A rascally quack who calls himself the famous worm-destroyer, is at this time travelling about the country, and vending his nostrum by means of hand-bills, with ‘please to keep this clean till called for,’ in large letters at the end. “Courteous reader, (he says,) had you seen a quarter of the dismal effects of these vermin upon the human body, you would believe with me, that these vermiculars have sent thousands to their long homes, under the name of such a fever, or such a distemper. Worms drop from the eyes like lice, from the nose like maggots, from the ears when imposthumed, and nave been found in the heart of those who have died 246of syphilis; wherefore I advise all persons to stop the progress of these pernicious vermin in time, and not stand idle while nature is worsted on unequal terms. These vermin are so pernicious, there is hardly any age, sex, or constitution, but is subject to them, nor any part but they affect, as there are no humours but may putrify one time or other, and this putrified matter having a heat apt for generation, produces worms; and if not, purification has in itself seeds as pernicious, causing the same disorders as vermin actually existing. This medicine not only destroys worms, but all kinds of matter, and is the only specific yet known.”
The theory of which this ignorant fellow has got hold, is by no means an unpromising one for his purpose. About a century ago one Dr. Christianus Franciscus Paullinus published his Disquisitio Curiosa an mors naturalis plerumque sit substantia verminosa. He should not have written this book he says, if it had not 247been for the glory of God and the edification of the church. His notions of edification must have been very curious, and as for the glory of God, Jonathon Edwards himself did not attempt to support it in a more extraordinary manner. Never was there a more beastly collection of horrid and disgusting stories, yet it contained so many odd things that an idle after-dinner hour was not ill bestowed upon its perusal. Nine-tenths of the book were palpably false, and whatever approximation to truth there may be in the animalcular system of physics, of which Dr. Paullinus had persuaded himself, I recollected more facts, and bethought myself of more arguments in its support, than were to be found in his disquisition.
St. Pierre in his first work (Voyage to the isle of France) advances an hypothesis that trees, like Madrepores, are the work of animalculæ; you wonder that a theory which you cannot believe, should be maintained so ingeniously. Darwin in like 248manner explained the human economy; every gland, according to him was a nest of living atoms, each of whom (as he expressed himself in conversation) took from the circulating fluid what he liked best.