"If a Body Kiss a Body."
Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
The neglected wife, the hungry heart, the forlorn waif, and the miserably downcast in spirit were not neglected in the humane policy of a better practice as taught by Prof. Scudder. He taught kindness, gentleness, and the touch of human love—the spirit at least of love and kisses. This editorial points its own moral.—Ed. Gleaner.
"IF A BODY KISS A BODY."—Kissing might be studied as a fine art, or as a lady remarked to me a few days since—"one of the lost arts"—but I prefer to study it as a remedy of the class restorative. You shake your head, "It will never do!" "I couldn't practice medicine in that way—haven't even kissed my own wife and babies for months or years, and in my latitude it wouldn't be healthy for a doctor to kiss his neighbors, unless they were of the male persuasion."
Some crusty curmudgeon raises his eyebrows and exclaims, "kissing, faugh!—my gorge rises—save that for commencement exercises." My friend, you don't like kissing? you don't believe it does anybody any good? you don't believe it's a good medicine—"specific" to a heart diseased? You want to know why you don't believe?—just tap your head over the sella turcica, and you will find your soul is sapless—it rattles in your cranium like a pea in a gourd. If you ever expect to go to heaven, cultivate the spirit of kissing.
We don't advise that you kiss the pretty girls of the neighborhood, or all your good looking patients, but we do advise that you carry within you that loving, helpful spirit that has its true expression in this way. Especially is this a good thing in treating children. You may imagine they don't know or don't care, but you will find that they do know and they do care a very great deal. The little heart warms to the gentle touch or caress of the doctor, and the sufferer gains comfort and hope in his presence. The mind has much to do with disease, both in its causation and cure; the hopeful, trusting spirit is a true restorative.
I recollect, many years since, a poor street waif who had his foot crushed by a wagon, entailing excruciating suffering for weeks. No medicine or lotion gave such relief to the sufferer as the loving kiss of a neighboring lady who visited him daily—and what was best, it seemed to work a moral as well as a physical cure. Ask the soldiers who suffered in our hospitals during the recent war, and were so fortunate as to have women visitors, if the loving heart, and peradventure the "kiss him for his mother," were not medicine.
Try it on some of your patients in this way. You have in your acquaintance, or on your list of patients, a married couple, the wife sickly, and her listless, pinched appearance shows an hungered soul. Evidently something out of joint in this household—the spirit of kissing is not there. Persuade the husband that this will be good medicine, and watch the result—you will find that kisses are better than Quinine.
There are hungry hearts, as there are hungry stomachs; hungry for sympathy, love, and the friendly feeling that gives zest to life. A recent story in Harper's Weekly, entitled, "Bread and Cheese and Kisses," was an excellent illustration. Bread and cheese are good, so are kisses.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1873.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.