François Gazeau.

American medical gazette and journal of health, Volume 8 online

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Neither the fashionable world which devotes itself to conventional-
isms, nor the industrial world which is doomed to ceaseless toils, has
the leisure to learn anything worth knowing in anatomy, physiology,
or pathology.

It is a satire upon science and a burlesque upon humanity to urge
the people to read, study, and inwardly digest that most difiicnlt of
all sciences, physiology, without putting them through a course of
study in the dead-house, and demdfestrating the anatomical tissues
and organs.

Ladies and gentlemen having trailed through blood and achieved
anatomy, would then be able, at length, to think and talk understand-
ingly upon digestion and defecation, absorption and excretitn, the
mucous and biliary secretions, peristaltic actions and urination, the
circulation and respiration, glands and intestines, the menses and
montrosities, the ova and the semen, corpulation and conception, the
testes and the hymen, pregnancy and the placenta, sterility and
virility, the anus and the uterus, and so on ad infinitum. Charming
idealities upon the banks of the Hudson, ** in the starry light of a
summer's night I"

Professor Draper intends this book *' to conform to his course of
lectures and to the wants of his medical class." But in the same page
he says, ** the reader will also find that the opportunity is taken, when-
ever it occurs, of directing his attention to those arguments which the
subject offers for elucidating the moral nature of man. Believing that
the right progress of society depends on its religious opinions, and
observing with concern the growing carelessness which is manifested
in these respects in our times, the author has not hesitated to show
how advantage may be taken of the facts presented by physiolc^y.
The existence of Ood, his goodness, power, and othc;r attributes; tlie

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«xl8teiice of the soul of man, its immortality atid accotmtability; ^
fotare life; omr relations to and position in the worid; its government;
these are topics with which physical science is concerning itself, a^
from which physiology cannot hereafter be disconnected.'' Ahts! fte
the pretensions of physical science that it should not distrust its feeble,
yet presumptuous powers in this behalf. Alas I that Divine Revela-
tion, " which has brought life and immortality to Kght,'' should need
support fi*om chemistry, physics, and physiology, subjects which it
never deigned to appeal to, which it is silent upon, and which are
wholly distinct from its scope and ends.

Althongh " human physiology, statistical and dynamical," " pales
its ineffectual fires " upon the same page containing the last quotation;
yet the light is neither logical nor professional, but popular, giving,
however, an insight into the mission or purpose of the book: " To the
medical profession," says Dr. Draper, " as matters now stand, nothing
is of more importance than the dissemination of physiological knowl-
ledge. Empiricism could not flourish as it does if the structures and
functions were better understood. How many advantages would arise
if the elements of this science were made a part of general education
in America I What branch of knowledge has intrinsically a better
title thereto? Such a diffusion of physiological knowledge would not
only^nd to a repression of empiricism, but would also exert an effect
in raising the standard of acquirement among medical men themselves.
That a great revolution is impending in the practice of medicine, no
one who is at all observant of the progress of science can doubt. The
great physicians of the future will be the great physiologists. He who
can best correct the imperfections of a machine is he who but knows
its structure and action."

Professor Draper proclaims most emphatically the fundamental
doctrine that the great doctor is the great physiologist, and that at
soon as the public becomes a great physiologist it will reject the quacks!
Aye I Dr. Draper and your doctors of medicine too. Anatomy and
physiology being the great guides to the cure of diseases, and the pub-
lic having mastered these, will write its own prescriptions, with the
apothecary's aid, thereby saving its precious gold.

If Dr. Draper were not a serious gentleman, seeking even to incor-
porate religion with physiology, it would naturally be supposed that
he intended to be ironical — that in wishing to get the public to study
physiology, (having of course first studied anatomy) he hoped to aid

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the doctor in replenishing his bank deposits, inasmuch as all experience
proves that the more the people study popularized home medicine the
more it becomes bewildered, fancying that it has diseases of this or
that organ, be it the heart, kidney, the liver, the stomach, the guts,
the nerves, the womb, cancer, &c. Hence the public, with its night-
mare, its hypochondria, and real or imaginary disease, would fall to
doctoring itself, so that the M.D. may be finally called upon, though
too often after irreparable mischief has been done.
It is here, if anywhere, that

" A little learning is a dangerous thing,
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."

