We have previously pointed out that a series of individuals, perhaps even of ages, are required for the full development and culmination of a great thought. Each individual and each age provides further light and truth, while man labors through indefinite time for the perfection of a science. Each event is the term of a series; the present is the summation of the past, which is still to be added to in the future. It was inescapable that at its origin (or rather, its revival) in the last century, Hygiene should have had many imperfections. It is certainly true that at its present stage of evolution it shall have imperfections still.

This fact was recognized by the early Hygienists, who not only held to different views and carried on different practices, but strove to improve both their understanding and their practices. Trall stated that the greatest room in the world was (or is) the room for improvement. To his classes he emphasized that the most the pioneers of Hygiene could do was to lay foundations and establish broad outlines, but that future Hygienists would have to fill in the details. Nobody thought that Hygiene had burst forth in full flower with no errors to be corrected and no further developments to be made.

Every basic and positive truth that is discovered adds to the approximation of the perfect system that belongs to the future. It not only adds to our understanding of truth, but enables us to correct past errors and to eliminate practices that are not based on truth. If we adhere to the original proposition of Hygienists, in laboring for the perfection of the science and art of Hygiene--that its true principles are to be drawn from physiology alone--and continue to work and harmonize its various parts, we will not waste time and energy seeking for Hygienic developments in all the fields of human investigation.

What was, perhaps, the basic error of the early Hygienists (all save Jennings and Graham), at least insofar as their application of Hygiene to the care of the sick is concerned, was their assumption that the remedial efforts of the body had to be regulated and directed. In pursuing the effort to regulate and direct these remedial efforts, they resorted to a wide variety of extra-Hygienic means and measures, the most important of these being hydropathy.

Water applications, massage, changes in atmospheric pressure (an elaborate apparatus was used for this purpose), electricity and hypnotism (by some Hygienists) were chief among the means employed with which to control and direct the body's remedial actions. Some of them enthusiastically adopted the Turkish bath, although this was denounced by Trall. Indeed, his opposition to this bath caused a serious breach in the ranks of Hygienists, leading to efforts to repress Trall and to lawsuits. It was but dimly recognized that their efforts to direct and control the remedial efforts of life by adventitious and extraneous means were suppressive.

All truly successful art is established upon scientific principles. The experimental art always presupposes error and disaster. No man can learn independently of general principles, except through frequent failure. The sad and disastrous experiences of life teach man wisdom quite as much as do his successes. Nowhere, perhaps, has this been more true than in the care of the sick. The healing art, as it is called, has been a long series of failures and disasters and, because of the lack of a single valid general principle, has taught only negatively.

The early Hygienists built upon sound principles. In saying this, we do not commit ourselves to all of the opinions, principles and practices which they promoted. Fundamentally, they were right and this was enough of a foundation to build upon.

Napoleon's famous remark--"Get your principles right and the rest is a matter of detail"--expresses an important truth; but he who thinks that when the principles are right the details automatically and instantaneously fall into their proper places, that they arrange themselves in their proper orders, sequences and relationships, with no effort on our part or that no mistakes are made in our work of ordering them, is naive. A true science is only slowly and laborously built up, even after the acquisition of correct principles.

The early Hygienists correctly insisted that "all healing power is inherent in the living system" and that "there is no curative 'virtue' in medicines nor in anything outside of the vital organism," and then established a lengthy catalogue of "true remedial agents and materials." They employed water cures, movement cures, sweat cures and various and sundry other cures. They neither emancipated themselves from the nomenclature of the medical system nor from the curing concept. They are not to be unduly censured for this failure, for understanding comes slowly.

They said that "disease is not, as is commonly supposed, an entity at war with the vital powers, but a remedial effort-a process of purification and reparation. It is not a thing to be destroyed, subdued or suppressed, but an action to be regulated and directed." This was the crux of their error. The true character of disease was recognized, but it was thought that it had to be regulated and directed. This effort to regulate and direct the processes of nature let down the bars to the influx of regulators and directors and led them to say that the Hygienic System "adopts all the remedial appliances in existence, with the single exception of poisons." This enabled one prominent Hygienist to advertise his place not only as a Hygieian Home, but also as the largest water cure in America. The bars down, the cures and gadgets multiplied like rats in the corn crib.

Declaring that "diseases should not be 'cured,' " and that "disease itself is a remedial process," and that "disease is an action of the vital system and ought not to be stopped, but only regulated," they insisted on treating disease "according to its nature and not by its name," and asserted that Hygiene "cures sick people by removing the causes of sickness" and that it "removes disease by removing the necessity for it."

They correctly defined "truly remedial agents" as "materials and influences which have normal relations to the vital organism," and pointed out that the preservation of health and its restoration are intrinsically the same, for "who knows how to get well knows how to keep well, and who knows how to keep well has learned the first and chiefest lesson in the art of getting well." They, nevertheless, employed numerous "remedial appliances" freely and often which had no normal relation to the vital organism and often, it would seem, neglected due attention to the means that are employed in preserving health, although declaring that they are precisely the same as those that should be employed in getting well.