Address at the Dedication of the New Eclectic Medical Institute.
Selected writings of John King.
When the new and handsome stone-front Eclectic Medical Institute was dedicated in 1871 it was one of the finest buildings devoted solely to the purposes of medical education in the Middle West. The dedicatory services were attended by the largest body of physicians representing the Eclectic profession all over the United States that ever gathered at one meeting. A new impetus was given Eclecticism, and Dr. King's address upon that occasion was significant. It recounts the history and origin of Eclecticism, shows the legislative perils over which they had triumphed, and points out the course the Eclectics themselves were to pursue if they were still to advance. He sounds a warning concerning misplaced zeal for the mushroom college, here to-day and gone to-morrow, and urges his hearers to adhere to the great principles of truth and liberality, both unchangeable in the platform of Eclecticism. Freedom and independence of thought, so characteristic of himself, he pleads for in this address, for he declares, "No science, whose followers are mentally enslaved to the arbitrary and despotic dicta of so-called authorities, can ever attain perfection." Faithfulness to their trust and principles had made possible the new college. He warns against neglect and lukewarmness as precursors of the destruction of Eclecticism. The idea that Eclecticism had accomplished its mission and was necessarily at a standstill was even afloat at that day, as it is to-day. "From the very nature of things Eclecticism can not stand still," declares this sage and prophet. Specific medication was largely untried by the mass of physicians at this time. Dr. King, after recounting the steady progress in Eclectic pharmacy, now comes out in full endorsement of the new medication, and the salutary effect of this address from one in whom they had the utmost confidence did much to hasten the adoption of specific medication as a cardinal feature of Eclectic practice.
While Eclecticism was dearer to his heart than anything under the sun, Dr. King did not arrogate to himself or to his cause all knowledge. He urges continued work, everlasting vigilance and industry as the means of improving an already superior practice of medicine. "If we vainly suppose that Heaven has specially favored us with all truth and knowledge in medical matters to the exclusion of every one else, we must expect to be vanquished. To win in the great medical struggle for ascendency now going on in the civilized world we must study, we must labor, we must investigate." These last lines of Professor King's, we hold, point out the mission of American Eclecticism in medicine.—Ed. Gleaner.
ADDRESS AT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW ECLECTIC MEDICAL INSTITUTE.—Only fifty years have passed since, even in our own republican country, there existed but one school of medicine, "the old or Allopathic school;" and the partisans of this school had such unbounded influence over the legislators of the land as to have been successful in procuring the passage of the most unjust and tyrannical laws in their favor. Clothed in mystery, unintelligible to all but the favored few, and securely sheltered under the wings of legislative partiality, even the most superficial thinker shrunk from an investigation of its merits. You, gentlemen, who are now peaceably and happily enjoying the fruits of the strife of the past, can scarcely appreciate the inexorable character of the medical despotism and oppression of that era. Men who were found pursuing any practice at variance with that established by the authorities of the day were subjected to heavy fines, and in some instances were torn from their families, and rudely thrust within the walls of a prison. Every means were taken to persecute, insult, and misrepresent. Did one dare to think and act for himself in medical matters—did he exhibit sufficient courage and independence to question the authorities of the day—the indignation, the slander, and the ridicule of all his professional brethren were leveled at him, to force him to yield allegiance to their opinions and prejudices, or to effect his exile from the field of medical science.
Gentlemen, this is but a faint outline of the spirit that has actuated the followers of the Old School; whether they are still instigated by it remains to be tested—they still continue making loud professions of liberality, philanthropy, and reform!
That was a mournful period for mankind, who were compelled to recover from disease or die, secundum artem. Physicians were enslaved to authority, and the people in turn were slaves to the physicians. No change occurred in the unjust and tyrannical laws and customs just referred to until a daring and energetic spirit appeared upon the medical stage, like a "fair day amid storm and tempests," and who by his powerful and energetic efforts ultimately effected such a revolution in the public mind in matters where life and health were concerned as to arrest the arbitrary career of medical despotism, and of medical un-success, presenting to the world and to the profession new views, new remedial agents, and new treatment; or, in other words, the principles and practice of Medical Reform. I allude to Dr. Wooster Beach, of New York City.
At a very early period of life Dr. Beach observed the destructive effects of the mercurial and depletive system of practice, and keenly felt that suffering humanity loudly called for a thorough reformation in the science of medicine. Indeed, a perusal alone of the authorized medical works of that day will fully justify him in his undertaking, and will conclusively prove to every reflecting mind that from their own mouths they uttered sufficient condemnation and sufficient cause for a reformation.
