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To this improved state of Opinion it is only fair to acknowledge that the enlightened members of the Medical Profession have powerfully contributed. A few years ago only a very select number of medical men could be found who adequately appreciated the singular merits of the Bath. Some reluctantly sanctioned, while but few indeed openly recommended, its use. But now, however, the case is quite the reverse, and it is still more encouraging to know that the number who appreciate aright its remarkable Prophylactic and Therapeutic properties is annually on the increase.
LONDON, May, 1873..
TO RICHARD BARTER, M.R.C.S.E.
DEAR DR. BARTER,
The high sense I entertain of your distinguished labours in a cause which has for its object the prolongation of human life, the mitigation of suffering, and the increase of health and happiness, leads me to dedicate to you this humble effort to direct public attention, in the words of Sir John Forbes, to "the great value and importance of what may be termed the physiological, hygienic, or natural system of curing diseases, in contradistinction to the pharmaceutical or empirical drug plan, generally prevalent.”
In common with all who are familiar with the facts, I recognize in you the earnest, intrepid, and successful innovator, who, with the truths of Nature for your guide, succeeded in introducing a new system of Therapeutics, which some of the most gifted minds of the age, who adorn the medical profession, have welcomed as a priceless "boon to humanity."
To you the honour justly belongs of having been the first to establish, on a firm basis, Hydropathy in Ireland, and to you also the Western nations are indebted for the revival of the ancient Hot Air Bath, and its application as a remedial agent in the treatment of disease-thereby demonstrating the incompar
able advantages of artificial heat as a curative means. You thus conferred on Hydropathy a new power which constitutes its perfection as a rational system of Therapeutics-vastly augmenting its utility and intensifying its benefits.
Having been led, in the first instance, to follow the imperfect modern Turkish mode of constructing and working the Bath, your sagacious experience soon induced you to detect and correct the evils arising therefrom. You restored the purity of the Bath atmosphere in accordance with the more approved ancient practice, and thus avoiding the inconveniences of superabundant moisture, you instructed the Easterns to appreciate the curative powers of the Bath, and indicated the only means by which high degrees of Temperature can be safely and beneficially employed.
Feeling your way with prudent circumspection, and profiting by your large experience, you gradually tested the value of high temperatures and the direct action of Heat in the treatment of disease, thus heralding the development of a therapeutical agency which is destined to revolutionise the unphilosophical system of Old Medicine, and supersede the gratuitous cruelties of its irrational practices.
When satisfied you possessed in the Bath a remedial agency of superlative power as applicable to man, your humanity suggested the sound physiological conclusion that it would prove of equal potency in the treatment of the various diseases to which domesticated animals are subject, and experience has amply confirmed the correctness of your views.
Undeterred by the opposition which besets the path of every one who earnestly labours for the benefit of mankind, you have had the satisfaction of seeing your views adopted, or tacitly acquiesced in, by many of those who were foremost to ridicule or senselessly condemn. "Of all methods of advancing the interests of science," remarks Dr. Andrew Combe, "that which consists in the supercilious neglect of alleged new discoveries, merely on the ground that they differ from what is already known, is assuredly the worst." And he further observes--"We ought to extend the hand of welcome to every man who is able to correct an established error, or add a new truth to the existing store; and much more so, if the offered contribution should be of that new and important principle capable, if true, of modifying and improving the whole field of medical practice.”
That your "contributions" merit such a character is now admitted by all who judge impartially; yet no such "hand of welcome" was extended to you by the great majority of your professional brethren. On the contrary, you experienced the fate of all great practical benefactors of mankind in having your labours misrepresented-your motives impugned-your claims to distinction unfairly questioned, and the merits of your improvements ungenerously decried and depreciated.
But have, nevertheless, enjoyed the signal triumph of having lived to witness the successful establishment of the Bath not only in Western Europe, but also in America and other countries, where it was previously unknown, and future generations cannot fail to recognise your merits as a distinguished pioneer in the cause of human welfare.
With disinterested zeal you have devoted much time and money to extend the benefits of the Bath among the poor. More especially you have been earnest in your exertions to have the Bath made available for the treatment of the helpless sick in our Hospitals, Asylums, and Workhouses. Your endeavours, in this respect, entitle you to the gratitude of the humane; and though, from the apathy of those in authority, your exertions have only been as yet partially successful, it is to be hoped a more enlightened and Christian policy will soon prevail.
In writing on the subject of the Bath, I have felt it was but a simple act of justice to truthfully record the greatness of the obligations the cause of humanity is under to you; and I only express the feelings of all who rightly appreciate the value of your labours in hoping you may long continue to enjoy the elevated position you have so worthily won.
With sincere respect,
I am yours, faithfully,
SPAFIELD, Holywood, August, 1868.