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A sound body natural, as well as a sound body politic, speedily recovers, by skill in the use of means, from the greatest disorder.

Another mode of obviating the uncertainty of the healing art is the adoption of means to strengthen the human constitution. Let the Goddess of Health be invoked to visit the congregated artists, who clothe the human family. Let every one give ear from the hatter down to the shoemaker, and there would be constructed a coat of mail to protect naked mortals against the warring elements, which surround them. All personal constraint would cease, and the slaves of fashion set free, would recover their full power of action, and “ walk over dry shod.” This would release from a thraldom like the spell of witchcraft.

Let the celestial visitant approach those who feed the human family. Meat in due reason would be distributed to every member. The diseases of repletion and the diseases of inanition would stand rebuked in her presence.

“Fruit forbidden,” no beguiling serpent in the form of grandam, could present as fair to the eye of hungry curiosity or starving mendicity.

Suppose the invocation extend her visit to those who build houses, and she pour by her whisperings into their ears the sublime truth that man is a breather, and that air is the material of breath, and that the old woman died for want of breath, and that the air, the feeding element of the breath of life, must have free circulation around him, sleeping or waking, or he sickens and


dies. The Architect would come to the conclusion, that the edifice is not for the exclusion of the atmosphere, but for its temperate enjoyment under a regulated but free circulation. This said daughter of Esculapius, called Hygeia, might also be invoked to pour her notes into the ears of the sluggard, and the value of exercise in promoting health and long life would be understood.

If the Massachusetts Medical Society would excite an experienced mind to instruct the people of this Commonwealth, in adapting their diet, exercise, clothing, and habitation to their situation and variable climate, there might be recovered a hardy constitution, which was a birthright from hardy ancestors. This great boon secured would obviate much of the difficulty and uncertainty of the healing art. In a simpler state of society disease would become more simple.

The present age is the era of improvement. The clergy are sending the glad tidings of the gospel to farther India—the politician is teaching nations in bondage the art of freedom--the jurist is holding up, as in a mirror, the science of law, where man may read his rights as well as his duties ; the farmer is reducing animal and vegetable production to the precision of science; the artist, and manufacturer, and merchant are tasking the raging elements to toil for the extension of human comfort. Let not the Physician remain behind his neighbour in his efforts to prolong and render more comfortable human existence.

The founders and supporters of medical schools are



entitled to everlasting remembrance for their labors in calling the attention of the Faculty from speculation to nature, from the hypotheses of antiquity to the study of the structure and functions of the living man. They have constructed for medicine a beautiful temple; but its avenues and foundation are buried in a rubbish, which requires much labour in the removal. Let the youthful aspirant be sufficiently encouraged, and these avenues will become cleared. The State has granted to the Massachusetts Medical Society a fund, which might be distributed in rewards to successful adventurers, to whom should be assigned the labor of solution of the difficult and hitherto uncertain problems in the healing art. In what the funds of the society might fall short, private, individual, voluntary contribution might readily supply; for medicine to very many, if not to most of its fellows, has been a truly liberal profession in its rewards as well as its labors. In the above remarks is disclaimed all intention to withhold from the benefactors to the profession, who have elevated its standard, their merited acknowledgment.

There are no regular bills of mortality extending through the Commonwealth for a series of years, from which a comparison might be instituted to measure the extent of the improvement of the profession within the last twenty or fifty years. In the city of Boston, where its Board of Health keeps an accurate register, a result truly flattering to the sons of the healing art is obtained.


Annexed is a transcript from the records of the Board of Health, which presents an accurate obituary in the metropolis of our Commonwealth from 1813 to 1827 inclusively. In 1813 a population of about thirty-five thousand furnishes 786 deaths. In 1827, a population of 60,000, has but 1022 deaths. The whole is so interesting a document, that it is here presented entire.*

The Massachusetts Medical Society, and the constituted authorities of Boston, have been, under Providence, associated instruments of this alleviation of the lot of mortality. This Society has frowned on the presumptuous empiric, and encouraged unpretending skill to go forward in its labours. The Mayor of the city and his judicious associates have increased the comforts and improved the morals of the city poor, and at the same time diminished the tax for their support. This has been accomplished by their removal from their former close confinement to a farm, where a more wholesome diet and air, and increased occupation have supplied the elements of renovated health. The materials of pestilence they have also removed by the increased cleanliness of the streets, and more perfect drains from the cellars of the dwellings. Its quarantine has also been an important safeguard.

The regularly diminishing ratio of deaths with the regularly increasing ratio of the population, fairly deduced from the annual bills of mortality and the estimated census of the people, presents every encouragement to proceed in the march of improvement.

* See Table.

The time is fast approaching, when an approving recognisance for having discharged our duty as a connecting link in the chain of being, will constitute our only imperishable reward.

Since the last anniversary of this Society, death has invaded the ranks of our fraternity. The poor man's friend, Dr. Horace Bean, has departed at the age of fifty-four. The courteous gentleman and skilful physician, Dr. Oliver Prescott, has vacated his seat at our board, at the age of sixty-two. His vacant chair is the mournful remembrancer of a name, with which is associated honour in the history of the civil, military, and humane institutions of the Commonwealth. Middlesex, Worcester, Suffolk and Essex are the four counties, where his healing power was kindly exercised, and is now gratefully remembered, by those who had been his patients. On the sixteenth of November last, Dr. Samuel Danforth, some thirty years ago President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, “shuffled off this mortal coil” at the age of eighty-eight. It is a source of rejoicing that he is released from these bonds, because he had survived the power both of usefulness and enjoyment. Neither christian nor philosopher could desire his name or character associated with an empty mansion, which is but a lure to the pity of insolence or the scoffings of folly. Gathered, in a good old age, to the tomb of his fathers, his character, as a kind, upright, and skilful physician, survives to enlighten the Faculty, his associates and successors, in the same laborious but liberal pursuit.

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