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A Lecture on the Preservation of Health   By: (1766-1802)

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BY T. GARNETT, M.D. Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in the Royal Institution of Great Britain &c.



Such the reward of rude and sober life; Of labour such. By health the peasant's toil Is well repaid; if exercise were pain Indeed, and temperance pain. Armstrong .



Dear Sir,

THE first edition of this pamphlet having been introduced to the world under the sanction of your name, I take the liberty of prefixing it to the second; and am happy in having another public opportunity of expressing my thanks for the high gratification and instruction which I have received from the perusal of your medical and philosophical works.

I am, Dear Sir, With much esteem, Your very obedient servant,


Royal Institution, April 8th, 1800.


Most medical gentlemen will, it is supposed, agree that the greater part of the numerous train of diseases to which their patients are subject, have been brought on by improper conduct and imprudence. That this conduct often proceeds from ignorance of its bad effects, may be presumed; for though it cannot be denied that some persons are perfectly regardless with respect to their health, yet the great mass of mankind are too sensible of the enjoyment and loss of this greatest of blessings, to run headlong into danger with their eyes open.

It was with the hope of making the laws of life more generally known, and better understood, and from thence deducing such rules for the preservation of health, as would be evident to every capacity, that the author was induced to deliver this lecture. It has been honoured with the attention of numerous audiences, in some of the most populous towns in England, where it has generally been read for the benefit of charitable institutions.

The author flatters himself, that besides the benefit produced by his humble endeavours to serve these institutions, those endeavours have not totally failed in the grand object of preserving health; and with the hope that the influence of the precepts here given, may be farther extended, he has concurred in the ideas of those who have advised the publication of this lecture.

It is to be feared, that notwithstanding all which can be done, disease will continue to be a heavy tax, which civilized society must pay for its comforts; and the valetudinarian will often be tempted to envy the savage the strength and soundness of his constitution. Much however may be done towards the prevention of a number of diseases. If this lecture should contribute to the attainment of so desirable an end, it will afford the highest gratification to the author.

The first part of the lecture is the substance of an essay which was read by the author before the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh, intended as a defence of the general principles of the system of Dr. Brown, whose pupil he then was. It was, according to custom, transcribed into the books of the society, and the public have now an opportunity of judging how far Dr. Girtanner, in his first essay published in the Journal de Physique, about two years after, in which he gives the theory as his own, without the least acknowledgment to the much injured and unfortunate author of the Elementa Medicinae, has borrowed from this essay.

In public lectures, novelty is not to be expected, the principal object of the lecturer being to place in a proper point of view, what has been before discovered. The author has therefore freely availed himself of the labours of others, particularly of the popular publications of Dr. Beddoes, which he takes this opportunity of acknowledging.

This lecture is published almost verbatim as it was delivered. On this account the experiments mentioned are not minutely described, the reader being supposed to see them performed... Continue reading book >>

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