Note : This address was composed and spoken in latin by Hahnemann at the age of twenty , when taking leave in 1775 of the prince’s school Meissen .
it was translated into English by StephenHobhouse . no one among you most learned and illustrious auditors , can doubt that it may be known and understood from the mechanism of the universe that god exists and yet I think that I may with truth assert that it is above all else in the construction of the supreme being is most radiantly clear , for in each and every limb he has shown such incredible skill of craftsmanship and such exquisite art , that any one who dares to cast blame on the least thing in the composition of our bodies may rightly and deservedly be considered not merely foolish , but devoid of all sense and insight . more over , as man is easily the chief of all living creatures , so the dignity and excellence of his body for exceeds that of theirs .
what I have just said is indeed obvious to every carefully observer , and yet the perfection of skill which is also shown in the build of the other animals will be readily regarded as most worthy of admiration by any one who grasps how aptly and fittingly their various senses and limbs have been planned and created by the supreme maker of the world , so as to suit the diversity of character and strength in each creature . the horse is endowed with solid hoofs and a handsome mane ,for he is swift and proud animal , while a lion a brave and ferocious beast has been supplied by the same wise and divine nature with powerful teeth and claws . for a similar reason the bull and wild bear have powers of defense and natural ornaments corresponding to the character of each . as for timid species like the deer and the hare , what gifts more fitting could there be than their in-so-much as they are with out any direct protection against violence ? but for man , who has the divine gift of a mind , hands have been created by nature as the sole instruments defense –hands which are adopted for his use and guardians of his safety , man accordingly had no need of the natural endowments of horns and claws , since the tips of his fingers were provided with nails and he could use sword and spear and other kinds of weapons , some of them of them sharper and some harder than horns I need hardly and that add that even from a distance , he is able to attacks and to wound another creature with a stone , for example or a club or with those iron tubes which project leaden bullets and with other similar weapons ; while beasts , unlike man can only fight and protect themselves at close quarters , all these actions are in our power with the help of the hands . what shall I say of the arts discovered with the aid of the hands ? or of the clothing manufactured by them ? what of the buildings constructed for our comfort and for usefulness and protection ? more over what laws would we passes , what records of genius if we were with out hands ? the hands are assuredly the benefactors that enable us to hold converse with Plato with Aristotle with Hippocrates and with galen and with other luminaries of the ancient world .
I am convinced that every one will agree with me , that for a creature endowed with wisdom there is nothing of greater use and benefit than a pair of hands . but so that I may myself lay before you the truths that I have gathered from a rapid survey of the scientific writers in the course of my leisure studies , as they are called I would beg your leave now my most honored auditors , to set forth briefly to you what a skilful work of the divine wisdom and providence is to be found in the human hands now to begin with the hand seems to have been shaped and constructed precisely with the object of being able to take the place of the various tools of which there is any use in life , for example of the hammer the hook and the pincers for what craftsman other than the creator of the universe , who has infinite wisdom and foresight could have secured such a capacity for skill as there is in the hands ? for he has given us hands which are so divided and parted into fingers , to grasp even rather large objects and smaller ones by the pressure of two fingers only and so in general they can adjust themselves easily to every shape .
