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affected therewith, but still remains sound, useful, and free from pain."
Dr. Wellwood's Letter to Lady Ashurst, Lady Mayoress.
“Madam,—In desiring me to give my opinion about the so-muchtalked-of cure of Mary Maillard, your Ladyship puts upon me a harder task than perhaps you imagine it may be. My stars never designed me for a bigot on the one hand, nor an atheist on the other. Let any body judge then if I be in a fair way to become a favourite of the age we live in. It is hard to say which of these two sorts of men, who degenerate into brutes, deserve most the scorn and hatred of the wiser part of mankind. I shall not take upon me to decide their pretensions; only, Madam, give me leave to say the atheist (though the greater rebel to his Maker) is yet the easiest of the two towards his fellow-creatures, whom he does not hurt, unless it be when his appetites, passions, or immoralities, set him on forbidden game and then indeed it is a sport to him to do all the mischief that is in his way, being under no restraint; yet his impious opinions are but lazy speculations which do less mischief to others. Whereas the bigot is never at ease, till the flames of his blind zeal have set all the world on fire about him: while the other hugs himself in his own folly, without declaring war against his neighbours for not being so mad as himself. Both the one and the other are out of all hazard of falling under the weight of that axiom, 'He that increases in knowledge, increases in sorrow.' Ignorance first misleads them, and then it shuts up all avenues to reclaim them. In short, Madam, of all trades I know, it requires the least stock of true wit to set up for an atheist or bigot; but the greatest stock of false shews of it, to support either; for the plain sense of mankind sets strongly both against the one and the other.
"There are two extremes of opinion that relate to these opposite ranks of men. Some are inclinable to believe every matter of fact that is told them, which seems to serve their particular opinions or notions of religion. They do as easily believe the fact in question, as they are forward presently to ascribe it to a supernatural cause: and conclude a man to be an impious person, that shall dare to question either the one or the other; that shall either doubt the fact, or shall go about to shew from what natural causes it may have arisen. Others again take up a formed resolution to disbelieve every thing they cannot account for or explain. And let it bear never so many signatures of truth, and of its being effected by a supernatural power, they are resolved either to cry it down as an imposture; or otherwise, if there be no place for denying it, to ascribe it to some natural cause, to the force of imagination, accident, and I know not what. It is not easy to determine which of these two extremes ought the most to be shunned, or discovers the worst temper. The first arises out of a weakness of mind, or a partiality to opinions for the very same person who does so easily believe an extraordinary thing when it seems to favour his own sect, is as positively determined against believing it, if it had happened out of that
communion to which he belongs. The other discovers a profane arrogance of temper, and an impious aversion to every thing which may strengthen men's persuasions about religion, which he hates on all sides, reckoning that the priests of all religions are the same. "The mean betwixt these two is to resolve on believing nothing that is extraordinary, but upon very great and full evidence. In short, men are apt even to lie, or amplify (which is lying in some degree), and therefore we have a right to suspend our belief, and to examine well the fact, when any strange thing is told us; and this is what every wise man ought to do. But when the averment of the fact is full, then every inquirer into nature ought to consider how far the powers of nature may have co-operated to the effect in question. As, for instance, imagination has certainly great force in giving a strong motion to the blood and animal spirits, which may clear obstructions, alter the mass of blood, and allay its fermentations. There are also great secrets in nature, and many wonderful virtues in plants and minerals, as well as in animals, which observation, as well as lucky accidents, bring every day to our knowledge. So that we cannot certainly define the extent of nature, or the compass of second causes; yet from theory and observation we may come to frame a general scheme of what lies in the road and course of nature, and what is so much out of it, that we have reason to ascribe it to a superior and supernatural power. To be slow in believing and severe in inquiring after unusual things, carries with it the characters of a truly inquisitive and philosophical mind. Yet, after all, to reject a thing when the truth of it is apparent, and to impute it to second causes when we do not see the least shadow of any one, gives a strong presumption of a secret hatred of all religion and virtue; that I had much rather fall under the censures, and even the scorn, of that tribe, than be corrupted by so pestilential and spreading a contagion.