Scarcely one in ten, even among the graduated doctors, have the
time, taste, energy, industry, means, and capacity to master the
science of physiology, testing and verifying it by experiment, gener-
alizing its facts and principles understandingly by a profound investi-
gation into the experimental researches of others, as Dr. Draper ha«

The morfcid effects produced upon the popular mind by reading
medical books without being able to understand them, is inimitably
illustrated in Tristram Shandy. A humorous argument may some-
times be, as in this case, better than a solemn oqe. The reader will^
therefore, judge whether the value of the quotation to be give* will
not compensate for its length.

" My father, who dipped into all kinds of books, had found out that
the lax and pliable state of the child's head in parturition, the bones
of the cranium having no sutures at that time, was such, that by force
of the woman's efforts, which, in strong labor-pains, was equal, upon
an average, to the weight of 470 pounds avoirdupois, acting perpen-
dicularly upon it; it so happened that in forty-nine instances in fifty
the said head was compressed and moulded into the shape of an ob-
long conical piece of dough, such as a pastry-cook generally rolls up,
in order to make a pie. Good God! cried my father, what havoc and
destruction must this make in the infinitely fine and tender texture of
the cerebellum!

** But how great was his apprehension, when he further understood
that this force, acting upon the very vertex of the head, not only
injured the brain itself, or cerebrum^ but that it necessarily squeezed and
propelled the urebrun towards the cerebellum, which was the immediate
seat of the understanding! Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

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192 THE amebicau

cried mj father, can any soul withstand this shock ? No wonder the
intellectual web is so rent and tattered as we see it; and that so
many of our best heads are no better than a puzzled skein of silk.

" But when my father read on, and was let into the secret, that
when the child was turned topsy-turvy, which was easy for an operator
to do, and was extracted by the feet, that instead of the cerebrum
being propelled towards the cerebellum^ the cerebellum, on the contrary,
was propelled simply towards the cerebrum, where it could do no man-
ner of hurt; by Heavens! cried he, the world is in conspiracy to drive
out the little wit God has given us, and the professors of the obstetric
art are listed into the same conspiracy. What is it to me which end
of my son comes foremost into the world, provided all goes right after,
and the cerebellum escapes uncrushed?

" It is the nature of an hypothesis, when once a man has conceived
it, that it assimilates everything to itself, as proper nourishment, and,
from the first moment of your begetting it, it generally grows the
stronger by everything you see, hear, or understand. This is of great

" When my father was gone with this about a month what a blaze
of light did the accounts of the caesarian section cast upon this hypo-
thesis! Here you see that there was no injury done to the censorium;
np pressure of the head upon the pelvis; no propulsion of the cerebrum
towards the cerebellum^ either by the os pelvis on this side, or the
coccygis on that; an5 pray what were the happy consequences? Why,
sir, your Julius Caesar, who gave the operation a name; and your
Hermes Trismegistus, who was born so before the operation had a
name; your Scipio Africanus; your Manlius Torquatus; and many
more who figured high in the annals of fame; all came sideway, sir,
into the world.

" The incision of the abdomen and uterus ran for six weeks in my
father's head; he had read and was satisfied, that wounds in the
epigastrium, and those in the matrix, were not mortal ; so that the belly
of the mother might be opened extremely well to give a passage to
the child. He mentioned the thing one afternoon to my mother, merely
as a matter of fact, but seeing her turn as pale as ashes at the very
mention of it, contented himself with admiring what he thought was
to no purpose to propose."

The publicity given in the English newspapers to the melancholy
details of the case of the Princess Charlotte, who died in child-bed.

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caused disastroas resolts to parturient women in that country. In
his Historical Sketches, [ii., 48] Lord Brougham says, ** the whole
country felt the blow, thefemak ifnagiruUion wai occupied, lewilderedf
distradedf and the labors of cMld-bearing caused inntrnp-able vidims."

