Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

repudiated the idea of feasting; return of Maister Tom alone. The but the yeoman had, it seems, often fact was, that he had resumed his pictured the return of the prodigal, position in society, and had once and the principal part of the pro more a vocation. The yeoman had gramme for the celebration of the hinted, and Tom had confirmed the event was the fatted calf. He hint, that there were to be hounds would not be denied, so the fatted at Tregarrow, and he was to be calf was killed. With his lavish huntsman; and this, though they heart he had the night before asked were only to be harriers, had raised the Dibbles, with their families, to him a foot in the scale of humanity. the feast, and old Kit the patriarch

“ Here are father's company," had requested, as a great favour, that cried out Tom, who was looking they might be allowed to sit at a out of the window ; " and what a table by themselves, as they would tag-rag party!” like for once to see all the tribes of There they came by tribes, troopthe royal family assembled toge- ing over the court, a regular migrather. This was granted. The guests tion, looking, too, as though they of the other table were only the had mustered in the highways and relations, the curate, and the do- byways. mestics. Tom laughed a good Here we be all, maister, a nice deal at the idea of this “feast of fancy lot,” said old Kit, ushering the ugly mugs." Young Pretty in the different groups. “I'm afeard Tommy had already been placed on we shall eat you out of house and the establishment. As an initiation hold.” The yeoman did at first he had been washed after a very feel some doubts on this subject, severe struggle; and as a further but a look at the dame's face showed aggravation had been put into a her assurance in the resources of clean shirt and a suit of clothes be- Tregarrow to resist even such a longing to Tom when a boy, which flight of locusts as this. gave him an air of respectability We have seen the Dibble men very repugnant to his vagabond before; we are now introduced to nature. He had now been installed the Dibble matrons, and all the as squire of the dripping-pan, a generations of Dibbles. There were very congenial office, and one bi- budding Dibbles, Dibbles in the therto unknown in the category of hand, Dibbles in the arm, and Dibble labour. To dally with a Dibbles at the breast, all illusladle, and contemplate meanwhile trating the family characteristics. the joints and the fowls as they There was one other characteristic turned on the spit, browning, drip- which their appearance established, ping, sputtering, and crackling, and that was fecundity—it was must have seemed to them the very very evident that no Dibble need perfection of work made easy. be ashamed to meet his enemy in Tommy pursued his avocation evi- the gate. Could a Gorgon's head dently with great gusto and appa- have been suddenly presented amid rent impartiality ; but we have all that group and turned them all to our weak sides and leanings, and a stone, what treasures of Gothic art close observer might see that there would they have become ! Youth was one goose-a very fat one is generally supposed to possess a which had more than its due share certain beauty in itself. Young of attention.

pigs are said to be interesting, Jim had assumed the office of young donkeys picturesque. The lord-chamberlain, or high-steward, Dibble babyhood despised such and was busy superintending the pretensions. The Dibbles at the arrangements. An altered man was breast might have been translated at Jim. There was a cock of his once as cherubs to the outer walls beaver, and an elation of manner, of cathedrals, with infinite credit to which were not justified by the themselves and the architectural

style. The matrons would have threw abroad his jokes as he dismade very meritorious medieval pensed the slices of turkey, and stonework saints or female demons, there was not a jar anywhere exaccording to the exigency of the cept when some youthful Dibble case; and as for the men, they cried to have more, and another at would have formed a collection of having had too much. Kit had shown gurgoyles, finials, satyrs, and heads himself a political tactician in profor fountains, which would have ducing this gathering—feuds and driven a fervent medievalist to dis- misunderstandings of long date traction. As it was, seen all alive, were made up now—matrons who they were “precious bits” of ugli- had never met except to show their ness, which would have delighted contempt, and had even pulled caps, the heart of a humorist, and per- now smiled graciously on each other. haps would have been more telling It was a good opportunity, too, for from the pencil of a Leech than the display of offspring and of the chisel of a Pugin.

