Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.

21. Of the Universal Medicine, and of Diseases.

IAm not of the opinion, that there can be a Univer∣sal Medicine for all diseases, except it be proved, that all kinds of Diseases whatsoever, proceed from one cause; which I am sure can never be done, by reason there is as much variety in the causes of diseases, as in the dis∣eases themselves. You may say, All diseases proceed but from irregular motions. I answer: These irre∣gular motions are so numerous, different and various, that all the Artists in Nature are not able to rectifie them. Nay, they might sooner make or create a new Matter, then rectifie the irregularities of Nature more then Nature herself is pleased to do; for though Art may be an occasion of the changes of some parts or motions, of their compositions and divisions, imita∣tions, Page  81 and the like; like as a Painter takes a copy from an original, yet it cannot alter infinite Nature; for a man may build or pull down a house, but yet he can∣not make the materials, although he may fit or prepare them for his use: so Artists may dissolve and compose several parts several ways, but yet they cannot make the matter of those parts; and therefore although they may observe the effects, yet they cannot always give a true or probable reason why they are so, nor know the several particular causes which make them to be so: To see the effects, belongs to the perception of sense; but to judg of the cause, belongs onely to reason; and since there is an ignorance as well as a perceptive knowledg in Nature, no creature can absolutely know or have a thorow perception of all things, but according as the corporeal figurative motions are, so are the percepti∣ons; not onely in one composed figure, but also in e∣very part and particle of the same figure; for one and the same parts may make several perceptions in several Creatures, according to their several figurative moti∣ons. But reason being above sense, is more inspective then sense; and although sense doth many times inform reason, yet reason being more subtile, piercing and active, doth oftener inform and rectifie the senses when they are irregular; nay, some rational parts inform others, like as one man will inform another of his own voluntary conceptions, or of his exterior perceptions; and some sensitive parts will inform others, as one Ar∣tist Page  82 another; and although Experimental Phylosophy is not to be rejected, yet the Speculative is much bet∣ter, by reason it guides, directs and governs the Ex∣perimental; but as knowledg and understanding is more clear, where both the rational and sensitive perception do join; so Experimental and Speculative Philosophy do give the surest informations, when they are joined or united together.

But to return to the Universal Medicine; although I do not believe there is any, nor that all Diseases are curable; yet my advice is, that no applications of re∣medies should be neglected in any disease whatsoever; because diseases cannot be so perfectly known, but that they may be mistaken, and so even the most ex∣perienced Physician may many times be deceived, and mistake a curable disease for an incurable; wherefore Trials should be made as long as life lasts. Of Drop∣sies, Cancers, Kings-evils, and the like diseases, I believe some may be cureable, especially if taken at the first beginning, and that without great difficuly, and in a short time; but such diseases, which consist in the decay of the vital parts, I do verily believe them incurable; as for example, those Dropsies, Consump∣tions, dead Palsies, &c. which are caused either through the decay of the vital parts, or through want of radical substance: Neither do I think a na∣tural Blindness, Dumbness, Deafness, or Lameness, curable; nor natural Fools, or Idiots: Nay, I fear, Page  83 the best Chymist will be puzled to cure a setled or fixt Gout, or the Stone, in such bodies as are apt to breed it; for Stones are produced several ways, and as their productions are different, so are they; wherefore al∣though many do pretend to great things, yet were their cures so certain, they would be more frequent. I will not say, but many times they perform great cures; but whether it be by chance, or out of a fun∣damental knowledg, I know not; but since they are so seldom performed, I think them rather to be casual cures. In my opinion, the surest way, both in Dis∣eases and Applications of Remedies, is, to observe the corporeal, figurative motions of both; which are best and surest perceived by the rational perception, be∣cause the sensitive is more apt to be deluded.