Anonymous, “On the Dissection of a Body”


 “On the Dissection of a Body”


OBSERVE this wonderful machine,
View its connection with each part,
Thus furnish’d by the hand unseen,
How far surpassing human art!

Should ablest imitators try,                                                                       5
With utmost skill, to form a like,
Could they so charm the curious eye?
Could they with equal wonder strike?

See how the motion of each part
Upon some other still depends,                                                      10
When all a mutual aid impart,
Conductive to their various ends.

Whilst we th’amazing frame explore,
More secret wonders still we spy,
Yet there remain ten thousand more                                                     15
Hid from the microscopic eye.

Here may the stupid Atheist see
Convincing proofs —-which all combine
To overthrow his wretched plan,
And speak the Maker’s hand divine.                                               20

What great emoluments accrue
To those whose Nature’s laws obey?
From such instructions in her view,
Ye sons of Esculapius say!

Tho’God has call’d the life he lent,                                                         25
Each vital function, dormant laid,
Here we trace Nature’s deep intent,
And see how once the springs were play’d.

These tubes convey’d the purple juice,
WhichWhich with new strength supply’d the whole;                   30
And here branch’d forth the nerves, whose use
Was to keep converse with the soul.

This silent preacher points us out
The cause of many a latent ill,
Which, heretofore, lay hid in doubt,                                                       35
Baffling each effort of our skill.


10 other Corrected printer’s error; originally spelled as “othe.”

 21 emoluments “Profit or gain arising from station, office, or employment” (OED).

 24 son of Esculapius Modern physicians. Asclepius, a Greek healer who extended the knowledge of medicine among mankind, was killed by Zeus for charging money to raise the dead, but also revived by Zeus as the god of healing and medicine.

28 springs From the phrase “the springs of life,” or youth (OED).

29 purple juice Blood, as one of the four Hippocratic four humors, is the vital force and innate heat of the body. According to Hippocratic medicine, when blood loses its force and heat, its color changes from red to purple.

34 latent “Of a disease, disorder, infection, or infectious agent: present but not (yet) producing symptoms or clinical signs” (OED).

Source: The Gentlemen’s Magazine, Vol. 40 (August 1770), pp. 385-86.

 Edited by Tammy J. Allen

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