect. 6. 46.

[52] _De ætate conjugio opportuna_, Sect. 10. Suppl. 2do. p. 340. The
whole Dissertation deserves perusal, though it might have been better

[53] JUVEN. Sat. vi. ver. 321.

[54] _De genitura_, Foes. p. 231.

[55] _De spermate_, L. i. C. i. T. viii. p. 135.

[56] _De semine_, L. i. C. xxv. T. i. p. 1281.

[57] Cas. 102. p. 193.

[58] _De perspiratione insensibili_, Cap. xvii. § 5. pag. 219. In 1720,
the Dr. D. A. JACQUES maintained, at Paris, a thesis on this question,
“_An humorum præstantior semen_?” and, according to custom, defended the

[59] I adopt, or appear to adopt here, the common system of the absorbent
power of the ordinary veins. In Mr. HUNTER’S system, who will have it
that the absorption is only made by the lymphatic vein, the parts of
generation are equally proper for a very considerable absorption, since
they abound in vessels of that kind.

[60] _De semine_, L. i. C. xxxiv. T. i. p. 1279.

[61] HALL. _Prim. lin. phys._ §. 790. Besides which there may be
consulted upon this head, WHARTON _De glandulis_; RUSSEL _De œconomia
natur. in glandul. morb._ p. 92. SCHMEIDER _De regressuseminis ad massam
sanguineam._ _Supplement aux actes des Sçavans de Lipsie_, T. v. p. 552.
and a croud of other physiological authors.

[62] Such as are curious to see an excellent work upon these imperfect
men, will find their account in perusing a treatise of WITHOF _De

[63] FEL. PLATERI _Obs._ lib. i. _Suffocatio ex congressu_, p. 174.

[64] _Epidem._ L. iii. æg. 17. FOES. p. 1117.

[65] _Encycl. med._ L. ii. c. 6. p. 347.

[66] _Neuropathia_, L. i. ver. 375.

[67] Sect. 6. Aph. 10.

[68] _De motu animali_, L. ii. cap. xii. Prop. 170.

[69] _Traité du Cœur_, L. iv. cap. xii. §. 3. p. 539.

[70] Aphor. 4. p. 6.

[71] _De morbis a nim. ven._ sect. 17.

[72] Abstract from LYNCH’S _Guide to health_, p. 306.


[74] _In tentigine ardentissima juvenum inest quid grati in ore
ventriculi; in concubitum si ruunt salacissimi, et ultra vires tendant
opus, tunc in ore ventriculi manet illud ingratissimum, amarumque quod
exprimere nequeunt: pœnas et luunt, et pœnitentia dolent: hinc macies,
marasmus, &c._ G. R. DE PAYVA _De affectu atrabiliario, mirachiali, etc._
p. 17.

[75] _De morbis chronicis_, L. ii. c. 6. “Stomachus delectationis
tristitiæque princeps est.”

[76] _De morb. nerv._ p. 454.

[77] Ibid. p. 807.

[78] _De perspiratione_, Cap. xvii. § 8-12. and _Aph._

[79] _The works of the late CLIFTON WINTRINGHAM_, T. ii. p. 85, &c.

[80] _Comment. in lib. de Diæta_, p. 228.

[81] REGNIER, Sat. v. The sense of which is nearly as follows:

    _Not by intrinsic merit things are tried,_
    _But humor, character, their worth decide;_
    _Man judging as he’s, at the time, inclin’d,_
    _So versatile, so weak’s the human mind._

[82] LUCRETIUS _De natura rerum._

[83] _De Aere, Locis, et Aquis._ FOES. p. 293.

[84] Sect. 6. Aphor. 35.

[85] _De natura pueri_, Text. 22. FOES. p. 242.

[86] Translated from the French. There may also be seen an excellent
passage on the force and dangers of voluptuous habits, in a new Treatise
of M. PUJATTI, Professor at Padua, long of great reputation for his
admirable work _De victu febricitantium_, p. 63.

[87] See GAUBII _Institutiones pathologicæ_, §. 529.

[88] P. 126.

[89] _Excerptum totius Italicæ et Helveticæ Literaturæ, pro anno 1759._
T. i. p. 93.

[90] _On EXPERIENCE._ In German, by M. ZIMMERMAN, vol. ii. p. 400. I
take this fragment from those which his friendship has engaged him to
translate in my favor. Almost all the other will serve to adorn a work of
which I am preparing the publication, which will soon follow this.

