This indictment of the "laboratory" without clinical observation appeared in the 1637 book, The Pisse-Prophet Or Certaine Pisse Pot Lectures. Using an attack on uroscopic quackery, Thomas Brian, a young physician, emphasized the eternal confrontation between the doctor and life. Disheartened by the need to manipulate patients in order to benefit them, he felt compelled to write against expecting the physician to have supernatural powers.
Uroscopy is the examination of urine for color, consistency, smell, and taste, and represents one of the oldest tests known to man. Linked with the doctrine of the four humors—phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile, which were white, red, yellow, and black, respectively—it was the only available direct laboratory test which was thought to reflect a person's health through direct contact with all parts of the body. Thomas Willis, in his 1681 Treatise on Urine, summarized this belief "that for as much as we