A Book of Words
Selections from speeches and addresses
delivered between 1906 and 1927
This is one of the six later speeches not included in that collection which were added for the Sussex Edition
"Healing by the Stars"
Annual dinner of the Royal Society of Medicine
May Fair Hotel, 15 November 1928
by Leonee Ormond
Notes on XXXII
Notes on XXXIV
I made a speech at the R.Society of Medicine (maybe you saw it in the Lancet) on the old “astrological” lines we discussed more than a year ago. It was rather fun but it has unchained on me every dam’ astrological crank in England (with pamphlets!) and the U.S. mail has yet to come.Kipling spent much of his speech talking about Nicholas Culpeper, the seventeenth century physician. His argument was that Culpeper, as an astrologer, believed in the unity of the universe. Kipling declared that Culpeper would find much to confirm his belief in modern science and medicine. Kipling feared that recent scientific discoveries had made medicine more limited in approach.
[Letters, (Ed. Thomas Pinney) vol 5. p. 460].
'... at the end an exhibition was given where the cells were all illuminated white against black, and it was like staring into the Heavens. Just the same as the nebula....'See also his "A Doctor of Medicine" in Rewards and Fairies, his poem "Our Fathers of Old", Dr Gillian Sheehan's article on "Kipling and Medicine", and —in particular—his story "Unprofessional" (October 1930), collected in Limits and Renewals, which developed the ideas expressed in this speech.
[Letters, (Ed. Thomas Pinney) vol 5. p. 448].
... the natural ground of medicine and disease ... depends much upon astral influx and elementary impression; and hence it is, that, by the nativity or decumbiture of the patient, we are enabled to discern both the cause and conclusion of the disease.[Page 296 lines 10-13] this creation ... high as the stars Kipling is drawing together some of Culpeper's statements from The English Physician Enlarged and combining them into a single sentence. All references are to the edition of 1789. In speaking of 'contraries', Kipling omits Culpeper's reference to God:
'The hand eternal, in the beginning, when he formed the creation, made it a composition of contraries' ... (I, 59) 'if we consider that the whole creation is one entire and united body, composed by the power of an All-wise God, of a composition of discords'... (I, 63) 'Man is an admirable creature, the universe and epitome of the world'. (II, 3)[Page 296 line 17] pneuma breath of life