Billeder på siden


SECTION I.-The case stated-Health, bodily and mental, its importance-ignorance of "Educated classes" concerning the science of life a main cause of Medical Empiricism.

[ocr errors]

THE object of this work is to place before the public, in a comprehensive and popular form, the evidence furnished by Science and Experience respecting the employment of Air and Waterunder certain conditions-in the preservation of Health, as well as in the Hydropathic treatment of Disease. No new principle is announced; no novel theory propounded; support is claimed for no speculative system-on the contrary, the only desire is to bring in simple detail before the public what has been known, though imperfectly practised, for thousands of years, in every quarter of the globe, but which in our own day, despite various discouragements, has happily received scientific and practical development.

Air and water are natural elements indispensable to the existence of animal life. It is not surprising, therefore, that, when modified, in a greater or less degree, by another natural element, temperature, they should become the most general and powerful, the most salutary and unfailing agents yet discovered for the sustentation of normal life, and the correction or alleviation of those numerous derangements to which it is exposed.

Normal life is Health; and what subject, rightly considered, is fraught with more vital import to thoughtful minds than the consideration of the most effectual means by which Health can


be preserved ? "The first wealth is Health"-it is the richest inheritance with which man can be endowed, for success in life, to say nothing of the rational enjoyments of existence, is mainly dependent on its possession. As Cowley says, it is

"The salt of Life, which does to all a relish give;
Its standing pleasure, and intrinsic wealth,

The body's virtue, and the soul's good fortune."

Surely, then, whatever tends to sustain or confer so great a blessing as Health, ought to possess a primary value in the estimation of every intelligent being. The mens sana in corpore sano of Juvenal, has been not inaptly termed "the golden rule of education;" but a sound mind, as a general rule, is only coexistent with a sound bodily condition. Physical health is physiologically necessary to perfect mental health, and this incontestible truth ought never to be lost sight of, for, as Dr. Millingen observes, "the sound operation of the mind is frequently disturbed by the slightest physical influence."* Two schools of medicine, famous in their day, were distinguished by opposite views on this subject. Stahl, the founder of one, contended that bodily disease principally proceeds from affections of the mind, while Hoffman, the founder of the other, maintained that the primary cause of all disease is referrible to the body. A more enlightened Physiology, however, now admits that there is much truth in both theories, and has established the existence of a reciprocity of action between the mental and the physical, which is an inflexible law of our economy—the effects of which are not speculative but demonstrative, though how the mysterious relationship exists and acts is inscrutable and inexplicable.

It is sufficient for all practical purposes to know that such a relationship does exist, and that Health is governed by certain laws which are, in the main, well-defined and easily understood. This being the case, it follows that there is a moral obligation on every one, who has intelligence and opportunity, to become

Millingen. The Passions, or Mind and Matter, p. 150.

acquainted with these laws and live in obedience to them. "Knowledge is power," and he who comprehends how "fearfully and wonderfully" he is made-how admirably his organism is designed to fulfil its purposes, but how necessarily a breach of the laws which govern it must be followed by disease in one form or other, is surely better fitted to appreciate aright the inestimable blessing of Health, and guard against Disease, than any one can be who is content to remain purblind and ignorant on the subject? "Know thyself" is an ancient and wise maxim, which comprehends a philosophy that lies at the root of human happiness and well-being.

Next in importance to a knowledge of the means by which Health can best be preserved, is an acquaintance with those simple and natural agencies by the judicious application of which deviations from the healthy standard can be corrected, and the balance of disordered functions re-adjusted and restored. This knowledge, however, few persons care to acquire-the mass even of the "educated classes" being content to remain ignorant of those general physiological laws which are the foundation of all that is rational in Medicine-of all that has solid pretensions to rank as Hygienic, Prophylactic, and Therapeutic—that is, of all which can be truly deemed preservative of Health, or possessed of remedial properties in relation to the numerous derangements to which our artificial habits of life render us more or less liable.

It is within the scope of every one's observation that, on such subjects, deplorable ignorance and apparent indifference prevail. How few are to be found who have rational ideas respecting their own organism-who understand even the language of Physiology, or could satisfactorily answer the questions-What is Health? What is Disease? It is, in truth, unduly complimentary to speak of an "educated laity" in relation to this subject, because, in reality, ignorance and not knowledge is the prevailing rule. Pope says

"The proper study of mankind is man."

Yet, what passes current in society for an "accomplished edu

cation," embraces at least a smattering of almost every subject save a knowledge of man-of his organism, its functions, and the laws that govern them. This knowledge is foolishly considered as "technical," or "professional," and hence the "educated classes" are specially excluded from instruction in those immutable laws of Vitality, on the observance of which much of their well-being in after-life is largely dependent. This admitted defect in our general educational curriculum sadly tends to foster the superstitions and impositions which have for ages. existed in relation to the alleged curative effect of Drugs, and in this way becomes the source of an incalculable amount of human misery. The errors of one generation are thus transmitted as a baneful inheritance to another, and inveterate prejudices are perpetuated to stifle the voice of nature and of truth.

If the so-called "educated classes" really possessed such easily-acquired knowledge as I have referred to, it is not possible to believe that the vocation of Quackery-whether orthodox or heterodox, legitimate or illegitimate, licensed or unlicensed-would continue to be the prosperous business it has always proved, and never more so than in our own time. Because it is owing to the ignorance and consequent credulity of mankind that quackery in Medicine finds profitable existence. "Man," observes Southey, "is a dupeable animal. Quacks in medicine, quacks in religion, and quacks in politics know this, and act upon that knowledge."* Quacks in religion and poli

*Popularly the term quack, as relates to medicine, is applied to a licensed or unlicensed practitioner who trades in panaceas or specifics, but in a more general and correct sense it is applicable to all practitioners, who pretend to skill and power in the treatment of disease which they do not possess. In this sense quackery, or empiricism, abounds in all Medical Schools, and it is by its artful use that popular and fashionable practitioners generally obtain reputation, and thrive at the expense of their dupes. Hence the great success of notorious quacks, who openly trade as such, has been ascribed to the doubtful practices of the regular physicians. An educated public can alone correct this great evil. All false pretence is quackery, no matter how disguised, and Drug Medication, whether ignorantly or designedly followed, is essentially a false pretence.

« ForrigeFortsæt »