صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

his science. The exhibitions which have maintained the fame of medical skill have been those of opium, sulphur, and mercury: how much they have contributed to preserve life where it would otherwise have been sacrificed, shall be left to those whose practical experience better qualifies them to decide the point; but I have heard it confidently asserted that the bills of mortality in a given population, I speak of that of Spain and Portugal for example, have been nearly the same under the bleeding system which once prevailed so extensively in Europe, as they now are under a comparative abolition of that innocent practice. I was thus proceeding to examine how far what are called improvements in medicine had substantially contributed to the prolongation of life, when the postman rapped at my door with a letter from a country cousin of mine, of whom I had little idea that she ever turned her thoughts to these serious subjects. The reader will, I trust, have some indulgence for an unpractised pen, and under that impression, I venture to give my fair friend's composition just as it came to my hands.

[ocr errors]

DEAR COUSIN,

“As you reside in London, I will make no apology for giving you the trouble of delivering the inclosed letter to some members of the learned bodies to whom it is addressed ; and if a satisfactory answer can be obtained, pray lose no time in forwarding

it to

“ Your's,” &c.

To the learned Members of the College of Physicians, the
College of Surgeons, and Apothecaries of Great Britain.

" GENTLEMEN,

Having read with some attention Dr. Lambe's works on Constitutional Diseases and on Cancer, I candidly confess that the novelty of his theory, unsupported by a sufficient number of successful cases, puzzled my poor understanding.' Feeling, however, favorably disposed towards a system so simple, and apparently so innocent, I looked with considerable anxiety for a solution of my doubts to your respectable body, whose opinions on the subject I am at length happy to find pretty widely circulated. You will readily believe that the veneration, I may almost

! With due deference to my pleasant relation under Dover Cliff, I conceive that Dr. Lambe's success in arresting the progress of cancer, as detailed in the cases which he has given to the public, was such as to impress every understanding.

say the prejudice, which prevails in favor of your learning and devotion to the public weal even when opposed to your interests, could not fail to influence my judgment in an appeal to your’s. Imagine then the dilemma in which I was placed on recalling to mind the opposition which inoculation for the small pox received about a century ago, and also that which vaccination has encountered during the last ten years, not only from the unlettered part of the community, but from some respected names on your lists. Uuwilling to attribute this opposition to any other motive than a love of truth, I was compelled to suspect the soundness of your judgment; for inoculation, after severe struggles, conquered all its adversaries, and vaccination was unfortunately supported by thousands of successful experiments, and eagerly adopted on the continent of Europe, while it was still controverted here.

“ Unable to solve my difficulties through the assistance of your learned colleges, and being myself wholly ignorant of medicine, I enquired whether cancer was generally thought a fatal disease; or whether any mode of cure had hitherto been discovered ? I was answered that there had not. I then asked whether any cancerpatients in the hospitals had been treated by the faculty on Dr. Lambe's system ? Another negative confirmed my surprise. Bewildered in my inquiries, I sought in vain for a justification of the inveterate hostility, contempt, and ridicule, both written and verbal, with which Dr. Lambe's theory has been assailed. Is there a suspicion, said I, that pure water can add to the catalogue of our diseases? Or can a vegetable diet, which has carried so many men to an age exceeding a century, be dreaded as having a tendency to curtail our existence? In this embarrassment, an evil spirit approached my ear,' and whispered these unwelcome words. Vain mortal! dismiss your doubts: the faculty neither wish to kill nor cure. The diseases, the ignorance, the prejudices of the mass, are essential to their prosperity; and woe to him who should attempt to dispel either. He shall suffer a permanent crucifixion, if his philosophy place him not beyond the reach of their vengeance. As reasonably might you expect a modern lawyer to imitate the immortal Sir Thomas More, and dissuade his client from entering into a chancery-suit; or a nobleman to strip himself of his trappings, and descend to the condition of a peasant, as a sane physician' to become an honest man.'

“Awakened from a dream in which I had at least the consola

[ocr errors]

1

Right, right, my good cousin! He knows perfectly well, when he advises his luxurious patient not to live too low, the complacency with which his prescription is received ; and that to divulge the secret and become a propagator of truth, might cost him his carriage, his wines, his abundant table, and his liveried servants.

tion of believing that the physicians were as much the guardians of our health, as the lawyers of our property, or the priests of our souls, I must now, gentlemen, solicit your attention to the most obstinate of all maladies, of which I live the victim, a want of faith.

« A FEMALE Sceptic." Dover Cliff, January 6, 1811.

It has been often said of vegetable diet, that it is not so strengthening as animal food, and I will readily grant that the latter imparts a temporary increase of strength : so likewise does the rage of a madman, though his is perhaps the highest state of diseased action; but that vigor and energy which are the prelude to ulterior mischief, had better never have existed. The man whom Sir Edward Berry prevailed upon to live on partridges alone, and who was obliged after the first week to desist on account of the appearance of symptoms of putrefaction, might probably during that week, in which he was approaching fast towards death, have been conscious of an accession of strength. But let me ask, are not the lower orders of Irish, who live on potatoes' and buttermiik, as strong as any race of men in Europe? They are vigorous even to a proverb. If they are not entirely as long-lived or as healthy as they might be, which is I suppose the fact, it is because they neither abstain from spirits nor common water; and even with these disadvantages, if a man remarkable for the largeness of his limbs be exhibited in London, it is ten to one that he comes from the sister kingdom. We find in Ulloa’s book on South America that men may be abundantly sustained on vegetables. He tells us that the instances are common on that continent, of persons in good health at a hundred years of age, and not rare, at a hundred and thirty or forty. The habits of the Spaniards are very different from our Those who have penetrated into Spain have probably witnessed to what a distance a Spanish attendant will accompany on foot a traveller's mule or carriage ; not less than forty or fifty miles a day, raw onions and bread being his only fare. This observation is offered with that view to modera

own.

