Writing in June 1861, Dr. M. Augusta Fairchild said: "The Hygienic physician will labor in the cause, even if starvation stares him in the face." She says that when she left college, it was her "determination to teach and practice hygienic truth, let the results be what they would ... such is the beauty, the adaptations of the hygienic practice to the organic needs of the people . . . we will undoubtedly triumph over obstacles which cause other physicians to stumble and fall."
There are Hygienists and "hygienists." We put the latter group in quotation marks because we name them in mockery. They may and may not be learned in their respective professions and callings and successful or not in their businesses, but they lack any genuine understanding of the basic principles of Hygiene and the all-sufficiency of its practices. To use a description long employed to set apart the pseudo from the genuine article, they are "jackasses posing as owls" in the Hygienic movement. Mouthing phrases they do not understand and parading a learning they do not possess, they are a serious threat to the uninformed neophyte who enters the movement in all good faith and is seeking diligently for an understanding of its principles and practices. They do the movement more harm than good, usually removing themselves from the current of Hygiene in time to avoid being thrown overboard to the fishes.
Whoever aspires to become expert in the art of preserving or restoring health should empty his mind, as far as possible, of all preconceived notions and be prepared to enter upon a study of Hygienic truth with as little bias and prejudice as possible. All men and all systems of thought find their level; for, after their kind, things tend to a common center. The practitioner who is ruled by a reluctance to commit himself unambiguously to a Hygienic practice, either as a practitioner or as a man, has no place in the Hygienic movement. Unfortunately, there are those who call themselves Hygienists when they are not. It is impossible to make them so without robbing the movement of all that is valuable. Men who, on cardinal points, are apart and not together (however cunning the bonds of association which seem to fraternize them while they are thus apart), are inadequate to bring opposing systems together, even seemingly, without sacrificing the truths of Hygiene enough to give the pseudo-Hygienists a decided advantage. Truth and error cannot compromise without truth losing and taking all the loss and error receiving all the gain.
The effort has been made from the beginning to clutter up Hygiene by mixing it with the various forms of therapeutics. Trall repeatedly referred to those who sought to combine the methods of Hygiene with those of the regular schools of drugging as mongrels and said that many such "have appeared upon the stage of action, made a brief flourish, and disappeared again, to be known no more forever." It is characteristic of such adventurers that they always parade lustily for a "rational medicine." They are opposed to all extremes. They are in favor of Hygiene considerably and drugs occasionally. They believe in using Hygiene whenever it will best agree with the constitutions of their patients, as they understand constitutions, and druggery when this would agree best. In this they are eclectics.
They do not believe in Hygiene. In fact, they cannot have faith in it, for they do not know what it is. They never dreamed that there is a true philosophy in it and a complete and consistent system about it, ample and universal, including all the truly useful means and conditions in existence.
We have had many of these rational Hygienists today who have sought to combine Hygiene with the various schools of practice that now exist but now, as in Trall's day, they have not survived. We may see, as Trall said, all over the country, so far as our information extends, a heavy mortality prevails among them. We cannot name one who has, before the public, a position of respect or influence, nor who is doing the least thing toward enlightening the people on the great subject of health, nor who is not manifestly in a rapid decline. We predict that it will not be many years before the people will very generally reach the conclusion, not only that the most rational Hygiene is that which has the least to do with drug poisons, under the misnomer of medicines, but which also has the least to do with non-drug therapeutics.
Hygiene cannot accept any mish-mash of conflicting theories and therapeutic modalities. Nor shall the Hygienic Arab permit the nose of the camel of therapeutics to be sheltered in his tent, lest he find himself out in the storm and the camel occupying the tent. If we do not make that first step into therapeutics, we will not be compelled to make that thousand mile journey to the abyss into which all therapeutic systems are ultimately dumped.
Either the principles that underlie Hygiene are correct and we should adhere to them, else they are false and we should abandon them. There can be no middle ground here. It is not possible, for example, for the principles and practices of Hygiene to be true and those of hydropathy to also be true. If the etiological hypothesis that underlies the "adjusting" practices of chiropractic is true, Hygiene is false and its principles are the merest illusions. The man who is so devoid of reasoning power that he fails to comprehend that there can be no such thing as two correct systems of care, these necessarily based on different and antagonistic principles, is like a weather-cock--unstable and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Two systems, antagonistic to each other, cannot both be based on correct principles.
As Hygienists, we should refrain from supporting all methods, measures and movements that tend to take the cause of Hygiene off its feet by maiming it. We should be radical, not rational Hygienists, not eclectics searching among the therapeutic devices of the schools of healing for adjuncts to our Hygiene.
It is admittedly true that many who consider themselves Hygienists take over some of the practices of the killing arts of the so-called schools of healing in order to secure popularity and greater incomes.
They argue that there is not virtue enough in Hygiene to insure financial success, but it is our humble opinion that the lack of virtue is in these Hygienists and not in Hygiene. The fault lies, not with the Hygienic System, but with those who forsake its principles--if they ever properly embraced them. One who compromises with error is not for but against us. The Hygienist can never rise above the excellence which belongs to his calling; he cannot rise above the innate dignity that springs from it.