It is unnecessary for me to enter into a detailed account of the trials and persecutions that Dr. Beach and the early reformers had to encounter, nor of the energy and perseverance displayed in overcoming them. This is well known to most of you, as well as the fact that for many years the three volumes of his Reformed Medical Practice constituted the only text-book employed by Reformers and Eclectics.
The first institution in this country that dared to differ in principles and practice from the medical teachings of that period was initiated by Dr. Beach in the city of New York, under the title of the "Reformed Medical College;" but owing to the many obstacles thrown in its way, and the powerful efforts of old school physicians to defeat the securing of a charter, as well as from the fact that the oppressive laws of most of the States placed its alumni among criminals and outlaws, the college was relinquished. However, the germ from which was to spring peace, health, and happiness to thousands of families had been sown; the late Profs. T. V. Morrow, I. G. Jones, and J. B. Day, among others, attended lectures and graduated in this Reformed College, and by them was given the most potent and effective vis a tergo that has laid the foundation of a mighty enterprise, and that has aided in almost completely revolutionizing medical science, and in placing us upon our present platform.
In the year 1830, forty-one years ago, these gentlemen, assisted by several other liberal-minded physicians, succeeded in establishing the first chartered Reformed Medical College in the world; and this college, from which were sent forth many of the working pioneers of Eclecticism to successfully grapple with disease, and to promulgate truth, liberality, and right in medicine, maintained a successful existence for ten or twelve years in the village of Worthington, in this State, when for various reasons it was deemed best to discontinue it and seek a larger and more extended sphere for action. Professor Morrow and some of his Worthington colleagues, together with a few others, came to Cincinnati and commenced giving courses of medical lectures to students; and in the year 1845, notwithstanding the active and untiring efforts of their antagonists of the old school of medicine, they succeeded in procuring from the Legislature of Ohio a charter for the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati, the parent school of Eclecticism.
Since the establishment of this parent school several Eclectic colleges have been attempted in various sections of the country, but from deficient patronage, local hostility, or inferior teachers they have nearly all failed. There are now three colleges in the United States claiming to be Eclectic; but we have only physicians enough to properly sustain two well-conducted institutions: one in the East and the parent college in the West. An increase in the number of colleges before an increase in the number of physicians and students demands them is detrimental to Eclecticism; it divides the students into small classes that give neither support nor encouragement to either, hence inferior teachers, hostility and dissensions between the rival schools instead of friendship and co-operation, a sickly existence for a time, a cessation of lectures, and the graduates possess only the parchments of defunct institutions. Certainly not a very desirable possession. The picture is no fanciful one, nor is it drawn from interested motives; it is a stubborn fact of which I trust all true Eclectics will never lose sight. I have no reference here to those mongrel so-called colleges that have usurped the name of Eclecticism the better to carry out their nefarious designs.
Notwithstanding the persecutions and misrepresentations of our opponents of the old school of medicine, and I may also add, the antagonistic influences of Homoeopathy, the pioneers in our cause labored perseveringly with all their might, so that in this day we behold Eclecticism a fixed fact—firmly established as such—and so remaining as long as its followers strictly adhere to the principles of truth and liberality.
The attainment of truth is the first and greatest principle to which all others are subservient. Truth is not Allopathic, Homoeopathic, nor Eclectic; it knows no party; it exists independent of all; we must follow it, and not expect it to pursue us. Truth is from heaven; it is co-eternal with Intelligence—omnipotent, omniscient— it belongs to us, to all mankind, and is the property of every mind that will receive it; and however much party or sect may retain and patent-right error, they can never monopolize truth. And if every one would fairly and honorably seek and avow truth, even at the sacrifice of self-interest and aggrandizement, medical science, like it, would become a unit, and there would be no rival influences, no persecutions, no heterodoxy, no orthodoxy; but unity of hopes, unity of purpose, and unity of action, and suffering humanity would thereby become the gainer.
Liberality is another fixed and unchangeable principle of Eclecticism. Every human being is by divine right and by divine command entitled to freedom of thought and of investigation in all matters, and especially in those pertaining to health and life. Independence of thought, independence of action, characterize the true man, the man of honor, of intellectual greatness; while subserviency of mind is the quality of the slave, the recreant, and the sycophant; and no science, whose followers are mentally enslaved to the arbitrary and despotic dicta of so-called authorities, can ever attain perfection. The truly liberal man bestows a courteous bearing upon all, and never approves nor condemns until arguments have been fully weighed and facts have been impartially compared. And had old school pursued this course in the infancy of our cause there would not have been a necessity for a new school in medicine. We contend that all physicians are under the strongest possible obligation to each other and to the human race to honestly examine the theories and practice from which they habitually dissent, with an attentive and tolerant spirit, not simply because such investigation produces greater circumspection in the treatment of the sick, but also because it promotes the progress of truth as well as sound conciliation; and that will be a happy day for the profession as well as for humanity when all parties become inspired by a catholic eclecticism.
