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It has been the subject of common remark, that no work upon the mutual duties, relations, and interests of the medical profession and the community has hitherto appeared in England, and considering the many able men capable of performing this task, and whose opinions and experience in such matters would carry weight and add importance to this interesting subject, it certainly is matter of surprise, and the more so, when we reflect that it is impossible for the public to form a just estimate of the character of the profession, unless they are made acquainted with these duties and interests.
I have found the task of editing the following Work somewhat difficult, from the fact of the Author having treated all the subjects so voluminously and so ably, that little has been left me to add. I have been compelled to omit much that he has written—in some cases whole chapters, in order to adapt it to the English taste, and the state of the medical profession as now existing. To do so without detracting from the merit of the original, at the same time to retain all that is valuable and to the purpose, has cost me some amount of labour.
The title of the work is somewhat objectionable, as not conveying to the reader an adequate idea of its contents. I have not felt myself justified in altering it; and had I felt inclined, I possibly should have encountered the same difficulty which must have presented itself to our Author. It has well been remarked by Burke, “That there is a kind of physiognomy in the title of books no less than in the faces of men, by which a skilful observer will as well know what to expect from the one as the other.” In the majority of instances this quotation is doubtless applicable. In the present instance, although our readers may disapprove of the physiognomy, I trust they will examine the contents.
Our Author, in his Preface, states :
“ That 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 solved 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 civilized, the rude or the refined, the illiterate or the learned. One object of this book is to develope these fundamental errors, and to show the modus operandi by which the genius of imposture has produced from them the fantastic and everchanging shapes of empiricism. 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. One of the objects at which I aim is to expose to the public the fallacies 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 evidences of real skill and wisdom.
“Another object will be to present the claims of the medical profession to the respect and 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 reasons. The inconsistencies of the well-informed on this subject are surprising. Many, who on some occasions confide implicitly in anything but educated science, are found at other times submitting themselves and their families to the haphazard administration 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 endeavour faithfully to exhibit 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 among the community. I attack it, therefore, with an unsparing hand. In so doing, I expose many of the tricks and maneuvres 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 honourable 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 endea