Billeder på siden

To them pathology reveals no useful facts in the history of disease, and the microscope and organic chemistry are cast aside as useless methods of investigation. Withdrawing from the profane and vulgar touch of material objects, they seek to advance their knowledge of human maladies by studying the influence of intangible entities upon a diseased imagination. Causes are entirely lost sight of, in their anxiety to discover agents producing like results; symptoms are ascribed to the potency of the ultimate particle of inert substances; and the physiological termination of diseases is attributed to the elimination of a mythical cause by fabulous remedies. It is not strange that an inquiring mind should at length sicken of such irrational pursuits, and turn from this pseudo-science which has only a retrograde movement, to that true science which daily unfolds new and hidden treasures to its votaries. It is only marvelous that an educated person could long occupy himself with studies so trivial, and investigations so unscientific and deceptive. We can only account for it, knavery aside, by the fact that medicine, in many respects, gives the greatest latitude for self-deception. But he who is firmly established in correct principles, and has the support of a sound judgment, can maintain his integrity while studying its most obscure chapters. We have ever been confident that educated persons adopting a system so destitute of

merit, would finally become weary of its hollow pretensions, its inability to progress, and the unsatisfying nature of its studies. There have long been striking evidences of a "suspense of faith" among the practitioners of this school. Discontent pervades its ranks, exhibiting itself in a universal tendency to abandon the intangible, imponderable, and imperceptible in remedies the dogma dear to the heart of its founder. Silently many have returned to their old faith, while the majority have sadly backslidden, and indulged clandestinely in the sin of employing old curative measures. The leaders have endeavored to meet this exigency, not by affectionate appeals to duty or stern reprimands for delinquencies, but by devising means of concealing from public recognition the real defection of their followers. Ingenious methods of disguising full doses of every important remedy seemed for a time to answer their purpose; but there was a limit even to this device. Aloes and assafoetida could thus be administered in large doses without detection; but by what means could blisters, leeches, and the lancet, so long, so loudly, and so persistently denounced, be used, without utterly destroying the fabric which had been raised with so much labor and art! Even this point seemed to have been attained. A diligent inquirer set to work to determine upon what principles these three remedies acted; when, to the astonishment of himself and friends,

he discovered that blisters and leeches acted purely according to the dogma of their school, and therefore were to be boldly employed. He also further ventured the assertion, that venesection would doubtless be found to act upon the same principle, if its action were thoroughly investigated, when the lancet would also be recognized as a legitimate resort in acute diseases. Here was a total abandonment of everything but the name, which has long passed for nothing. But even these concessions and compromises, it now appears, will not answer the exigencies of that school. The flimsy subterfuges which it raises will not long suffice to cover its nakedness. The larger body of its members require a new faith, and that faith will be RATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC MEDICINE. Medicine, like theology, has had its isms, which have, in various ways, and by multiplied deceptive charms, and insidious influences, enticed its members from its ranks. The history of medicine presents a continued series of popular theories, which have for the time engrossed the attention, and then fallen into contempt. No age, however enlightened, can claim exemption from the prevalence of medical heresies, but we may console ourselves with the reflection that medicine also, like theology, has always had its true Church, to which the footsteps of every honest seeker after truth finally tend, however far he may have wandered from the paths of rectitude.




NDOUBTEDLY, medicine, whether considered as a science or an art, in its study or in its practice, is the most noble and honorable profession which man can follow. Such at least is the opinion of medical men, and there are few learned and considerate persons of any other pursuit who do not yield it equal homage. Indeed, no liberal mind, familiar with the range of natural sciences which medicine comprehends, the ennobling and liberalizing effects of its study, and above all, the humane objects which its practical application to man's physical necessities contemplates, can but regard it as a profession of the most noble and honorable character. And yet it would scarcely seem possible that a man could entertain so exalted an opinion of his business, as to consider himself exempt from the common privileges and obligations of citizenship. And this remark would have especial force, where the existing government imposed individual duties and responsibilities. The very opposite conclusion would be the more rational; the higher and more sacred the particular calling and obligations of the individual, the more grave

and important his responsibilities as a citizen. The natural supposition would be that such pursuit derived its sacredness from its opportunities and power of benefiting the race. For surely that business in life must be of all others the most selfish, which so exalts the individual above his fellows, that he lives entirely to himself. There is, we believe, in our profession, a widespread and growing misconception of the duties of medical men as citizens; and this error of judgment is far more prevalent among that class, the members of which are regarded as representatives of the true spirit of medicine. With them, to exercise that most sacred of all the privileges of citizenship, viz., the choice of rulers by the ballot, is a condescension of dignity never to be submitted to, except, perhaps, at the solicitation of a wealthy patron who may have a personal interest in the result of the canvass. And this act, in itself the most honorable perhaps of their lives, but truly dishonorable from its motives, is performed with the shamefacedness of premeditated guilt. They scorn a knowledge of our political history, and a familiarity with current political events, as matters too vulgar to occupy the attention of minds devoted to the sacred calling of physic. Diseases and their remedies are the never-varying themes of their thoughts and conversation. Health, and preventive medicine, and all measures of public interest, are discarded as without the pale of their "peculiar pursuits.' All such ignoble sub

« ForrigeFortsæt »