Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/718

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700
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

there is all the toto cœlo difference of a duty and a mischievous presumption. Can an opponent of venesection not use a lancet to scrape the ink off his finger-nails, without incurring the reproach of inconsistency? Nature never fails to protest emphatically against the nauseous nostrums which the drug-monger employs under the pretext of relieving her embarrassments. Does she ever protest against soap and water? Does sapolio irritate the human skin? If not, a consistent anti-naturalist should cleanse his hands by means of a blister. In the opinion of our medical hierophant it will probably aggravate the iniquity of the "idealists" that the practical embodiment of their theories has proved a decided success. In the United States alone there are forty-six well patronized hygienic sanitaria that restrict the use of drugs almost, or wholly, to the exceptional cases named on page 729 of "The Popular Science Monthly" for October, 1881. Drs. Schrodt, Maurice Nagy, James Knight, L. B. Coles, Abbott, Coleman, and the disciples of Graham, Alcott, and Isaac Jennings, have not recanted their tenets, and count their followers by tens of thousands. Unto all such Dr. J. R. Black ascribes superficialness, bigotry, and a sound physical constitution. The latter charge, I apprehend, can not be retaliated upon his own converts.

Hahnemann's heresies our critical observer imputes to an optical perversity. If his diagnostic spectacles enable him so distinctly to discern the "poison of disease," he ought to know better than to aggravate it by an additional poison. And if the doctor believes that the tenuous prescriptions of the homœopaths can not be considered as medicines, their success proves the very point I am contending for, namely, that in an infinite plurality of cases diseases can be better cured without any drugs at all.

Such "vaporific theorizing" as my plea for longer pauses between meals, Dr. J. R. Black thinks "scarcely worthy of notice." If the history of dietetics were not so far beneath the notice of a duly-ordained drug dispenser, the doctor would perhaps know that many millions of the races who approach most nearly to the ideal of perfect physical and intellectual development adhered for sixty generations to the one-meal system, and that the plan of reducing the number of daily meals has been tested and urgently recommended by Drs. Haller,[1] Graham, Joel Ross, Dawson,[2]-Dio Lewis,[3] C. E. Page,[4] and T. L. Nichols,[5] of London, as well as by thousands who have tried its efficacy for the cure of obstinate enteric disorders. All these men Dr. J. R. Black denounces as sensational cranks, savages, and ophidians, and accuses me of an inconsistent and "supercilious conceit over Dame Nature," for disregarding her "monitions in this matter." In his eagerness to achieve the glory of a defensor fidlei, Dr. J. R. Black does not shrink from such trifles as logical solecisms. I have certainly never missed an opportunity to urge the importance of consulting the promptings of our natural instincts; but does the doctor propose to apply that rule to the cravings of a morbid appetency? Or have his "thirty years' reading and close practical observation" not yet taught him that the chronic hunger of a dyspeptic is as abnormal as the poison-thirst of a confirmed drunkard? "For the weak divide the task to be accomplished," says he—as if the assimilation of food were a mechanical operation. Dr. Black's decalogue needs a revision if he does not know that digestion is a chemical process, and can be better accomplished in a longer time (by prolonging the pause between meals) than by a division of labor. And what has the illiteracy of a South-Sea Islander to do with the competence of his hygienic instincts? Is the doctor's fund of valid arguments so scant that he has to resort to the expedient of an irrelevant charge? With the same logic the savage might refuse to accept the moral tenets of a short-sighted pale-face.

And Dr. Black's depreciation of the eupeptic ophidian is hardly less injudicious. No consistent follower of his school should allude with disrespect to the trade-mark of his craft—the Æsculapian pet that first suggested the art of utilizing our fellow-creatures by poisoning them.

Felix L. Oswald.

 

 

A HOMŒOPATHIC CORRECTION.

Messrs. Editors:

An article in your June issue, which attempts to deal with the question of quackery, refers at some length to the system of medical practice known by the name of homœopathy. I do not write for the purpose of exposing the fallacies or correcting all the misconceptions of the author; for I am not certain how far you would be willing

  1. "Ein Oatholicon, eine überall gültige Regel in allen Krankheiten. ist die Zahl der täglichen Mahlzeiten zu reduciren."
  2. "It may be said, if we deprive the already wasted body of nourishment for any length of time, will we not run the risk of losing our little patient? To these questions I reply: Starve the stomach! Give it rest"
  3. "I have tested the sufficiency of eating once in twenty-four hours, and have done work enough to put a younger man to his trumps if he had to do it. . . . I keep up my strength and have held in check my constitutional tendencies so that I have reached old age."
  4. "No person ever tried the plan and found reasons for abandoning it. except from considerations utterly remote from health."
  5. "The one-meal-a-day system will largely increase any person's working capacity."