"To come to the case of the French girl: your Ladyship has seen her as she is now, and has heard it sworn by several persons, whom you have no cause to disbelieve, how she was before. It is certain she was monstrously lame from her childhood till the 26th of November last and it is certain since that time till now, she goes straight. How she came to be cured in an instant, is the question; and such a one as I am not able to determine. But to give your ladyship all the satisfaction I can in so difficult a matter, and that you may be better enabled to judge of so surprising an effect, I shall, in as few words as possible, set down the manner, causes, and consequents of her lameness, so far as they occur to me from any thing I know in anatomy; and in the next place, shall inquire how far the cure of it, as it is sworn to, can be ascribed to a natural influence.
"For the first it appears, by the affidavits you sent me, ' that when she came to be about thirteen months old, she was then first observed to be lame; and some time thereafter, there appeared a hollowness in the place where one usually finds the knitting of the thigh-bone to the hip, as also a considerable swelling a little above that place,' to give it in their own words. In process of time she
grew worse and worse; and not only the thigh-bone became both higher up and shorter than it used to be, but her knee and the ancle-bone of that leg turned inwards, so that she went upon the ancle, the sole of her foot turning upwards; and all this attended with a great deal of pain.' Here, Madam, you have the history of the disease; and all these symptoms are the natural, and some of them the necessary, effect of a dislocation of the thigh-bone.'
"To render this the more intelligible, give me leave, Madam, to lay down a short hint of the natural structure of the parts here affected. The thigh-bone has, at the upper end, a round head; this is received by a large cavity of the hip-bone, and is detained and fixed therein by two strong ligaments, one that encompasses the brim of the cavity, and another that springs out of the bottom of it, and is inserted into the tip of the round head of the thigh-bone, in order to the movement of the thigh, and consequently of the whole body. Nature has wisely accompanied these bones with cartilages, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which are all of them so variously placed and situated, as to answer every beck of the sensitive soul, in moving either backwards or forwards, to the inside, to the outside, or obliquely.
"This being the natural structure of the parts, a dislocation of the thigh happens when the round head of the thigh-bone is by some violence displaced out of the large cavity of the hip-bone. This cannot happen but by some violent force, because of the strength of the muscles that help to keep the bone in its proper place, of the depth of the cavity where it is lodged, and the strength and shortness of the ligaments I have named. The longer such a dislocation lasts, the less it is curable, seeing by it the ligaments and muscles must be greatly relaxed; and so much the more, if the patient walk about, as this girl did: for the more stress she puts on that leg, the more must these parts be relaxed; they bearing, in such a case, most, if not all, the weight of that side of the body, which the thighbone should have done, if it had been in its proper place.
"It is to me beyond all question, that in the case of this poor refugee, there was a luxation or dislocation of the thigh-bone, such as I have explained: and of the four kinds of it reckoned up by anatomists, it must necessarily have been what they call a dislocation outwards; a hollowness on the place of the joint, a considerable tumour a little above it, the thigh-bone of that side being both higher and shorter than the other, a constant pain attending, with a turning inwards of the knee and ancle, and a turning upwards of the sole of the foot, are all of them agreed by anatomists and surgeons to be undoubted signs, as well as necessary consequences, of this kind of dislocation. The place of the joint must needs have appeared hollow, partly for want of the cavity's being filled up with the round head of the thigh-bone, and partly from the rising tumour above it. The tumour itself has been nothing else but the round head turned outward with the muscles and fleshy parts around it. The pain was owing to the stretching of the ligaments and nervous parts, and their supplying the office of the thigh-bone, in sustaining that side
of the body: the bone must needs appear shorter from the thrusting of its head higher than the cavity for which it was naturally designed. The distortion of the knee proceeds partly from the relaxation of those muscles and tendons that serve to move the thigh outwards, and partly to the relaxation more on one side than the other of that ligament I mentioned, which encompasses the brim of the cavity of the hip-bone. The like contortion of the ancle is owing to the former, and to the stress the poor girl was obliged to lay upon the dislocated thigh by walking, occasioned through the narrowness of her circumstances.
"Thus much, Madam, for the manner, causes, and consequents of the girl's distemper. Neither has it any weight to object against its being a dislocation, that her parents remember not the precise time nor manner how she came by it; for we see every day examples of children dislocated in the same manner without their parents being able to tell when or how they became so; the bones of young children being much more easily put out than those come to age, and they being more obnoxious to accidents through errors of the people about them.
