An entire body of philosophy according to the principles of the famous Renate Des Cartes in three books, (I) the institution ... (II) the history of nature ... (III) a dissertation of the want of sense and knowledge in brute animals ... / written originally in Latin by the learned Anthony Le Grand ; now carefully translated from the last corrections, alterations, and large additions of the author, never yet published ... by Richard Blome.

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An entire body of philosophy according to the principles of the famous Renate Des Cartes in three books, (I) the institution ... (II) the history of nature ... (III) a dissertation of the want of sense and knowledge in brute animals ... / written originally in Latin by the learned Anthony Le Grand ; now carefully translated from the last corrections, alterations, and large additions of the author, never yet published ... by Richard Blome.
Le Grand, Antoine, d. 1699.
London :: Printed by Samuel Roycroft, and sold by the undertaker Richard Blome [and 10 others],

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Descartes, René, 1596-1650.
Philosophy -- Early works to 1800.
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"An entire body of philosophy according to the principles of the famous Renate Des Cartes in three books, (I) the institution ... (II) the history of nature ... (III) a dissertation of the want of sense and knowledge in brute animals ... / written originally in Latin by the learned Anthony Le Grand ; now carefully translated from the last corrections, alterations, and large additions of the author, never yet published ... by Richard Blome." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 21, 2024.


CHAP. XXIV. Of Medicaments in General, and of their Operations.

I. What Medica∣ment is. HAving treated of the Diseases that afflict the Body of Man, it remains now that we add something concerning Medicins. Now a Me∣dicament in general is that which being applied to the Body of a Sick person, is able by its virtue, to reduce it from a Praeternatural state, to a Na∣tural.

II. Of the se∣veral sorts of Medica∣ments. Some Medicins are Simple, as Roots, Barks, Leaves, Flowers, Fruits, Seeds, Gums, Juices, Ani∣mals and their Excrements, Products of the Sea, Salts, Stones, Minerals and Metals: Other are Compound; and these again are either Internal, which by the Mouth are taken into the Body: And these again are either Preparatory, otherwise called Digestive, which prepare and digest peccant Humours, in order to their Expulsion, as Syrups and Conserves; or Purgative, which evacuate the Matter that hath been prepared and ripened by the fore-going Digestives, as Purging Electuaries, Pills; and those the Latins call Linctus, and the Arabians Lohoch; or Cordial and Corroborative, which are used to strengthen the Body after Purgation, or rather when the Violence and Continuance of the Disease hath greatly weakned it; as likewise to remove any Obstructions or Distemperature in the Bowels or Humours of the Body; and take away the Symptoms of the Disease (as Pain, Watching, Loosness, Swounding,) such as are Cordial Con∣fections, Powders, Troches. External Medicaments, are those that are outwardly applied to that part of the Body which is chiefly affected, and therefore are called Topicks, because they are applied to the place grieved; such are Oils, Ointments, Cere∣cloaths, and Plaisters.

III. Of Medi∣cins Com∣mon and Specific▪ But to leave the more particular Disquisition into these Matters to Physicians, I shall only in a few words speak something of the Common Medi∣caments,

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viz. Vmits, Purges, Diureicks, Sudo∣rificks or Diaphoreticks, Cordials or Alexiphar∣maccks and Opiates; and then pass to Specificks, and briefly declare the Nature of them in gene∣ral, and the manner of their Operation.

IV. Vomits or Vomitory Medicins. VOMITS are Medicins that evacuate the Stomach, and drive out peccant humours upwards, and that by drinking luke-warm Water, but more readily if some Oil or melted Butter be mingled with it▪ which will make the Stomach the more to loath it, and therefore the more easily to dis∣charge it. Besides these common things, several Chymical Preparations are made use of to this purpose, as Salt of Vitriol, Glass of Antimony, Flowers of Antimony, Crocus Metallorum, Sul∣phur of Antimony, Mercurius Vitae, the particles of all which Preparations, when dissolved, do so violently twitch and affect the Fibres of the Sto∣mach, as to cause a Conlvulsive Motion both of that and the Neighbour Parts, viz. the Gut call∣ed Duodenum, the Porus Choledochus, or Passage that conveys the Gall, and the Ductus or Vessel of the Pancreas, by which Colvulsive motion whatsoever is contained in them is carried up to the Stomach, and from thence to the Mouth; and not only so, but by these Vomits the serous part of the Blood is often drawn out of the Extremities of the Arteries, carried up to the Stomach, and thence evacuated by the Mouth.