[91] The demonstration of this truth may be seen in the part I am quoting
of M. SENAC’s treatise _On the Heart_, L. iii. §. 7., a work that seemed
to have left nothing more to be wished for upon that subject, if its
illustrious author had not, in his promise of a second edition, given us
to understand, that he could yet render it more perfect. A great man may
surpass himself, and see a point of perfection, which others do not so
much as imagine.

[92] _Lessons on his Institutes_, Sect. 776.

[93] _De ratione victus in morbis acutis._ FOES. p. 405, 406.

[94] _De morb. a nimia venere_, §. 24, & 26.

[95] _Instit. de med._ T. vii. p. 215.

[96] This symptom is very frequent among persons who have exhausted
themselves by venery, and contributes to prolong or maintain that
exhaustion. The smallest temptation produces a beginning of erection,
which is followed by an efflux of the seed.

[97] The one selected here is the seventh. This thesis, so worthy of
perusal, is to be found, together with a great number of other small
excellent works, which are to be come at no where else but in that
fine collection of practical _theses_, which M. HALLER (who desires
and promotes the advancement of medical knowledge, with as much zeal
as discernment) has taken the pains to publish, under this title:
_Disputationes ad morborum historiam & curationem facientes_. Lausanne,
1758. The name of the author is a sufficient attestation of the merit of
the work, which bids fair to become one of the foundations of a library
of practical study. The piece, which I am here quoting, is, STEPHANI
WEZPREMI _Observationes Medicæ_, Trajecti, 1756. See T. vi. p. 804.

[98] As he does not particularise the species, it can be no other than
the _lamium album_, white archangel, or the _lamium maculatum_.

[99] _A practical essay on the Tabes dorsalis_, _etc._ the fourth
edition, p. 20 and 25.

[100] Sect. 10. p. 27. also ROBINS _on Consumptions_, p. 98.

[101] Ibid. p. 26 and 28.

[102] _Medic. annuus_, T. ii. p. 216.

[103] _De perspir. insensib._ p. 504.

[104] _De curat. acutorum_, L. ii. c. iii. p. 103.

[105] Sect. 6. Aphor. 22.

[106] P. 27.

[107] ΓΑΛΑΚΤΟΛΟΓΙΑΣ. _Tentamen_, &c. Basle, 1707.

[108] Ibid. Sect. 32.

[109] _De Diæta acuta._ L. iii. c. 12. FOES. 368.

[110] M. THIERRY, anonymous author of _La Medecine Experimentale_. When
an author publishes so valuable a work, he ought not to wish or imagine
that he can long remain unknown, nor fear the being discovered. The
moment that we shall have all that work compleat, it will furnish a
considerable epoch in the history of physic.

[111] _Tabes Dorsalis_, Sect. 9.

[112] Sect. ix.

[113] _Epidem._ L. vi. §. 4. Aphor. 14. FOES. 1180.

[114] _Observat. et Curat._ L. i. Obs. 10. T. i. p. 122.

[115] _On sea voyages_, p. 117.

[116] _A Letter shewing what is the proper preparation of persons for
inoculation._ Sect. iv.

[117] _Traité de Cœur._ L. iv. c. 1. § 2. T. ii. p. 263.

[118] Sect. 484.

[119] _Recueil periodique d’Observations de Médecine_, T. vi. p. 195. In
the second volume of which same work may be seen the description of a
disorder produced by the same cause, which deserves attention.

[120] _ΨΥΧΡΟΔΥΣΙΑ, or the History of Cold Bathing_, p. 254, 281.

[121] Sect. x.


    ℞. _Myrrh. eclect. unc. S. Gum. Galb. extr. trifol. Terr.
    Japon. a̅a̅ dr._ ii. _Sin. cort. aur. q. s. f. pil. gr._ iii.

To be taken an hour before breakfast, dinner, and supper, with three
ounces of the following draught:

    ℞. _Cort. Peruv._ ℥ii. _Cort. rad. capp._ ℥i. _Cinnam. acut._
    ʒii. _Lim. Mart. in nodul. lax._ ℥ß. _S. cum aq. font._ lib. ii
    ß. _l. a, f. decoct._

[123] This passage is taken from a Dissertation of this learned
Physician, _On the foundations of health_. See the _Danish Mercury for
July 1758_. p. 95.

[124] _De puerorum institutione_, Cap. x.

[125] _Supplement à l’Ouvrage de Penelope_, Chap. i. p. 35. “_Amabilis
ille Dux se posuerat extra matrimonium; ego illum reposui intra._”

[126] _Medical Observations and Enquiries_, T. i. p. 36.

[127] _In febre ex venere cavendum a venæ sectione._ Syntagma, L. i. tit.
2. c. 1.

[128] _On Sea voyages_, p. 119.

[129] _De perspiratione insens._ p. 514, 515.

