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The objections of a Queen's College Professor of Medicine-Their ridiculous futility-A reason for "the cold and passive indifference" of Dublin practitioners to the Bath-Two cases illustrative of Drug and Hydropathic practice-Medicated and Mineral Baths.
HAVING now noticed every objection that has been urged against the Bath, whether originating in professional or popular prejudice, it is for the reader to weigh their worth in comparison with the evidence of those who may be reasonably considered competent to give faithworthy testimony from their scientific eminence and personal acquaintance with the subject. But, although all the objections that have occurred to us have been noticed, many of the objectors have not been referred to, because, in every instance we have met with, new objectors as they spring up, parrot or paraphrase old objections. For instance, at the close of last year, we find a Professor of Medicine in the Queen's College, Cork, entertaining a society of young men in that city, while professing to lecture on "public health," with sneering allusions to "the lazy process of sitting in a Bath," and insinuating that "the Bath is advocated as a means of removing summarily the accumulated results of good living"-as a substitute for healthy out-door exercise, and as a cure for all diseases." There is nothing in this but a silly repetition of what was alleged years ago; and it is sufficient to observe that no authority on the Bath ever advocated its use on the grounds alleged. The men, indeed, who have eulogised the almost boundless therapeutic properties of the Bath in the most enthusiastic terms, are those who still hold high position among
medical practitioners, and who believing the Bath to be, in the words of Erasmus Wilson, "to the individual man, comprising his liver, kidneys, and skin, that which the sun is to the world and its inhabitants;" and who, like Dr. Madden, believe "there are very few diseases that might not be benefited by its use," still continue to retain their position as practitioners in accordance with Physic systems! No acknowledged Hydropathic teacher has ever eulogised the Bath as heartily and as superlatively as they have done; but owing to the professional martyrdom that awaits an open renunciation of an established pernicious system of Physic-practice, they have hesitated to compromise their position by standing forth the avowed followers of Hydropathic principles.
But this Queen's College professor has supplied rare proof of his capacity to pronounce an opinion on the Bath, by confessing that after he had delivered his opinion, he then proceeded to make himself up on the subject! He was taken to task for what he had so thoughtlessly said; and, in a second lecture, he stultified himself still further by the admission-" Since the subject has been forced on my attention, I endeavoured to ascertain the position it (the Bath) held in medical science. In none of the class-books, intended for the education of the rising generation of Physicians, do I find any mention of it, nor has it been introduced into any of the metropolitan Hospitals,"* &c. This is good news, at all events, for the rising generation of patients; but the non sequitur is surely even too gross for a Queen's College Professor of Medicine, that because he did not find the Bath recognised in the class-books of medicine (written, probably, before the Bath was known in this country), nor introduced into the metropolitan hospitals, ergo the thing cannot be good! A Professor who admits he first pronounced an opinion sneeringly concerning the greatest therapeutic agent we possess, and when
* Cork Daily Herald, January 2, 1868. In the same journal appeared letters from Drs. Barter and Griffith, fully exposing the Professor's ignorance, not only respecting the Bath, but on the subject of scientific medicine also.
the correctness of his judgment is questioned, then endeavours to ascertain what position that agent holds in medical science, certainly demonstrates the worth of any opinion he may be pleased to entertain on the subject, and how admirably qualified he is to instruct the rising generation of Physicians to practise medicine with safety and advantage to the public.
Common-sense people, in their simplicity, might imagine it to be a paramount duty of a Professor, whose office is to instruct the rising generation even of Physicians, to keep himself perfectly familiar with all that is going on in the scientific medical world. But this is the very thing so often complained of in these pages, that truth is shut out from the minds of the rising generation of practitioners by Professors who-if they do not "sit lazily in a bath," yet repose most ingloriously in their collegiate chairs and sinecures—who do not discharge the duties of their responsible offices with an independent intelligence, an active zeal, and a sensitive conscientiousness. We take it for granted, that Hydropathic principles and practice form no portion of this Professor's teaching on medicine; and might he not have reflected that the very same influences which have been operative on his mind in making him exclude the Bath from his system of medical therapeutics, may have been equally operative in excluding it from class-books and metropolitan hospitals-influences arising from the inveteracy of Physic bigotries, the unconquerable obstinacy of professional prejudices, the selfish pride of preconceived opinion, the dogged hostility of "subtle seniors" to improving changes, and the proverbial enmity of medical. men to any innovating truth that would take them out of the sanctified paths of established routine, let alone truths that strike at the roots of profitable error.
