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WHATELY-SIR JAMES SIMPSON.
by a homeopath. They attribute to the most inert substances wonderful curative properties--silex, or flint, curing, they assert, that unimaginative affliction whitloe ; and to carbon the cure of a list of ailments too long to be enumerated. It is a matter of surprise that disease should exist at all when those who live, especially in towns, are compelled to ingest involuntarily such quantities (enormous, in a homeopathic point of view) of these agents. The fallacies of homeopathy have been again and again demonstrated on hospital patients in great numbers. Very convincing, though not the most recent results, were those obtained by the illustrious Andral on 130 patients in “La Pitiè,” and he reports that its dogmas were utterly illusory.
Illustrious men have no doubt credited homeopaths, but the same may be said of every human fallacy which history records. In his later years a famous divine was said to believe in this quackery ; yet, in his “Logic'' may be found many passages which do not warrant the practice of physic by those who profess to consider education in its doctrines unnecessary—for instance, "A sailor will perhaps despise the pretensions of medical men, and prefer treating a disease by common sense ; but he would ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by common sense, without regard to maxims of nautical' art."
Sir James Simpson aptly quotes Sir Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica : “Men often swallow falsities for, truths, dubiosities for certainties, feasibilities for possibilities, and things impossible as possibilities themselves.” The work on homeopathy by that illustrious physician thus concludes : “ Surely common sense and common sanity both dictate to the human mind that it is utterly impossible that any such inconceivable ocean, medicated by a single grain of any drug dissolved and mixed in it, can have any possible medicinal effect on the human body, either in a state of health or a state of
disease; and looking at these, and the many diversified facts confirmatory in all respects of the same views which have been already stated in the preceding pages, we cannot but conclude with a writer whom the home. opathists themselves regard as the mildest and fairest among their opponents, namely, Dr. Forbes, that in rejecting homeopathy 'we are discarding what is at once false and bad, useless to the sufferer, and degrading to the physician.' We trust that one benefit will accrue from homeopathy-namely, the discouragement of the drugging system, that is, making profit by the quantity of physic swallowed, which must have compelled many people to take refuge in the small-dose system.
HYDROPATHY. That water possesses powers therapeutic and salutary in a high degree, no intelligent physician was ever ignorant, but to laud it as a panacea is truly ridiculous. The habitual ablution of the whole body, the ingestion of pure water daily, instead of stimulating drinks, and the local application of it in many kinds of superficial disease, are practices of the greatest value. Add to these the wholesome hygienic rules which are enforced, the freedom from habitual care and the worry of business, the regular hours, and the increased exercise, and no one will regard with surprise the cures, at first apparently almost magical, which have taken place in some of the sanitoriums of the disciples of Priessnitz. I have no doubt that rational practitioners with advantage might imitate more frequently their hygienic observances. Το assign, however, to water a universal power over all diseases, and to exceed the rules of common sense in applying this agent, is either to ride a hobby to death, or is to practise on, with but little conscience, the credulity and foibles of mankind. The conduct of regular practitioners towards these and other charlatans is manifestly to enlighten their dupes, but to hold no
BOTANIC AND ADVERTISING QUACKS.
controversy with those who must feel that conviction before the public would deprive them of their livelihood, and never, therefore, will be convinced.
The waste of tissue is so unduly promoted by the excessive ingestion of water, that many who fanatically pursue the water cure become wretchedly weak and emaciated. As Baron Liebig has, without reason, been stated to favour hydropathy, it may be well to quote his sentiments in his own words: “ The existence of his dropathic institutions—those dens of covetous and rapacious gamblers, where the wretched invalid resorts to throw dice for health and life ; the rise and progress of the homeopathic system, which treats truth with scorn and bids defiance to common sense, loudly proclaim the need which exists for the adoption of settled principles, definite methods of research, and a systematic arrangement to guarantee their attainment and retention.'
BOTANIC AND ADVERTISING QUACKS. With regard to the botanic quacks or hygeists, it may be mentioned that one class of them, the Thompsonians, have a college for educating and licensing their followers, chartered by the State of Georgia.
The indirect yet fatal mischief which these quacks and their effusions produces was well illustrated at an inquest in London a few weeks since. A shoemaker had acted as doctor to his own child suffering from measles and pneumonia, although warned by his landlady, a nurse, that he was letting it die. When cautioned by the coroner he said: “I cannot criminate myself, for I acted according to the book. I put it in in evidence. I did everything that the Family Medical Adviser directed. It is written by John Skelton, physician, surgeon, &c., author of • A Plea for the Botanic Practice of Medicine ; Botanic Record and Family Herbal. It is through our ignorance that plants are
despised. Published by the author, at 105 Great Russell-street.' After the jury had in their verdict severely censured him, he asked, " Are you going to pay me my expenses ?” The coroner's fitting reply was, “No. You ought to be horsewhipped ; and if I had the power I would do it.”
MESMERISM has almost run its short-lived course, and will soon be numbered among the popular superstitions which have existed. There seems to be an automatic state of the mind during which the suggestions of others are, as it were, echoed. The subjection of the will and feelings of persons, as said to be practised by those who call themselves electro-biologists, is believed in by so many intelligent persons that it is worthy of investigation by scientific and disinterested men. It seems, however, strange that if there be any truth in the art, it has not been used for the relief of pain, or some such beneficial purpose, and only for gathering up the shillings of the multitude. It is lamentable to record that Elliotson, one of the most brilliant of our ranks, lent himself to this and the kindred fallacy, animal magnetism. Kinesipathy, cure by movements, and other similar quackeries, do not deserve enumeration. Of quacks Professor Gairdner, in his eloquent address on medicine, says: “Let them live their daythey are the woodpeckers of science; the grand old Hippocratic Oak will outlive them, though the insects that nestle in its bark will become their lawful prey."
The quackeries which most loudly demand redress are the advertisements of patent medicines, and those of an obscene character. It is most reprehensible for government to lend its aid to the sale of injurious nostrums by affixing to them the official stamp—an expedient which, it must be confessed, was suggested by Dr. Radcliffe, the founder of the great library at Oxford. He was so illiterate that Garth said, “For him to leave a library was as if an eunuch should found a seraglio."
Sarely the revenue can be supported in some more wholesome way than this licensing of persons to kill human game, and as the unwary are apt to value these drugs because they bear the government stamp (believing that it would not be affixed unless they were really judicious and approved of), vast mischief is inflicted on society. In Scotland, where the literary taste of the people has diffused much common sense and some knowledge of medicine, it is said that in one year the stamp duty on patent medicines was £50, while it was in England £42,000. Half a million is probably wasted yearly on quack medicines a sum which exceeds the receipts of all the hospitals and medical charities of London. The absence of any active ingredient is not so harmless as might be supposed, for it produces delay and the neglect of proper measures. The presence of the most noxious and inappropriate substance in these quack preparations has been often demonstrated. Not only is the getting of money under false pretensions promoted, but loss of health or of life is likewise involved. The schemes by which quacks impose on the credulous people are innumerable. The assumption of medical titles, without specifying any licensing body, the adoption of some very ordinary name, which is sure to have some representatives on the register, the omission of some initials in the abbreviated form of medical titles, the invention of some new one, and the quotation of imaginary reviewing journals, are but a few. The impudence and perseverance with which they advertise these nostrums, assigning to them, by testimonials from usually imaginary individuals, the cure of every known disease—though a lucky hit may now and then occur, and will not be forgotten, though fifty failures mightthe audacity with which they steal the names of famous medical men, and their thousand-and-one dodges, would excite amusement were not this death-dealing system becoming every day more serious, in regard to the