Medical studies, how useful so ever they may be to the physician in
curing the diseases of others, are not perhaps wholly guiltless of caus-
ing his own diseases in some instances. It has been remarked that
not a few physicians of the greatest ability have fallen yictims to the
very maladies which they have illustrated by their genius, discoveries
and researches, as La^nnec, Corvisart, Broussais, &c., for example.
Other things being equal, there is less probability of curing a physi-
cian of disease of the heart, than one unacquainted with the complex
anatomy and maladies of that organ, because the physician's superior
knowledge of the inherent difficulties of curing such a malady would
greatly depress his mind and weaken his hopes. Melancholy, doubt,
or despair woald aggravate every symptom, while hope, on the contra-
ry, would be a powerful auxiliary to the medical treatment.

With regard to the people in this point of view —

" If ignorance be bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise "—

if by any possibility a smattering of knowledge in physic can be called
wisdom. The practical physician finds no patients so refractory, so
perniciously absurd in regard to the carrying out a rational plan o^
treatment, as those ladies and gentlemen who have been studying
medical books which they cannot understand. They have a theory
and remedy for everything, and expect the doctor to conform thereunto.
This has been called doctoring a doctor. Sometimes the nurse, how-
ever, doctors both doctor and the patient.

Submissive patients full of faith in, yet ignorant of, physic, who have
for their doctor one skilled in that most difficult of all the inductive
sciences, are less likely to fall in the battle with disease than others.
In cases where no active treatment is required, a distilled water, an
inert syrup or a bread-pill, is often powerfully curative by influencing
the imagination. Having from day to day taken the temperature of
a febrile patient treated by a physician of the Charity Hospital, I was
gratefully informed by the sick man that my treatment had done more
for his relief than anything he had tried I The thermometer, perhaps,
saved the life of this man. He watched this instrument with deep

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interest when placed in the palms, bend of the arm, axilla, &c., as
also the writing concerning the same. He had faith.

Legitimate medicine is onp, indivisible and indestrnctible. It can
only perish when thought, reason, observation, experimental philoso-
phy, and animated nature shall be annihilated. It may for a time pass
through various phases; it may be obscured by passing clouds of error,
or sway to and fro by the storm of charlatanism..

The state of medicine at present is somewhat remarkable, anoma-
lous, and complex. While it is progressing in regard to science, the
status of the profession as a whole, has not kept pace with the former;
at least the public never were more disloyal to it than now. What-
ever may be the short-comings of regular physicians individually in
reference to their education and competen(iy to minister to the sick,
they stand on a higher level in this behalf than irregular practitioners.
The latter class, however, have obtained the confidence of the public
to an unexampled degree. To deny or ignore this fact is folly, and
folly only. The Legislatures of many of the States grant charters and
make endowment in favor of Botanic, Thompsonian, Eclectic,* Physio-
Medical, and the so-called Reform Colleges. Homoeopathic, Hydro-
pathic, and perhaps some other sects, are recognised either in law or
in popular sanction and patronage. These heterogenous parties,
though hostile to each other, agree in one particular, namely, hatred
to regular phygicfans. They do not rest their hopes upon charters,
endowments, college walls, and diplomas made easy to their pupils
desirous of the Degree of M.D.: they have established numerous medi-
cal journals, addressed not only to their adherents but no the great
public. In this, however, they approximate some of the regular facul-
ty of whose ability and scientific knowledge there can be no question,
and whose motives can, peradventure, be explained by other ends than
the well-being of society or the honor or usefulness of the profession.
So true is it that extremes meet.

The irregular practitioners possess the energy of politicians in

* Since the above was in type, the 12th annual announcement of the Eclectic
Medical Institute of Cincinnati has been received, from which it appears that
during ihe last eleven years the Matriculants of that School amounted to 2.396,
of which number 657 have received the Degree of M.D.; for the last four years
ihe classes have ranged from 251 to 308, and the Graduates fr;om 64 to 126 per
year — a progress for good or evil which has no parallel in the annals of schools
— a progress which promises soon to surpass, in number, the Graduates of the
Medical School of Paris.