Gentlemen, the institution to dedicate which we have met together on the present occasion owes its existence solely to our endeavors to faithfully carry out the principles of truth and liberality just referred to. Eclectics and Eclecticism, alone have erected this temple of medical science, whosoever may have been the individual agent to whom the task was confided. See to it, gentlemen, that your own college, the parent school of medical Eclecticism in the world, continues to nourish and prosper; should it fail from your neglect, or from the absence of those principles that should ever guide true Eclectics, it needs no prophets eye to see that its fall will be the precursor of the destruction of Eclecticism, which Heaven forbid!
. . . Some have imagined that, as Eclectics, we have effected all the good that we possibly can in medicine; that our mission is finished, and that our cause is necessarily at a stand. This, however, is a very restricted view; for as mind progresses, and as truth develops itself, so does our cause advance. From the very nature of things Eclecticism can not stand still. How has it been with Allopathy?
In early years, when we were struggling for existence, among the other means employed to crush us and also with the design of attaching a stigma upon us, Allopathy termed us "quacks," our remedies "quack medicines," and our pathological views "unsound and erroneous." "How is it now? To-day many of these unsound pathological views are the received and established ones of old school; the quack medicines have been introduced into its medical works and are employed and recommended by some of its most eminent medical men; and we, no longer termed quacks, have been honored, if indeed it be honor, with the name of "irregulars," merely as a distinguishing mark between them and ourselves. Though what it is that constitutes them regular in preference to all others. Heaven only knows!
It must not for a moment be supposed that we allude to these matters in a quarrelsome or fault-finding way; we are briefly relating occurrences of the past, demanded by truth, and we should be unjust to Allopathy and to ourselves did we attempt to conceal them. For all the persecutions of the past it has our cheerful forgiveness, for its misconceptions of us at the present time it has our sympathy, for its bearing in future it has our hopes and best wishes. It is a pleasure to us that old school has progressed, and we feel it an honor that the line of this progression has been made in our wake. Bear in mind that in the past remarks I refer to Allopathy collectively and not to individuals, for I am happy in being able to bear testimony to the liberality, gentlemanly bearing, and noble character of many individuals attached to that school.
Has Eclecticism also progressed? It certainly has. The immatured views of its early period have been developed and improved; the crude materials that formed some of the first medicines it introduced to the profession have been passed through the wonderful operations of the chemist's laboratory, and are now presented in a smaller, more active, and more palatable form; and new discoveries have been made both as to the remedial virtues of many agents, and the more successful treatment of disease. Progress, progress is the order of the day. We can not rest. We must not rest. I have long been a firm believer that the time will ultimately arrive when disease will be successfully treated by remedies addressed solely to the nervous system.
The new departure, as some have termed it, is a step in the right direction; I refer to Specific Medication. It has its opponents even in our ranks; this probably arises either from an incorrect understanding of it, a lack of proper investigation, or from interested motives. Why, gentlemen, physicians for centuries past have been practicing Specific Medication, but in a blind, indifferent, im-methodical manner. Would they produce catharsis, a specific would be prescribed that would occasion the desired result; would they produce diuresis, a specific would also be administered to effect this object; would they produce emesis, diaphoresis, or ptyalism, the known specifics for these purposes were employed. Was relief from pain desired, or was sleep required, how numerous the specifics! Intermittent fever called for its specifics, quinia, arsenic, strychnia, etc.; debility had its appropriate specifics among the vegetable and mineral tonics; anemia, its specifies among the chalybeates and manganic preparations; scrofula its specifics among the iodides, bromides, vegetable alteratives, etc.; parasitical affections had their specifics according to their nature; hemorrhages found their specifics in alum, gallic acid, perchloride of iron, etc. Digitalis to check undue action of the heart; hellebore to irritate the nasal mucous membrane; hydrastis to give tone to enfeebled mucous membranes, and so on.
In this way I could occupy your attention for hours in pointing out the crude specific medication of the past; superficial in its character, immethodical in its manner, overlooked in its actions and effects, and not always with the most desirable results from the fact that the name of a disease was more frequently prescribed for than its actual pathological conditions; and because, in many instances the diagnosis itself was very imperfect.