V. Purging Medicins. PURGING MEDICINS are such as move and loosen the Belly, and drive out the pec∣cant Humours in the Body of Man by Stool, such as are Roses, Violets, Cassia, Manna, Aloes, Rhu∣barb, besides manifold compound Purgatives. The reason of the operation of these Catharticks is, be∣cause they painfully affect the Spirits that are in the Fibres of the inward parts of the Body, and pro∣voke them to excretory contractions; and more∣over raise a Fermentation in the Humours, and thereby produce several fusions and separations of their parts. For tho' Manna and Cassia and other such like Gentle Purgers, which consist of very subtil parts, do not at all, or very little disturb the Stomach; yet as soon as they are past the Py∣lorus, or outlet of the Stomach into the Guts, they begin to irritate and twitch the most sensible Mem∣bran of the Gut Duodenum, and before they get any further, almost spend their whole force there. And because by the twitching and vellication of this Mmembran, the Porus Biliaris or passage of the Gall is considerably shaken, therefore they pro∣duce Bilious dejections.

VI. Purging Medicins do not act Electively. The opinion of old was, that Catharticks pur∣ged Humours Electively, that is, by choice, as evacuating one Humour rather than another: They were induced to be of this Opinion, because they often found that the Excrements evacuted by pur∣ging Medicins, were of a Yellowish, and sometimes of a Blackish Colour, whence they concluded, that some Catharticks, purged Choler, and others Me∣lancholy, as it were choosing and separating them from the rest of the Humours. But this is no bet∣ter than an error; for tho' there be purgative Medicins that evacuate Choler, Phlegm, Melan∣choly and Watry Humours, which gave occasion to Physicians to distinguish Catharticks into Chola∣gogues, Phlegmagogues, Melanogogues and Hydra∣ggues; as for Example, Rhubarb and Scammony, purge Choler rather than Phlegm; whereas Mercu∣rius Dulcis, and the Troches Alhandal, evacuate Phlegm rather than other Humours. Yet is not this so to be understood, as if Scammony, for in∣stance, purged Choler only, without touching any other Humours; or Mercurius Dulcis only expel∣led Phlegm; for it is certain that it purgeth other Humours also, tho' not so copiously as that of Phlegm; and therefore some Pungative Medicins may well be called purgers of Choler, and other Phlegm, &c. for tho' they do not purge that Hu∣mour only, whence they take their denomination, yet they do purge that Humour more copiously and signally than any other.

VII. Diureticks: DIURETICKS are Medicins that purge by Urin, such as are the Roots of Smallage, Parsly, Radish, Bitter Almonds, Spirit of Salt and of Nitre, Juice of Limons and of Sorrel, White-wine, Renish-wine and Cyder; which when taken into the Body, do precipitate the mass of Blood, and separate the Wheyish part from it, which soon after is evacuated. For the particles of these Diuretick Medicins by their pointedness and thin∣ness penetrate the Vessels, and by diluting, inci∣ding and dissolving the Blood, cause a great quan∣tity of Wheyish Matter to be separated from it in the Reins, and to be thence evacuated by the Ure∣ters.

VIII. Sudorificks or Diaph∣reticks. SUDORIFICKS are Medicaments that provoke Sweat, such as are the Leaves, Roots or Seeds of Carduus Benedictus, Contrayerva, Angelica, or the like, being taken either in Pou∣der, Decoction, Conserve or Magistery. The rea∣son of their Operation is, because they consist of such particles as are very friendly to the Stomach and Guts, and therefore do not produce any Con∣vulsions or Excretory Motions in them; only the mass of Blood being by them Rarefied and Heated, and consequently more swiftly circulated, do put the Body into a Sweat. Moreover, the particles of these Diaphoreticks entring the Vessels which are implanted in the Stomach, mix themselves with the Blood, and raising a Fermentation in it, make it run more swiftly through the Veins to the Heart, and there entring with some impetuousness, encreaseth the Beating or Pulse of it, by which means the whole mass of Blood, being rarefied and enkindled, rusheth more swiftly through the Arteries to all the outward parts▪ which not be∣ing able to admit it, nor the Veins to send it all back to the Heart, a considerable part of the se∣rum of the Blood is evacuated through the Pores by Sweat.

