« ElőzőTovább »
gains in saying that, for one or two years, his receipts were at the rate of 6000l. annually. A young lady, whose lower limbs had been paralytic from infancy, was brought to him from the country to be cured. At the end of a year, 500l. having been expended in the experiment, she returned home in the same state as when she had left it but promises were made to her that if the process were repeated it would produce the desired effect at last, and she came to London again for the purpose. The result was such as might have been anticipated. Matters went on thus for three or four years, when the delusion ceased about as suddenly as it had leapt into vigour, and the champooer found himself all at once deprived of his vocation.
The history of St. John Long is in the recollection of many of our readers. This individual had been brought up as a painter, but, finding this profession to be productive of no immediate profit, he turned his attention to the healing art. His principal remedy was a liniment, of which we believe that oil of turpentine and some kind of mineral acid were the principal ingredients. However that may have been, in common with many other stimulating applications, it had the property of producing an exudation from the surface of the skin. The physician's theory was, that all diseases depend on a morbific matter in the blood, and that the exudation from the skin was this poison drawn out by the power of the liniment. Thus extraordinary cures were made of gout and rheumatism, abscesses of the lungs and liver, and insanity. A noble lord saw a fluid resembling quicksilver extracted from a patient's head. The house in which these miracles were wrought was crowded with patients belonging to the affluent classes of society, and the street with carriages. At last some cases occurred in which the application of the liniment caused a violent inflammation, ending in extensive gangrene. One patient died, and then another, and we have reason to believe that one or two others met with the same fate. The practitioner was convicted of manslaughter. If the remedy were of any real value, we do not know that these cases proved anything but the necessity of greater caution in the use of it; for there are few agents for good which, if carried too far, or had recourse to on improper occasions, may not be agents for evil also. The public, however, did not look so far as this, and their faith in the treatment was rapidly abating when the practitioner himself fell a victim to pulmonary disease.
There is a curious sequel to this history, which has been communicated to us on good authority. But we have no wish to make individuals, who had no very wrong intentions, look ridiculous, when it can answer no useful purpose to do so. Suffice it then to say that a medical practitioner, who had a fair reputation in the district
district in which he resided in the sister-kingdom, was persuaded to occupy the house in which the liniment had worked such wonders, with a view to carry on the same method of treatment, and with the self-same remedies. The charm, however, was no more in his hands than that of touching for the evil' had been in the hands of Cromwell: the street was empty of carriages, and the drawing-room of patients, and the new-comer was soon glad to return to his former, and, we hope, more useful and profitable occupation.
These projects, with a great number of others of the same description, are now matters of history. They have lived their day, and have been long since dead and buried. But we are not to suppose that the race of them is extinct, or that this age of wealth, luxury, and leisure is less favourable to their development than those which have preceded it.
Mr. Vallance, the author of one of the works of which the titles are placed at the beginning of this article, is not the inventor, but he fills the no less useful though more humble office of promulgator of the brandy-and-salt remedy. This vast discovery was made by a Mr. Lee, an English gentleman, who, as Mr. Vallance informs us, possesses an estate of 12,000 acres of land in France (it is not said in what part), on which he resides in a castle with two gamekeepers, one chaplain, and eighty domestics. An accidental circumstance led him to a knowledge of the medicinal virtues of a solution of six ounces of common culinary salt in one pint of French brandy. Sometimes used externally, and at other times taken internally, it removes the effects of the stings of mosquitoes, gnats, wasps, bees, and vipers; it cures the head-ache, and ear-ache, and side-ache; gout, consumption, scrofula, insanity, chilblains, mortification, and about thirty other disorders:
'Mr. C. C., of Bishop's Lane, was cured of the gravel in a few days.' Richard Cowley, my boy, had his feet crushed by the fall of a window-shutter, so that the blood gushed out at his toe-ends, but, thanks to the influence of brandy and salt, he was cured in a week.'
'John Calvert, James Crowest, and Mr. L. were all dying of consumption, but recovered rapidly under the use of brandy and salt.'
Even the worst complications of disease yield to this remedy. A lady who was afflicted at the same time with a sore leg, a bad breast, an abscess in her back, another abscess under her arm, and with rheumatism, was cured of these five disorders in the course of six weeks.
But the most interesting case is that of Captain Plumb, of the Ann, London trader, who was extremely illall over his body,
inside and out, and thought himself near death.' The captain was restored to health in the course of one month.
And, as far as Mr. Lee is concerned, all these benefits have been conferred on society from no other motive than that of pure benevolence. He is not only not paid, but he actually pays for the cures which he makes, having given away in the course of one year not less than a hogshead of brandy and salt to his patients. Neither can Mr. Vallance be accused of being influenced by the desire of lucre to any immoderate extent, if we may venture to form an opinion on the subject from the following notice at the end of his treatise: As I receive a great many letters requesting advice in particular cases, I beg to state that I cannot undertake to answer any, except a remittance of one shilling be made, with a penny post-ticket to pay the postage.'
The pretensions of Homoeopathy are of a more lofty character than those of brandy and salt. The homoeopathist claims the discovery of a law of nature before unknown; the establishment of a new science; the invention of a new method of curing diseases so efficient and certain, that hereafter none ought to be held to be incurable; and he denounces the absurdity and mischief of the healing art, as it is commonly practised, in language not less vehement than that of Paracelsus, when he publicly burned the works of Galen and Avicenna as being those of quacks and impostors, exclaiming to the crowd who were assembled to witness the ceremony,-You will all follow my new system, you professors of Paris, Montpellier, Cologne, and Vienna; you that dwell on the Rhine and the Danube; you that inhabit the isles of the sea; and ye also, Italians, Dalmatians, Athenians, Arabians, and Jews, ye will all follow my doctrines; for I am the monarch of medicine!'