dresses, though it must be conThe young generation had shown fessed that the Dibble wardrobes their predatory habits by spreading were more brilliant than costly, themselves over the house, and re- consisting generally of bright yellow turning generally with a bunch of and green cottons. cake or bread-and-cheese. One of So the feast went on right merthem in his explorations had dis- rily. covered young Tommy, and imme- At the other table the mirth was diately rushed back announcing, more subdued, though there were

Mother, Tommy hath been wash- glad hearts there too. The old yeoed.” At this all the younger scions man kept looking at the son, chuckof the houses started away to wit- ling out "a purty pordigal ;” the ness the phenomenon, evidently dame, too, feasted on him, and Lily regarding him in the same light as might also be excused for considereels might do a brother who had ing Tom the best part of the banbeen skinned.

quet. The nieces kept up the runThe banquet was now spread: it ning in fun and cheerfulness, though was a repetition of the supper, ex- the eldest, a very finely developed cept for the introduction of geese woman, evidently thought that the and turkeys, and that all the viands doctrine of fitness had scarcely been were steaming hot.

carried out in the pairing of Tomand “Now, then, Kit, you settle your Lily, and the curate did not seem company and I'll settle mine, and to consider the return of the prodithen we'll fall to.” And the manner gal on such terms at all an improvein which the tribes of Dibble were ment to the society. The mildest settled and placed at the table, under of the nieces, however, did her best the leadership of their heads, did to console him. The minor guests great credit to their organisation. showed all the effects of good Old Kit acted as master of the Christmas cheer. When the dinner ceremonies with great tact; and old was ended, Kit seemed to be look. Beelzebub, in virtue of his having ing to the yeoman for a toast. attended tithe dinners, and Pretty“Not yet, Kit,” said be,

we will Tommy, from having served for a first ask the passon to return thanks year as mace-bearer to the mayor- for Tom's return and all other meralty, had been elected as chief car- cies received.” And the curate did vers. It was a great occasion for this well and affectingly. the Dibbles. All the great family Here there was a pause, and then qualities were in the ascendant. the yeoman, after sitting for a while The fish-chowder Joycey's tongue as if in silent thanksgiving, flourishdropped oil; old Beelzebub's seemed ing his tankard, rose and shouted out hung to no other phrase than one lustily, “Now, friends and neighof blessing and endearment. Kit bours, one and all, a jolly wassail !”

PHYSICIANS AND QUACKS.

cures,

Huc, the traveller, relates that which act upon it; we allude to when a Lama physician happens to the undeniable fact that the Quack be without a particular drug, he is does not even attempt to secure an by no means disconcerted; he writes experience. His stock in trade is the names of the remedies on pieces a Panacea. He has a Pill, or a of paper, which he moistens with Lotion, or a Manipulation, which saliva, and then rolls them up into cures most, if not all diseases. He pills. The patient tosses them proclaims with emphasis some abdown, in perfect reliance on their surd proposition, some theory, which medicinal virtue. To swallow the is meant to justify his practice. name of a remedy, and to swallow Thus, for example, he affirms that the remedy itself, say the Tartars, "all diseases are owing to impurity is one and the same thing. Satirists of the blood," and his panacea in Europe would unanimously assent purifies the blood; or that “all to this proposition. And yet these diseases are due to a deficiency of very satirists, after contemptuously the nervo-electric force,” and his ridiculing the ignorance and hum- treatment will “ restore” that force. bug of medical men, no sooner fall These bold theoretic assertions are ill, than they resign themselves supported by an ostentatious list of with abject submission to the pre

Jones was suffering from scriptions of their butts. Nay, it lumbago; he took the pills, and is has been observed that those whose now in health.

