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having availed themselves of all the resources of skill or knowledge, in warding off the fatal blow, and of palliating, where recovery is impossible.
Again, we do not war with the articles, but with the men who use them. Lobelia and red pepper are valuable components of our materia medica, but there are many other articles equally as good. Arsenic is useful in some cases, but should we on this account prescribe it indiscriminately? In diet, who has not observed that certain articles will at one time afford wholesome nutriment, and at another time occasion much inconvenience? What agrees with one person, disagrees with another. It has passed into a proverb, that 'what is one man's meat, is another man's poison.' Are Cayenne pepper, then, and lobelia, the only objection to this general rule, or can people be so absurd as to imagine, that one set of remedies, will cure at all times, and all diseases? Does not nature teach them differently? We know that those who employ those remedies, use every effort to make converts to their absurd views, and with the ignorance that prevails on subjects connected with medical science, this is no difficult task. It is not alone the uneducated or the ignorant, so called, who become the dupes of these charlatans; but men of the soundest minds, and most extensive acquirements, whose judgment in the ordinary affairs of life are indisputable, will suffer themselves to be deluded by gross quackery. Men who boast of never having made a foolish business transaction, do not hesitate to place their own lives, or the lives of their dearest connexions, in the hands of an ignorant quack, who leads captive not only silly women, but also silly men. To what can we attribute this recklessness, but to a most unpardonable ignorance of the human system? Were men to bestow but a small portion of the time spent in considering how they may jump into a fortune, by some sweeping speculation, to an investigation of their own frames, on the soundness of which depends their enjoyment of the very riches they are struggling, right or wrong, to obtain, we should no longer be overrun with the thousand miserable pretenders to medical science, with which we are now infested. I said thousands, but their name is legion! - from rain-water and steam doctors, down to the latest and most absurd of all humbugs, homœopathy. But people will learn in time after a few more lives have been sacrificed; and if the man of science pines in neglect, while the shameless empiric rides in his carriage, let him console himself that the evil will one day work its own cure.
Dr. TICKNOR, in his late works, 'Exposition of Quackery,' has labored to impress upon his readers the importance of this subject, and has ably exposed most of the quackery that at present exists. Such works are much needed, and the author is entitled to the thanks of the profession, and of the public, for this plain and comprehensive treatise. We do not fear men becoming too wise, or that our profession will suffer by it. We believe that physicians are oftener foiled in practice, from the ignorance of mothers or nurses, than from any other cause. They think it very fine to cheat the doctor,' by throwing away medicines that taste unpleasantly, or produce nausea: and we think, too, that medical men are greatly to blame for much of this ignorance. Let a physician explain to his patients or attendants,
the nature of the disease, and the action of the remedies he proposes to use, and most persons will comprehend him. I grant that this will not always be the case; magic and mystery possess singular influence over some minds, and physicians too often taking advantage of this credulity, encourage it by their deportment. If such physicians find themselves, in time, superseded by still greater mystifiers, let them not complain; they have fostered a love for the marvellous, and must feel the effects of credulity.
Our author inquires: Would any man in his senses send a watch to a stone-mason to repair?' And we continue: Would he entrust the building of a Grecian temple to a wood-cutter, or send a Latin thesis to an ignorant peasant to translate?' Yet we every day see men, self-styled doctors, who three months previously were behind counters, or in the work-shop, and ignorant of all but the rudiments of education, prescribing with consummate effrontery at the bed-side of helpless infancy, or prostrate adult nature. Who are to blame for this? Not the quack, certainly; for if he found no support, he would be compelled to return to his original obscurity; but those who employ him, and who think a doctor is a doctor, authorized or unauthorized. It is really not more disgusting to the physician to read the senseless puffs of empirics, than to see the avidity with which their medicines are sought after, and without knowing an article of which they are composed, greedily swallowed. They will thrust aside medicines of known and tried efficacy, compounded by a careful pharmacopolist, for the new and the unknown, and these in their turn must give place to something else. None but a practitioner would believe the amount of prejudice and credulity that prevails among mankind on these subjects; and many times he would abandon his profession in despair, did not a sense of duty to the community urge his continuance in a calling that costs money as well as time to attain. But what encouragement does the physician receive over the quack? If he performs his duty to the poor as well as to the rich, he pays a heavy tax; one third of his income, at least, he must consider lost. In the country, where physicians are not so well paid as day-laborers, this is felt with peculiar force; and when we recollect that of all bills, a doctor's is paid the most unwillingly, and generally the last, his case is far from enviable. But money is not always a compensation for the services of a faithful and feeling physician; and when he is ungratefully and abruptly discharged, to make way for a pretender, an injury has been inflicted on his moral sensibilities, greater than the thoughtless and prejudiced can conceive.
