"The following Hymn on Calomel," says Smith, "is to be sung on certain occasions; as the following: 1st. When any one or more are convinced of its dangerous and ruinous nature, when applied under the name of medicine, so as never to use it. 2d. When any one has taken it until his teeth are loose, rotten, or have come out. 3d. When it has so cankered their mouths, that they cannot eat their food. 4th. When it has swelled their tongues out of their mouths, so that they could not shut their mouth for some time. 5th. When it has caused blindness, and partial or total loss of sight. 6th. When it has caused large sores on their legs, feet, arms, or any part of the body. 7th. When it has caused palsy, epilepsy, cramp, or any other distressing complaint. When cured of any or all these difficulties, this is to be sung by all such, and as many others as may join heartily in putting down calomel. At the close of the hymn let some one of the singers repeat aloud --Amen.
(Tune, Old Hundred.--Very grave.)
Physicians of the highest rank (To pay their fees, we need a bank) Combine all wisdom, art and skill, Science and sense, in calomel
Howe'er their patients may complain Of head, or heart, or nerve, or vein, Of fever high, or parch, or swell, The remedy is calomel.
When Mr. A. or B. is sick-"Go fetch the doctor, and be quick"-The doctor comes, with much good will, But ne'er forgets his calomel.
He takes his patient by the hand, And compliments him as a friend; He sets awhile his pulse to feel, And then takes out his calomel
He then turns to the patient's wife, "Have you clean paper, spoon and knife ? I think your husband might do well To take a dose of calomel"
He then deals out the precious grains "This, ma'am, I'm sure will ease his pains; Once in three hours, at sound of bell, Give him a dose of calomel"
He leaves his patient in her care, And bids good-by with graceful air. In hopes bad humors to expel, she freely gives the calomel.
The man grows worse, quite fast indeed-- "Go call for counsel--ride with speed"-- The counsel comes, like post with mail Doubling the dose of calomel.
The man in death begins to groan-- The fatal job for him is done; His soul is winged for heaven or hell-- A sacrifice to calomel.
Physicians of my former choice, Receive my counsel and advice; Be not offended though I tell The dire effects of calomel.
And when I must resign my breath, Pray let me die a natural death, And bid you all a long farewell, Without one dose of calomel
Antimony, says Hooper, is a medicine of the greatest power of any known substance; a quantity too minute to be sensible in the most delicate balance, is capable of producing violent effect. Tartar emetic is a preparation of antimony, commonly used by the faculty as an emetic. A Mr. Deane, of Portland, Me., was poisoned to death few years since, by taking a dose of tartar emetic through mistake; had it been administered by a physician, his death would have been attributed to some fatal disease. It is said that Basil Valentine, a German monk, gave it to some hogs, which, after purging them very much, fattened; and thinking it might produce the same effect on his brother monks, gave them each a dose, who all died in the experiment; hence the word is derived from two Greek words, meaning destructive to monks.
Opium is obtained from Turkey and East India. It is the most common article used by those who wish to shuffle off this mortal coil, to accomplish their object. In the form of paregoric it is used to quiet children, and thousands have no doubt been quieted beyond the power of being disturbed. It does not remove the cause of disease, but relieves pain by benumbing sensibility.
This practice, though not so fatal as bleeding, is evidently as inconsistent and more tormenting. In some isolated cases, blisters may produce an apparent good effect, but the amount of injury is so much greater than the amount of good accruing from their use, that they may well be dispensed with.
Blood-letting was introduced as a frequent remedial agent, by Sydenham, in the early part of the 16th century; since which time it has consigned millions to the tomb, and cut off the fond hopes of many a tender parent, affectionate husband and wife, and dutiful child.
Dr. J. J. Steele, a member of the medical faculty of New York, says, "Bleeding in every case, both of health and disease, according to the amount taken, destroys the balance of circulations and robs the system of its most valuable treasure and support. This balance must be restored and this treasure replaced, before a healthful action can be complete in the system."
Dr. Reid says, "If the employment of the lancet were abolished altogether, it would perhaps save annually a greater number of lives, than in any one year the sword has ever destroyed."
Dr. Beach, a member of the Medical Society of New York, says, "Among the various means made use of to restore the sick to health, there is none so inconsistent and absurd as blood-letting. Those who were so unfortunate as to fall victims to disease, were doomed to suffer the most extravagant effusion of blood, and were soon hurried to an untimely grave."
