Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/93

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83
THE FRENCH INSTITUTE.

nostrum-venders declare the composition on a label and to submit the stuff to official analysis. In England, as in this country, the unrestricted sale of patent medicine has been again and again discussed in print, and the absence of proper legislation there has allowed quacks and impostors to grow and nourish.

Frankly speaking, nostrum-venders no longer rely on the curative power of their drugs. They depend now on the power of advertising almost exclusively. They have a literary man to "write up" the remedy in ingenious fashion; an artist to show the patient "before and after" using the panacea; a poet to compose odes and lyrics; a liar who rivals Munchausen; and a forger who signs all kinds of testimonials. The great point seems to be to make people feel that they are in the last stages of decline. A cleverly worded circular is enough to give one a fit of the blues. In the opening chapter of his amusing book, Three Men in a Boat, Mr. Jerome hits off this particular point. "I never read a patent-medicine advertisement," says one character, "without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with, in its most virulent form." It is not uncommon for the nostrum-vender to offer one thousand dollars reward for any case he fails to cure. He is safe enough, even if the remedy kills, for there is no time specified within which a cure is to be effected.

To this, then, patent medicine comes at last: "This wonderful remedy works like a charm," or else not at all.


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THE FRENCH INSTITUTE.

By W. C. CAHALL, M. D.

THE Institute, as it exists to-day, is a creation of Napoleon, and, like all other organizations which arose under the First Consul, reveals his disposition for centralizing and supervising everything, even the literary and scientific societies. It is due to Napoleon, however, to say that he had a professional interest in these societies as well as a ruler's, for it must be remembered he was an engineer, and had a seat in the Academy of Sciences. While the Institute dates from Bonaparte, who modified the newly organized Institute of the Directory, the several academies of which it is composed are very much older. The Consul simply revived the academies in almost their original form, but placed them in a more intimate relation with the Government and with each other.

The Institute may be likened to a university, while the academies are as the colleges of a university, independent yet correla-