It is useless to urge, that cures have been performed by empirics and by patent medicines, after physicians have failed to succeed. Every person of observation is aware of the great influence which mind possesses over matter, and of the power of faith. addition to this, these cures are generally of chronic complaints, and after the patient has been scientifically treated. The cure not being immediate, he resorts to a quack, who reaps the benefit of his predecessor's skill, and claims all the honor. A lady had been for many years afflicted with a scrofulous complaint, which, not occasioning much uneasiness, she neglected. At length, the difficulty increasing,
she applied to a physician of undoubted skill. The remedies he employed were operating surely but slowly on the system; too slowly for the patience of the lady, who discharged her physician, and placed herself under the care of a man who followed the honest calling of a blacksmith, but who was fortunate enough to be a seventh He had already performed wonders, and people now crowded to him from all parts. He assured his new patient that he could cure her quicker than she could say 'Jack Robinson,' and that, too, without using any medicine whatever. Accordingly, she submitted to his manipulations, and strange to say, she grew decidedly and rapidly better! Now, it would be utterly impossible to make this lady or her friends believe, that the blacksmith had no hand in her cure; which was entirely owing to the medicine previously administered having had time to perform its office.
'But how are we to know this?' may be asked. First, by recollecting that the age of miracles has passed, and that with the last witch buried in New-England, expired the efficacy of charms and incantations; and in the next place, by informing themselves of their own natures. We have heard of members of Congress who carried in their pockets a box of pills, to use after partaking too freely of the pleasures of the table. If they must indulge in excesses, this practice is probably as good as any they could adopt; but with all due deference, we would observe, that if they are as ignorant of the affairs and wants of the nation, as of their own structure, alas for the government! And when the tone of the stomach is destroyed, and they become the victims of dyspepsia, with its numerous horrors, they will find that the effects of this abuse on the system cannot be removed by a portion, or by many portions, of any patent medicine, however highly recommended.
But are not regular physicians becoming convinced of the inefficacy of their own measures, and thronging the banners of steam and homœopathy.
When we look at the crowded state of the profession, we do not wonder at these pretended conversions. We say pretended, for no man who has learned his profession as he ought, can be deceived by such ridiculous monkery. They must live, and it is easier to chime in with the popular delusion, whatever it may be, than to stem the torrent, and consequently pocket the loss. Neither is it strange, if in villages where three or four physicians would be able to attend to the ordinary duties of their vocation, if the number should swell to twenty and upward; that among them should be found some who do not hesitate to use every unfair method of obtaining patronage, whether by dishonorable insinuations, or by undercharging. One would suppose that the last method would be the least likely to succeed. If a man has occasion to engage counsel in a matter of interest to himself, he does not usually inquire who will undertake it the cheapest, but who will be likely to do him the best service. And what is property, in comparison with health, or even life itself?
