Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/174

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when a patient consults him he terrifies him into believing he has some serious disease which only his medicine can cure. This is a very old form of quackery. Robert Pitt, in a book called "The Crafts and Frauds of Physic exposed," published in London in 1703, says, "A quack is a practitioner who takes no fee in specie, but makes the deluded patient pay very extravagant fees by the intolerable prices he puts on all cheap medicines, and by passing upon him very many more doses than the disease requires or the constitution can bear."

That this, the last quarter of our nineteenth century of progress and boasted enlightenment, is as rich in credulity and superstition as any of the preceding ones, is proved by the fact that thousands yearly visit shrines and sacred springs, if Catholics, and attend "faith conventions," if Protestants, to be cured of bodily ailments. Not long since one of England's proudest nobles traveled on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the hopes that Notre Dame de Lourdes would make his only son, who is a deaf-mute, hear and speak. Every day in our own immediate neighborhood, hundreds and thousands of the maimed and the blind make pilgrimages to the sacred spring of Ste. Anne de Beaupré and are miraculously healed—have they not a mountain of crutches bearing witness to the fact? Lately in this city (Montreal), a noted female quack has made the blind to see and the lame to walk—at least I have been told so by eye-witnesses—and in consequence has attracted crowds of infatuated simpletons, who could not hand in their dollars fast enough to secure a bottle of her wonderful nostrum. The priests of a neighboring city, jealous of poaching on their own grounds, denounced her as a charlatan, and told the afflicted that, instead of being duped by this unholy woman, they should make a pilgrimage to Ste. Anne de Beaupré and be healed!

The success of this mode of treatment in hysterical cases is being recognized in France by physicians: they now, when they have an hysterical patient of a devout frame of mind, on whom they have exercised their skill in vain, as a dernier ressort advise that a visit should be made to the shrine of Notre Dame de Lourdes. Thus imagination often works a cure where medicine fails. These cures, as I said above, only take place when the disease is one of the imagination.

Why is quackery so much more prevalent in medicine than in any other science? Because the medical quack attributes to himself what is due to Nature. Nature can not build a railway, but she can very often cure disease. A witty Frenchman has said that medicine amuses the patient while Nature cures the disease.

Is there ever any chance of quackery becoming extinct? I fear not as long as human nature exists in its present condition. Still, no doubt, there is a probability of the number of believers in quackery being diminished by a greater diffusion of philosophical habits of thought and a more general knowledge of physiology. A writer many years ago, in one of the London medical papers, said: "The final