Dr. Hahnemann, the founder of the homoeopathic system, having been educated as a physician, was engaged in medical practice, first in a small town of Saxony, and afterwards in Dresden.* This pursuit, however, was by no means suitable to his genius. We are informed that, having acquired more reputation than profit, he was compelled to eke out his professional gains by the translation of foreign works. But his ill-success was not to con
tinue for ever.
All at once,' we quote the words of Mr. Erneste George de Brennow, the translator of the Organon,' a new idea illuminates his mind; a new career is opened to him, in which nature and experience are to be his guides. Obstacles and difficulties without number retard his solitary progress in the hitherto untrodden track; but his never-failing courage surmounts them all. The most astounding phenomena are presented
* Curie's Principles of Homeopathy,' pp. 15, 16.
to his contemplation; he mounts from one certainty to another, penetrates the night of mists, and is at last rewarded for his toil by the sight of the star of truth shining brilliantly over his head and sending forth its rays for the benefit of suffering human nature.'
It was not, however, until after the lapse of some years that Hahnemann deemed it expedient to communicate his discovery to the world. Having done so, in the expectation of better fortune than he had met with at Dresden, he changed his residence to Leipsic.
Under his new method of practice Hahnemann became the dispenser of his own medicines, thus combining the offices of physician and apothecary. This, and probably some other circuinstances, roused the jealousy of the regular practitioners. An absurd, and we may say a most unjustifiable, persecution followed, which ended in a decree against him in the Saxon Courts of Law. But what was intended for his ruin laid the foundation of his fortune. It made him and his doctrine known, and excited the sympathy of the Duke of Anhalt Cöthen,* who first offered him an asylum at his court, and then made him one of his councillors. From thence he removed some years afterwards to Paris.
Now the hitherto unknown law of nature, the grand secret which the star of truth' revealed to Hahnemann after he had 'penetrated the night of mists,' is so simple that it has been stated by him in three words — Similia similibus curantur.' Plain however as this announcement may be, we suspect that some among our readers may not at once perceive in what manner the aforesaid law of nature is applicable to the healing art, and to such obtuser intellects the following explanation may be satisfactory. A disease is to be cured by exhibiting a medicine which has the power of producing in the patient a disease of the same nature with that from which he desires to be relieved. Two similar diseases cannot co-exist in the same system, nor in the same organ. The artificial drives out the original disease, and, having done its business, evaporates and leaves the patient restored to health.
It must be owned that there is in this doctrine something which is rather startling to the uninitiated. We had never before even dreamed that we could produce a given disease at our pleasure. Besides, if the doctrine were true, bark ought to produce the ague, and sulphur the itch; mineral acids should be the cause of profuse perspirations; and jalap (as it is given to relieve certain viscera) should occasion their oppression. Nor are these difficulties got rid of by the (so-called) facts which Hahnemann
*Curie, p. 20.
offers in illustration of his principle; such as that* belladonna produces the exact symptoms of hydrophobia; that Thomas de Mayence, Münch, Buchholz, and Neimicke cured that terrible disorder by the administration of this poison; and that Rademacher cured a fever with delirium and stertorous breathing in a single night by giving the patient wine. Indeed, it seems to us remarkable that Hahnemann should not have provided himself with some better examples in favour of the doctrine which he would inculcate than those which he has presented to us, believing, as we do, that there is no opinion as to the nature and treatment of diseases, however absurd, for which some kind of authority may not be found by any one who will condescend for that purpose to grope among the rubbish of medical literature.
However, it is not so much our wish to criticise the works of the homœopathic writers, as to furnish such an analysis and exposition of their doctrines as may render them in some degree intelligible to our readers, very few of whom have, we suspect, been at the pains of looking into these matters for themselves.
Having thus satisfied himself of the truth of the maxim 'revealed to him by the star of truth,' similia similibus curantur-and that it applies not only to physical, but also to moral ailments— (in proof of which last assertion Dr. Curie-p. 79-quotes the authority of Eloisa :
'O let me join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine')
Hahnemann commenced another investigation into the nature and origin of diseases. He classes them under the heads of acute diseases,' which may be solitary or epidemic; medical diseases; and chronic diseases. It is with respect to the latter that he has made the most notable discoveries. Every one of them may be traced to a chronic miasm, the worst of which seems to be the itch this vulgar ailment being the real source of scrofula, rickets, and epilepsy. But the most laborious part of Hahnemann's undertakings was a series of experiments which he instituted for the purpose of ascertaining the uses and operation of medicines. Here he acted on this very just and proper principle, that, if any one were to be poisoned in the course of these researches, it should be himself, his family, and his friends, § Franz, Hornburg, and Stapf, with their eyes open, and not his unsuspecting patients. These experiments, as we are told, were continued during a period of twenty years; and some notion may
*Organon, p. 73.
Principles of Homœopathy, pp. 119-121. Curie, Principles, &c., p. 104.
Ib., p. 79.
Curie, Practice of Homeopathy, p. 40.