As to the exclusiveness that prevails among many of our brethren, we will observe in passing, that they may quarrel with ignorance, and rail against quackery as much as they will, and the latter will retaliate by ridiculing learned quackery, and not without reason; but until our
learning takes a practical cast, and is exercised in enlightening the ignorant, as well as benefitting them, it may as well be enclosed in a nut-shell. Any juggler who happens to recommend an article which effects a cure, will be as highly thought of. We leave subjects, however, to which Dr. Ticknor does ample justice, and turn to another of a delicate nature, and to which, like our author, we shall barely glance. We have a becoming respect for age, and when united with wisdom, yield it all due reverence; but we assert, that this feeling is liable to be abused, and that a practitioner's merits should not rest upon his age, but upon his skill and scientific knowledge. To a physician thus accomplished, whose attention is ever on the alert, and whose mind is regulated by the broadest principles of liberality, every year will bring additional information, and increased tact in the treatment of diseases; and to such a physician, the junior members of the faculty would, I am happy to say, be proud to look But it is too often the case, that men who have little beside age to recommend them, make their experience an offset, or more than an offset, to science.
In the country, the prejudice in favor of old doctors is excessive. You can scarcely persuade people that a faithful student in one of our large cities, who has access to alms-house and hospital practice, sees more diversity of practice in one year, than an ordinary country practitioner can possibly do in a whole life time. But it is vain to endeavor to make people believe this. Their idol possesses great experience, while many of the commonest diseases he knows only by name.
For some eight or ten years after graduating, the writer of this article was engaged in country practice, and he became acquainted in that time with instances of the most deplorable ignorance, in men who stood high in favor. A neighboring practitioner, whose veracity is unquestionable, related the following instance, that will be scarcely credited. He mentioned to an old doctor, whose 'experience' was lauded to the skies, that he had used with great success, in a particular case, the prussic acid; and inquired if he had ever made use of the remedy in the same disease. O yes,' was the reply, 'frequently.' In what proportions, doctor, did you administer the acid?' 'In tea-spoonfull doses!' was the ready answer. Now it was evident, that this man of experience was entirely ignorant of the article in question, and his interrogator took the liberty of enlightening him on the subject. A few instances of nearly similar ignorance, fell under the writer's own observation; but this is not the place to notice them, and our design is merely to show the reader that aged ignorance should not be preferred to mature, or even immature, science; that when a physician ceases to improve, and increase his knowledge, and rests entirely on the experience derived from a limited practice, he should retire from the field, to make way for those who have not yet so far approached perfection, as to think that nothing farther can be learned. The new lights in medicine, (botanic and steam doctors,) are calling loudly for reform. In this cry we cheerfully join. There is need of reform; but let this reform be, a greater amount of knowledge, not a less; and let it be diffused among the people, who may know in what hands they place the pre
cious boon of health. Our medical periodicals are not only expensive, but are not adapted for the general reader, who would find but little interest in them; but I most earnestly recommend to the head of every family, a few books, as text-books, if they please, not as 'domestic medicines,' like Buchan's, in which every mother, and even child, may study to their own advantage, the laws that govern and animate theirs r system; the causes of disease, and, it may be, the means of cure. Real knowledge is always modest, and the mother who learns the frail and delicate nature of the bodies and diseases to which her little ones are liable, will be in no danger, in real disease, of undertaking a cure herself; and the knowledge she will acquire from the following publications, all of which may be purchased for a few dollars, will inform her when such danger exists: Dewees on Children;' Combe's 'Principles of Physiology, applied to the Preservation of Health, and to the Improvement of Physical and Mental Education; the Constitution of Man,' by the same author, and Ticknor's Philosophy of Living,' and the 'Exposition of Quackery,' to which we have alluded.
FROM SOUTHERN PASSAGES AND PICTURES,' AN UNPUBLISHED VOLUME.
'By these soft breezes, by the odorous breath
Of his exactions. Cruel is the tale,
Of the poor maiden shrieking in despair,
Ere yet she lived. Yet love survives his wrath,
And in the night of terror and of storm,
When his fierce winds were howling, when the ship
A husband, by the billows torn away,
That called upon the woman who had lain
Upon his bosom, 'Where art thou, my wife!'
And then the voice grew silent; the rude waves