« ForrigeFortsæt »
tics are confessedly bad enough, but there are always corrective influences more or less powerfully at work to counteract their mischief. Whereas quacks in medicine labour in a field peculiarly their own. They appeal to the ignorance of their patients, and act on the infirmities of human nature when their seductive devices have greatest potency-when the body is suffering from the torments of disease, and the intellect is obscured by apprehensions of fatal consequences, and hence the remarkable success which has attended empiricism, even among the best educated, in all ages.
It would be difficult indeed, to determine at what precise point in our own day Medical quackery commences or terminates. That it pervades every branch of Medical practice is only what is acknowledged and lamented by many of the most learned, accomplished, and truthful members of the Profession. But it must not be expected that any desirable extent of improvement, in this respect, will emanate from within the Profession itself, for those who profit by abuses were never yet known to voluntarily correct them. This a candid writer, Dr. C. Kidd, admits, and says, "Our chiefest hopes at present exist in the outer educated public. It is a sad but humiliating confession."* As an eminent American author, Silvester Graham, observes:
"It is certain that without a well-educated Medical Profession, of high moral tone, society cannot prosper; and it is equally certain that such a profession will be most accurately estimated where society is most intelligent in regard to the proper qualifications of such a profession; and, therefore, the most certain means of destroying every species of medical empiricism and imposture, and of securing the highest confidence in a responsible profession, is to enlighten the people in the knowledge of the Laws of Life and Health." ↑
A public so enlightened would not be retained long in the bondage of Drug superstitions, nor be deterred, by the mere ipse dixit of ignorance, prejudice, and selfish interests from adopting remedial agencies in accordance with nature and rea
* Medical Times, Sept. 9, 1865.
+ Science of Human Life-Preface.
son. But there is not yet such a general diffusion of enlightenment, even among the highly favoured classes, as would warrant the belief that the reign of medical error and imposture will speedily terminate. There is now, unfortunately, as much inertia to overcome-as much active hostility to be encountered in introducing new and well-attested improvements into the profession and practice of Medicine, as at any former period of its history. This is mainly attributable to the non-enlightenment of the public generally on matters relating to Medicine, the effect of which is to cherish and perpetuate inherited delusions concerning the nature and action of Drugs, which render all improvements impossible, for most assuredly it is from an intelligent public that the irresistible stimulus to improvement and progress must come.
But in order to comprehend clearly the various agencies which now contribute so powerfully to the maintenance of error, by forming artificial barriers against the introduction of improvements-agencies by which medical men are fortified in clinging to the superstitious and admitted imperfections of Drug-systems, and impelled to resist salutary innovations directed to the establishment of the Healing Art on a rational and scientific basis-it is necessary to candidly examine the state of the Medical Profession as it now exists, and in doing so reliance can be most satisfactorily reposed in the conscientious expression of opinion by Medical men themselves. All the conclusions arrived at will, therefore, be fully sustained by an abundance of unquestionable professional authorities.
SECTION II.-Opposition of the Medical Profession to New Truths-The Priest-Physicians of the Pagans and Christians-Hippocrates-Division of Medicine into Surgery, Physic, and Pharmacy, a great source of corruption and evil-Medical Knowledge-its constituent parts, Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Hygiene, and Therapeutics-Distinction between Medicine as a Science, and the mere Art of Physic-Opinions of Medical authorities thereon.
THE History of Medicine proves that medical men, as a class, have always been identified with opposition to new and improving truths. In all ages they have been discreditably distinguished for upholding, with minds impervious to reason, whatever established opinion ruled among them, no matter what superstitions or corruptions that opinion involved and sustained. A devotion to ignorant credulities and irrational preconceptions, with an intolerance of any appeal to nature in opposition to speculative conjectures however absurd, has been a decided and prominent characteristic of the Profession from a remote antiquity. Unfortunately the same characteristic is still remarkable, though not now so glaringly and offensively displayed.
