To the tenth and revised endition.
Whilst there have been great advances in the science of medicine, especially in therapeutics, since this work was first issued, the author deems it of importance to the profession that the old remedies and old methods should be kept in view. The practitioner needs to renew his acquaintance with them from time to time, that he may lose nothing good of the old practice, and that he may clearly trace the connection between the old and the new. The student requires it, that he may attain a complete knowledge of therapeutics and materia medica.
We claim to be a free and liberal class of physicians, and we do not recognize the right of any man either inside or outside of the Eclectic ranks to dictate what we shall use or how we shall use it. Every practitioner is personally responsible for the results of his practice. If he does a patient a wrong by large doses and poisonous effects, he is guilty to the extent of the wrong. If he fails to give relief or save life because of small doses and inefficient remedies, he is equally guilty. A physician is responsible to his patients in that he agrees to furnish that knowledge and skill which comes from thorough study and close observation. He can not claim that he has done his whole duty, unless he has been "eclectic" in fact, choosing from all sources that which to him seems best.
I do not think that any one can know what Eclecticism is unless he has studied it from the beginning. It is wonderful what a mass of material the "fathers" had gathered together, and it is a matter of equal interest to note the evolution of our present practice—specific medication—from this. The reader may think it strange, but three-fourths of modern homoeopathy is from this source, and nine-tenths of modern Eclecticism.
The old-time Eclectic used a weak infusion for its direct effect, where we now use five or ten drops of a powerful tincture in water for the same purpose. There was not even the difference in dose that many persons have supposed. True, our old doctor made a liberal use of emetics, cathartics, diaphoretics, and diuretics, but he knew when to use them. He vomited his patient when the stomach contained material it could not dispose of, and whioh was not only a cause of disease, but prevented the action of needed remedies. He did not put an emetic in an irritable stomach, or use it when it was not needed. He was rather free in the use of cathartios, but they were simple and mild, and he managed to "put them in the right place," and stopped when unpleasant materials had been removed from the bowels.
Though rough in his external appearance, he was "wise in his generation," and left it for modern scientists to go over the pons asinorum with quinine, morphine, and whisky, for all diseases to which flesh is heir.
Whilst we wish to do full credit to the "fathers" in our school, and present their views fairly, we will endeavor to show that our present teaohing of "small doses of pleasant medicine for direct effect," is the rational outcome of the old studies. It will be presented in brief form, yet sufficiently full for all practical purposes. With the old and the new before him, the student should be able to make his study of therapeutics thorough, and his materia medica the assurance of a successful practice.