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victims it hurries, often without time for repentance, before their Maker. Common sense, we have elsewhere shown, is never exercised by the public in regard to medical subjects; thus, it never occurs to people that if there were any virtue in “ life pills” and other universal and infallible medicines, insurance companies would make it a condition of a policy that they should be regularly swallowed. It is never noted that empiricisms are short-lived, and that discoveries which benefit thousands are made by the obscure and unrequited student. Opposite to one of the licensing institutions in Dublin a fellow practises, and it is said carries on the vile occupation of a procurer. He impudently placards himself as “ accoucheur,” and thereby evades the faulty Medical Act. Eighteen centuries ago Pliny wrote, “ Of all the arts medicine is the only one of which any one may boast a knowledge and have immediately ready listeners. There is, however, no set of impostors to be more feared than those who falsely assume the character of physicians. There is, notwithstanding, no law to punish so serious a deception." Can we boast of improvement this day ?
During the late epidemic cholera great harm was done by ignorant amateurs. One gentleman vaunted cures by tincture of camphor in water. The camphor would of course separate, and be almost inefficacious. After several of this person's “cures” had been puffed for weeks, he discovered the fact just named, and, following the homeopaths, asserted that unless the tincture was taken without water it would be useless. By the way, & favourite homeopathic remedy for cholera is to put & penny on the pit of the stomach, because workers in copper are said to be singularly free from the epidemic. Another fellow advertised in page 75 of the advertisements in “ Thom's Directory” of the year 1866, as being able to cure all ills, from “ toothache" and "
eye diseases" to "gout” and “ fever," and at the same
time as a watchmaker. He pestered the Public Health Committee after the following style : “As the moment of threatening danger of that epidemic disease, cholera, being likely to extend itself to Dublin and Ireland generally with its devastating influences, it is painful to know not a single remedy should have been provided against so terrible a scourge by the medical faculty. There is, however, a sure and efectual (sic) remedy in my own possession, which I now beg prominently to bring before the notice of the public at large. For the efficacy of the remedy I here pledge myself with my whole existence. The question may be asked, and not without reason, why has such a valuable remedy not been brought to the notice of the medical College of Physicians at Dublin? In replay (sic), I can say only, that some short time ago I offered the same to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, who refered (sic) me to the medical college. I went to several hospitals to give proof of the remedy, but my consultation met with no result.
“I humbly beg that your worship will feel induced to recommend my remedy most urgently to the supreme government, for I feel quite confident my remedy, however simple, will set a barrier to that awful scourge, cholera.'
The article which he had to sell, and which he has sold among many of those who ought to have possessed some common sense, was a combination of needles, to be thrust into the skin, and an oil (probably croton), which produced extreme pain and an eruption. He succeeded in obtaining the medical attendance of scores of persons in a large establishment near Dublin. He was but the imitator of the quack Baunscheidt, who infested Germany and the United States for years.
There can be no doubt that the proprietorship of certain patent medicines and appliances, and untiring efforts to bring them into notoriety by advertisement, are directly contrary to the spirit of the science of medicine,
which would wish to see all its means most freely utilized for the benefit of mankind. The London College of Physicians declares, “ No fellow or member of the college shall be engaged in trade.” The government, on the other hand, proclaims that it grants patents to encourage the inventor to spend his energies in attracting public attention to his improvement. The rightminded physician, however, feels a nobler reward in announcing the discovery of any mode of treatment which it may be his privilege to initiate. If, however, the physician's superior knowledge of the laws of physiology or of physics enables him to improve on such processes as the modes of preserving food or the arranging of water-supply to houses, he seems justly entitled to commercial profit from his invention, its sale being left to traders.
The evil, however, which exceeds all others in enormity, as bodily health is not only injured, but public moralityis also lowered, is thatof allowing disgustingly obscene advertisements to appear in the public papers, and to be freely circulated by means of handbills. To their credit be it stated, that several of the leading journals have refused to admit these degrading announcements. How any father can permit some of the newspapers to be perused by the female members of the family is most astonishing. Very many instances have occurred of ladies having their purest feelings shocked and offended by these abominations sent to their male relatives, or thrust into their hands as they walk the streets. If such offensive scoundrels cannot be punished in the police courts, personal chastisement is the only fitting deterrent. The newspaper proprietors are also most culpable, for they must know how anxious and credulous the sick are, and how easy a prey they become to the advertising quack through their aid. The conduct of Mr. Bailliere, the publisher, on a recent occasion, is
103 worthy of imitation. He refused to publish the work of a medical man who was in partnership with a quack.
It is ardently to be hoped that prosecutions under Lord Campbell's Act will suppress these effusions, as they surely are “immoral publications." A stroll through Holywell-street will, however, convince any one that the authorities neglect to enforce this Act, and at night, through the streets of Dublin at present, a fellow stealthily sells obscene prints enclosed in envelopes for one penny each.
The inefficacy of the present legislative enactments to suppress quackery is apparent, and as their subterfuges are indeed “ hydra-headed,” it is difficult to suggest adequate penal measures. Some of the smarter of the charlatans would, owing to laxity of licensing bodies, obtain qualifications and continue their practice within the profession, where it must be allowed certain ways of quackery are not unknown. Men who wittingly and most selfishly prey upon the credulity of their fellowbeings, belong just to the class from whom such fiends as Palmer and Pritchard might be expected to arise, for between the dishonest principles of quackery and secret poisoning there is close psychological relation.
The grand remedy before which quackery will gradually disappear is, without doubt, the diffusion amidst the people of an elementary knowledge of physiology. It has been objected that a limited knowledge on these subjects would increase, not diminish the evil, by making every one confident that he was able to doctor himself, and many a time has been quoted the line (which is in all aspects by no means true),
“ A little learning is a dangerous thing." Any one who understood the complex and wonderful organism of the human body, would hesitate to place the care of its derangements in the hands of one utterly
ENLIGHTENMENT THE REMEDY. ignorant of its healthy mechanism, and would not have faith in absurd infinitesimal doses, water-dosing, or some pill or potion in every ailment. Physiological science should be then diffused by means of treatises written in a plain, intelligible, yet accurate style, and then should be made the subject of school or college study. Freedom from technicalites would not only be a desideratum in popular, but also in professional books, which are too often crowded in the most pedantic manner with new and unpronounceable names, for which more pleasing, though homely English words could be better substituted. Quacks delight in hard names; a fellow lately prosecuted for procuring abortion described himself as a " member of the Eclectic and Hygienic Institution.” The unwillingness of physicians, in days of the gold-headed cane, to speak intelligibly to their patients, and treat them as reasonable beings by explaining something of their maladies, undoubtedly fostered quackery. Men of the Chesterfield type always abstained from asking such explanations; and Sydney Smith, who in his youth studied medicine, says, “I often regret that medical men will not talk more of their profession ; it is a very interesting subject—at least a little of it, but I can never get any one of them to speak; they look quite offended." His own profession has, however, been often accused of a similar reticence. Medicine, instead of a desire to hide or conserve, especially of late years, has been characterised by a desire to increase and spread knowledge towards the prevention of disease. It cannot be denied that thu clergy have very often fostered and practised quackery, and it was for this reason probably that the Bishop of Exeter, a few years ago, proposed to institute a medical diaconate. A knowledge of the laws of health, and some of the more simple principles of the treatment of disease, might undoubtedly be made available by the minister of religion and by the general public, if suitable treatises were published by some eminent physician or, still better, by some medical body.