[130] _Quod animi mores temperamenta sequentur._ C. 9. CHARTERIUS, T. v.
p. 457.

[131] See ROUSSEAU’S _Emilius_, English Translation, Vol. ii. p. 188, &
seq. Vol. iii. p. 155, &c.

[132] _De diut. morb._ 1. i. proem. p. 27.

[133] _De locis affectis_, L. vi. c. 5. CHARTER. T. vii. p. 519.

[134] _Prax. admirand._ L. i. Obs. 85.

[135] _Prax. admirand._ L. i. Obs. 109, 110.

[136] _An ex negato veneris usu morbi_, 1722.

[137] PENELOPE, ch. 8. _Des qualités necessaires aux medecins._

[138] NICOLAUS ZINDELIUS _De morbis ex castitate nimia oriundis._ Basle,

[139] _Nosolog. medic._ T. iv. p. 344.

[140] _Institutiones Pathologicæ_, §. 563.

[141] GALENUS, Libr. _De consuetudinibus_, CHARTER. T. vi. p. 541.
M. MATY, _Dissertatio de consuetudinis efficacia in corpus humanum_,
Leyd. 1740. M. PUJATI has also given us some very good reflexions on
this matter, in his Treatise _De la Diéte des Fievreux_, p. 57, &c.
Metaphysicians, who appear to have the best handled this point, are Mr.
LOCKE, _Essays_, L. ii. c. 32, M. de CONDILLAC, _Traité des animaux_, p.
2. c. 2. and 9. and the anonymous author _des Elemens de Physiologie_, c.
61, 62, 63, 64. I know a man that, having been waked, above twenty years
before, at one after midnight, by an alarm of fire, has since that time
constantly waked of himself precisely at that hour.

[142] _Epidem._ L. vi. §. 8. n. 52. FOESUL. 1201.

[143] _De semine_, Lib. ii. cap. 1. CHARTER. T. iii p. 213.

[144] _Obs. Chirurg._ Cent. i. Obs. 22.

[145] Cons. 102.

[146] Cas. 102.

[147] _Institut._ §. 776.

[148] _Consult._ Cent. 2 & 3. Op. T. iii. p. 214.

[149] _Epid._ L. vi. § 3. No. 13. FOES. 1173.

[150] Ibid. LA METTRIE, T. vii. p. 214.

[151] _De Medicina_, Lib. iv. cap. 21.

[152] _Medicus, sive de methodo medendi_, L. i. c. 22.

[153] _Praxis medica_, L. iii. Part. ix. Sect. 2. c. 4.

[154] _De morb. nervor._ p. 717. This Work, gathered from his Lessons,
from 1730 to 1745, and in that posterior by some years to the Lessons
collected by M. DE HALLER, proves that BOERHAAVE had changed his opinion
as to the possibility of a purely seminal _gonorrhœa_; and it is well
known, that that great man was always ready to renounce his former ideas
to adopt new ones, the instant he was convinced of their being the

[155] G. L. KOEMPF _De morbis ex atrophia_, Basle, 1756.

[156] _Historia plantarum_, &c. p. 51.

[157] L. iv. c. 8.

[158] P. 231.

[159] Oper. Omn. p. 544.

[160] See J. J. MANGETI _Bibliotheca medico-practica_, T. ii. p. 625.

[161] Ibid. 624.

[162] _Colleg. pract. special._ C. ii. T. i. p. 459.

[163] _Usus Opii salubris et noxius_, p. 131.

Transcriber’s Note

Old spelling is preserved as printed. The following changes were made to
the text to correct probable errors.

    Page vii, “nccessary” changed to “necessary” (the precautions
    they should judge necessary)

    Page 13, “michievous” changed to “mischievous” (ignorant of the
    mischievous consequences)

    Page 15, “succceded” changed to “succeeded” (that pleasure is
    immediately succeeded)

    Page 18, “red” changed to “read” (when I read this observation)

    Page 68, “suffises” changed to “suffices” (suffices for the

    Page 76, “fell” changed to “feel” (they feel, in the same
    place, an extremely disgustful sensation)

    Page 109, “the the” changed to “the” (a moderate exercise of
    the body)

    Page 118, “anænia” changed to “anæmia” (anæmia, or deficiency
    of blood)

    Page 119, “a a” changed to “a” (in every dish of which is to be
    put a tea-spoonful)

    Page 148, “to oacid” changed to “too acid” (a wine neither too
    heady nor too acid)

    Page 164, “stong” changed to “strong” (rigid fibres, and a
    strong circulation)

    Page 218, “doubful” changed to “doubtful” (among the number of
    doubtful things)

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