"To trouble your Ladyship with the ordinary manner and method of cure in this case, would seem altogether needless, since every body of common sense will tell you, it is done by putting the thighbone in its proper place; that is, by bringing back the head of it into the cavity of the hip-bone, and keeping it there. This is done with no small difficulty, even when the dislocation is recent; where, many times, both the surgeon and his assistant are forced to employ their utmost strength, and the best of their dexterity and skill.
"But when the dislocation is of a long standing, as it was with this maid, most surgeons and anatomists look upon the case as deplorable, if not desperate. Among a great many others, these following reasons may be given for it. 1. The cavity of the hipbone, for want of the head of the other bone to play in it, must needs in process of time be filled with that mucilaginous matter which the gland, situated in the bottom of it, does constantly furnish for the lubrication of the joint. Being once thus filled up, either in whole or in a considerable part, it becomes unfit to re-admit the head of the bone dislocated, for want of room. And this the rather, that of all the mucilaginous glands, situated upon the joints of human bodies, this gland, by the wise providence of Nature, is the largest, and discharges the most matter. If it were not for this constant supply, the greatest torture that could be inflicted on a criminal were but to oblige him to walk. 2. The constant afflux of humours, even in the ordinary course of nutriment, upon the head of the bone dislocated, must render it, in a little time, too big to re-enter its proper cavity; the constant attrition of parts having prevented that inconvenience while it stayed in its natural situation. 3. Nature having once accustomed itself to a posture out of its ordinary road, it makes the best it can of necessity, and seldom or ever of itself changes a tolerable evil for a hazardous good. Lastly, though the bone should be got set again, even when recent, it is
yet easily put out again by the least motion or accident; because by the dislocation the muscles and ligaments are either rendered feeble, or relaxed, or broken, and consequently very unable to fix the thighbone in its place so firm as it ought to be.
"Now, Madam, upon the whole matter, I do not see it good manners to question the fact, since the present state of the person is visible to all the world; and her former condition was so well known to such numbers that do attest it. And though the extraordinary suddenness of the change cannot be maintained by so many witnesses, there being but one other person present; yet, as other witnesses saw it in a very little time afterwards, so there are very many that know how she was the day before, and the day afterwards, which do reasonably enough support the want of variety of proof, for the instantaneous change that was made. Therefore I cannot see what is possible to be said as to the fact.
"I would not pretend to be philosopher, physician, or anatomist enough to say what nature can do; but there having been no appli cations used either outward or inward, and no operation of surgery, even of the slightest kind, interposed, I confess I cannot imagine what probable or possible colour there is for ascribing this to any natural or second cause, that yet occurs to me. And therefore am not ashamed to own, that there is something in it which I cannot well comprehend, and shall not be angry with any body that shall ascribe it to something above, or out of, the road of nature.
"The only objection against this is, that a little lameness, a small and scarce discernible halting, still remains. From which some may think it reasonable to infer, since God does not work miracles by halves, this is not to be ascribed to him. It is true, the one leg is a little shorter than the other ('the thickness of a crown-piece'), which may arise from a shrinking of the nerves, or want of nutriment, that do naturally flow from so long and great a dislocation. If the halting did proceed from a looseness or feebleness of what is now put in joint, the objection would indeed be stronger; for the thing this poor creature wanted was the firmness of union between the upper and lower parts of her body. This deprived her of the use of her limbs, and put her to perpetual pains; all which is now entirely changed, so that the work is complete. And though it may be suitable to the infinite goodness of the Supreme Mind to give such a person the entire use of her body, yet an exact straightness being only a part of the ornament of the body, there is not that reason to expect a second miracle (though the first had been one), for the stretching out the leg to a just equality with the other; since, probably enough, that may come in time of itself, the halting being now scarce discernible, and, as you know, very inconsiderable.
"If it were worth your while, Madam, I could give your Ladyship an account of very surprising effects produced in some people by a rapid turn of the animal spirits; and if I should tell you that it were no derogation from the miracles our Saviour wrought upon earth, that a flame of imagination, setting the animal spirits in a swift motion, and thereby raising a new fermentation in the mass of