IX. Cordials. CORDIAL MEDICINS are such as are proper to restore and kindle the interrupted or weakned Fermentations of the Blood in the Heart. Wherefore these Remedies are not called Cardiaca or Cordials, because they are appropriated to strengthen and comfort the Heart, as are all things that are Spirituous and Volatil, such as Saffron, Wine, especially to those who are not accustomed to the drinking of it, and Strong Waters. The reason of which operation is because their Volatil Particles entring the Blood, separate all Heteroge∣neous and Malignant Particles from it. Neither is the Passage from the Stomach to the Blood so long, that there should be need to fear that the virtue of these Medicaments would be lost by the way. For it is evident that the inward Nervous Coat of the Stomach is all interwoven with multi∣tudes

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of Veins and Arteries, so that Medicaments, not only Purgative, but any others may exert their operations upon the Blood, before ever they pass out of the Stomach.

X. Opi••••s. OPIATS are those Medicines which have Opium for their Basis or chief ingredient, and are proper for the laying of Noxious Vapours, and as∣swaging of Grievous Symptoms, for the strength∣ning of the inward parts, the removing of Pain, and recruiting of the Animal Spirits. The man∣ner of their performing these effects is this, the particles of these Medicines do put a stop to the out∣going or efflux of the Animal Spirits and sup∣press them; so that during the operation of the Opium, they do flow much more sparingly to the inwards and other parts of the Body. And accord∣ingly the Pulse of the Heart, and Respiration are diminished in their swiftness and force, and some∣times cause a difficulty of Breathing, and a weak∣ness of the Pulse, with a listlesness to move, and drowziness over the whole Body.

XI. Why the Author treats of Specificks. Next after the common Medicins follow SPE∣CIFICKS, whose Virtues discovered by Expe∣rience, are consistent with the Principles of our Philosophy, and may be perspicuously unfolded by them. Some Galenists indeed have altogether rejected Specificks, probably because they found themselves unable to explicate the manner of their operation.

XII. What a Specifick is. The word Specifick is by Physicians used in a threefold Sense; for some call that a Specifical Me∣dicin, which is peculiarly friendly to some particu∣lar part of the Body, as to the Heart, Liver, Brain, &c. Others call that a Specifical Medicin, which by a peculiar Quality doth evacuate some determinate Humour, as Rhubarb and Cassia are said to Evacuate Choler; Senna, Melancholy; Ja∣lap and Diagridium, Serosities and Phlegm. But more frequently that is called a Specifical Medi∣cin, which peculiarly cures some particular Disease, as the Pleurisie, Tissick, Colick, Dropsie, and in this Sense I take it here.

XIII. Whether there be any Specifical Medicins. It may therefore be enquired, whether there be any such Specifical Medicins. Some Dogmatical Physicians, leaning too much upon the Principles of the Scholastick Philosophy, will admit of no Me∣dicinal Virtues that cannot be reduced to their ma∣nifest Qualities: But GALEN somewhere com∣plains of these Men, that they either plainly deny matter of Fact, or else assign such causes to these effects as are not sufficient to explain them. So that not only Galen, but many other Learned Phy∣sicians, both Modern and Ancient, do maintain that there are Specifick Medicins.

XIV. The effects of Speci∣ficks may be explain∣ed Mecha∣nically. It may also be queried, whether the effect of Specificks are mechanically explicable, that is, whe∣ther they be consistent with the Principles of me∣chanical Philosophy; to which I answer, that the Principles of the said Philosophy are of such a vast comprehension, that he who considers it, will not at all question, but that the effects of these Me∣dicins may be explained in such a manner, as shall not in the least contradict the said Princi∣ples▪

XV. In order to the ex∣plaining of the Effect: of Speci∣ficks, the make or structure of Mans Body is to be noted. To make out this we are to observe, that the Animated Body of Man is not to be considered as a meer Statue, as if it were nothing else but a dead heap of several parts and matters whereof it con∣sists; for to speak the truth, it is a most wonder∣ful and curious Machin or Engin, composed of fixt, liquid and spirituous Substances, with such exquisit Artifice joined together, that frequently we cannot judge so well concerning the action of an Agent that acts upon it, from the Power and forces of the Agent, considered in it self, as by the effects proceeding from it, because of the mutual action of the parts of this Living Machin upon each other.

