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swaddling-bands of an ignorant superstition.' At that time a few close corporations kept whatever scientific knowledge there was tightly wrapped up in Latin formulæ and antiquated rituals, which to many even of their own members were no more than a sort of fetish, by means of which fees might be extracted from a credulous public, just as law was a gold-mine to the augurs and pontiffs of Rome before the publication of the Twelve Tables. As a consequence the most extravagant belief in witchcraft and necromancy was widely spread : a quack differed little except in the more moderate nature of his fees from his orthodox brother, and to the popular mind astrology was a very natural and almost essential part of a doctor's equipment.

Culpeper, while himself essentially a quack, totally lacking in what we should consider scientific methods, and relying in his practice upon the crudest empiricism, seems yet almost unconsciously to have grasped some of the principles of true progress. At least he had grasped the true spirit in which a doctor should approach his art. 'I wish,' he says, speaking of his publisher, that Peter Cole would hereafter print me, Nich. Culpeper, Doctor of Physick, and leave out Gent., for all the world must of themselves know that a Doctor of Physick is a Gentleman in the superlative degree.'

It was, too, a dim feeling that science must rest on light and knowledge, and not ignorance, that inspired him to his two great undertakings, his English translation of the College of Physicians' Pharmacopæia, which he called A Physical Directory, or a Translation of the London Dispensatory, published in 1649 ; and the English Physician, with 369 Medicines made of English Herbs, published in 1653, which had an enormous sale (unprofitable to him, however), and of which the last edition was published in 1820 by Dr. Gordon, M.D.

This invasion of the sacred precincts immediately brought down upon his head the wrath of those who saw the source of their profits tapped at the root. It was a time when party conflicts had embittered men's tongues and sharpened their pens. When anyone had determined to abuse a man, he set to work with a will, and did not rest till he had exhausted a good part of the plentiful vocabulary of invective. A Royalist periodical, the Mercurius Pragmaticus, after mentioning that the Pharmacopeia had been done (very filthily) into English by one Nicholas Culpeper,' goes on to remark that he ' by two years' drunken labour hath gallimawfred the Apothecaries' Book into nonsense, mixing every receipt therein with some samples, at least, of rebellion or atheisme, besides the danger of poysoning men's bodies. And (to supply his drunkenness and leachery with a thirty shillings reward) endeavoured to bring into obloquy the famous societies of Apothecaries and Chyrurgeons.' There is a grain of truth in most invective; I find it here in the amount of Culpeper's profits.

In reality these works were well conceived and well carried out, and reflect great credit upon their author. They brought him little, however, except the implacable hostility of the regular practitioners, who did their best to ruin his reputation and brand him as a quack. * His most public enemies were Physicians and his most private ones Divines. The first hated him for discovering the use of medicine in his mother-tongue; the second did disgust him for studying astrology: he that did these things was not of their college.' Culpeper published several other works on the practice of different branches of medicine which show real ability and research, when the standard of his time is taken into account.

Yet upon all this solid foundation of knowledge was imposed a strange medley of quackery. A work published posthumously in 1660 was entitled, Arts Masterpiece, or the Beautifying part of Physic, whereby all defects of nature in both sexes are amended, Age renewed, youth continued, and all imperfections fairly remedied. Never was such a comprehensive compendium of attractive medicines. There were potions to make the body fat or lean, recipes to smooth wrinkles and raze out the marks of the small-pox, cures for scales and even lice in the eyebrows, all sorts of ointments, unguents, and dentifrices, and last, but not least, Pomanders for the Pestilence.

Another work was entitled, An Astrological Judgment of Diseases, which cannot fairly be accused of possessing any medical value. Pure quackery all this, but thoroughly well suited to the mental habits of those amongst whom Culpeper laboured.

The most successful doctors are those who have most sympathy with their patients and most knowledge of their peculiar idiosyncrasies. A bread pill may be the best medicine for one man, whilst another with the same complaint may need as many drugs as a chemist can name. When all is said and done, faith, and time, which means Nature, have cured more maladies than the whole College of Physicians. The difference between the regular practitioner and the quack lies mainly in their methods of calling these sovereign remedies into action. It was once my good fortune to attend a public fair at Angoulême. The greatest attraction of the show was a large van on which was emblazoned in large letters, “The Dental Institute of London,' though probably the owners had as good title to belong to the Dental Institute of Kamtschatka. On the roof of the van were seated four men armed with drums and cymbals. Presently a lady of attractive appearance and, as it turned out, of iron wrist mounted upon the box-seat and harangued us in good Parisian (not the French of Stratford-atte-Bow) upon the merits of her dentistry, and invited us to make trial of it for a moderate fee. The crowd listened intently, but no one stirred till a Zouave came forward and took the vacant seat. He explained that he had a toothache, but did not know exactly in --which tooth. Grasping his head in one hand, and flourishing some pincers, her sole weapon, in the other, the lady continued ter speech. Suddenly at a word from her the men on the van raised a hideous din with drum and cymbal; she thrust her pincers into his mouth, and with one dexterous twist wrenched out a tooth, which she held high in triumph, and then jerked it dramatically over her shoulder into the crowd. The effect was electrical; murmurs of applause broke out, and patients streamed up to the box-seat. Doubtless many a sound tooth was sacrificed that day, but everybody believed that they were the better for the loss, and generally Nature did the rest, when faith had led the way. A skilled dentist could hardly do more, at any rate in the time.