Brown was dysscorn of the Faculty is loudest, are peptic; he swallowed the mixture frequently the most credulous of freely, and is now recovered. Robinthe pretensions of a Quack. Nor son was a martyr to the gout; he is the reason of the general reliance followed the treatment, and is upon Quacks difficult to discover. “better than ever he was in his The Physician is supposed to be life.” Such cases are multiplied guided by Theory; the Quack is and paraded. They may be authensupposed to be guided by Experi- tic, or they may be fictions; but let ence. And such is the defective us assume them to be genuine, and training of all but exceptional a moment's consideration will show minds, that there is a very general that they are no evidence of any and ineradicable distrust of Theory, causal connection between the action as if it were something aloof from of the drug and the recovery of experience; and a reliance upon health. Nay, more, except in the Experience as if it were free from mere coincidence, no attempt is theory.

made to show such a causal conYet a very slight examination nection. will discover that the Quack is not When the public is authoritatively only guided by some theory, but is told that all diseases originate in far more the slaveof Theory than the the blood, it accepts the statement Physician is. _When he pretends to as if it were a first truth. Few rely only on Experience, in vaunt suspect it to be a theory, and a preing the cures he can effect, and the posterous one. Few think of incures he has effected, the fact is quiring of physiologists and pathothat he has not one single real ex- logists—i.e. men who have specially perience to justify his boast. In studied the organism in health saying this we are not simply al- and disease, and who, whatever luding to the excessive difficulty of their ignorance, must at least know securing a genuine experience, ow more of such subjects than men who ing to the great complexity of the have never studied them at all. organism and of the influences Yet surely the first step should be

to ascertain, if possible, whether until he has at least attempted to known facts justify the theory of settle these questions, we must proimpure blood being the origin of nounce him an impostor. He is disease. Having come to an under- cheating us with words, as the Lama standing on this point, a second physician cheats his patients. step is necessary. When the im- All who have even a glimmering purity of the blood has been proved of positive knowledge respecting to be the origin of disease, there the organism, and who know upon will come the necessity of proving what a multiplicity of concurrent that the drug, or treatment in ques- causes digestion depends, will partion, does purify the blood as as- don the physician, if, with all his serted. After this proof has been skill and stored-up experience, he given, the cures which have followed fails in re-establishing the disturbed the employment of the panacea will equilibrium, and fails in bringing form rational evidence of the causal back the “lost vigour.” But this connection. But to accept an hypo pardon should not be extended to thesis as to the cause of disease, the impudent charlatan, who, disand then to accept an imaginary regarding all these difficulties, preremedy, without attempting to tends that the case is as simple as verify either the truth of the hypo- A, B, C. In these days it is unparthesis, or the action of the remedy, donable in him to be so wholly is a curious, and, unhappily, a too ignorant of his ignorance. He frequent illustration of the fallacy must know that he has never of "relying on experience” without studied the organism ; he must ascertaining whether what we rely know that he has never put one of on is the experience it pretends to his hypotheses to the test; he must be.