XVI. Another thing to be noted about the opera∣tion of Spe∣cificks. It is likewise to be observed from the learned Mr. BOYLE, that it is not necessary that the Operations of all Specificks, or of the same in differing Diseases, must be of one kind; but differing Specificks may operate in several man∣ners, And of these general ways he has proposed such as follow, premising only, that the Specifick Remedy do's not commonly, tho' sometimes it may, relieve the Patient by this or that single way of Operation, but by a Concurrence of two or more, that as it were join their forces to pro∣duce the desired effect.

XVII. The first way or manner whereby Specificks perform their Ef∣fects. Specifick Medicins may sometimes cure by dis∣cussing or resolving the Morbifick matter, and thereby making it fit for expulsion by the greater Common-Shores of the Body, and the Pores of the Skin. For it is most notorious, that a great many Diseases, and those very obstinate and Chronical, are caused by some tough and slimy Humours, which obstruct the Passages, and so hinder the Circulation of the Blood, and the free motion of other useful liquors; which peccant Humours are sometimes so exceeding Glewy and Ropy, that they will not give way to common Remedies. Where∣as the Specifick, by the minuteness of its Parts, and the congruity of their Figure with the Pores of Morbifick Matter may be able to penetrate and re∣solve it, with the concurrent heat of the Patients Bo∣dy, and thereby dispose for an evacution by Urin, Sweat or otherwise, as Nature finds most convenient. So that the Blood, or some other Liquor of the Body being impregnated with the amicable and Active Particles of the Matter, may be a Men∣struum to dissolve the peccant matter; even as common Water impregnated with Salt Armoniack becomes a Menstruum, which by degrees will dis∣solve Copper and Iron.

XVIII. The second way or manner. Sometime a Specifick Medicin may mortifie the too over Acid, or other immoderate Particles that infest the mass of Blood, and destroy their Coagu∣latory or other Effects. For seeing that most Di∣stempers do arise from Acids, and their Malignant Effects, it is very probable that all such Diseases may be cured, or much alleviated by such a Reme∣dy as abounds with particles proper to mortifie the said Acid Juices. Which Mortification may be effected these two manner of ways: for there are some Bodies which destroy Acids by a Positive Hostility, that is to say, by such a contrariety as is discernible by the Taste, and by a conspicuous ight or conflict they maintain with the Acid Juice: Of this kind are all fixed Askalies, viz. the Lixivous Salts of Plants, and all volatil Alkalies, as Spirits of Harts-horn, Salt Armoniack, &c.▪ Another way whereby Acids may be mortified or dulled is, when their Particles are, as it were, sheathed or blunted; for as a Knife may be disa∣bled to cut, either by filing or otherwise blunting its Edge, or else by covering the Blade with a Sheath fit for it; so an Acid Compound may lose

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its power of cutting or pricking, when an Alkali alters its Figure, or when its sharp particles are, as it were, sheathed in the Pores of some other Body, tho' it may be the said Body may be wholly without Taste, or any considerable manifest quali∣ty by which it might appear contrary to the sowr Juice it enervates, as a File is contrary to the Edge of a Knife.

XIX. The third manner. A Specifick Medicin may sometimes help the Patient by precipitating peccant Matter out of the Blood, or other Humours of the Body. Thus SENNERTUS seems to intimate that in some cases the Disease is vanquisht by a precipi∣tation of the Aguish Matter. And KERGE∣RUS in his Treatise of Fermentation, Sect. 3. Cap. 3. tells us in plain terms, that he had cured above 1000 persons of Agues without Blood let∣ting, Purging, Diaphoreticks, Diureticks, altering Medicins or Topicks, only by means of one pre∣cipitating Medicin. Neither need we to fear any danger in these precipitations by the particles of the Medicin entring into, and spoiling the Tem∣perament of the Blood; because it is certain that Heterogeneous Matters in the Blood may be preci∣pitated by means of Remedies which never enter the Blood: For Physicians often exhibit filings of Steel, and other preparations of that Metal, to mortifie the Acidities of the Blood, and yet we have no reason to believe that the said metalline particles ever enter the Blood.

