Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/497

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481
IS ELECTRICITY LIFE?

as if it were of little or no use; sometimes by arguments, such as they were; and sometimes by such cautions against its ill-effects as made thousands afraid to meddle with it." And he thus sums up his opinion of the medical profession, and their opposition to the use of electricity in disease: "There cannot be in Nature any such thing as an absolute panacea, a medicine that will cure every disease incident to the human body. If there could, electricity would bid fairer for it than any thing in the world. Mr. Lovett is of opinion that the electrical method of treating disorders cannot be expected to arrive at any considerable degree of perfection till administered and applied by the gentlemen of the faculty. Nay, then, quantû de spe decide! all my hopes are at an end. For when will it be administered and applied by them? Truly ad Græcas calendas. Not till the gentlemen of the faculty have more regard to the interest of their neighbors than their own. Therefore, without waiting for what probably never will be, and what indeed we have no reason to expect, let men of sense do the best they can for themselves, as well as for their poor sick helpless neighbors. I doubt not but more nervous disorders would be cured in one year by this single remedy, than the whole English materia medica will cure by the end of the century."

This is hard upon the doctors, yet it only fairly expresses their conduct at that period. They alone, however, are not to be held responsible for the delay in adopting the curative powers of electricity.. Every thing worth having has to force its way to acceptance. A popular writer has well said: "If London could be lit, like the city in the fairy tale, with a single diamond, which rendered it brighter at mid-night than at mid-day, it would take ten years to smoothe away prejudices and conciliate self-interests, so as to admit of the illuminating gem being displayed." All the astonishing cures in the early period of electricity were effected by clumsy and importable machinery, with "shocks" of high-tension current, which are peculiarly disagreeable to some persons. They are indeed like the actual cautery—the hot iron to the wound—when compared with the modern appliances of chain batteries and bands, whose action is so tender that a baby would not wince at it, and which are so portable that the whole apparatus may be carried in the pocket. It has fallen to the man of science, and. not to the medical practitioner, to enforce a belief in the curative powers of electricity upon the public.

About the centre of the fashionable side of Regent Street may be seen the establishment of Mr. Pulvermacher. How many suffering from disease which has baffled the skill of physicians, how many whose nervous feelings render life a burden to them, how many afflicted with tic-douloureux or neuralgia, limping with gout or rheumatism, shivering with palsy, or bent with paralysis, pass that establishment, ignorant that therein most probably lies the mitigation of their suffering, if not their absolute cure!