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"Irregulars."

Selected writings of John King.

As a matter of principle Professor King could see no valid reason why one physician should be called regular and another irregular, when both are educated practically alike in the fundamental studies, yet differ only in the remedies employed and their application, a "matter based upon experience and observation." This epithet was not relished by earlier Eclectics. Many of the Eclectics of to-day, however, do not object to this term, and rather deem it a mark of distinction to be thus allied with the minority. Still they question by what authority they can be so designated. There is no such exactitude in the so-called science of medicine by which the term regular can be arrogated by one class and denied to another, as is well shown in the emphasis Dr. King gives to the historical remarks concerning the vacillating career of so-called regular medicine.—Ed. Gleaner.

"IRREGULARS."—"Homoeopaths, Eclectics, and all other so-called 'irregular schools' of medicine must necessarily teach the same anatomy, the same chemistry, the same obstetrics, the same physiology, the same surgery, and very nearly the same materia medica that is taught in Old Schools and which tuition, according to their peculiar mode of reasoning, renders an Old School graduate a 'regular' and the graduate of any other school an 'irregular.' The chief difference between these several schools is found in the therapeutics and practice, a matter of opinion based upon experience and observation. Now we would ask, is this a sufficient reason for denouncing physicians not in the Old School ranks as "irregulars" to be transferred by State legislation to the tender mercies and regulations of their avowed and determined opponents the 'regulars?' What certainty or perfection is there in regular medicine that should induce our Legislatures to transform it into a hideous and oppressive autocracy?

"Even were medicine an exact science, it would be no reason why the rights of citizens should be interfered with so long as they effected no harm. Should a farmer, a grocer, or other non-professional person fortunately discover a cure for cancer, for Bright's disease, for locomotor ataxy, etc., he should not be prevented from using it nor from doing all the good he could. Independent of everything else, there is a great principle involved in this whole matter. Dr. N. L. North, of Brooklyn, N. Y., states 'that medicine is not yet an exact science, is easily demonstrated.' (Med. Record, N. Y., Oct. 14, 1882, p. 431.)

"If we examine into the history of the so-called 'irregular practitioners' we will find an onward, successful advance in spite of all the misrepresentations, sneers, and persecutions of 'regulars.' We will also find less disagreement and more harmony among them as to therapeutics and success in practice than among the 'regulars' during the entire history of their school, which for hundreds of years past has presented a series of most astonishing changes and somersaults; the theories and hypotheses of one age being set aside for the new theories and hypotheses of the next age, and these again in their turn surrendering to those of the succeeding age, and so on from period to period; thus clearly showing that as to disease and its remedies Old Schoolism is but a vacillating, uncertain system and that with all their egotism and self-eulogized knowledge and science, regular physicians are no more thorough or perfect and know no more about disease than other practitioners.

"Thus we find a period when disease was known to be due to certain conditions of the fluids of the system; another period in which it was the result of certain abnormal conditions of the solids; then another period in which the subject was settled once for all, as disease had been proven by the most careful study to be due to unhealthy conditions of both the fluids and solids. At the present day all past views are in process of becoming displaced and a new set about being developed in which the 'germ hypothesis' the presence of microscopic germs, under the names of bacteria, bacilli, micrococci, microbes, or minute vegetable formations in the fluids, in the solids, or in both, will be sufficient to account for the existence of disease! To show the vacillating character and the uncertainty of the therapeutics and practice of these men who are so fierce in their denunciations of 'irregulars' and who seek for legislative aid to destroy personal right and mental freedom, if we examine their journals, text-books, and other publications,. we will frequently find one or more remedies or modes of practice highly eulogized by the writers thereof, and which remedies or modes of practice will, almost as it were in the same breath, be condemned as useless and of no value by other writers fully as eminent. And yet this uncertain, capricious, imperfect class of medical men would have all schools of medicine and all classes of physicians arbitrarily and unconstitutionally restrained by legislative enactments of tyrannical laws shrewdly gotten up and carefully prepared by themselves for their especial benefit. It is not to be supposed from what has been stated that suffering humanity has derived no benefit from Old School labors; far from it—for it can not be disguised that they have had brilliant constellations in their ranks, and that they have accomplished much and great good; more especially among those of recent years, when they have creditlessly employed the agents and means advised by those whom they have the unblushing effrontery to call 'irregulars.' "—KING, Address on Special Medical Legislation, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.


The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.



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