Dr. Lobstein, late physician of the hospital and army of France, reprobates, in strong terms, the use of the lancet. He says, "During my residence of fourteen years past, in this happy land of liberty and independence--the United States--I am bound to say that in all my practice as a physician of twenty-seven years, never have I seen in any part of Europe such extravagance of blood-letting as I have seen in this country. It is productive of the most serious and fatal effects--a cruel practice--a scourge to humanity. How many thousands of our fellow-creatures are sent by it to an untimely grave? How many parents are deprived of their lovely children? How many husbands of their wives? How many wives of their husbands? Without blood there is no heat--no life in the system. In the blood is the life. He who takes blood from a patient, takes not only an organ of life, but a part of life itself."
This testimony of Prof. Lobstein is deserving the consideration of every individual, on account of his high standing in the medical professions and his opportunity of judging from experience and observation of the effects of blood-letting.
Dr. Thatcher, a celebrated medical author, says, "We have no infallible index to direct us in the use of the lancet. The state of the pulse is often ambiguous and deceptive. A precipitant decision is fraught with danger, And A Mistake May Be Certain Death." Here is a tacit acknowledgment that the most discriminating and cautious physician cannot Decide when bleeding is safe, and he has no certain criterion by which to decide, whether bleeding will relieve his patient --place him beyond the reach of a cure, or immediately destroy life. Well may such a science of medicine be called the science of guessing.
Think of man within the short space of twenty four hours being deprived of eighty or ninety ounces of blood, taking three portions of calomel, five or six grains of tartar emetic, and blisters applied to the extremities and the throat. Such was the treatment of the illustrious Washington; of him who was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen. To have resisted the fatal operation of such herculean remedies, one would imagine this venerable old man should have retained the vigor of his earliest youth.
Says Magendie, an eminent French physiologist, "I assert, then, loudly, and fear not to affirm it, that blood-letting induces, both in the blood itself and in our tissues certain modifications and pathological phenomena which resemble, to a certain extent, those we have seen developed in animals deprived of atmospheric oxygen, or drink, and of solid food. You shall have the material proof of the fact. Here are three glasses containing blood drawn from a dog on three different occasions, at intervals of two days. The animal was in good health, and I took care to supply him with abundance of nourishing food. In the first glass you see the serum and clot are in just proportions to each other. The latter, which is perfectly coagulated, forms about four fifths of the entire mass. This specimen of blood, consequently, appears to possess the desirable qualities. Now turn your attention to the second glass. The animal was still well fed when its contents were drawn, and yet you perceive an evident increase in the quantity of serum. The clot forms, at the most, only two thirds of the whole. But here is the produce of the third venesection. Although the animal's diet remained unchanged, we find a still greater difference. Not only is the proportion of serum more considerable, but its color is changed. It has acquired a reddish yellow tinge, owing to the commencing solution of the globular substance."
If it was a fact, that the science of medicine that teaches the doctrine, that the most powerful poisons are the best medicines--that drawing from man his heart's blood is the best way to restore him to health when sick, is based on the immutable principles of truth, and proved itself true by the practice, then we should be bound to admit its principles, however inconsistent they might appear. But if there is a shade of doubt resting upon our minds, let us rather trust to the unassisted and undisturbed powers of nature, than to remedies that require the banishment of reason from her throne, before a thinking man can consistently use them. Give a sick man poison that we have positive evidence will destroy the life of a well man, to cure him? Take from a feeble man his blood, on which his little remaining strength depends, to strengthen him? Does it appear reasonable, or does it carry with it the evidence of its truth, by immediately curing the sick, or strengthening the weak ?
There is not, in my opinion, and I am not alone in that opinion, to be found, in all the superstition and ignorance of this or any previous age, a more complete inadaptedness of means to ends, than the old school system of medical practice to cure disease. As consistently might we attempt to heat an oven with ice, put out a fire with alcohol, or fatten a horse with grindstones or shingle nails.
It is now the wonder of the more enlightened of the present generation, how the belief in witchcraft could have obtained among the most learned of the 16th century. So it will be the wonder of future generations, that their forefathers of the 19th century should be so hoodwinked, as to swallow down deadly poisons, be bled, blistered, and physicked; sacrificing their own common sense, for the pretensions of a class of men, whose gain depended on the ignorance of the people of the result of their remedies.
Are there not, besides, a sufficient number of influences brought to bear upon mankind to drag them down to the grave ? Is not alcohol slaying its thousands? war its millions? and the transgression of the physical laws of nature in food, exercise, and dress, its tens of millions? Why, then, should Pandora's box be opened for another outlet for human life ?