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DAVID BREWSTER, LL. D.
F. R. S. LOND. AND EDIN. AND M. R. I. A.
CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF PARIS, AND OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF
WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF
GENTLEMEN EMINENT IN SCIENCE AND LITERATURE.
IN EIGHTEEN VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR WILLIAM BLACKWOOD;
AND JOHN WAUGH, EDINBURGH; JOHN MURRAY; BALDWIN & CRADOCK;
STROPHANOMETER, another name given by Jeaurat to instruments resembling the Astereometers or Astrometers of Jeaurat and Dr Brewster, described under the last of these articles. (0)
ASTRUC, JOHN, M. D. a very eminent French physician, who was born at Sauve, a town of Lower Languedoc, on the 19th of March 1684, and died at Paris the 5th of May 1766, at the advanced age of 82. He completed his education at Montpellier, and in 1702 obtained from that university a bachelor's degree in medicine. Soon afterwards he distinguished himself in a controversy with the mechanical physicians on the subject of digestion, which he considered to be the effect of a peculiar ferment, and not of trituration, as Pitcairn and others had obstinately maintained. He obtained in 1710 the professorship of anatomy and medicine at Thoulouse; and in 1716, he succeeded to the chair become vacant at Montpellier by the death of Chatelain. His reputation for learning and medical skill was here fully established; and in 1729 he was invited to remove to Poland, where he was appointed physician to Augustus II., but he very soon quitted that court, and returned to France. He now fixed himself at Paris, and so early as 1730 he was made consulting physician to the French king, and on the death of Geoffroy he received the appointment of professor of medicine in the Royal College. He became also doctor regent of the faculty of physic at Paris. Astruc merited these honours: he was unquestionably a man of great learning, a distinguish ed writer, and a very skilful physician; his celebrity as a teacher drew to Paris a crowd of pupils from all parts of Europe, and his work De Morbis Venereis, published in 1736, everywhere established his fame as an author. His Traité des Maladies des Femmes,published in 1761, also possesses great merit. His other acknowledged works are: A dissertation De Motus Fermentativi Causa, 1702; De Hydrophobia, 1720; Sur l'Origine des Maladies Epidemiques, 1721; Memoires pour l'Histoire Naturelle de Languedoc, 1737; Tractatus Pathologicus, 1745; Tractatus Therapeuticas, 1748; Traité des Tumeurs et des Ulceres, 1759; Conjectures sur les Memoires Originaux dont il paroit que Moise se servit pour composer le livre de Genese, 1759; Art d'Accoucher reduit à ses principes; and
VOL. III. PART I.
published after his death by Lorry, Memoires pour Asturias. servir à l'Histoire de la Faculté de Medicine de Montpellier. (P)
ASTURIAS. Two provinces on the north of BoundaSpain, containing about 700 square leagues of the ries. most mountainous country of the whole monarchy, form what is called the principality of Asturias. According to some writers, these two provinces are to be considered separate and distinct, one being the Asturia of Oviedo, and the other the Asturia of Santillana; but no such division is recognised in the administration of the kingdom. This principality is bounded on the north by the Bay of Biscay; by Gallicia on the west; and by the kingdoms of Leon and Old Castile on the south and east.
The climate is excessively humid; and no care can Climate. preserve grain or fruit from decay, and iron from rust. The atmosphere is continually surcharged with vapour which is attracted by the mountains, and unless the wind blows from north-east, the sky is covered with clouds.
The whole principality abounds with marl, chalk, Natural gypsum, and very fine marbles. The limestone is full history. of fossil shells, coral, and corallines. Amber, independent of being found on the shore, exists in a fossil state, uniformly accompanied by jet, and a kind of cannel coal. These, when broken, disclose white crusted nodules, including bright and transparent amber. There is abundance of coal deposited in a calcareous bed, which has never been worked for fuel, both because plenty of wood can easily be procured for that purpose, and because it emits an intolerable odour in burning. There are also strong prejudices entertained against it, as being injurious to health. The ancients, particularly Pliny and Silius Italicus, speak of the gold of the Asturian mountains, but none is known now to be there. Mines of copper, lead, and iron, are found; and likewise those of arsenic and cobalt.