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regard to their ends, through the management of the people, by
associated action. One of their journals, just received from the West,
reports the proceedings of a meeting Vrhich adopted the following

. *' Resolved f That the recent action of the Legislature of Georgia, by
which the Reformed Medical College of that State received another
$5,000 donation, refusing, at the same time, by a two-thirds vote, a
similar donation to the Allopathic School, contrasted quite satisfac-
torily with the unjust enactments, perjured witnesses and filthy prisons
which opposed the pioneers of this reformation, showed conclusively
the power of truth, and indicated that the day of universal triumph is
not far distant.

'** Resolved f Sfc, That their practice is unreliable, inefficient for good,
and its results a monstrous evil to mankind.

" Resolved^ However much we may respect Allopathic physi-
cians" (as they call the regular faculty) *'for their general intelligence
and honesty of purpose, we deem it impossible for them to become
true physicians, or to ever regain or hold the confidence of mankind,
while their main doctrines remain untrue.

" Resolved^ That health, happiness, life, and the welfare of this and
future generations depend on the settlement of the great questions
now iu dispute, and, therefore, it is wrong for any class of men to stand
(doo^ and oppose all discussion because their opponents are contempti-
ble;" for, if the court can deal with the felon at the bar and the minister
dare approach the convict's cell, in the performance of duty, the
guardians of the public health may condescend to place the people
aright on important questions, without in the kast compromising true

This tableau of the moral and scientific status of the profession by
the Physio-Medicalists is not more repulsive than that by the American
Medical Association as drawn by the late Dr. Chapman, its first
President, whose address to that body avows that ** the profession has
become corrupt, and degenerate to the forfeiture of its social position, and
with it, of the homage it formerly received spontaneously and universally.^'
Since this address, now more than nine years ago, the Association at
its annual meetings has added so many dark strokes to this picture
that its enemies can never rival it in this behalf. The picture by the
Association represents the actual and intending doctors, hut not the
Professors in the Medical Colleges, in the blackest colors. Indeed it

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has endorsed the ability of tbe professors. The Committee on EdoCia-
tion for 1853, in comparing the United States to other conntries in
regard to medical education,* avers that the existing **dispariiy,*^ though
unfavorable to oar country, **has tw rtftrinu to our public teachers!"
A great country, truly! Why does not each medical student appoint
himself M:D.? This would be a parity not a " disparity " to the self-
appointment of the professors.

Another American Medical Association full of. moral courage, is
called for — a convention in which no delegate shall have a direct
pecuniary interest — a convention, the fundamental principles of which
shall be the settlement of an organic law or ** new commandment " as
to the mode of appointing teachers, seeing that the present is the worst
human wit could invent, all adulation to the contrary notwithstanding.
The reader will see this subject discussed at length in Vol. XI., 679,
of this journal, the course of subsequent events having confirmed the
argument therein advanced. A fundamental revolution is required
in the organization of the medical colleges as to the mode of appointing
and paying professors, as in France, so that the number of graduates
shall no longer represent tbe number of dollars received by the pro-

A professorship thus obtained after a concour examination, would,
with a fixed salary, be an object worthy of the highest ambition. It
would afford the public a double guarantee, namely, that the professor
is highly worthy of patronage as a private practitioner, and that
having no pecuniary interest to sway him, as a guardian of the public,
iie will not commission his pupils with the degree of M.D., unless they
shall be duly qualified to practice their profession. Here is the
reform needed. It is free from Utopianism; it has hitherto saved
France from quackery, and secured for the doctorate the respect of the
public as well as that of the medical faculty throughout the world.
But this plan finds a fundamental and growing tmtithesis in Republican
America. Good for France, but not for Amc :c*a! So reasoned Joe
Miller, who. having given salt herring to a sick Englishman who got
well, tried the same remedy upon a Frenchman, who having died, the
inference drawn was, that salt herring cures an Englishman but kills
a Frenchman.

