A Comparative View of the Mortality of the Human Species at All Ages
Library of Alexandria
THERE are two methods of promoting Medical Knowledge: one by negative information, or criticisms on the numerous errors of preceding authors: the other by direct instruction, and improvement on former models. The first method is worn out in hackneyed chimes: the second is encumbered with infinitely more difficulties; and its merits paramount in the superlative degree. However unequal I have imposed upon myself the latter task. But, previous to the discussion of the general theme, it will conduce to order, and to the anticipation of explanatory digression and illustration, to glance at the station, rotation, and rank of our Parent Planet amongst the other celestial orbs; at its investing elements; and at the number, groups, and recruit of mankind. A navigator or historian, who undertakes the description of any island, kingdom, or continent, commences with their geographical outlines and climate, penetrating afterwards thorough a scrutiny of the inhabitants. Upon a similar, but more majestic model, our Introductory Preface is founded. Throughout the whole of this intricate, sublime, and inexhaustible subject, if I do not delay sufficient time to fix, I shall at least hope to start the reader’s attention to a variety of grand objects, inseparable from a comprehensive knowledge of Medicine; and of which I shall touch the fundamental keys and chords. The Solar System consists of the Sun, of seven Planets surrounded by ten or more Moons, and of the Comets. The other siderial lights with which the vault of Heaven is studded, and which are denominated Fixed Stars, have a very distant affinity with our planetary sphere: they are infinitely too remote to be enlightened by our luminary; and therefore astronomers, with good reason, imagine each star to be a sun to encircling planets, though invisible to us; and to constitute throughout boundless space thousands, or perhaps millions, of habitable worlds. Numbers of those stars, most luminous and proximate, are arranged into arbitrary clusters, called Constellations, or Signs; and serve to mark the several stages of the rotating orbs in our system. The Sun, whose magnitude far surpasses that of the seven planets united, is placed in the center, suspended in the immense celestial expansion and firmament. Surrounding him, at different distances, and in the following order, are the planets Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Georgium Sidus. These planets are incessantly revolving from west-by-south to east, and within certain intervals of time, make a complete circle round the Sun; which is the length of each planet’s year; and is larger and longer in proportion to their respective distances. The velocity of their revolution in their annual orbits, together with their gradations of light and heat, are also in proportion to their solar proximity. From the Sun, the Planets, with their surrounding moons, derive heat and light; and when this is intercepted by any planet, or its satellite, an eclipse or darkness ensues. In what periods those tremendous celestial bodies, named Comets, revolve round the Sun, is not yet exactly adjusted.