OF SYMPATHETIC MEDICINES.
IN the year 1639, a little book came forth, whose title was, 'The Sympathetical Powder of Edricius Mohynus, of Eburo,' whereby wounds are cured without application of the medicine unto the part afflicted, and without superstition; it being sifted by the sieve of the reasons of Galen and Aristotle; wherein it is Aristotetically, sufficiently, proved, whatsoever the title of it promises; but it hath neglected the directive faculty, or virtue, which may bring the virtues of the sympathetical powder, received in the bloody towel or napkin, unto the distant wound.
Truly, from a wound, the venal blood, or corrupt pus, or sanies, from an ulcer, being received in the towel, do receive, indeed, a balsam from a sanative or healing being; I say, from the power of the vitriol, a medicinal power connected and limited in the aforesaid mean; but the virtues of the balsam received are directed unto the wounded object, not indeed by an influential virtue of the stars, and much less do they fly forth of their own accord unto the object at a distance: therefore the ideas of him that applieth the sympathetical remedy are connected in the mean, and are made directresses of the balsam unto the object of his desire: even as we have above also minded by injections concerning ideas of the desire. Mohyns supposed that the power of sympathy depends upon the stars, because it is an imitator of influences: but I draw it out of a much nearer subject: to wit, out of directing ideas, begotten by their mother Charity, or a desire of goodwill: for, from hence does that sympathetic powder operate more successfully, being applied by the hand of one than another: therefore I have always observed the best process where the remedy is instituted by a desire of charity; but, that it doth succeed, with small success, if the operator be a careless or drunken person; and, from hence, I have more esteemed the stars of
the mind, in sympathetical remedies, than the stars of heaven: but that images, being conceived, are brought unto an object at a distance, a pregnant woman is an example of, because she is she who presently transfers all the ideas of her conception on her young, which dependeth no otherwise on the mother than from a communion of universal nourishment. Truly, seeing such a direction of desire is plainly natural, it is no wonder that the evil spirit doth require the ideas of the desires of his imps to be annexed unto a mean offered by him. Indeed, the ideas of the desire are after the manner of the influences of heaven cast into a proper object how locally remote soever; that is, they are directed by the desire, especially pointing out an object for itself, even as the sight of the basilisk, or touch of the torpedo, is reflected on their willed object; for I have already shewn in its place, that the devil doth not attribute so much as any thing in the directions of things injected; but that he hath need of a free, directing, and operative power or faculty. But I will not disgrace sympathetical remedies because the devil operates something about things injected into the body: for what have sympathetical remedies in common? Although Satan doth co-operate in injections by wicked natural means required from his bond slaves; for every thing shall be judged guilty, or good, from its ends and intents: and it is sufficient that sympathetical remedies do agree with things injected in natural means, or medicines.