An examination of Culpeper's prescriptions shows that he acted very largely on these principles. Trust in God was ever his first advice. One of his special and most universal remedies was a substance called Aurum Potabile.' This, he says, 'cures the gout, being fitly administered and the patient abstaining from the causes.' Another prescription, for a strained thigh, illustrates even more remarkably his reliance on time. “Take great earth worms,” it runs, ‘and beat them all to a mash, and add unto them a little mastick in powder, then boyl them in oyle, till it be thick like a salve, and lay it to the grieved place, let it lye on nine days, and by that time all will be welli

Boiled earth worms and mastick to affect the imagination, and nine days' rest to cure the strain, for you cannot walk about and keep such a poultice in position.

So if Culpeper was a quack, he was also a philosopher; he had gone to the root of the matter, and understood that the mind is more important than the body. And if he does promise to renew age and perpetuate youth, he is candid in recognising the limits of his art. When he perceived death approaching, ‘he would not leave or desert his patient till he had procured and opened a fair and easy passage for him to go out of this life.'

There remains Culpeper the astrologer and Culpeper the politician. We have already seen how to suit the popular taste he mixed astrology with medicine. It is not surprising to find that he made equal use of that mysterious art in the vaguer field of politics. A pamphlet of the day, entitled, Black Monday turned white, or an answer to the great prognosticks and gross predictions of Mr. Lilly, Mr. C. and others, shows how wide his reputation was, and how high he stood among the band of quasi-magicians who form such a curious feature among the many curious phenomena of that age.

On another occasion I hope to have something to say about one of these astrologers and the extent of their influence. We must not suppose that astrologers were in any inferior position. One fact alone among many—that the rival armies at the siege of Colchester engaged astrologers to curse their enemies and prophesy evil concerning them like any witch of Endor-shows in what high esteem they were held.

After what has been said, it is not necessary to repeat that Culpeper was an enthusiastic Parliamentarian. As he had fought with the sword, so he fought with the pen. His indefatigable industry, backed by astrology, made him a powerful ally. His Catastrophe Magnatum, or the fall of Monarchie, a caveat to Magistrates, deduced from an Eclipse of the Sunne, is a curious medley of political shrewdness and superstition. In his Ephemerides, or astrological almanacks, which were published annually, are scattered many political reflections. It derogates somewhat from his prophetic gifts, but not from his common-sense, to find that the Catastrophe Magnatum was published three years after, and not before, the execution of Charles the First. But if eclipses may be easily made to appear prophetic in the light of experience, one remark, at least, shows a real political instinct in gauging the future of England under a Stuart Restoration. • Kingship will,' he said, 'returning like the devil cast out, bring seven devils worse than itself.'

It would be easy to multiply specimens of his political wisdom, but in troublous times every man of intelligence must perforce be a politician, and it is not easy to distinguish the opinions of an individual from the creed of a party. Nevertheless it is creditable to one whose profession would naturally have excused him from participation in that troublesome arena, to have found time amid so many cares and occupations to wield both sword and pen so actively in the cause of what he held to be his country's good.

The controversies which surrounded Culpeper did not end with his life. Of the numerous unpublished works which he left behind him, some remained with his widow and Peter Cole, his own publisher, others fell into the hands of a rival publisher named Nathaniel Brooks. Though all may reasonably be supposed to have been genuine, both parties, actuated more, it is to be feared, by considerations of gain than regard for their author's fame, did not scruple to stigmatise the volumes in the other's possession as impudent forgeries. The widow, in a preface to the work oddly termed Aurum Potabile and Mr. Culpeper's Ghost, speaks of 'the forgeries of one who, though he calls himself Nathaniel, is far from being an Israelite in whom there is no guile.' How the controversy ended we are not told ; most of the debated works have fallen, probably happily, into oblivion.

But though much has been forgotten, much remains, and Nicholas Culpeper, soldier, physician, astrologer, and politician, deserves to be remembered among those who with tireless industry and unconquerable resolution have laboured unceasingly upon many fields to promote the happiness of their fellow-men, ungrudging of their




It is a delicate task to admonish powerful personages or institutions, accustomed to adulation and impatient of censure. For twelve years I have occupied the invidious position of Preacher-in-Ordinary to'the Post Office. I am told that the utterance of my name in the corridors of St. Martin's-le-Grand produces an explosion of wrath in high quarters similar to that given vent to by King George the Third when his son, the Prince of Wales, in revenge for some paternal punishment, shouted “Wilkes for ever!' outside His Majesty's door at Windsor. Unfortunately a perusal of this article will show that the work of a postal reformer is far from being completed.


The postal laws, rules, and regulations of Great Britain and Ireland are framed by officials who have had no commercial training. These gentlemen are theoretically subordinates of their chief, and servants of the public. Yet no Russian autocrat, no Chinese mandarin, rules with more absolute power than they possess. In my day one of the kindest, most accomplished, and most sympathetic members of the House of Commons was appointed Postmaster. General. He and I discussed the reforms asked for by the people, and he promised to grant them. He tried to do so. Within two months every official was against him, and he informed me that with the exception of his own private secretary, every prominent person in the department had signed a memorial of sympathy with the permanent official head. They were too astute to quarrel with their political chief in regard to his reforms; they shifted the ground, so as to put him in the wrong, on to some question of patronage. He submitted.


In this state of affairs I submitted to the House of Commons a resolution in the following words:

To call attention to the friction, obstacles, and delays invariably attending any effort to procure the acceptance by the Postal and Telegraph Authorities of reforms

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