Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/172

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nent naturalist and evolutionist, Mr. Crooke, the celebrated physicist, and Pasteur, the scientist, are ardent spiritualists, and believe that diseases may be cured by means of spiritualism. Disraeli-was a homœopathist; Sir Robert Walpole patronized a quack medicine, said to dissolve the stone; Lord Bolingbroke died from the effects of a quack cancer-remedy; and I could enumerate many more men of equal talents who were similiarly affected with this mental obliquity.

Probably the greatest supporters of quacks and quackeries, next to the fair sex, are ministers of religion; hardly an advertisement of a quack-remedy can be read without coming across testimonials from them. They are generally the first to support any new form of charlatanism. In the country parts, especially, while administering to diseased souls they love to essay the efficacies of new cure-alls on diseased bodies. This weakness may be attributed to their well-known benevolence, and desire to do good to their fellow-men.

If anybody is bold and unblushing enough to assert that he has a remedy which cures every disease, and reiterates it often and loudly enough, he is sure to have a following of believers, among whom will be found men of ability and position. Human credulity is too strong to resist the frequent and positive assertions of the quack. Persons who are not trained in scientific methods of thought, and who know nothing about physiology, even if in the every-day affairs of life they are most clear-headed, are perfectly incompetent to form just opinions on medical matters.

The arguments in favor of the different forms of quackery are always the same. They say, "I was ill, I took a certain remedy or went through a certain form of treatment, and got well." This argument is irresistible, and "therefore quackery is immortal." Now, nine out of ten, nay, I venture to say nineteen out of twenty people, suffering from the ordinary acute diseases, if left to nature, get well. In every case of illness a quack administers remedies, and, of course, if the patient recovers, his recovery is attributed to the remedy; consequently the proportion of cures is large, and the number grows in the telling. In olden times, when diseases were treated by charms, fastings, prayers, and ceremonies, many of the physicians and priests, not understanding the power of nature, thought themselves favored with supernatural assistance. The quack of to-day, however, thoroughly understands what an able partner Dr. Nature is. If you ask a believer in some form of quackery the modus operandi of the drug or application, he tells you that there are many mysteries in nature which it is impossible to understand. If you attribute the effect to imagination, he answers that the remedy is quite as efficacious administered to young children and brute beasts, but, as Dr. Haygarth observes, "In these cases it is not the patient, but the observer, who is deceived by his own imagination."

Now, when any remedy has to be tested as being useful in a