But to return to the irregulars:

Whatever doubt there may be as to the motives and sincerity of
these self-complacent practitioners in their claim of superiority over

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the regular facnltj in learning and skill, there can be none as to their
vigilance, indnstry, and partisan zeal, while some of their leaders dis-
play abilities which cannot be despised. Their ill-fonnded antagonism,
like all previous charlatanries, will have its day — perhaps a longer
one than usual. This antagonism, which commenced with the illiterate
Samuel Thompson, who patented lobelia, red-pepper, &c., has been
prominent, active and increasing for more than a quarter of a century,
but has eventuated in several sects that do not harmonize except in
their hatred of, and violent opposition to the " regular school."

Be the fortune of legitimate medicine what it may — whether it shall
be accepted or rejected by the public, it is the bounden duty of the
profession to remove all just causes of reproach and antagonism, by
increasing the amount of education and qualification of all admitted
into its ranks.

The aberrations of the public, its biases in favor of quackery, cannot
be rectified by the popularization of medical science. The diffusion of
general intelligence will be as it has always been, in favor of legitimate
medicine. The great majority of the enlightened public will naturally
conclude that physicians thoroughly educated in their science and art,
are, and ever must be superior to pretenders. It is true that the
public has at present little confidence in the diploma or degree of
M.D., whether conferred by Steam-Botanic, Eclectic, Reform, Homoe-
opathis, or "Old School Colleges." The doctorate, by the showing of
the regulars themselves, is conferred upon many who are not qualified
to practise their vocation. The public is, therefore, right in distrusting
the degree as a criterion by which to judge of medical competency .
The remedy then lies, for the present, wholly with the Medical Faculty.
Let the diploma be what it should be, a guarantee that its possessor
is competent to fulfil his duties as a practitioner. Let the public ig-
nore anatomies, physiologies, and charlatanries. Let each "be up and
doing " in his own proper calling —

** Like as the star
That maketh not haste,
That taketh not rest,
-* *, Be each one fulfilling

His God-given hest." — Goethb.

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[The following article is ascribed to Dr. John H. Gbisoom.]

New York, January ^ 1857.

Mr. Editor: Moral insanity has, daring the past month, been the
great topic of discussion in and out of the profession, in this vicinity.
It is talked of in the cars, it is discussed in the saloons, it is the staple
on 'change, at the corners of the streets, in the halls of science, and in
courts of law. ii^ince the last general election nothing has so stirred
the depths of society as this. The newspapers still ring with it; long
leaders meet the eye, headed with those portentous words; the press
groans under its influence; the shop windows are darkened with cari-
catures of it: tales of ** fiction founded on fact," with this subject for
the basis, fill long columns in the Sunday papers; and in staring capi-
tals, a foot or more in length, it glares upon the walls and fences, in
the form of advertisements, and all because two legal gentlemen got
their heads together to keep a notorious rascal out of State Prison,
on the plea of *' Moral Insanity." That was the talismanic word that
was to break his shackles, and set him free to roam at large once more
among the innocent money-changers of Wall Street.

jL new form of mental disorder has become inaugurated into our
text-books of insanity — Monomania Huntingtoniensis ; in plain English,
a propensity to write other people's names to promissory notes, and
raise the money with them.

For about a year past an individual named Huntington has been
preying with most consummate dexterity upon certain parties in Wall
Street; raising, by forged notes, money to the extent, it is said, of
about five millions of dollars, covering up his criminal acts, from time
to time, by fresh forgeries of securities, and paying large percentages
on the borrowed thousands. The money he spent sumptuously in
riotous living, until, by a miscalculation of a month, as to the time
when one of the alleged notes ivould fall due, the bubble burst, and
that night our hero slept in the Tombs. So plain and abundant were
the evidences of guilt, that no possible chance of escape remained to
the criminal, but the desperate one which none but a lawyer of the
boldest and most acute character would dare to ro-ise, l(s a ''plea m
bar." Such astounding and long-continued criminalities could only
have been conducted by a lunatic! To confess the whole, to magnify

Online LibraryFrançois GazeauAmerican medical gazette and journal of health, Volume 8 → online text (page 17 of 82)