Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/741

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723
MASSAGE.

Germany, in a lecture on this subject published in the "Wiener med. Wochen.," No. 45, 1875, says: "I can only agree with my colleagues, Langenbeck and Esmarch, that massage in suitable cases deserves more attention than has fallen to its lot in the course of the past ten years in Germany. . . . As practice in the manipulations, time, perseverance, and personal interest in the matter are necessary, and these one can not bestow who interests himself much in medicine and surgery, I have turned over to my old experienced surgical assistant suitable cases for massage, and he has already obtained a series of results both favorable and surprising, and far exceeding my expectations of this method of treatment." Previous to the past fifteen years the French physicians took more interest in massage than any others, but of late they have almost entirely laid it aside. With their waning interest the Scandinavians and Germans have taken up the subject with renewed zeal, and from time to time furnish instructive accounts of their experiments, successes, and failures.

How is massage regarded, and what is its condition, in the United States? Except among very few—epicures in this matter, if one may so speak—there is as yet but little evidence of a desire to place massage, and those who do it, on their merits alone, irrespective of the policy of employing persons who are only rubbing-machines, or of tolerating obnoxious individuals so long as the poor patients' minds are satisfied. This is too often the case, and then massage is said to have failed and valuable time is lost, when, if it had been properly applied, it might have been successful; or, on the other hand, perhaps it should have been omitted and other remedies employed. The writer of this, in a recent paper on the "History of Massage," has said: "In almost every city of the United States, and indeed of the whole civilized world, there may be found individuals claiming mysterious and magical powers of curing disease, setting bones, and relieving pain by the immediate application of their hands. Some of these boldly assert that their art is a gift from Heaven, due to some unknown power which they call magnetism, while others designate it by some peculiar word ending with pathy or cure, and it is astonishing how much credit they get for their supposed genius by many of the most learned people." Let a fisherman forsake his boat, or a blacksmith his anvil, or a carpenter his bench, or a shoe-maker his shop, and proclaim that he has made the wonderful discovery that he is full of magnetism and can cure all diseases, and, be he ever so ignorant and uncouth, he is likely to have, in a remarkably short space of time, a large clientèle of educated gentlemen and refined ladies. It is not meant to imply that the previous occupation of such people is at all to their discredit, but, were they capable of giving a rational explanation of their doings, the halo of mystery would be removed from around them, and their prestige and patronage would suffer a sudden decline.

In Boston and Philadelphia, and perhaps in other cities as well,