• George Berkeley vers la fin de sa vie

        Les controverses avec les libres penseurs, sa belle tentative d'évangélisation à Rhoode-Island, et ces années solitaires où le bon évêque anglican "habitant un canton sort reculé, entouré de pauvres, qui, faute d'un médecin dans les formes, avaient souvent recourt à lui". Durant ce quart de siècle, son âme et son intelligence, son coeur et ses conceptions se sont élevées du même essor paisible vers les hauteurs où, à force d'être bon et généreux, on voit se révéler plus claires les choses de l'esprit, et s'effacer, dans une insignifiance lointaine, le monde sensible. Au terme de sa carrière, l'ancien "ami des sens" avait doucement évolué et, avec ses préoccupations, le champ de son attention s'était déplacé d'un façon toute naturelle et imperceptible.

        On lit en effet dans Siris- the virtues of tar water (1747) :
    72. To suppose that all distempers arising from very different, and, it may be, from contrary causes, can be cured by one and the same medicine, must seem chimerical. But it may with truth be affirmed, that the virtue of tar- water extends to a surprizing variety of cases very distant and unlike. This I have experienced in my neighbours, my family, and myself. And as I live in a remote corner among poor neighbours, who for want of a regular physician have often recourse to me, I have had frequent opportunities of trial, which convince me it is of so just a temperament as to be an enemy to all extremes. I have known it do great good in a cold watery constitution, as a cardiac and stomachic ; and at the same time allay heat and severish thirst in another. I have known it correct costive habits in some, and the contrary habit in others. Nor will this seem incredible, is it be considered that middle qualities naturally reduce the extreme. Warm water, sor instanee, mixed with hot and cold will lessen the heat in that, and the cold in this.

    79. I have, known a bloody flux of long continuance, after divers medicines had been tried in vain, currd by tar- water. But that which I take to be the most speedy and effectual remedy in a bloody flux, is a clyster of an ounce of common brown rosin diffolved over a fire in two ounces of oil, and added to a pint of broth ; which not long since I had frequent occasion of trying, when that distemper was epidemical. Nor can I say that any to whom I advised it miscarried. This experiment I was led to make by the opinion I had of tar as a balsamic : and rosin is only tar inspissated.

    82. The great force of tar-water, to correct the acrimony of the blood, appears in nothing more than in the cure of a gangrene, from an internal cause ; which was performed on a servant of my own, by prescribing the copious and constant use of tar-water for a few weeks. From my representing tar-water as good for so many things, some perhaps may conclude it is good for nothing. But charity obligeth me to say what I know, and what I think, howsoever it may be taken. Men may censure and object as they please, but I appeal to time and experiment. Effects misimputed, cases wrong told, circumstances overlooked, perhaps too, prejudices and partialities against truth, may for a time prevail and keep her at the bottom of her well, from whence nevertheless me emergeth sooner or later, and strikes the eyes of all who do not keep them shut.

    source : Emile Mersch, Berkeley est-il empiriste ou spiritualiste ? (persee.fr)
    George Berkeley, Siris- the virtues of tar water (1747)(archive.org)


        Négligée ou ignorée par les penseurs, Siris a été lue et relue, et traduite, à l'usage des malades, et aussi "des curés de campagne qui y trouveront un moyen facile d'exercer leur charité envers leurs paroissiens malades". Nous citons l'avertissement d'une édition liégeoise, sans date (Collette, Liège). La traduction est celle de Bouiller (Genève, 1748). L'éditeur - c'est caractéristique - ne donne que la partie pharmaceutique, et laisse de côté les considérations métaphysiques.


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