The Position of the Journal—a Criticism.
We do not publish letters of commendation, as a rule—if we did there would not be room for anything else, for a number or two—after that, we would get more curses than blessings. But the following letter brings up some points which deserve an explanation
West Sonora, Ohio, Dec. 9th, 1873.
Dr. Scudder—Dear Sir: Inclosed find two dollars for the Eclectic Medical Journal for 1874. I like your journal better than any medical journal I am taking, as it advances more new thoughts on the practice of medicine than any other. I admire your independent way of writing, and your desire to advance the science of medicine, but I have some objections to your style of writing. One is, I think you extol new remedies too highly, and claim more for them than they merit. And then again, after using the remedy for some time you drop it altogether; as for instance, the hypodermic injection of Morphine. A few years ago you claimed it would cure rheumatism, neuralgia, pleurisy, and even pneumonia. Now I think you claimed entirely too much for it, but now you drop it altogether, and claim not to use it at all, and I find the same objection to nearly all the new remedies you bring up; not so great in most of them as in Morphine. Yet notwithstanding these objections, I receive so much real information from it that I can not afford to do without it.
I offer this little criticism with the most fraternal feeling for you, and my best wishes for your future happiness and usefulness, hoping it may do you no harm.
The Journal is a news-paper in medicine. Its object is to give all the new things, and keep its eyes wide open for all improvements. Its editor is obliged to give the new thing prominence, for the time being, and so present it to his readers that they may make the most of it. As soon as it has been thoroughly canvassed, and the subject "squeezed dry," there being nothing more to say, nothing more is said.
Take the Hypodermic Syringe; it was a new thing and a good thing. The editor experimented with it, reached certain conclusions, and gave them to the readers of the Journal at once, and they immediately possessed themselves of the new instrument, and reaped the benefit that comes from early knowledge. I do not recollect that anything was said in regard to it that was not true, even though I do not now use it. Reason why—because it would interfere with other experimentation now in progress.
Readers will always recollect that I am very much in earnest, and what I have to say is said with emphasis. For the time being the new subject has prominence, until we have made all we can out of it, then of course it is passed by for something else. Like the auctioneer's "going, going," we can't dwell. It would be folly to continually rehash old material for these pages. "Hash" may be good for an occasional meal, but no one wants it as a steady diet.
Don't take everything for granted that you see in these pages. Think for yourself and prove all things, holding fast that you have until you can replace it with something better. The editor is honest in all he says; so remarkable for honesty indeed, that he has received the name of "Honest John"—but nevertheless try everything yourself—it is wonderfully improving.
The Eclectic Medical Journal, Vol. XXXIV, 1874, was edited by John M. Scudder, M.D.