Chapter XIV The pilgrim examines the medical profession
Having been conducted through some alleys between the physics and the chemistry lecture rooms into another square, I beheld a gruesome sight. There men stretched out a corpse before them and cutting off one limb after another, examined the viscera, with keen relish exhibiting to each other what they +50found.
“What cruelty to deal with a human being as if he were a beast!” I exclaimed.
“It must be done; this is their school,” my interpreter replied.
2 Thereupon, abandoning that task and dispersing into gardens, meadows, fields, and mountains, they plucked whatever they found growing there and piled it into such heaps that many years would scarcely suffice for its mere sorting and scanning. Then each snatched from the heap what he saw fit or happened to lay his hand on and running to the ripped-up body, measured it with the limbs as to their length, width, and thickness. One said that it fitted; another denied it. Then they shouted at each other in dispute; they had great controversies about the very names of the herbs. He who knew the greatest number of them and how to measure and weight them, was crowned with a wreath of those herbs, and was to be called the doctor of the art.
3 Then I saw a number of wounded, both externally and internally, with putrid and rotting limbs, brought or conducted to the physicians; they approached them, examined the putrifications, smelling the stench emitted from them, and scrutinized the evacuations proceeding from both above and below, until the sight was disgusting; this they called diagnosis. Then they cooked, steamed, roasted, broiled, cauterized, cooled, burned, hacked, sawed, stabbed, sewed again, bound, annointed, hardened, softened, wrapped, or moistened, and I know not what more they did in oder to effect the cure. In the meantime, their patients had been expiring under their hands, not a few of them lamenting the doctors' ignorance or carelessness as the causes of their death. In a word, I saw that although the art of these fine salve-mongers brought them a certain gain, it also involved them, on the other hand (if they wished to do justice to their calling), in a great deal of very strenuous and partly even disgusting labor, and in the end brought them as much blame as praise. This made it distasteful to me.