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medical science. But this pleasant jest of changing one letter in an old famfliar drug-name strikes us as among the drollest of such puerilities, lately to be observed.
THE PERILS OF SENTIMENTAL FICTION. — The mischief done by sentimental fiction as an etiological factor in many abuses and aberrations, should not be overlooked by thoughtful physicians, or by the parents and guardians of youth, whose opinions such physicians may often help to form. It is a queer fact that parents closely overwatch in health, and physicians assiduously inquire into and regulate, in sickness, the foods which go to nourish and build up the bodies of the young under their care ; while the books, which are as the diet of mind and soul, are very rarely made the subject of inquiry or regulation by either. Such a negligence is especially odd, and especially unpardonable in these days when hypnotism and “mind-cure" demonstrate to us the marvellous power of spirit over matter, and how a fixed idea of an unwholesome sort may lead by a straight, short road to diseased physical conditions, and how a trained and resolute will may practically, and for a long time, nullify physical ills. Beyond all question, the books that are read by the young are responsible, to an incalculable degree, for the birth of impulses and the training of the will for good or evil. In all cases of nervous desease, especially of the hysterical sort, a close inspection of the patient's library may be followed by as useful results as a close inspection of the patient's diet-list. Everything pessimistic, everything morbidly sentimental, everything even remotely erotic should be hunted down and banished from the mental pabulum as intelligently and definitely as anything indigestible or dangerously stimulating from the physical. Literary therapeutics will yet become a useful branch of that liberal modern medical practice which aims to treat the patient as a whole, and is powerful and wise in treating the mind through the mind, as the body through the body.
No one who intelligently followed, in detail, the testimony in the shocking Ward-Mitchell case, and especially the letters that passed between the wretched girls, can fail to be struck by the fact that many passages in the letters read like verbatim quota
tions from the crassly silly and erotic novels, which too often form the sole mental food of young people of their type. There can be little doubt that more than one seed which blossomed to the black flower of that sickening tragedy was sown by precisely such books, read and assimilated by those callow and too receptive and in one case at least — hereditarily unhealthy young women. There can be little doubt that hundreds of thousands of such seeds, destined to blossoming only less black, are being sown the length and breadth of our land by cheap, foolish, coarse novels, read and mused upon by foolish, immature minds. It is no fanciful danger; it is no whimsical hint which we thus seek to give to the physicians whose household influence is so widespread and so vital.
THE CHOLERA IN EUROPE is, it is true, a subject of less momentous importance to-day than in the days when the appearance of the dreaded scourge on one side of the ocean was the immediate and inevitable avant courier of its appearance on the other. Vigilance, born of dear-bought experience, and improvement in quarantine matters, are to be thanked for the hopeful fact that one European cholera epidemic, of serious severity, waxed and waned a few years ago without at all affecting America. There is every indication that the present visitation of cholera to Russia, France, and elsewhere, will cease as harmlessly, so far as we are concerned. Nevertheless, as when the war-cloud on the horizon is no larger than a man's hand, it is sane and safe to give a comprehensive study to defences and military resources, so when a disease-epidemic is but a speck in the distance it is no bad idea to search out the weak places in our sanitary armor, which it would certainly and disastrously find should it travel our way. In the course of such search it might be a surprise to hygienists to discover that many of these danger-spots are not confined to the squalors of the slums, but exist in quarters where the sanitarian would hardly dream of turning his search-light. For a single instance — in what is popularly known as the “court end” of the city of Boston, most of the householders leave town for a long vacation season. In many instances their houses are not altogether
closed, servants or other care-takers being left in charge. So rarely in summer do the refuse carts visit this section of the city that waste food not infrequently overflows the accommodation for it, putrefies in the hot air, with results which fail to attract the attention of the city authorities as promptly as they would attract the attention of the cholera microbes. Again, according to the statement of a leading newspaper, it has lately been discovered that in a pleasant and populous street within city limits there is a block of twenty houses which never have been connected with a sewer, and whose sewerage drains into a creek connected with a brook. How promising a cholera-trap this !
It is not to be supposed that Boston is alone or even prominent among American cities in permitting and overlooking such crying and dangerous 'sins against good sanitation as those instanced above, and whose list might easily be extended. But with even the smallest cloud of a possible epidemic on the horizon, it were well for every physician, every sanitarian, every public-spirited citizen to do his personal utmost toward the exposure and correction of every such evil that comes within his knowledge.
HOMEOPATHY AND THE INSANE.
