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Health, or, How to Live

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    THE DOCTOR

    “THE following ‘Composition’ was recently read before a College in Wisconsin, by one of the young lady students.HHTL 170.1

    “He came to our house, — the doctor. Happy the homes which he never enters; yet how many have watched for his coming, and have felt the moments were ages while they waited. Their thoughts turn from the dear one prostrated by disease, to the doctor. The sick one sighs, and his pain increases as he thinks of the hours that must intervene before the doctor comes; and when he feels his pulse throbbing beneath the touch of that one, and knows that his ear is listening to his complaint, how confidingly he speaks. How carefully the attendant notes the doctor’s directions. How unquestioning the faith of the patient, as he swallows the nauseous mixture. Very poisonous it may be, but he expects it will cure, because the doctor gives it, though if he had been well, and had swallowed as much poison by accident, he would have feared death. Oh! who will tell us where the magic lies, by which the doctor can so change the action of the vilest drugs. Are these death-dealing potions aimed only at the disease, and will they dislodge the enemy and leave the citadel in which he had entrenched himself unharmed? Bombs and cannon may drive out the foe, but heaps of mouldering ruins will greet the conqueror as he enters the city.HHTL 170.2

    “And is this all the virtue the healing art possesses? Nay: degrade it not thus. The instincts of man concerning its mission are true. It would alleviate pain and banish disease, and it would do this by eliminating its causes, and that, in such a harmless yet effectual manner, that the body would be like a well cultivated garden, where the extraction of the weeds leaves each plant room or development, and beauteous growth.HHTL 171.1

    “Hygeia’s form is not marred by disease, invited by abnormal gratification; a stomach with endless craving has not stolen the roses from her cheeks and left sallowness instead. She has not the lack-lustre eye of a dyspeptic; neither is her step that of the invalid. She leads her followers in pleasant paths, and from her lips they are taught lessons of self-knowledge. But the multitude, listening to siren voices promising greater pleasure in self-gratification, wander in ignorance, despising her counsel; and the doctor either enveloped in the same ignorance which surrounds them, seeks a panacea for their woes, by divining deep in poison’s Stygian waters, loving himself to wallow in the same mire, or else he fears the cry of public opinion will be against him, should he follow out his own convictions.HHTL 171.2

    “In thus rendering tangible thoughts that would come, we vent no spleen against the Medical Profession. It is a noble one. Would that its practitioners were all worthy exponents of its elevated character. But when we saw the doctor come in our house, we saw him take an ignited roll of poisonous weed from his mouth which he had left lying on the gate post. But not there could he lay aside the defilement caused by his cigar. Saturated within with the juice of the weed, scented without by its vapor, with his mind under its influence, he approaches his patient. Shall we say to point out the road to health? Can he talk of habits at variance with physiological law to whom the maxim ‘physician heal thyself’ is so applicable? It must indeed be far easier to compound powders, and departing leave ‘something to take.’ And see! as he goes, he is not forgetful as he passes the gate post. Oh, shade of Esculapius, may such ignoble disciples of thine be few! — A. M., Laws of Life for April, 1863.HHTL 172.1

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