A Treatise on the Eclectic Southern Practice of Medicine Page: 16 of 724
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to a new system, a .new school. The mathematical, or re
mechanical physicians, making extreme deductions from
truth that the construction of the skeleton, the muscular ac
the motion of the limbs and other large organs, are evid<
mechanical, taught that all' the vital system was constructed
the same principles, controlled by similar motive powers, a'
like manner subject to the laws of gravity and impul
Looking upon the whole body as a kind of machine, put togs
upon the principles of hydraulics and hydrostatics, compose
its tubes; canals, &c., they could consider disease in no <
light than as the, consequence of the obstruction, or laxit
other derangement of these mechanical forces, arising fron
contraction or enlargement of the pores, &c. This system
long time prevailed. A glance of the mind will convince(
one, that its indiscriminate pursuit in the treatment of dis
would occasion the alternate abuse of purgatives and astring
stimulants and narcotics, according to the supposed seat
cause of the special disease. Yet even this school has
tributed its share to. the progress of medical science, by ca
to be more minutely studied and explained a variety of p:
mena ;the vermicular motion of the bowels, for instance, I
without it would have, remained much longer unknown.
Pending the contest between' these ttwo opinions, app
'Van Helmont, in Hollarrd, who laid the foundation of a
sect-the Vitalists. He was followed by$Stahl, who enl
and improved upon the theory ofg his predecessor. They t
that the functions of life depend neither upon a chemical
mechanical action; that the organs of the body are of theme
inert, and controlled by a certain invisible and unsubst,
spirit, or agent, which the former called archeus, and th
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Massie, J. Cam. A Treatise on the Eclectic Southern Practice of Medicine, book, 1854; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143817/m1/16/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.