Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/129

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.





Messrs. Editors.

CERTAIN facts connected with the life and history of Dr. Priestley came to my knowledge and recollection about the time of the centennial gathering at Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Had it occurred to me sooner, I should have deemed it of sufficient interest to those present, and to the general public, to have communicated these facts; and, even now, it seems desirable to make this record.

When Dr. Priestley's house was attacked by the mob, and he was driven from his home, he fled for his life, and took refuge with my maternal grandfather, Samuel Vaughan, either at his London house (in Mark Lane, or Mincing Lane), or at his country-house in Hackney. For a long time previous to this date he was very intimate in my grandfather's family, where he was received always as a loved and welcome guest. At the time referred to he remained an inmate of the family for a month or more. My mother, who was born in London, in 1766, was living with her parents at the time of the riot. A strong attachment had grown up between her and Dr. Priestley. She looked upon him as a second father; and I well remember, as a boy, the great pleasure with which she dwelt upon the memory of their friendship. While concealed in my grandfather's house Dr. Priestley wrote his celebrated "Appeal." It was dictated by him to my mother, she acting as his amanuensis. The "Appeal" was printed from her manuscript. As a memorial of this event, Dr. Priestley presented to my mother a brooch, made for the purpose. It is a miniature likeness of himself, cut in shell, on a blue background, and mounted in an oval gold frame, with a scroll across it near the bottom, on which is the word "Appeal." This brooch is now in my possession. I held it in my hand at the time of the celebration, regretting that so interesting a relic could not be viewed by those present. Forty years or more have elapsed since my mother's narration of these events, and, as the present account rests entirely upon the memory of my late sister and myself, it is possibly incorrect in some details. The main points, however, may be relied upon, and as proof may be taken the existence of the brooch, bearing on its scroll the word "Appeal."

T. B. Merrick.
Germantown, Philadelphia,
February 24, 1882.


Messrs. Editors.

In the March number of "The Popular Science Monthly" there is an article from the London "Lancet" entitled "Quackery within the Profession," which, though short, is certainly vigorous. The following quotations are pertinent:

"There can not possibly be a 'system' or 'cure' in medicine. There are no rule-of-thumb methods, and no mysteries in true science. If we do not know what a remedy is, and how it acts, we have no right, as honest men, to employ it. The time has passed for the working of cures by charms, and the recourse to nostrums. We pander to the credulity of the unskilled community when we show ourselves credulous. . . . From the highest places in society to the lowest ranks of the people, there is just now a grievous readiness to 'believe in' quacks and quackery. . . . There is no system, or cure, or charm, or nostrum, known to the profession."

These words are strong enough, and arc properly found within the pages of a magazine devoted to popularizing science—that is, popularizing it in the sense of giving the unprofessional reader the latest teachings of science without the rigorous processes of induction leading to such results.

The aim being, therefore, such a high and laudable one, is it not somewhat inconsistent, to say the least, to find in the same March number advertisements of the following notoriously quack medicines and remedies?—

St. Jacob's Oil, Græffenberg's Vegetable Pills, Voltaic Belts, Parker's Ginger Tonic, Kidney-wort, Mrs. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, "a positive cure for consumption," and two whole pages devoted, the one to Warner's Safe Kidney and Liver Cure, and the other to Compound Oxygen?

Such advertisements undoubtedly pay well; but should not a prosperous magazine like "The Popular Science Monthly" with such lofty pretensions, be above lending itself, even indirectly, to countenancing quackery, or doing anything to increase that "grievous readiness to believe in quacks and quackery" which the writer in the London "Lancet" so much deplores?

Respectfully yours,
Charles E. L. B. Davis
Captain of Engineers.
Buffalo. New York, February 22, 1882.

Captain Davis writes to the editors of the "Monthly," complaining that they do