[Read before the American Institute of Homæopathy.] Until very recent years the insane of the whole world have been cared for in asylums under old-school management. With the exception of one country, the same statement is true to-day. That one land where an insane man is accorded his medical rights is our own. Yet this declaration must not be received too broadly, as we look about and recognize in how few States of the Union this right is enjoyed. Three States only have done their duty, and they are New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. Each of them has chartered a State homeopathic hospital. Michigan follows, at a distance, with a State institution under homeopathic control, but not homæopathic by legal requirements; and Connecticut is supplying the lack through private enterprise.
In five, then, of the forty-four States an insane homoeopath may be treated by his chosen school of medicine. What is the
history, briefly sketched, of this growth, and what is the outlook?
The fact may not be known to the profession at large, that the first hospital for the homeopathic treatment of the insane in the world was a private institution. It was situated at Margarettsville, N: Y., and was owned by Dr. Hilon Doty. The first printed notice of his place was made twenty-four years ago in the Transactions of the New York State Homeopathic Medical Society for 1868.* It appears, in connection with the report by the secretary of the society of an effort to obtain the appointment, by the Legislature, of a commission to locate a State homeopathic asylum. That first attempt failed, and no commission was appointed; but a year later, April 28, 1869, the “ Margarettsville Retreat for the Insane " was incorporated, with a long list of trustees and medical councillors, with the evident intention of accomplishing by private means what had failed of State patronage. f It appears that Dr. Doty treated about thirty patients at his Retreat during the few years prior to the time when, in the autumn of 1869, failing health obliged him to discontinue his work. The history of the whole movement demands that due emphasis be laid at this point upon the fact that Dr. Hilon Doty was the first man in the world's history to open a hospital for the homeopathic treatment of the insane.
The next step was taken by Dr. George F. Foote, who issued a circular, December 1, 1869, asking for subscriptions of money for the erection of a hospital for the insane. Middletown was finally chosen, providing the town contributed $50,000 as an inducement for locating there. Dr. Foote's plan was to establish neither a private asylum nor a State institution, but a corporation on the model of the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York, or the McLean Asylum in Massachusetts. This plan was opposed by the Albany County Homeopathic Society, and others, and the original intention of a State asylum was maintained. One year later, April 28, 1870, the New York State Homeopathic Asylum for the Insane was incorporated, and $150,000 appropriated by the State, on condition that an equal amount should be obtained by private, subscription before receiving any of the State aid.' This requirement was unfair, and it was insuperable ; and in 1871 the charter was amended, permitting the use of certain sums for building in advance of the total subscription. Construction was then commenced at once, and the world's first State homeopathic hospital for the insane became a visible reality.
For the sake of historical completeness, a moment's digres
* Page 32.
sion should now be made. It is a step I have hesitated about taking, for obvious reasons, but one where the proprieties must give way to a statement of facts. To one man more than any other is due the credit of the establishment of the Middletown asylum and the inception of this whole movement of securing State homeopathic hospitals, and that man is Dr. Horace M. Paine. His hand is evident in the membership of the commission of 1868 for locating a site. It is shown again in 1869, in the incorporation of the Margarettsville Retreat. And again in 1870, when the enterprise had secured the coöperation of most of the leading physicians and the energetic efforts of Dr. Foote, his hand appears once more in the change made, from the private corporation that was planned to the State hospital chartered for the people of the whole commonwealth, and for the poor as well as the rich. It is this pioneer work in New York which has made possible, or at least has smoothed the way, for similar successes in other States. But even in 1870 the charter might not have been obtained in that year had not the omnipotent man of the time become interested and nodded his approval. That man was “ Boss" Tweed.
Upon the completion of the main building, the Middletown asylum was opened by appropriate ceremonies in June, 1874, although patients had been admitted some months previously. Dr. Henry R. Stiles was the superintendent at the time, and continued to fill that office until 1877, when, in May of that year, he was succeeded by the present superintendent, Dr. Selden H. Talcott. Under his well-known and able management the hospital has become famous the world over for its uniformly high recovery rate and its low mortality. The results of treatment at Middletown have always been the starting point for appeals to legislatures in other States for similar institutions, and they are appended as table A. Its buildings have steadily increased in number and value, and its insane population now numbers between 800 and 900. In spite of its great prosperity efforts have been made by certain State officials, during the past three years, to limit its usefulness; but the fight is still in progress, and without doubt our parent institution will retain the rights granted to it by its charter.
Another asylum in New York State has often been regarded as a homæopathic institution. That is the one at Binghamton. It is true that Dr. Theodore S. Armstrong, the superintendent from July 1, 1880, until his death, December 27, 1891, was a homeopathic physician; but the charter was not in favor of homeopathy, nor were the trustees adherents of our school, and the assistant physicians, together with the present superintendent, are allopaths.