It is notorious that metropolitan hospitals are under the dominion of medical cliques who have their own purposes to serve; and, unfortunately, those purposes are seldom consistent with the progress of science, or conducive to the public interests. What that eminent and good man, Surgeon Carmichael, said of "the baneful system" pursued by the "subtle seniors of the pro
fession" in his day (page 29), is equally true now; and it is grossly absurd to suppose that any of those seniors will now voluntarily recognise a therapeutic agent like the Bath, which is so completely revolutionary as regards their whole system of theoretical medication. Just as the "old Physicians," in Harvey's time, believed that in their system of medicine there was nothing to be attained, so do their successors now believe respecting the system they live by; and they must be left, as Dr. Pettigrew said of the former, "to die out in the full enjoyment of their ignorance." As a matter of fact, however, the Professor is wrong in alleging that the Bath has not been introduced into any of the metropolitan (Dublin) hospitals. It has been introduced into at least one-the Adelaide Hospital-and reported most favourably on; while in England it has been in operation (among others) at the Newcastle-on-Tyne Infirmary since 1859, under the direction of Sir John Fife, M.D., who says:— "From what I have witnessed of its effects in health for training, in convalescence for enabling the valetudinarian to commence exercise, in disease as a remedy or a palliation, I am not afraid to stake my professional character by declaring my belief in its efficacy."Manual of the Turkish Bath, Introduction.
But the calibre of the mind that rules the chair of medicine in Cork College, its desire to acquire knowledge, and its competency to afford sound practical instruction to the rising generation of practitioners, may be fairly estimated from the fact, that in the Cork Lunatic Asylum, in the County Infirmary, and in some of the workhouse hospitals of the county, the Bath has been used for years as a therapeutic agent, so that the Professor had ample opportunity to obtain the fullest possible information concerning its remedial virtues, had he desired to obtain it. Not, indeed, from class-books on Medicine would any one of common sense expect to learn about such a great "boon to humanity" as the Bath--books that a high authority, the Medical Mirror, reprobates as, for the most part, exhibiting a "chaotic confusion" of contradictory jargon-every edition of the very same work being inconsistent with the practice recommended in the pre
ceding one, as any person can verify for himself, who will take the trouble of comparing the first and last editions of any work on the "Principles and Practice of Medicine" which ranks as a standard authority, such, for instance, as Sir Thomas Watson's.
An apology, however, has been made for "the cold and passive indifference" of Dublin practitioners to the Bath by Dr. Butler, who has opened a Maison de Sainte in that city, and is endeavouring to combine what is most excellent in Hydropathic with what is most destructive in Physic practice. In the Medical Press and Circular, April 15, 1868, he reports two cases, commencing thus:
My chief object in reporting the two following cases is to bring under the notice of the profession the great value, particularly in chronic forms of disease, of a judicious course of medicated or Turkish baths in conjunction with proper constitutional treatment. In London, Paris, and many of the Continental and Eastern cities, Turkish and medicated bathing is properly regarded as a remedial agent of great power, while its easy application and the comfort it affords the bather, render it a favourite remedy with both physician and patient. In Dublin, perhaps, more than any other city in the world, is the use of baths, in any form regarded with a cold and passive indifference, which certainly cannot be due to their want of real merit as curative agents, nor yet to any deficiency of appreciative intelligence (if I may use the expression) on the part of the Dublin practitioners, a fact which their universal reputation proclaims (!) And yet, that such is in reality the case, I have upon the authority of one of the most venerable, and at the same time, illustrious practitioners in Dublin or any other city." Assuming, then, that "the most venerable and illustrious practitioner' is correct in his opinion, and that "the cold and passive indifference of Dublin practitioners" to the Bath is not due to any want of real merit on the part of the Bath as a curative agent, but really does result from a "deficiency of appreciative intelligence" on their part. Observe how their apologist seeks to excuse this deficiency :—
"I regard the present apathy of the profession on the subject not to any hostility upon their part to the use of baths grounded upon physiological or scientific data, but to the fact, that up to the present, the subject has never been brought under their observation, nor, I presume, are the majority aware that there is an establishment in Dublin at present second to none