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A Few words may be proper in explanation of the objects for which this book was written.
The forms which quackery assumes are endless; but the material out of which they are evolved is essentially the same in all ages and in all countries. There are certain medical errors which are common to man everywhere and in every condition. It is these which constitute the material of quackery, whether it appear among the savage or the civilized, the rude or the refined, the illiterate or the learned. One object of this book is to develop these fundamental errors, and to show the modus operandi by which the genius of imposture has produced from them the fantastic and ever-changing shapes of empiri. cism.* I notice particularly some of the specific forms of quackery which are now prevalent, not because they differ essentially from those which have preceded them, but because they have a present interest to the reader.
* It will be obvious to the reader that I use this word, wherever it appears, in its popular sense, and not in its professional one. I use it as synonymous with quackery.
One of the objects at which I aim is to expose to the public the fallacy of those sources of evidence, upon which they rely in estimating the comparative merits of physicians, and to show them what tests they have at command, which will not prove fallacious. The proper use of these tests would save the public from mistaking, as they now often do, the plausible pretensions of the superficial practitioner, and the charlatan, for the evi
dences of real skill and wisdom.
Another object will be to present the claims of the medical profession to the respect and the confidence of the community. As it now is, the profession stands in a somewhat false position before the public. The grounds upon which we ask their regard and trust are not generally understood. The confidence which is reposed in us is not as intelligent as it should be. It is unsettled and capricious. It is overweening at one time, and it is entirely withheld at another, and for the most frivolous
The inconsistencies of even the well informed on this subject are surprising. Many, who on some occasions confide implicitly in nothing but educated science, are found at other times submitting themselves and their families to the haphazard administrations of empiricism.
But while I attempt to establish the claims of the medical profession to the confidence of the people, and to defend it against the aspersions which are unjustly cast upon it, I endeavor to exhibit faithfully the abuses which exist in the profession itself. The quackery which is practised among medical men
is a much greater evil than that which is abroad in the community. I attack it therefore with an unsparing hand. In so doing I expose many of the tricks and manæuvres which are employed by those physicians, who, pursuing medicine as a trade instead of a profession, study the science of patient-getting to the neglect of the science of patient-curing. When the rules of an honorable professional intercourse shall come to be properly understood and appreciated by the public, one of the great sources of the success of quackery will be removed.
In exposing the errors and faults of the medical profession and of the public, while I have unflinchingly aimed at the truth I have endeavored to avoid a censorious spirit, and to give to human frailty all the tolerance that can properly be demanded. I trust the reader will therefore find, that, in the language of my motto, “ there are no wasps, there are no hornets here." That I have escaped all error myself I do not claim. Some points may be too strongly stated, and some provisionary and modifying considerations may be omitted. I ask of the reader a reasonable indulgence, but none which shall be inconsistent
with an honest and candid criticism.
In the practice of medicine there are some points upon which there should be a common understanding between the physician and the friends and attendants of the sick. From the want of such an understanding the purposes and plans of the practitioner are often interfered with, and sometimes
effectually thwarted. A considerable portion therefore of this work is devoted to an elucidation of the points referred to.
In the chapter on the uncertainty of medicine, and in other places, also, I point out the difficulties which are encountered in the study and practice of medicine. These difficulties demand of the physician the exercise of higher and more cultivated powers, than are needed for the successful prosecution of most other studies and pursuits. I therefore make it a principal object to urge, by every consideration, the importance of a well-educated medical profession. Every man has a personal interest in maintaining the barriers by which the organizations of the profession undertake to protect the community from the evils, which they would suffer from ignorance and imposture, if these barriers were destroyed. It is especially for the advantage of the people, and not, as is commonly supposed, of physicians, that there should be a proper standard of medical
My first chapter, on the uncertainty of medicine, may perhaps be considered by some as too strictly professional for the common reader. I ask for it, however, a careful perusal. I have endeavored to strip the subject of all technicalities, and a full understanding of the views there presented is necessary to a proper appreciation of the considerations contained in some of the succeeding chapters.
I write in part for the profession, and in part for the community at large. I ask both to look candidly at the views
which I present of their mutual duties, relations, and