Volume I : page 395
Chapter X

I have lived myself to see the disciples of Hoffman, Boerhave, Staalt, Cullen, Brown, succeed one another like the shifting figures of a magic lanthern, & their fancies, like the dresses of the annual Doll-babies from Paris becoming, from their novelty, the vogue of the day, and yielding to the next novelty their ephemeral favor. the patient treated on the fashionable theory sometimes gets well in spite of the medecine. the medecine therefore restored him, & the young Doctor recieves new courage to proceed in his bold experiments on the lives of his fellow creatures. I believe we may safely affirm that the inexperienced & presumptuous band of Medical tyros let loose upon the world, destroys more of human life in one year than all the Robinhoods, Cartouches, & Macheaths do in a century . . . the only sure foundations of medecine are an intimate knolege of the human body, and observation on the effects of medicinal substances on that.
letter from Thomas Jefferson to dr. caspar wistar, june 21, 1807.
. . . that science [i.e. medicine] was demolished here by the blows of Moliere, and in a nation so addicted to ridicule, I question if ever it rises under the weight while his comedies continue to be acted. it furnishes the most striking proof I have ever seen in my life of the injury which ridicule is capable of doing . . .
letter from Thomas Jefferson to dr. currie, paris, january 28, 1786.
Certitude de la medecine et autre ecrits de Cabanis. 8 vo.
1815 Catalogue, page 39. no. 36, as above.
CABANIS, Pierre Jean Georges.
Du Degré de Certitude de la Médicine, Par P. J. G. Cabanis, membre du Sénat Conservateur, de l’Institut national, de l’Ecole et Société de Médecine de Paris, de la Société Philosophique de Philadelphie, etc. Nouvelle Édition, revue, corrigée et augmentée de plusieurs autres écrits du même auteur . . . A Paris: chez Crapart, Caille et Ravier, de l’Imprimerie de Crapelet, An XI--1803.
8vo. 273 leaves.
Quérard II, page 5 (with date 1802).
This edition not in Osler.
Surgeon General’s Library Catalogue I, ii, 567.
Huzard Catalogue III, no. 627.
Jefferson purchased a copy from P. & C. Roche, Philadelphia, in May, 1807.
In a letter to that firm, written from Monticello on May 10, acknowledging the receipt of the Coup d’oeil of Cabanis [see the next title], Jefferson wrote: “ . . . the work of the latter author [i.e. Cabanis] brings to my knolege another of his, of which I had never before heard ‘de la certitude de la medicine’. perhaps you may have this also in your collection in which case I should be glad to recieve it . . .
There is no advertisement or other mention of this work in the Library of Congress copy of the Coup d’oeil.
The book was sent, and included in Roche’s bill on May 26, price $ 3.50, relié.
Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis, 1757-1808, French physician and philosopher, and a member of the American Philosophical Society, was an intimate of the circle of Madame Helvétius at Auteuil, which included Jefferson and Franklin. The first edition of this book was published in 1797.
In a letter to Charles Willson Peale, March 13, 1808, Jefferson described Cabanis as “ the first Physician & author of the ablest works on that subject in France.”
Volume I : page 395
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