Woods, consisting of elm, ash, and poplar, cover the hills. Many trees fit for domestic purposes, or useful in ship building, particularly oaks of very fine quality, abound; and fruits are produced in sheltered places without care or cultivation.
The cattle of the Asturias grow to considerable size: they universally supply the place of horses for
Asturias. agricultural uses. Martial and Silius both speak of Martial and Silius both speak of the Asturian horses. It does not appear, however, that they are at this day equally celebrated.
State of the
The Asturias contain a bishopric, 668 parishes, 23 monasteries and nunneries, and 13 other religious establishments. The total population is about 350,000 persons. Besides dignitaries of the church, the number of religious, including 200 nuns, is 2858, which is less in proportion than in some other parts of Spain. From the nature of the climate, the mode of life pursued, and certain predisposing causes, the people are subject to many severe diseases, such as fevers, dropsy, scrofula, palsy, leprosy, and others. The mal de rosa attacks the back of the hands, the insteps, and the neck, where it descends to part of the breast, but leaves the rest of the body free. At first it appears red, attended with pain and heat, and ends in scurf. Vertigo and delirium succeed in the progress of the disease, and another extraordinary symptom, consisting in a peculiar propensity of the patients to drown themselves. The disease disappears in summer, and returns in spring: it may be cured by gentle medicines, but if neglected, terminates in scrofula, marasma, melancholy, and insanity. The inhabitants are also grievously afflicted with leprosy, for which there are no less than 20 hospitals in the Asturias. Some labouring under it are covered with a dry white scurf, and look like so many millers: some have the skin almost black, full of wrinkles, and covered with a loathsome crust: some have one leg and thigh swollen to an enormous degree, with many pustules and ulcers; while in others, especially women, the swelling seizes one hand or the face, and hardly leaves the human features discernible. Certain patients, again, Certain patients, again, amidst the variety which this disease assumes, have carbuncles as large as hazel nuts all over the surface of the body.
Formerly the lower classes were in a condition but peasantry. little better than bondage. Now, however, they are not adscripti gleba, because a great portion of the peasantry abandon their native soil in quest of employment, and are absent even for whole years. During the interval, the ground which they would have had to labour, is cultivated by their wives. An indulgence is shewn to tenantry here, of which we have hitherto found no example in other countries, and which we can scarce reconcile with our notions of the right of property in land. A landlord in the Asturias, as elsewhere, could remove his tenants at the expiry of their leases; but a royal ordinance interposed in the year 1755, stating, that the principal cause why agriculture declined was the unlimited power of landlords to eject their tenants at the termination of their leases: and it declared, that thenceforward, if a farmer cultivated. his lands properly, and was in no considerable arrear, he should neither be removed, nor have the rent raised. Both landlord and tenant were empowered to appeal to skilful persons, in order that the value of the farm might be ascertained; or to fix the compensation which a tenant on quitting it should receive for the improvements he had made. The chief estates of the Asturias are said to be in the hands of 80 families, and those of the next degree belong to the clergy. The great extent of surface occupied by mountains,
limits the quantity of agricultural produce; never- Asturias, theless wheat, rye, barley, and maize, are cultivated with success, and another kind of corn called escanda, Agriculaffording white flour of good quality. Two crops in ture. one year are obtained from the low lands, in which case barley follows either maize or flax. But the operations of the peasantry are rude and unskilful. Their ploughs are ill constructed, being adapted only to scratch the ground, which rather requires a deep furrow; and their harrows have no iron. These are used only for maize, as the wheat and barley never undergo harrowing. Their cart wheels are made of planks, and are fashioned without spokes; and the axles, to which no grease is applied, are eight or ten inches in diameter. An immoderate degree of friction, produced by such a clumsy apparatus, is increased by the most injudicious expedients. In some of the ravines of the mountains, horizontal water wheels are seen driving the mills. Very considerable quantities of fruit are gathered throughout the principality, and much cyder is made from the apples. This is maintained to be inferior to English cyder, for two reasons: first, because the inhabitants neither pay sufficient attention to the proper selection of fruit, nor to the treatment of the liquor; and secondly, because its quality is impaired by the extreme humidity of the climate. There are some vineyards, but no wine is made from their produce. Though the Asturias chiefly consist of successive mountains, there are se veral extensive pastures, grazed by numerous flocks of sheep and cattle.