In the first ages of the world the practice of medicine was usurped by the Priests, to increase their influence and authority over the minds of the people. Hence, it was early involved in the grossness of superstition, and its practice was debased by the artifices of empirical pretenders to supernatural gifts. Hippo. crates, who was born about 460 B.C., and educated under the Priests of the Temple of Esculapius at Cos, was the first who sought to divorce medicine from Priestcraft, and partially succeeded in doing so. His name, considering the age in which he lived, is the most illustrious in medical history, and he is justly styled "The Father of Medicine."
The great doctrine inculcated by the Priest-Physicians concerning disease was, that all bodily and mental infirmities proceeded from some supernatural agency, and therefore relief was only to be obtained through their intervention, as they alone held communion with the gods! Hippocrates taught that disease was not caused by the gods at all, and, therefore, that the rites, ceremonies, invocations, and mummeries of priestcraft, were not required to propitiate offended deities, but that each disease had its own natural cause, and was to be relieved only by natural means. Hippocrates was, of course, violently opposed, misrepresented, and calumniated by the practitioners who profited by the superstitious ignorance he desired to dissipate, just as every honest and truthful innovator has experienced similar treatment down to the present time.
About 200 B.C. medicine was first divided into three separate departments Surgery, Physic, and Pharmacy-and this division has been the principal cause of the corruption and degradation that has attended its practice and characterised its history from that day to this. After the establishment of Christianity under Constantine, the primitive purity of the Church speedily vanished, and actuated by similar motives as their Pagan predecessors, the Christian priests usurped the province of medicine and sought to monopolise its practice. Consequently, nature was soon banished from medical teaching and practice, while irrational doctrines and gross superstitions supplied its place. Benighted dupes, labouring under disease, were instructed to rely on the miraculous intervention of some fabulous saint, or on the alleged curative influence of some imaginary relic, until it became a prevailing belief all over Europe for ages, that by such preposterous means disease could be absolutely charmed away.
Priest-Physicians never attempted the cultivation of medicine by rational study, nor to follow its practice by natural means. They were for the most part grossly illiterate, and encouraged the superstitions which led the practice of Anatomy to be regarded with abhorrence. About the middle of the
twelfth century the clergy were prohibited from practising surgery, or performing any operation that required the "drawing of blood," on the pretext that "the Church abhors the shedding of blood." From this date Physic and Surgery, which were before theoretically separated, became practically distinct professions, and have remained so to the present day-the Priests retained possession of the former till the sixteenth cen tury, while the practice of the latter fell into the hands of barbers, cobblers, tinkers, and such like.
After the great political and social revolution of the sixteenth century the study of Medicine began to revive, but the mischievous distinction between Physic and Surgery was still maintained, and became permanent. The Physicians obtained a disastrous ascendancy in England before the Reformation under Henry VIII., having, through their influence with Cardinal Wolsey, procured a charter of incorporation and a monopoly of practice in 1518. They thus became chained, as it were, to Drug superstitions, with all the cruel and destructive practices they involved, and still remain in the same degrading bondage. Drug dealing gradually expanded into a thriving trade in the hands of Apothecaries, who also succeeded in obtaining a separate charter of incorporation in 1617. Thus Doctors and Drugs became established institutions. They obtained a disas trous pre-eminence-prospering on the ignorance and credulity of mankind. Content so to trade, they never dreamed of cultivating Medicine as a Science, nor of seeking in nature for the means of alleviating disease, but were always active in crying down, with persistent intolerance, all discoveries that exposed their own deplorable ignorance, and promised to be a benefit to mankind.
When it is complained, therefore, that Medicine, as a healing art, has made little or no progress since the days of Hippocrates, it must be remembered that the three-fold division of the Pro
fession was totally adverse to progress. Modern Physicians inherited all the superstitious absurdities and ignorant prejudices of the middle ages, and as the degrading credulity that