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“They shall have mysteries—aye precious stuff
SUPERSTITION, says ROBERTSON, the celebrated historian of America, • was originally engrafted on medicine, not on religion. However this may be, no one conversant with
poor human nature,' can be unapprized of the close companionship which has always subsisted between them. In savage life, a belief in the healing efficacy of charms and incantations, is so universal, as to leave no doubt, that a principle of superstition is inherent in the human mind. It belongs, therefore, to man in every situation; though in civilized life its manifestations are comparatively few and feeble, for it is the tendenсу of all good education to limit its operations. Hence the most enlightened minds, display least propensity for the marvellous; but how can the intellect of a whole nation be cultivated on all subjects? This was never yet done, and we are sorry to add, never can be done. In despite of every exertion to illuminate the mass, many dark and impenetrable spots will remain; so that society, in its best composition, must continue to display enough of credulity to render it ridiculous. From the depths of ignorance, with its overshadowing superstitions, when the hopes of the sick rest upon spells and coscinomancy, the first step taken, is to blend with these super
. natural, a variety of natural means, resting the efficacy of the latter, on the occult influence of the former. The next ad
vance, leaves the mummeries of the sorcerer behind; but clings to amulets, seventh-sons, ‘yarb-doctors,' and vagabonds. This brings us to our own age-than which, with all our boasted elevation in learning and philosophy, no other has ever presented a greater variety of barefaced and abominable quackeries. To eradicate them would be more difficult, than to root out the sour dock and Canada thistle of our fields, wbile the soil continues to favour their reproduction. Planted in the ignorance of the multitude, warmed by its credulity, and cherished by their artful and unblushing authors, these impostures are fixed upon us, as the poison oak' encircles the trunk of the noble tree, whose name it has prostituted. True it is, they are not always the same. The stupidest intellect at last comes to perceive their absurdity, and throws them off; but the impostors—
New edge their dulness and new bronze their face,'
and speedily invent fresh draughts for the gaping and thirsty populace.
When one of these quackeries is inoculated into a community, nothing can arrest its spread, or limit its duration. Every dog has its day, and so has every nostrum. The gulping is universal; not extending, it is true, to every individual, but to all classes. The propensity to be cheated is not confined to men or women, the old or young, the poor or rich, the unlearned, or (we are sorry to add,) the learned; but displays its workings in the weak-minded and credulous of all. Like the small pox it prevails till all the susceptible are infected, and have gone through the disease. A moment of common sense may, perhaps, succeed to the period of suffering; as natural fools have sometimes spoken well from the shock of a violent blow. The desire to be cheated, however, returns apace; but not earlier than the desire to cheat
“ Then thick as locusts dark’ning all the ground,
A new excitement now springs up. A blue light, such as the superstitious see rising from the church yard, spreads over the people, and reveals the ecstacy of every vacant and credulous countenance. Now is the time for dyspeptics and asthmaticks and hypochondriacks. Give them but a single draught. O how delightfal! Perchance a ladle full from the chaldron of Macbeth; but no matter. Administered by wizzard hands it can do no harm. Down with the profession, vive la Charlatanerie. The world has been long enough duped by lawyers, and priests, and doctors. Let us rid ourselves of the last of them, if no more. If not the greatest impostors, they cheat us out of most money, and kill us to boot.—They bleed us to fainting, blister is to wincing, stupefy us with opium, vomit us with tartar instead of lobelia, salivate us with mercury, in place of the “panacea, or the “stone mason's balsam,' and, purge off with calomel all kinds of phlegm, but that which encumbers our brain! Let no one be over nice. The end sometimes justifies the means. Suffering humanity cries aloud, and must be rescued from the keeping of science and skill and professional charity. The world has been in error four thousand years; and the path of medicine may be followed back by the carcasses of its victims. Doctor Thomson, and doctor Swaim, and doctor Rafinesqúe have received new "gifts,' and are ready to distribute them. Push aside the “riglar’ Doctors !-Conceal all their cures, and publish all their failures! Go among their patients, and labour to overthrow a long established confidence! Brand them with ignorance of the human system! Stigmatize them with cruelty! Denounce them as mercenary! and Libel them as infamous! Break down the aristocracy of learning and science: give the people their rights: let the drunken and lazy among the tailors, and carpenters, and lawyers, and coblers, and clergy, and saddlers, and ostlers, now rise to the summit level, and go forth as ministering angels! Become their patrons, and snuff up in turn the steams of their incense: sustain them against the professed Doctors: lecture them into notoriety: mould them into form as the bear licks her shapeless pups into beauty: turn jackals and procurers lest they might want
business: stand responsible for their success: newspaper abroad their pretended cures; and handbill away the proofs of their murders! This being done
“ The dawn will break upon us, and bright day shall go forth and shine; when we may hope to live with the dear objects of our love, until ripe and full of years, we shall be gathered to our fathers."
Robinson's Lect. ix.
But we must withdraw from the view of these ravishing prospects, to examine some of the objects which lie in the foreground of the picture.
We need not tell our readers, that the mountebanks who are to bring about the aforesaid millennium generally work on patent methods. This is indispensable to success—both in curing the sick, and getting the sick willing to be cured. It is edi. fying to see, how much of dignity and mystery are impressed on the vilest or the vapidest compound, by the great seal of state! Oh! to take medicine ‘by authority, and that, too, of the President, who would recommend nothing that he had not tried on bimself, and found useful for the people. He is the people's friend. He is a good doctor (not from book-larnin') but common sense; he once made a great speech in Congress, and that shows that he is a great doctor! before that he was a great lawyer, and of course is a great doctor! be fought a great battle, and is therefore a great doctor! It is a crafty error of the 'riglar' doctors, that a man should study their books to know how to cure diseases; for this knowledge, like
reading and writing, comes by natur.' Let us stick then to the patents—they are genuine, and contain no marcury.' ' Such is the fanaticism inspired in the multitude by the diplomas issued by the office at Washington! To trace out all its consequences, would carry us to the charnel house, which at the present moment, we do not feel inclined to enter. But what will the fanatics think, when we tell them, that neither the president, nor the secretary, nor even good old Dr. Thornton himself, ever ventured to swallow one of these precious boluses or pills, the panacea, catholicon,' or 'pulmel;' óskunk cabbage, "number 6,' “clover heads,' or cayenne'