Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/164

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So what signifies learning, or going to school,
When woman can do without reason or rule?"

England in the eighteenth century has been truly named the "Paradise of Quacks." Our ancestors were assuredly a nostrum-loving lot, from the King to the peasant. Truly they must have thought with the prophet, "The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them" (Ecclesiasticus xxxviii, 4). Perhaps the most remarkable of unblushing quacks who flourished toward the end of the eighteenth century was Dr. Graham, a graduate of Edinburgh, and a fellow-student of Sir James Mackintosh. He introduced Mesmerism into England, and was nearly as successful as his master. In 1780 he went to London and occupied a magnificent mansion, which he designated the "Temple of Health and Hymen." It was gorgeously furnished, and a fortune was spent on the decorations. The spacious rooms were adorned with marble statues, stands of armor, plates of burnished steel, and superbly lighted with wax-candles; sweet strains of distant music were continually floating through the air, and delicious perfumes were always burning in swinging censers; at the door were stationed two gigantic porters, clad in showy liveries covered with gold lace. In this "Enchanting Elysian Palace" Dr. Graham delivered his lectures on health and procreation at two guineas a head, and he did not want for hearers. In his séances he was assisted by a beautiful woman, whom he called Vestina, the rosy goddess of health—she who afterward became Lady Hamilton, the favorite of Nelson. In the daytime he was assisted in his electrical experiments by Dr. Mitford, the father of the celebrated authoress. In this temple was a celestial bed standing on glass legs and ornamented with the richest hangings; he pretended that childless married pairs who slept in this bed would be certain to have heirs. The price was £100 a night, and many persons of high rank eagerly accepted the terms. He then advertised an elixir of life, which, it is said, he sold to more than one noble simpleton for £1,000. One mode of treatment he recommended for prolonging life was the frequent use of mud-baths. Soon, from his religious extravagances, Graham became unpopular, and, retiring from public life, he died poor in the neighborhood of Glasgow.

A species of quackery called "Perkinism," which made a stir in the world in the beginning of the present century, I must now shortly describe, for, among the delusions which have succeeded in imposing on men of education and position, it is pre-eminent. It orignated in America, and to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes I am indebted for most of my information on the subject. Dr. Elisha Perkins was born in Connecticut, in 1740; he practiced with success for many years, but, being inspired by the recent discoveries of Galvani, he conceived the idea that metallic substances applied in a certain manner might remove disease. In 1796 he gave to the world his metallic "Tractors." These consisted "of two pieces of metal, one iron and one brass, about three