For the firm grasping , I repeat of round objects divine providence has more over caused the fingers of the hand to grow to unequal lengths , so that in grasping a ball the biggest finger can be extended towards the same point as the smallest one and the ball is thus easily held and grasped on every side , further nature has given to man two hands which are exactly alike , corresponding to each other and able to assist each other . Thus one can find no stone or piece of wood or any other heavy object which may not be so held and moved by the hands that one might suppose that they had been planned and constructed precisely for dealing with the object in question
It would not however suffice that we should have our hands divided and separated into fingers if there were not a thumb placed opposite the four longer digits and in such a position that it can be bent or opposed to any one of these at will . for it the digits were all arranged in a single and uniform row , power in grasping would be lost as well as many varieties of changing movement suited to every shape and object and one must not overlook the fact that neither the ring finger , nor the little finger were added for the sake of symmetrical appearance or with out a purpose ; since each of these when stretched out is of no little use when grasping things of a rather bigger size . for there is a profound truth in what Socrates the wisest of the philosophers is reported by Xenophon to have said that we ought to prefer those things which are most adapted to a useful purpose to those which are merely beautiful to look at , and the wisdom and the fore sight of nature has also made the skilful provision that the tips of the fingers should not consist of bone only , but should have a covering of flesh , by the aid of this little bit of flesh even things of a minute size and most difficult to hold , like hairs or thorns , can be retained without much trouble . further the points of the fingers could not conveniently be too soft or else an object not very firmly grasped would at once slip from the hands . The more surely to avoid this , the wise creator of mankind has protected the ends of the fingers with nails , and so made provision by their rigidity and firmness , for the soft and tender fingers ,
But the nails had not to exceed the right measure of hardness and here in too have we not a marvelous contrivance of god ? for if the nails were of a very hard that is a bony substance they would not as they actually do yield when met or struck by any rather heavy object , but would be crushed and broken by every blow from stone or metal . as it is neither very hard not very soft and thus can materially assist in the processes of scraping scratching stripping off and pulling apart . for nails are almost like swords –those swords being counted the best , so far as they are of sufficient hardness to penetrate but pliable enough not to break at once under a blow this another point has not been overlooked by divine providence in as much as it takes a considerable time before the nails get worn down or need paring , they begin to grow again at once and find the finger tips so ender that they can support and protection from them
Again the same wise and careful planning of the supreme can clearly be attributed all the variety of their movement and all their firmness in grasping and the better to attain these objects the maker of the world willed it that there should be several bones in the structure of the fingers , for if each finger had been made of one bone only . it would only have been adapted to those operations which are performed with out stretched hands , so in order that the human hand should be capable of being bent in every possible manner and turned in every direction , he inserted three bones inside each of the fingers , each set of these being connected and articulated with one another by means of three joints .
Turning next to the flesh that adheres to the fingers we may say that the method according to which it is fashioned is a splendid proof of the supreme goodness and wisdom of god . for since the bones of the fingers are not in them selves sufficiently straight because the projections of the knuckles with the thin and slender portions between these create a conspicuous unevenness , these uneven intervals have been filled up and overspread by the divine craftsman, sufficiently to grasp objects firmly and to hold them aright .
This is the case with the inner portions of the fingers but the outer side is almost entirely without flesh and the fingers are only covered with skin so as to avoid any useless weight on the hand . the creator has surrounded the connections of the joints with the least possible amount of flesh , so that the quickness and agility of the fingers when moving may not in any respect suffer . this would certainly have happened had they been clothed with a some what thicker covering of flesh , further it is another indication of the supreme intelligence that the side portions of the fingers are avoided with enough flesh to fill up the intervals between the knuckles , consequently if we join up and press together the fingers as if they were continuous we are able to use our hand as a single compact object . for it would surely be impossible for any one to swim had he not a hand to propel him , very much as if one were rowing with the fingers pressed together and so the whole curved and made solid like a spade could on believe that the famous Diogenes of Sinope would have thrown away his cup unless he had been able to drink water from a hand thus compressed ? so useful can be quite a small measure of flesh when put in its right place by the all wise craftsman of our body and now to speak of the marvelous connections of the joints . for one portion of the articulation is inserted and connected in the other portion , in such a way that the hollowed head of the lower one receives into itself the spherical head of the upper one , just fits round it and holds it tightly and this is the case with all the joints , but these cup like sockets of the joints must not be either looser or tighter than is precisely right so that there may be no dislocation at any time and yet facility in turning and what other cause is there for the fact that the bones of the fingers contain no marrow , save that though being more solid they should though slender be less prone to be broken ? and now my most esteemed auditors I will pass over for fear of seeming tedious to you any description of the dexterous contrivance by which the tendons and sinews are closely connected with and hung from the muscle of the arms and thus control and guide each of the finger joints . I will pass over the capacity of the fingers for incredibly rapid motion their power in grasping the ease with which they may be directed sideways the strength of the thumb and finally the admirable character of the muscles . for the whole subject is such a source of wonder and delight that it seems preferable to omit it altogether rather than to speak of it too briefly .
Let me there fore honored and learned auditors conclude of length by saying that I hold myself to have briefly proved to you as far as the weakness of my poor capacities has permitted me , that the mechanism of our hands has been elaborated and brought to perfection by the all wise creator of the world with a marvelous and divine craftsmanship and you finally my good comrades in school let me admonish and beseech to venerate with that supreme providence which has assuredly given a clear revelation of itself as much in the least of created beings as in the wisest and mightiest of angels for believe me he has equipped and adorned our minds with understanding and intelligence for no other reason , save that we may gain a knowledge of himself –a knowledge which we may have by contemplating ourselves and other things that he has created ; and this wonderful sight is not possible to any other species of living creatures .