The whole commerce of the Asturias is inconsi- Commercederable the imports are linen, woollen stuffs, and hardware goods; the exports, fruit, cyder, and millstones. There are eighteen sea-ports on the coast, some of them so unimportant as hardly to be known by name. They send out shipping to France and England for articles which the province requires. Formerly their whole trade was engrossed by the Dutch, but is now partitioned among other countries. The difficulty of intercourse with the rest of Spain, undoubtedly restricts the commerce of the Asturias; and the roads in general are represented as frightful. There is only one great road leading from Madrid to Oviedo, which traverses this principality: the rest are bye roads, many of them almost impracticable even by a foot passenger. A road runs along the coast forty leagues, or nearly the whole length of the principality. In its course the traveller has to pass thirty-one rivers, only ten of which have bridges. Five of these are crossed in boats; the remainder must be forded. The dangers of attempting this road on horseback, can be but imperfectly conceived. Sometimes the traveller finds himself on the summit of lofty mountains, then in dark and narrow vales; next buried in the thickest woods, or journeying along the edge of naked precipices. But to compensate for his difficulties, the true picture of the country is disclosed to his view, here consisting of hills whose tops are covered with snow, while the greenest pasture is seen below; and there of rocks, cascades, and natural fountains, or fields in a rich state of cultivation.
There are several edifices of Gothic architecture Remains o in the Asturias. Not far from Caugas de Onis, is antiquity:
Asturias. the monastery of St Peter Villanosa, said to occupy the sit of a palace belonging to Alphonso I. the son of Favila, prince of Oviedo. Here there is a Gothic arcade, exhibiting proofs of great antiquity, which is reputed to have been the entrance to the chapel of the palace. At the gate of the church are sculptured the tragical incidents attending the death of the prince Favila, who while hunting was torn to pieces by a wild boar, in 738. Roman antiquities have been found near Gijon.
In regard to the history of the Asturias, it appears that the Romans made ineffectual attempts to subdue them. Florus describes a great body of Asturians descending from the mountains, and boldly attacking the Roman camp. The engagement was long and bloody, and the victory uncertain. When the Moors struggled for the conquest of Spain, and gained a decisive battle at Xeres de la Frontera, in 711, the Asturians received Pelayo and the other Christians, who escaped the force of their arms. The Moors found an impenetrable barrier in the mountains surrounding this province. Their cavalry, which contributed so much to their successes in the low countries, was of little use; and after being exposed to various attacks from the Asturians, they judged it expedient to retreat to a distance from the mountains. Pelayo, protected by their fastnesses, here laid the foundation of the Spanish monarchy; his posterity waged constant war with the Moors, but it was only after a contest of several successive centuries, that they were able to effect their expulsion. From that era the Asturians derived those privileges of nobility which they still retain: the inhabitants of Ansena are distinguished from the rest of their countrymen, by the title of Illustrious Mountaineers. The two provinces of Asturias were erected into a principality, and the oldest son of the Catholic king, under the late dynasty, has from the year 1388 bore the title of Prince of Asturias.