In the “ Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery by Lieut. James Grant," published in 1803, I meet with the following passage at p. 179, We found an American ship lying here, called The Washington of Nantucket. Her commander, Jedediah Fitz, informed me that the American sailors had discovered potatoes eaten raw to be a very powerful antiscorbutic, and that their whaling vessels constantly took a quantity with them to sea to eat raw, as an antidote against the scurvy.”

A few years' steady preseverance in the use of fruits and raw vegetables, unmixed with any other liquid or substance, would bring the body into a state in which it would be incapable of ulceration.

tion which the writer has endeavoured never to lose sight of in the statements contained in this little treatise. There are those who will be aware that still stronger facts, entirely to his present purpose, might have been adduced, relatively to more distant parts of the world as well as to Spain.

He will content himself with barely naming La Peyrouse, Molina, and Humboldt; for if he were to enter fully into all the details which press upon him in the consideration of this extensive subject, he would produce a large book, the evil he is most anxious to avoid. These travellers, who are always consulted with new pleasure, agree in remarking the prodigious change which is effected in nations, simply by the introduction of domestic animals.

If it be admitted that vegetable diet, as the Spaniard Ulloa, the German Haller, and our own John Hunter and Abernethy have stated,' is fully equal to support men under all necessary exertions, I conceive it will also be granted, that being our natural sustenance, it will so purify the blood that we shall not only enjoy better health, but shall also be rendered less accessible to infectious disorders than if we lived on the flesh of animals. We Englishmen, who rival all nations in attachment to solid food, are remarkably subject to perish by contagion in hot climates ; whereas Timoni, in his account of the plague at Constantinople, relates that the Armenians, who chiefly live on vegetables, are far less liable to the disease than the other inhabitants of that city. The evidences, indeed, are incontrovertible which go to establish that the susceptibility of infection depends upon the bodily state in which those happen to be who are in the way of it; and when we say that certain people are more or less affected with any disorder according to their constitutions, I should question whether we really mean any thing else than that they are affected in proportion to the quantity of morbific matter in their systems which finds no other vent. It is well understood in the hospitals that puerperal fever is infectious to none but lying-in women; and it is equally well known that in the same house, and under similar circumstances of exposure, some persons take an infectious disease, while others

"The author is acquainted with a lady, who, having been always very anxious to suckle her children herself instead of making over her duties to other women, under the conviction that if there is on earth a right of property which no ingenuity can successfully controvert, it is the claim of an infant to the milk in its mother's breast, has nursed her last child, while she was living on vegetables and distilled water, till he was two years old. This lady accomplished her purpose much better in this instance than in any former attempt. She enjoyed during the period of nursing, and has since enjoyed, excellent health; and as to the child, he is all that one can wish a child to be.

escape it.

2

I would not at present go so far as to state roundly that contagion is altogether the offspring of this species of civilisation into which men have been betrayed, because I would avoid the declaration of bold and novel opinions as much as possible; but to me I confess it appears that in the theory of the communication of infectious disorders we are on the eve of some important discoveries. Any man descended from a long line of ancestors who had lived as Dr. Lambe would have us all live, could scarcely be liable to contagion of any kind : bis frame would be an unfit receptacle for this artificial poison.

What a prospect does it open to mankind, should it be no irrational hope that the monster syphilis, with all its gorgon terrors, may yet be driven from the earth. This scourge of the human race, respecting the origin of which there has been so much dispute, arose in all likelihood from an exacerbation of the arsenical state of the fluids produced about the year fifteen hundred by the heat of the southern climates on unhealthy bodies, which were unaccustomed to the ardent sunshines of South America. The afflicting malady appears to have first broken out among the Spaniards three centuries ago, when they acted in those regions that dreadful tragedy which will be an eternal stain upon our species; a refinement of cruelties which the conscious historian has been unable to veil, and for which no sufferings can atone-a scene of horror, that has called down from its heavenly mansion the spirit of Montezuma, to hover o'er the blood which long shall deluge the guilty peninsula.

Thus we see it happen in the islands of the West Indies. Frequently does the stoutest looking European sicken soon after his arrival from Europe, and die before he has been on shore six weeks; the great heat of that climate, under which a disciple of Pythagoras would feel himself at ease, being a sufficient excitement fatally to set at work the principle of death within him. Such accidents were often witnessed before the yellow fever was known in the West Indies. It is pretty generally allowed that the venereal disease existed not in the new world before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. One of the three writers lately mentioned,

1

Owing probably to the state of the chymical attractions of those bodies.' Besides, there are many influences and operations constantly proceeding around us which have escaped, and may for ever escape, the most acute human intellect.

2 Lord Bacon would have found nothing absurd in tracing this complaint to the use of animal food, since he imagines that it is entirely to be attributed to feeding on human fiesh.

3 We see very serious effects produced by the action of the sun in hot. climates on diseased bodies, as in coup de soleil. VOL, XX.

Pam,
NO. XL

2 D

« السابقةمتابعة »