just the opposite plan successful—to wit, eat only and as often as hunger prompts, but always abstemiously, on the principle that a weak stomach, like a weak body, can not manage one big load so readily as several small ones. Enough to nourish the body twenty-four hours is a pretty big meal. For the weak, divide the task to be accomplished, if a break-down by a supreme effort is undesirable.
The recommendation to the dyspeptic to adopt the habits of savages and ophidians is, to say the least, a display of supercilious conceit over Dame Nature, whom our writer professes so much to admire, when she so benignantly takes charge of the matter, saying, when athirst, water is needed; when we hunger, that food is. If men and women would only follow her monitions in this matter, and cease to drink when thirst is satisfied, cease to eat when hunger is, yielding not to the seductions of a menu—each course made more and more appetizing, so as to tempt a satiated appetite to commit the grossest excesses—half the dyspepsia in the land would disappear.
|J. R. Black.|
|Newark, Ohio, June 25, 1883.|
The friends of science owe you a vote of thanks for the unabridged publication of the foregoing epistle. Whether the orthodox school of therapeutics has much reason to thank Dr. Black for undertaking its defense, your readers may be inclined to doubt, but his letter is an encouraging sign of the times. As an attempt to suppress the propaganda of unorthodox tenets, it marks the ascendency of the third or controversial sophistry phase of argumentation. The primitive method was rude, though it had sometimes the advantage of practical conclusiveness. In the winter of 1682 the Spanish missionaries on the Rio Zelades in Yucatan reported a revival of irreligious tendencies among the aborigines of the district. Three weeks after, Colonel Perez Garcia invaded the diocese with a brigade of trained mastiffs. The natives had betrayed symptoms of skepticism, but the arrival of the four-legged dogmatists at once solved all doubts. The dangers of unbelief could no longer be questioned. The local Ingersolls were treed by hundreds, and the fervor of the revival almost surpassed the hopes of the propagandists. The scoffers were overtaken by the Nemesis of Faith, fugitives were recaptured and dragged back, breechless and howling; in short, to use an expression of the Rev. Joseph Cook's, there was "not a fig leaf left to hide the shame of historical skepticism."
In the course of time the Garcia system was superseded by the personal-abuse method: "Professor X—— pretends to question the fact that Philip II possessed a duplicate skeleton of St. Laurentius. The professor's arguments are specious and might be worth refuting, if it were not well known that three years ago he married the daughter of a horse-farrier so notoriously addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages that at the present moment he is probably wallowing behind his stable in a state of scandalous intoxication." That settled it.
The misrepresentation plea, I hold, is a decided improvement upon the aforesaid methods. Like boomerangs, sophisms are crooked weapons, but they are occasionally apt to recoil in an unexpected manner, and may thus serve the cause of truth in spite of their constructor. Dr. J. R. Black betrays an intermittent tendency to relapse into the secondary system, but, on the whole, contents himself with the attempt to refute my tenets by misconstruing my arguments. He charges me with an habitual neglect of the duty "to unfold and adhere strictly to truth," and supports his indictment by the following specifications: He claims that, in repudiating the alleged hereditary transmission of dyspepsia, I disregard an indisputable fact, because "every careful and wide observing physician" knows that in the children of some families a tendency to indigestion manifests itself almost from the moment of birth. Does our careful and wideo bserving correspondent propose to deny that from the moment of birth millions of infants are both overfed and drug-poisoned? That a predisposition to various diseases may exist in the form of a latent tendency, I have often admitted; the point at issue is, whether such tendencies ever manifest themselves in spite of an hygienic regimen, and whether dietetic abuses, aggravated by emetics, cathartics, and paregoric, ever fail to accelerate their development. The monstrous death-rate of children in the institutes managed on the plan of Dr. Black's orthodox colleagues can no longer be explained by such convenient excuses as the fatality of an inherited disposition.
My predilection for non-medicinal remedies Dr. Black attributes to the strength of my physical and the debility of my mental constitution, and betrays an uncharitable disposition to aggravate the sorrows of my predicament by grudging me the use of soap and water. The voluntary renunciation of that cosmetic, he intimates, would prove at least my practical consistency. It is a source of surprise that our careful and wide-observing scientist has not yet learned to avoid the vulgar fallacy of confounding the artificial with the unnatural. Between the legitimate methods of assisting, imitating, and developing the tendencies of Nature and the audacious attempt to counteract her operations,