XX. The fourth manner. Sometimes Specifick Remedies exert their effect by a peculiar corroborâting of the Heart, and by that means, or without it, the Parts affected. For seeing that the Heart, Brain, Liver, Kidneys are all of them of a peculiar make and structure, and so likewise the liquid parts, as the Gall, the Blood and the Lympha; it may happen that the particles of a Remedy dissolved in the Stomach, and carried up and down the Body in the Vehicle of some of its Li∣quors, may according to their determinate Figure, Size, Stifness, Flexibility or Motion, &c. be more fit to be admitted in some one part of the Body, as the Brain, Heart, &c. than another, and so by continuing in the Pores thereof, and associating themselves to the Fibres, or furnishing it with some particles it wants, may strengthen the Tone of that Part, and enable it to resist the action of the Morbifick matter, and expel it.

XXI The sifth manner. Sometimes a Specifick Medicin may exert its operation, by producing such a Disposition in the Mass of Blood, as may enable Nature by correct∣ing, expelling, or other fit ways, to overcome the Morbifick matter, or other cause of the Distemper. For seeing that as most of the Diseases incident to Mans Body, are produced by a vitiated constituti∣on of the Blood, so the recovery of it to Health and Soundness depends on the restoring of it to its former state; a Specifick Medicament may divers ways effect this advantageous change of the Blood. As First, by furnishing the Blood with some very active particles, by which means it will not be necessary for the Midicament to raise any Fermen∣tation in it. Secondly, A Specifick may be of great use in restoring the Mass of Blood to a laudable state, by dilating and attenuating or thinning of it. For when the Blood is too thick, as frequent∣ly it is, it cannot so freely pass through the Ca∣pillary Vessels whence an obstruction will follow in them▪ whereby the Circulation of the Blood will be retarded, and great inconveniencies accrue to the Body. And on the other hand, if the Blood be too thin, especially if it be overmuch agitated, it will easily run out of the Vessels, and produce various Fluxes of Blood, and other dange∣rous effects, that commonly accompany the extra∣vasation of the Blood. Now a Specifick Medicin may correct this vitious consistence of the Blood, by furnishing it with such Particles, which by their Figure, Bulk, Motion, &c. may subdue those vitious particles that thicken the Blood, and atte∣nuate them; or by dividing the parts of it dispose it to a greater degree of Fluidity. And when the Blood is too thin, which is the effect sometimes of Diseases, and sometimes of certain Medicaments, and more particularly of Aloes, a Specifick in this case may afford such particles, as by their easie complication and infolding one another, may curb the too active particles of the Blood, which do too much attenuate it, or it may assist the expulsion of the said particles by transpiration, or any other way. Thirdly, a Specifick may be helpful to re∣store the Mass of Blood to its former good state, by some particular operation it may exert upon the Heart, by strengthning the Tone and Vigor of it, so as that it may be able to transmit the Blood to the greater advantage and welfare of the Micro∣cosm.

XXII. The sixth manner. Sometimes also a Specifick may unite its parti∣cles with those of the Peccant Matter, and with them constitute a Neutral Matter, that may be easily, or is not needful to be expelled. As when the Blood being impregnated with an Acid Juice, hath lodged the same in some stable part of the Body, as in the Liver, Spleen or Kidneys, &c. In this case the particles of the Specifick may with∣out any sensible contest or effervescence, when manifest Acids are mortified by such like Alkalies, so combine themselves with the particles of the vi∣cious Acidum, as to make one compound with them, which differing from the particles of the sowr Juice in Motion, Figure, Solidity and Stiff∣ness, or in one or more of the same, must needs constitute a substance of a Different Nature from the said Acid particles before that they were cor∣rected.

XXIII. An Adver∣tisement concerning Specificks. It was noted before, that when it was said that a Specifick doth cure a Disease, it is not to be un∣derstood as if a Specifick Remedy, or Nature by means of it, did for the most part cure Distem∣pers by one only of the propounded Modes, see∣ing that two, or more of them may concur to pro∣duce this effect. Besides, I have only here under∣taken to explain the operation of Specificks in Ge∣neral; but never asserted that the ways and modes by me propos'd, to be true and genuine, but on∣ly propounded them as so many probable ways whereby Specificks may produce their effects. Wherefore these things are not Dogmatically assert∣ed by me, but only delivered by me as Possible or Probable Explications, my chief design being only to evince thereby, that the Operations of Speci∣ficks are congruous to the Principles of Mechani∣cal Philosophy.