know that he is trading on the It is but too evident that the ignorant credulity of the public. causes of disease are numerous and There was a time when such charcomplex. A man may “destroy latanism was excusable. All men his digestion” by excessive brain- were ignorant, and the Quack work, by overfeeding, by under- was perhaps less dangerously so feeding, by abuse of alcohol, by than the Physician, because he did licentious habits, &c. The treat- not mistake his ignorance for knowment which ignored these several ledge. It is otherwise now; and causes and their organic conse- although on many grounds it is not quents, and which pretended by a desirable that the Legislature should panacea to " restore the digestive interfere, it is certainly desirable vigour,” might seem to the Quack, that Public Opinion should enerand to his dupe, a hopeful effort, getically brand, and the Press unbut it must make all rational minds ceasingly expose, every attempt to seriously indignant.“ Digestive trade on credulity. Why have we pills” sound full of promise ; and so many journals which are vigilant the hope of “ restoring tone to the of moral and intellectual health, stomach” will be very alluring to and none to bestow a thought on people who have not the slightest bodily health? Why are bad poets knowledge of the stomach, who can and shallow philosophers merciform no definite idea of what its lessly criticised by a hundred pens, “ tone” may be, nor on what its and trash, ten times more injurious “ vigour” depends, and who have in the shape of medical doctrines never attempted to explain how and quack pretensions, left to the this tone is to be restored by the contemptuous silence of the wellpill. If the stomach has lost its informed, and an occasional sneer tone, and if the disease depends on in one or two medical journals ? that loss, and if the pill will restore Experience is difficult in medicine, that tone, then indeed we may ac- and has almost always to be intercept the Quack as a benefactor; but preted by Theory. The only cases in which it is simply relied on are many other words which veil ignothose in which specifics are employed rance. He assumes an acid condiwhose action is obscure. Quinine, tion of the blood, and prescribes for for example, is known as a specific it, without once attempting to ascerfor ague. Its mode of action is by tain whether there ever is, in health no means clear; but experience or disease, any free acid in the blood. tells us that its effects are constant, But in saying this, we are only sayimmediate, and greatly superior to ing that Medicine is still in a very those of any other medicament. imperfect condition, and that its Naturally it will be employed in all professors must reflect that condicases which resemble ague in their tion. chief characteristics; but this is It would be easy to collect a small done cautiously, vigilantly, and con- volume of telling citations to prove tinued only in as far as experience the preposterous opinions which of its effects seems to point out a have at various times determined constancy of action. Let a man the practice of medicine, and which employ quinine as a panacea, in- rival the absurdities of the boldest stead of a specific—that is to say, quacks. But as this would perhaps let him give it as a cure for all, or be considered unfair by the Faculty, many diseases, besides ague—and we will select one specimen only, he becomes a Quack. He does not and it shall be from the writings of “rely on experience," but on theory; their pride and glory, Sydenham ; he generalises from one disease to a wiser physician, considering the all diseases; he quits the ground of state of science in his day, could experience for that of supposition, or not be named. Yet he says, speakof impudent assertion. Whereasing of acute and chronic rheumathe Physician, far less the slave of tism—“Both sorts of rheumatism theory, trusts more to experience by arise from inflammation. No one employing quinine only in such doubts the inflammatory nature of cases as are warranted by observa- pleurisy, and the blood of rheumattion and experiment. He, too, must ism is as like the blood of pleurisy often grope in the dark ; must often as one egg is like another. Hence employ the remedy in ignorance of the cure is to be blood-letting.” what its effects will be ; but he is Had Sydenham, or any one else, vigilant to note wbat its effects are, ever attempted by accurate tests to and on perceiving ill success, can ascertain whether this supposed reresort to other remedies. Not so the semblance of the two bloods was Quack. He has but one arrow in peculiar to these two diseases ? No. his quiver, and with it he cures or The blood of a gouty, of a consumpkills.

tive, of a rheumatic, of a bilious, of It is obvious that in drawing a dyspeptic, of a neuralgic patient these sharp distinctions, we are con- is one and the same blood ; one egg sidering types, not individuals ; we is not more like another than the take the Physician and the Quack, blood of each of these is like the each according to his own professed blood of another; are they, therefore, standard. In practice it is but too to be treated in the same way? But evident that the Physician not un- this is a trifle compared with the frequently acts with a recklessness logic which concludes that “hence and confident ignorance which the cure is to be sought in bloodbring him within the range of the letting." Why, he shall tell us in batteries opened against the Quack. his own candid style. “Respecting He, too, cheats himself and us, with the cure of rheumatism,” he writes words. He relies on baseless hy- to Dr Brady, “ 1, like yourself, have potheses; and prescribes remedies lamented that it cannot be cured withwhich are to act on metaphysical out great and repeated losses of blood. entities. He is glib about " vital This weakens the patient at the forces," "tone," "electricity," and time; and if he has been previously

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »