Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/250

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238
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the superstitions of the Masures, that "consecrated communion-wine is used in all diseases as the most sovereign and last resort. The Masures often ask their pastors for it. If they will not give it to them, they go to the Catholic priests, who grant their requests without hesitation. They frequently have the wine blessed at the Catholic confessionals; and some of them think that communion-wine from Catholic churches is more efficacious than that from evangelical churches. Nevertheless, Catholics sometimes go to evangelical pastors to get their communion-wine." Herr C. G. Hintz, another writer on folklore, mentions it as a time-honored custom in old Prussia to put a bottle of wine on the altar, so that it may be blessed at the sacramental service.

The beliefs on this subject are in some cases contradictory: thus, while the Lauenburg peasant regards the communion-wine as a sovereign cure, and calls in the priest when he finds the doctor too dear, or that his remedies fail, the people of Oldenburg and East Prussia put off the taking of the sick-bed communion as long as possible, for fear that it will be followed by a speedy death.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from Die Natur.

 
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MALARIA AND THE PROGRESS OF MEDICINE.[1]

THE attempt to estimate the successes of medicine on the grand scale is met at the outset by a source of fallacy which can not well be eliminated. Medicine has certainly a share, and it may be a very large share, in the general lengthening of life, in the decrease of pain and suffering, and in the increase of working-power; but other influences, besides the thought and endeavor of the medical profession, have helped to bring about those results. A brief consideration of malarial fever (including simple ague and the more deadly tropical forms), of the causes that have made it less common at home, and more amenable to treatment everywhere, and of the views entertained about it, will serve to show how various are the forces that make for improved well-being, and how checkered the medical record has been. No single cause of premature death, of life-long misery, and of loss of working-power, has ever equaled malaria. There is some reason to think that it was from personal experience of the ague, and the hepatic derangements consequent on it, that Descartes got his profound conviction of ill-health being the greatest of all hindrances to the wisdom and capability of the individual. There can, at least, be hardly any question that malaria is, and always has been, the

  1. Abstracted from an article entitled "The Progress of Medicine," in the "Quarterly Review" for July, 1883.