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Art. V. - Discoveries in the Science and Art of Healing, together with
the Evidence upon which the Author claims the Confidence of the Country. By John St. John Long, Esq., M. R. S. L. 8vo. pp. 111.
London : Burgess and Hill. 1830. St. John Long's Discoveries ! Quis Novus hic hospes ? Is it a Columbus that is revived in our day, or merely a Bruce? Is he a Parry or a Clapperton ? Of what quality are the glorious spoils which he has brought home to deposit in the temple of Science ? What manner of adventurous Daniel is it that has come to judg. ment amongst us? Has he really turned up a continent, or but added an ocean to the map of the earth ; or is it of some antient stream that he has succeeded in tracing the undoubted pedigree?
To no such material pursuits has the genius of St. John Long been devoted; he aims at higher game: the noblest work of nature, the human frame, has been the worthy subject of his inquisitive research. “Awake my St. John,” exclaimed his tutelary genius, in a quotation from an immortal bard, and he was quickly“ up and doing,” in conformity with the heart-stirring injunction.
• Awake my St. John, leave all meaner things
A mighty maze, but not without a plan.' Need we say who this worthy is? In sober truth, he is a Curemonger, the quack-regnant of his day, infinitely above Messrs. Jordan, and Dr. Eady too, as well as Mr. Speed of the Seven Dials, member of the College of Surgeons, and the Lady in Long Acre, who cures the worms. Van Butchell is not able to hold a candle to our St. John, nor would old Solomon of Gilead be fit to be his link-boy. The mansion of St. John stands in the patrician precincts of Harley-street; a pretty distinction for a man with whom it was once a toss up, whether or not he should remain, for the more dignified part of his life, in the occupation of extracting potatoes from the bowels of the earth, in the suburbs of his native town of Doneraile, which curious denomination, by the bye, Kelly, the Irish bard, has preserved in his immortal rhymes, as being a most suitable colleague for the rare but not less musical title of “ Grauna waile.' În short this St. John Long represents a long line of national functionaries, which has maintained itself in unbroken series from the remotest antiquity to the present hour. He is the only depository of the genuine medical secret; he holds the sceptre over the empire of disease, and having the strength of a giant to crush all manner of distempers, he yet uses not that strength as a giant, for his remedies are of the gentlest character; he is indebted to no mortal communication for the mystery that reposes in his breast; he is a ready-formed and dried Esculapius, a
doctor by intuition. Like William Salmon of ancient days, he is, in all humility,“ an ordinary man, and of no university;" or, like Paracelsus, peradventure he may cure incurable disorders, may promise to disclose the secret of alchemy, and afterwards expire a beggar in a hospital, or may pretend to possess the grand power of longevity and die at the premature age of thirty-seven. He is, however, an inevitable healer, a very mdecin malgre lui-a man, irresistibly fated, as the wandering Jew once was, and bound, during his pilgrimage on earth, to the uninterrupted weeding of the garden of health. We think we hear him exclaim, from the top of a temporary hustings beneath one of the piazzas in Covent Garden, with old Partridge, the infallible astronomer,
“Gentlemen—I was born with a natural antipathy to all diseases whatever, as some people are to cheese and onions. I hate diseases, and diseases hate me; by the same token they fly from my presence, as 'twas observed in the last great plague, that ihe dogs in London ran away from the great City dog-killer. Neither can I blame them for it, for I make it my constant business to destroy them, root and branch, wherever I meel them. But, gentlemen, don't misunderstand me; though I kill the disease, I do the man no harm—like lightning that melts the sword and never injures the scabbard."
Old Baynard, the scourge of quacks in his day, has given, in his peculiar style, one of the characteristic marks of this order of persons. “He is the forward, bold, positive, Corinthian thruster on; swoln with the poison of his own opinion as if he were the acmé and top branch of the profession, and right or wrong, go on; if for want of aim of steady hand, he should hit the wrong mark, and kill the patient instead of the disease, it should no more trouble him than if he had fired at a flock of geese.”
There is nothing in our St. John to distinguish him from his predecessors. He has yielded, indeed, to the taste of the times, in not putting up the sign of the golden ball; he has hoisted no spirally painted pole over his door; we doubt even if he so much as powders the collar of his coat. But then there is the contour of the man continually conversant with the grand and mysterious processes of nature; there is the appalling gloom of the brow, the searching electricity of the eye, the rapidity and precision with which an estimate is formed of the mischievous force of the disease with which the doctor has to contend. He will find out a fever as quickly as a Bow-street officer used to detect a thief; he knows the haunts of every distemper in the body, he pursues them from thorax to abdomen, and can as easily gripe them in the auger-hole of a lacteal, as he can in the high road of the large intestines. It is not always that a cure-monger aspires to the credit of an author. There are precedents, however, of book-making amongst the order. Salmon, of whom we have already spoken, made the press groan with his unceasing labours. These invaluable tomes he dedicated to kings and queens, and others of his royal cotemporaries. St.
John, in imitation of so great an example, puts forth his modest volume also, but is contented with the humbler patronage of a baronet, to whom he inscribes it. In the contents of this curious piece of literature we shall be able to trace numerous points of identity between St. John and the chief quacks who went before him. The most striking deserves to be first attended to.
• The object of this work is to lay before the Public the successful results of my researches on some of the more important diseases of the human frame, particularly in the cure of consumption and mania, and prevention of the fatal consequences of small-pox, measles, and hoopingcough, or other analogous inflammable disorders, to which I shall subjoin my reasons for departing from the established rules of medical practice.
* To point out a new and heretofore unassigned origin for various deviations from the standard of health, whether hereditary or contracted, and to show that these depend on a certain acrid matter or fluid pervading the system while in a state of disease.'—p. 1.
The theory is still further explained in the following passage, with which the author commences what he calls his . Observations on the Origin of Consumption, and other Diseases :'
If by removing the acrid matter and inflamed qualities of the body, so that when the case is far advanced a substance or liquid so withdrawn be visible, and that, by such means, the patient be freed from every symptom of disease, it must follow, that cure can be best performed by the removal of such acrimonious matter; and as I find every class of disease yielding to this mode of treatment, I cannot but esteem it as superior to all others.
• This acrid matter is inherent in the human frame, and is first apparent under the form of small-pox and measles, &c. The susceptibility of these diseases originates with man's existence, and according to circumstances is operated on, and brought into action at different ages. But although many persons may altogether escape exhibiting the usual external symptoms, yet the peccant substance is more or less in the system. In those cases, a portion of the acrid matter must have exuded from the system, still leaving a sufficient quantity to operate in future time, and under a new form. I have frequently taken acrid matter from the skin of patients, who complained of no disease of the lungs; and here I beg leave to differ from Dr. Jenner in his theory, namely, that it is good to counteract a disease by the inoculation of another less formidable ; for he literally multiplies ailments ; because the original acrid matter still exists, notwithstanding it does not make its appearance.
Now under these circumstances I contend, that the virulence of both these diseases remains in the system, and frequently terminates in consumption, scrofula, fever, &c.
In the earliest age I remove this acrid matter by the most gentle means; I THEREFORE PREVENT the occurrence of measles, small-pox, hooping-cough, consumption, and the more desperate descriptions of fever, and avoid leaving any mark upon the skin, for the acrid matter exudes from the body in the form of perspiration,'-pp. 12–14.
Here we see the great characteristic of the Quack most strikingly
developed; the miracle of his multitudinous cures being the work of one omnipotent remedy. Gout and consumption ; diarrhea and the mumps ; scrofula and the heart-ache, all retire at the bidding of the grand operator, when he commands the acrid humour to come forth. We have had the Balm of Gilead, the metallic tractors, the pleasing influence of animal magnetism, in turns, like thorough servants, performing the duties of a variety of functionaries at the same moment. This has been the case from time immemorial. The quacks have had but one idea each ; and one remedy per doctor, is as much as nature can, possibly, in her economy, permit. Baynard, whom we again quote with pleasure, tells us, that the empirics of his day, with their mono-remedy each man, reminded
« Of a whimsical fellow, that so doated on buff, that they called him Captain Buff; for nothing could please him but buff; buff-shirt, band, beaver, boots, &c. all buff ; and dwelt in a buff-budget, like Diogenes in his tub; and could eat nothing but tripe, because it looked like buff; and I doubt we have too many of these Buff Captains, in the now prostitute and deyenerate profession of physic. One for example, Dr. Stewtoad, sets up for miracle and mystery, and always makes honey out of a dog's rectum ; this martyrs more toads, than popery has beretics, and crams his patients with bufo, instead of beef : (for a toad is as innocent as a fish,) though the Pulvis Ethiopicus, as they call it, has no more virtue in it than the powder of pickled herring ; and yet these Sir Positives will be no more stirred than a mill-stone ; and in consultation, they are always moved with a lever ; they are too heavy and unwieldy, to be stirred from their own opinions.”—pp. 256, 257.
To advert, however, to the logical powers of our author, as they are displayed in the passage last cited from his work, let us note what he says in the first paragraph of this quotation. If,' observes St. John Long, by removing the acrid matter, the patient be freed from every symptom of disease, it must follow, that cure can be best performed by the removal of such acrid matter. There never was a more irresistible argument than this ; and if our St. John only contrives to keep exclusively to such logical weapons as these, we promise that few will be disposed to encounter him in the field of reasoning. What can be more clear and conclusive than the point made by him; if by the administration of some two pounds of nicely dressed beef, in which the relative quantities of fat and lean are poised with exquisite science, the appetite of a hungry man is best satisfied ; why, it follows, that a hungry man's appetite is best satisfied by a couple of pounds of unexceptionable beef! Our author, with an unmerciful incivility towards the dead, proclaims his dissent from a supposed theory of Dr. Jenner's, to whom he imputes the opinion, that it is good to counteract a disease by the inoculation of another less formidable,' and then our author contends that the virulence of both these diseases-to wit, small-pox and cow.pox-remains in the system, notwithstanding. What does the venerable St. John, may we ask, mean by counteracting one disease by another? Jenner never imagined such a project; he certainly proposed to supersede small-pox, by inoculation for cow-pox, being, for some reason or another, of opinion, that by pre-occupying the human constitution with the innocuous poison of the first, he rendered it invulnerable to the mischievous, and often fatal attacks of the latter. If by introducing cow-pox then, small-pox be effectually excluded from the body, how is it that Jenner can be said to multiply ailments, and how can the virulence of that disorder, which never affected the system at all, be stated to remain in it? These, however, are collateral considerations. The substantial point for attention is Mr. Long's system, which consists in neither more nor less than a removal of the acrid matter, which is the cause, remote and immediate, of most, if not of all distempers. Every class of disease, he says, yields to this treatment; he can effect the removal of this troublesome inmate of the human frame in the earliest age, and thus make it proof for all time to come against the invasion of measles, consumption, &c. &c. Why, dipping in the river Styx was a jest compared with this. When Thetis plunged her illustrious son into the salutary waters, which rendered his body impenetrable to all human weapons, a vulnerable heel was still left, as a resource to the enemies of Achilles. The proprietor of the modern Insurance against Sickness, is far more copious in his powers of protection ; by his cunning, he has discovered, that disease from without can never successfully assault the constitution, unless it be seconded by a treacherous confederate from within ; dislodge the disguised foe from the citadel, exclaims St. John, and you may bid defiance to the open enemy.
We have, then, this mighty conqueror of distempers irrevocably committed
upon the nature of his system. The existence of acrid matter is the cause of disease-its removal is the only remedy. How, then, are we to reconcile such statements as the following, with this theory, which is so often and unequivocally repeated by Mr. Long?
• When the absorbent vessels on the inner surface of the intestines perform their functions imperfectly, or the mesenteric glands become obstructed, the nutritious parts of the food are no longer conveyed into the system, but pass off by other channels; and fever, general irritation, and emaciation of the body supervene. The lungs, now deprived of their usual healthy nourishment, suffer in their structural arrangement, and inflammation and tabercles follow. There is, however, strong reason to suppose that tubercles exist at a very early period of life, especially in persons having a predisposition to consumption, and that the evolution and growth of them proceed from the causes just now assigned.'—p. 15.
Here there is not a word about acrid matter, being the cause of the disease pointed out. Is the failure of the mesenteric glands the result of the presence of acrid matter, or is it wholly independent of this mischievous humour ? This is a point to which we