XXIV. An Objecti∣on against Specifick Medicins answered▪ There is an Objection the Rejecters of Specifick Remedies usually urge against them, which is, that by being taken into the Stomach and entrails, they are greatly changed by Digestion, and mix∣ture with the Aliments, a good part of them sent

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away by Excrement; and that as soon as they are got out of the Stomach, they pass through manifold Strainers of different Textures, which in all probability stop the greater part of the Me∣dicinal Particles. But this Difficulty will disap∣pear, if we consider that Rhubarb ••••ngeth the Urine of those that have taken it, many hours af∣ter, with a Yellow Colour. That Elaterium eaten by a Goat, communicates a purging quality to its Milk, so as to purge a Child that takes of it. For the articles of some Bodies do very obstinately ret••••n their Figures, and do not easily quit their virtue. For if a Meicament exerts its activity by impregnating the Blood, or any other Liquor in the Body, thereby turning it into a kind of Menstruum, it may so happen that the several Strainers through which the Particles are to pass, may stop the less f•••• parts of the Vehicle, so as to make the Menstr••••m more appropriate to the overcoming of the Peccant Humour, or that at least thereby it may be so changed as to restore this Substance in the Body of a Man rather than ano∣ther. And tho' there may but a small quantity of the Medicinal Matter reach to the part, on which it is to act, 〈◊〉〈◊〉 ought not we to question the effect upon that account, seeing that the 〈◊〉〈◊〉 of Natural Agents upon the Body of 〈◊〉〈◊〉 is not to be measured by their Bulk or Quantity, but by their Activity and Subtilty.

XXV. An Objecti∣on concern∣ing Topicks. An Objection may be also made against what hath been here asserted concerning the Operation of Medicaments, that all Topical Medicins, espe∣cially such as are applied to the Wrists, Amulets, and things hung about the Neck, or only out∣wardly touching any other part of the Body, can∣not afford sufficient Medicinal Particles for corect∣ing of the Peccant Matter, or subduing of the Dis∣ease. For an Answer to this Objection, it will be sufficient to consider that the Skin of Mans Body is very full of Pores, by which the more subtil particles of the Remedy may enter; as is evident from manifold instances. Water penetrates the Pores of the Bladder, and dissolves the Salt of Tartar or Sugar contained in it. Quick-silver mix∣ed with Ointments, and outwardly applied, insinu∣ates it self through the Pores of the Skin, into the most inward parts of the Body, where it often produceth most violent operations. Neither can it be difficult to conceive how the particles of any Specifick being once got into the Pores, may fur∣ther diffuse themselves throughout the ody, fo asmuch as near the Cuticle or thin outward Skin 〈◊〉〈◊〉 the Body there be many Capillary Vessels, which tho' very small, yet have their Cavities continu∣ous with other greater Vessels, and it will be easily understood that the particles of the Medicament, being once entred into these Capillary Vessels, will by the Vehicle of the Liquors contained in them, be transmitted to the Branches of the Principal Veins, and so by means of Circulation be mingled with the whole mass of Blood, and with it con∣veyed to all parts of the Body.

XXVI. Whether there be any Medi∣caments appropria∣ted to any particular part of the Body. The only difficulty that remains now to be re∣moved, is whether there e any Medicaments that are appropriate to this or the other particular part of the Body? To which I Answer▪ that there is no impossibility nor improbability in it, that the Particles of a Specifick Medicament should be de∣stinated more to one part of the Body than to ano∣ther, so as not only to strengthen it, and preserve its sound Constitution, but to restore it to its for∣mer strength and vigor, when 〈◊〉〈◊〉 by any Disease of Di••••emper: Foramc a by ••••eir par∣ticular Texture, Motion, &c. they may 〈◊〉〈◊〉 a pecu∣liar manner prepare the Molesting Matter for Ex∣pulsion, and withall so work upon the Fibres of the Part affected, as both to Enable it, and Excite it to free its self from its Enemy.

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