The Specific Medication of Eclecticism goes much deeper into the subject of health and disease; it requires a more thorough knowledge than heretofore; instead of resting satisfied that a symptom or a group of symptoms peculiar to a disease are present, we require to know why such symptoms are produced; what are the peculiar pathological conditions occasioning them, and what is the remedy to combat these conditions. Instead of being satisfied by external manifestations only or by the mere name of a disease, we must more thoroughly study the system and more accurately investigate its inmost operations. If we accomplish this we make a more correct diagnosis, and can thus prescribe the specific with more certainty. At least eight-tenths of success in the treatment of disease lie in a correct diagnosis.
Specific Medication is then systematizing the disjointed practice of the past, treating pathological actions or conditions instead of mere names or external manifestations; becoming better acquainted with the minute and recondite operations of the human body as well as with the direct influence of remedial agents upon these operations, thereby being enabled to more promptly subdue abnormal influences and restore to health.
It has been objected that the treatment by Specific Medication is yet imperfect; that there are many maladies for the cure of which it has not been adapted. True; but is that a valid reason why WP should oppose it? Gentlemen, had a similar objection arisen against Eclecticism in its infancy and been acted upon we would not now be here. Forty years ago our practice and therapeutics were very crude and imperfect; but what are they now? Decidedly more perfect and more successful. Enough is already known of Specific Medication to enable a practitioner to treat the majority of maladies that may be met with in his career of practice, and with a certainty of much greater success than could have been done in the early days of Eclecticism, and with fully as much efficiency as can be done by its old therapeutics as prescribed at the present day. It remains for you, and for those who shall come after you, to fill up its deficiencies wherever they occur by close study and untiring investigation, thereby rendering it perfect and a success.
It is highly probable that the struggle for ascendency now existing between the old and new schools of medicine may terminate during the rising generation, and that school alone can expect to be triumphant, can expect to be the people's choice, that can exhibit and maintain in one unbroken and intimate connection the most correct science, the greatest skill, and the most uniform success.
If we fall behind great names, high authority, antiquated teachings and customs, or scholastic prejudices as screens to conceal from our mental vision the glorious rays of truth and wisdom that emanate from other sources than our own, we can not expect to be the victors. If we imagine that knowledge can be grafted upon the human mind, as one tree upon another, or that it can be imbibed by mere contact, as with sponge and water, we must not expect to be the victors. If we vainly suppose that heaven has specially favored us with all truth and knowledge in medical matters to the exclusion of every one else, we must expect to be the vanquished. To win in the great medical struggle for ascendency now going on in the civilized world we must study, we must labor, we must investigate. Instead of limiting our thoughts and investigations within circumscribed bounds or rules regardless of their correctness or falsity (the usual result of past medical teachings), we must train ourselves to cultivate and maintain the utmost freedom of mental action; to listen with patience and respect to the views and opinions of others, no matter how seriously they may conflict with our own; to test their soundness and adopt them if correct, or if false to pass them by without regard to theories, preconceptions, sects, interests, popular favor, or any thing, save a knowledge of truth and truth alone. Like the industrious bee we must not confine ourselves to the circumference of our own hive, but must roam abroad, carefully gathering knowledge and truth wherever found, and preparing from them the cera and honey, the strength and beauty of Medical Eclecticism. In a word, we must be true to each other and to ourselves. Then, gentlemen, we may confidently anticipate that our cause will be the triumphant one, and the new temple we have this evening dedicated to it will not have been erected in vain.
The presence of the ladies in our midst on this occasion, a compliment which demands our grateful recognition, reminds us that in the success and progress of our cause woman has always manifested a lively interest, for upon these and the qualifications of its adherents very often depend not only her own safety in times of danger, but, still more frequently, the safety of those dearer to her than life itself. To her we owe our present existence, the cultivation of our infantile plastic minds, preparing us for the contests of matured age, and giving to us impressions that can never be effaced by the finger of Time, the remembrance of which, even in advanced years, calls up the most grateful and pleasing associations. Without woman how blank, how dreary would be life!
When prostrated by disease how tender, anxious, and vigilant are the attentions bestowed by the true mother, wife, or sister! Her kindly, sympathizing words are a source of encouragement and consolation, and our physical or mental sufferings are alleviated by the gentle osculations of her fair hands. The hour of anguish, of grief, or of misfortune loses its bitterness, its severity under the influence of her smiles and affection, and the darkness that surrounds us becomes golden sunshine. True woman is the polar star of man's existence, guiding him onward in the road to virtue and happiness; she is man's richest treasure—the lovely link that binds him eternally to his Maker!—J. KING, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1871.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.