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heterogeneous creatures are brought under a common heading. Among the fishes, for instance, are classed all living things that are found in water. The whale and the dolphin, as well as sponges, and oysters, and crocodiles, and sea serpents, and lobsters, and hippopotamuses, all find a place together, because of the common watery habitation. The early Spanish Churchman would seem to have had an enthusiastic zeal for complete classification that would surely have made him a strenuous modern zoologist.
The next link in the tradition of encyclopedic work is the Venerable Bede, whose character was more fully honored by the decree on November 13, 1899, by Pope Leo XIII declaring him a Doctor of the Church. Bede was the fruit of that ardent scholarship which had risen in England as a consequence of the introduction of Christianity. It had been fostered by the coming of scholar saints from Ireland, but was, unfortunately, disturbed by the incursions of the Danes. While Bede is known for his greatest work, the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," which gives an account of Christianity in England from its beginning until his own day, he wrote many other works. His history is the foundation of all our knowledge of early British history, secular as well as religious, and has been praised by historical writers of all ages, who turned to it for help with confidence. He wrote a number of other historical works. Besides, he wrote books on grammar, orthography, the metrical art, on rhetoric, on the nature of things, the seasons, and on the calculation of the seasons. These latter books are distinctly scientific. His contributions to Gregorian Music are now of great value.
After this, Alcuin and the monks, summoned by Charlemagne, take up the tradition of gathering and diffusing information, and the great monasteries of
Tours, Fulda, and St. Gall carry it on. Besides these, in the ninth century Monte Cassino comes into prominence as an institution where much was done of what we would now call encyclopedic work. After his retirement from Salerno Constantine Africanus made his translations and commentaries on Arabian medicine, constituting what was really a medical encyclopedia of information not readily available at that time.
After this, of course, the tradition is taken up by the universities, and it is only when, with the thirteenth century, there came the complete development of the university spirit, that encyclopedias reached their modern expression. Three great encylopedists, Vincent of Beauvais, Thomas of Cantimprato, and Bartholomaeus Anglicus, are the most famous. Vincent consulted all the authors sacred and profane that he could lay hold on, and the number was, indeed, prodigious. I have given some account of him in " The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries " (Catholic Summer School Press, New York, third edition, 1910).
It would be very easy to conclude that these encyclopedias, written by clergymen for the general information of the educated people of the times, contain very little that is scientifically valuable, and probably nothing of serious medical significance. Any such thought is, however, due entirely to unfamiliarity with the contents of these works. They undoubtedly contain absurdities, they are often full of misinformation, they repeat stories on dubious authority, and sometimes on hearsay, but usually the source of their information is stated, and especially where it is dubious, as if they did not care to state marvels without due support. Books of popular information, however, have always had many queer things,—queer, that is, to subsequent generations,—and it is rather amusing to pick up an encyclopedia of a century ago, much less a millennium ago, and see how many absurd things were accepted as true. The first edition of the " Encyclopedia Britannica," issued one hundred and fifty years ago, furnishes an easily available source of the absurdities our more recent forefathers accepted. The men of the Middle Ages, however, were much better observers as a rule, and used much more critical judgment, according to their lights, than we have given them credit for. Often the information that they have to convey is not only valuable, but well digested, thoroughly practical, and sometimes a marvellous anticipation of some of our most modern thoughts. There is one of these encyclopedias which, because it was written in my favorite thirteenth century, I have read with some care. It is simply a development of the work of preceding clerical encyclopedists, and often refers to them. Because it contains some typical examples of the better sorts of information in these works, I have thought it worth while to quote two passages from it. The author is Bartholomaeus Anglicus, and the quaint English in which it is couched is quoted from " Medical Lore" (London, 1893). The book is all the more interesting because in a dear old English version, issued about 1540, the spellings of which are among the great curiosities of English orthography, it was often read and consulted by Shakespeare, who evidently quotes from it frequently, for not a little of the quaint scientific lore that he uses for his figures can be traced to expressions used in this book.
The first of the paragraphs that deserves to be quoted, discusses madness, or, as we would call it, lunacy, and sums up the causes, the symptoms, and the treatment quite as well as that has ever been done in the same amount of space:
Madness cometh sometime of passions of the soul, as of business and of great thoughts, of sorrow and of too great study, and of dread: sometime of the biting of a wood hound, or some other venomous beast; sometime of melancholy meats, and sometime of drink of strong wine. And as the causes be diverse, the tokens and signs be diverse. For some cry and leap and hurt and wound themselves and other men, and darken and hide themselves in privy and secret places. The medicine of them is, that they be bound, that they hurt not themselves and other men. And namely, such shall be refreshed, and comforted, and withdrawn from cause and matter of dread and busy thoughts. And they must be gladded with instruments of music, and some deal be occupied.'
The second discusses in almost as thorough a way the result of the bite of a mad dog. The old English word for mad, wood, is constantly used. The causes, the symptoms, and course of the disease, and its possible prevention by early treatment, are all discussed. The old tradition was already in existence that sufferers from rabies or hydrophobia, as it is called, dreaded water, when it is really only because the spasm consequent upon the thought even of swallowing is painful that they turn from it. That tradition has continued to be very commonly accepted even by physicians down to our own day, so that Bartholomew, the Englishman, in the thirteenth century, will not be blamed much for setting it forth for popular information in his time some seven centuries ago. The idea that free bleeding would bring about the removal of the virus is interesting, because we have in recent years insisted in the case of the very similar disease, tetanus, on allowing or deliberately causing wounds in which the tetanus microbe may have gained an entrance, to bleed freely.
The biting of a wood hound is deadly and venomous. And such venom is perilous. For it is long hidden and unknown, and increaseth and multiplieth itself, and is sometimes unknown to the year's end, and then the same day and hour of the biting, it cometh to the head, and breedeth frenzy. They that are bitten of a wood hound have in their sleep dreadful sights, and are fearful, astonied, and wroth without cause. And they dread to be seen of other men, and bark as hounds, and they dread water most of all things, and are afeared thereof full sore and squeamous also. Against the biting of a wood hound wise men and ready use to make the wounds bleed with fire or with iron, that the venom may come out with tha blood, that cometh out of the wound.