It is supposed that this “advancement of medical science” will rebound to the general benefit of the community, and that in this benefit the community will receive an equivalent and more than an equivalent for the privileges and immunities which are granted by special legislation to organized professional associations and institutions.
These privileges are granted to associations because, although it is well known that power in the hands of a corporation may be much more efficiently and unscrupulously wielded if the animus be evil, than power in the hands of an individual, yet the fact is recognized that much more can be accomplished for the advancement of science by associated effort than by individual labor.
It is, therefore, with a direct view to the ultimate benefit of the people at large, that the people, in their legislative capacity, incorporate medical colleges and associations and academies of medicine. And it is not at all with a view to the emolument or aggrandizement of the individuals or incorporations so privileged or endowed.
Now, whenever, these corporations, or individual members thereof, suffer themselves to act in such a way as to compromise the interests of science or as to impede its advancement, in so doing they violate the spirit of their charter.
“We charge against the old school medical colleges, societies and associations of this and other countries, with a few honorable exceptions like the royal College of Surgeons of England, that they have diverted their powers and privileges from their lawful use and have hindered instead of helping the advancement of medical science.
Homoeopathy claims to be the most important improvement ever made in practical medicine. She claims to have reduced the average mortality of disease by at least thirty percent. She claims to have considerably diminished the number of incurable diseases, and to have rendered the course of diseases much less painful and less protracted. She has reduced to a minimum the inconveniences and sufferings connected with medical treatment.
It is the bounden duty, and should be the conscientious purpose, of every physician to make such an investigation as the nature of the case requires, and to make it so impartially and so thoroughly as to be able to say in all sincerity and upon his honor that he has qualified himself to judge, in the interests of his patients, between Homoeopathy and that mixture of systems which Homoeopathy claims to supercede.
But, experiments in the case of human maladies are rather serious matters, and the novice would naturally incline to observe the methods and to weigh and estimate the successes of an expert before himself experimenting.
In other words an enquirer into the truth of Homoeopathy would naturally, and very properly, prefer to follow, for a while, the practice of an experienced Homoeopathist before beginning to experiment on his own responsibility.
Now there is hardly a medical association or an academy of medicine in this country or in Great Britain which has not its “bottled thunder” all ready to let fly at the head of any member or fellow who should be so undignified as to countenance Homoeopathy to the extent of merely following and observing the treatment of a patient by a Homoeopathist — not to speak of his instituting candid and honest experiments on the subject himself.
Again if a young man, entering upon the study of medicine, propose to himself that after he shall have finished his medical studies and shall have thus qualified himself to judge of the relative merits of Homoeopathy and Allopathy, he will carefully and impartially make a comparative study of the two symptoms side by side — why, if he avow such a purpose — though nothing could seem fairer, nothing more likely to conduce to the advancement of science and the elucidation of the truth — the examining boards of our colleges will reject him however competent he be, on the ground that the avowal of such a purpose is an admission of a leaning towards what they choose to call “Quackery.”
We, Homoeopathists, are not alone in condemning this course of action. The people in legislature have given a significant expression of their disapprobation of it. The Bellevue Medical College of New York could not obtain its charter until a clause was inserted forbidding the faculty refusing a diploma to any qualified student because of any preference he may express for any system of medical practice.
To the people, then, who, with a view to their own advantage have incorporated these institutions, we complain that they have placed impediments in the way of the progress of medical science, in that, without investigating as a body, the claims of Homoeopathy, they have used and still use every means to prevent their fellows and students from entering as individuals upon such investigations — that they have cast a stigma upon all who do so — that they visit with the odium of loss of caste all who have insisted on their right to investigate and experiment, and with their anathema of excommunication all who having investigated, have avowed their conviction.
The evidences of this would fill a volume. The following resolution of the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, may suffice, while the letter concerning it from one of the most distinguished of living thinkers will furnish a fitting comment:
”Resolved, That no fellow or licentiate of the Royal College shall pretend or profess to cure disease by the deception called Homoeopathy, or the practice called Mesmerism or by any other form of quackery.
“It is, also hereby ordained that no fellow or licentiate of the college shall consult with, meet, advise, direct or assist any person engaged in such deceptions or practices, or in any system or practice considered derogatory or dishonorable by physicians or surgeons”
“I was well aware of the detestable act of tyranny you refer to. I believe some persons were overawed into taking part in it against their own judgment. I have always protested against such conduct in all departments of life. You may see something to the purpose in my little penny tract on “Trades-Unions” (to be had at Parker's). In fact, the present is one of the Trades-Unions. A man has a right to refuse to work except for such wages, or under such conditions, as he himself chooses to prescribe, but he has no right to compel others to concur with him. If there is any mode of medical treatment which he disapproves of, or any system of education which he thinks objectionable, he will be likely to keep clear of it of his own accord, without any need of compulsion or pledges. Those again who may think differently ought not to be coerced or bullied. Some persons seem to have a notion that there is some connection between persecution and religion, but the truth is, it belongs to human nature. In all departments of life you may meet with narrow-minded bigotry, and uncharitable party spirit. Long before the outbreak of the Reformation the Nominalists and the Realists of the logical School persecuted each other unmercifully — so have Royalists and Republicans done in many countries; and in our own country the Trades-Unions persecute anyone who does not submit to their regulations. In Ireland, if any one takes a farm in contravention of the rules of the agrarian conspirators, he is waylaid and murdered; and if he embraces the Protestant faith, his neighbors all conspire to have no dealings with him. The truth is, the majority of mankind have no real love of liberty, except that they are glad to have it themselves, and to keep it to themselves; but they have neither spirit enough to stand up firmly for their own rights nor sufficient sense of justice to respect the rights of others. They will submit to the domineering of a majority of their own party, and will join with them in domineering over others. In the midst of the disgust and shame which one must feel at such proceedings as you have alluded to, it is some consolation to the advocates of the systems denounced to see that there is something of a testimony borne to them by their adversaries, who dare not trust the cause to the decision of reason and experience, but resort to such expedients as might as easily be employed for a bad cause as a good one.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 09, 1863, pages 385-390
|The Appeal to The People II.
|errors only; interlinks; formatting