The character of the Asturians seems formed, in a of the peo- great measure, from local circumstances. Extreme ple. simplicity of dress and manners prevail: the women use no artificial decorations, trusting only to what nature has bestowed. The people are distinguished for honour, probity, and candour; every thing bespeaks their remoteness from the more sociable and civilized districts of the kingdom: they are warmly attached to their country, faithful to their rulers, and passive to the laws. They are zealous, perhaps it may be affirmed superstitious, in matters of religion; and inherit a degree of courage frequently the characteristic of mountaineers. Dishonesty is said to be quite unknown among them. Yet notwithstanding such qualifications, they are accused of dullness, and the want of vivacity, which we may probably ascribe to the interrupted intercourse subsisting between those who dwell in wild and uncultivated regions. However, they should probably prize their situation, though the source of so many disadvantages, as it removes them from the impression of those convulsions to which a province more populous, civilized, and accessible, would be exposed.
The state of the sciences is at the lowest ebb in the Asturias: medicine in particular, as now pracrised, is less calculated to effect a cure than to en
danger life. Hence a modern author, in speaking of Astyages. the frequency of palsy, observes, "The physician has such a dread of palsy, that he bleeds his patient into a dropsy, or leaves him to languish between life and death, a prey to the most gloomy of all diseases to which humanity is subject." See Bourgoing Tableau de l'Espagne Moderne, tom. 2. p. 162. Townsend's Travels in Spain, vol. i. ii. Laborde's View of Spain, vol. ii. Bleau's Atlas, tom. 3. Mariana Historia de Espana. (c)
ASTYAGES, the last king of Media. See Herodotus, lib. i. cap. 74, 75; Pausanias, lib. v. cap. 10; Justin, lib. v. cap. 4; and Univers. Hist. vol. v. p. 40, 47, note (C); 170, (B), &c. See also MEDIA and PERSIA. (w)
ASTYANAX, the son of Hector and Andromache, who was saved by his mother from the flames of Troy. His superiority to Hector having been predicted by one of the soothsayers, the Greeks are said to have determined his destruction, and Ulysses to have precipitated him from the Trojan walls. See the Iliad, lib. vi. v. 400, lib. xxii. v. 500.; the Eneid, lib. ii. v. 457. lib. iii. v. 489; and Ovid's Metamorph. xiii. v. 415. (0)
ASYLUM, from the Greek «ruhov, sanctuary, or place of refuge. See SANCTUARY, where this subject will be discussed at some length. ()
ASYMPTOTE, is a line which, being indefinitely produced, continually approaches another line also indefinitely produced, so that the two lines never meet, though their distance may be less than any assignable magnitude. See CONIC SECTIONS and CURVES. (0)
ATAHUALPA, one of the kings of Quito. See Robertson's History of America, vol. iii. p. 29; and QUITO. (w)
ATALANTIS. See ATLANTIS.
ATE, from araw, the same as the goddess of dis
cord among the Latins. She was regarded as the
daughter of Jupiter, and the author of all evil. She raised such commotions in heaven, that Jupiter dragged her away by the hair, and threw her headlong to the earth. See the Iliad, lib. xix. v. 125. (j)
ATERGATIS, ATARGATIS, or DERCETO, one of the goddesses of the Syrians, whom they represented like a mermaid, with the head and chest of a woman, but with the rest of the body like a fish. According to some, she was the Babylonian and Assyrian Venus, and, like the Astarte of the Phenicians, had her origin from Semiramis, the foundress of Babylon. See Strabo, lib. xvi, p. 748.; Pliny's Nat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 23.; Macrobius' Saturnalia, lib. i. cap. 23.; Manilius' Astron. iv.; and Bryant's Ancient Mythol. vol. ii. p. 298. (w)
ATHABASCA, the name of a territory, lake, and river, in North America. The inhabitants of this territory carried their furs to Fort-Churchill, Hudson's Bay, till the year 1782; but, since that time, their trading establishment has been on the north side of the river La Pluie, where the inhabi tants of Montreal repair to exchange their commodi ties. See Mackenzie's Voyages, Introd. p. 56, &c. (w)
ATHAMANES, the name of an ancient people who inhabited Athamania, in Epirus. They seena