But this is just what the water-cure advocates wanted people to believe. Their books and magazine articles and their "case reports" were all filled with instructions for the application of water-cure processes to such conditions, with rarely a mention of "other remedial agents." Theirs was a water-cure and the people should not have been blamed for accepting it as such. The mistake was made by Trall at this time of including the non-poisonous water-cure among the means of Hygiene and,
of all things, at that, as a remedial agent. At its best, it is a relatively harmless means of palliation; when applied repressively and heroically, it may be disastrous.
"Now, water is all it claims to be," continued Trall. "A flood of it can be very profitable employed in washing away the causes of human infirmities; but water alone is poor Hydropathy. This, as a system of the healing art, gives equal prominence to each hygienic agent or influence, whether it be water, air, exercise, food, temperature, &c." Thus, he at that time equated hydropathy with Hygiene. They were one system.
He continues: "It is amazing to notice with what 'eternal vigilance' our critics speak of Hydropathy on all occasions as though it were water and all water, and nothing but water. And, in fact, many of those who write themselves up or down as 'Water-doctors,' do just precisely the same thing, whilst not a few of them make a whole system of either or several of our hygienic agencies." This reveals that, as a Hygienist who used water-cure and sailed under the banner of hydropathy, he was faced with the constant necessity to defend, not hydropathy, but his own practice from the charge of being a water-cure.
"And again," he continues, "we have among the keepers of Water-Curing establishments and watering places, a variety of systems, made up of one or more of our own Hydropathic or hygienic applicances. Thus one advertises Hydropathy and 'Motorpathy;' another, Water-Cure and 'Statumination;' another, Hydropathy and 'Kinesipathy;' another, Hydropathy and 'Electropathy;' another, Hydropathy and 'Atmopathy;' and another, a trio of pathies, Hydropathy, Atmopathy and Thermopathy."
He says of these "pathies" that, "if we were to translate these titles into plain English, we should, perchance, dissipate the charm of the thing at once. If for Motorpathy we read motion, or exercise; for Statumination, ditto; for Kinesipathy, ditto; for Electropathy, ditto; for Atmopathy, air, and for Thermopathy, temperature, the mystery, and possibly the merit of the double or triple pathy would 'depart hence,' very much as the darkness is sometimes said to 'fly away' about the time 'Sol rises in the east.'" All of this reveals the fact that great numbers of water-cure practitioners recognized that air and exercise and other Hygienic means were separate from hydropathy and that, when used in conjunction with it, were not parts of hydropathy. Trail complained on this occasion that he was constantly having to repel the charge of "oneideaism" and that he had to labor with equal zeal to prevent his own readers from developing the "one-ideaism" of which he and others were accused. What he was doing, however, was that of mistaking the combination of hydropathy and Hygiene for hydropathy.
In this same editorial he says: "Above all things, let them never forget that whatever the malady, all hygienic agencies--anything in the universe except poisons--must be adapted to the particular circumstances of the case. Avoid one-ideaism in our own system, as much as you abhor that smallest of all small ideas in the drug system, viz., that natural poisons are nature's remedial agents. "This was not hydropathy or water-cure, but it spread Hygiene rather thinly over too much territory.
It is significant that on this occasion and on the same page of the Journal, Trail carried a brief account of the commencement exercises of the college and the statement that one of the graduates, Edwin Balcome, of East Douglass, Mass., read a paper entitled "Hygiene and Hydropathy." I recount all of this to show that the efforts that were made, futile as they were, to make hydropathy into a comprehensive system led to the recognition of the actual apartness of the two systems and to a realization that in sailing under the banner of hydropathy, they were sailing under the wrong banner. It was finally fully realized that water as a curative means was not more efficacious than drugs. Writing in the August 1857 issue of the Journal, Trail said that he had no faith in the virtues of water in the treatment of disease. "All the virtue we have to deal with," he said, "exists in and is a part of the living organism." He said that he had "as much faithin the virtues of calomel, arnica, peltatum, or lobelia, as we have in the virtues of cold water, and we fear that those who talk about the virtues of either have a very erroneous or imperfect idea of the true basis of the healing art. And when persons are mistaken in theory, they are very apt to be defective, and sure to be empirical in practice."
Trail added that some water-cure physicians and water-cure devotees derive their ideas "from allopathic schools and books," rather than "from truth and nature." These, he said, "undertake to substitute water for drugs. They recognize virtue as dwelling in calomel and water--in everything except the human constitution--and they prefer water solely on the ground of its superior safety; they seem to think that there is virtue enough in the drug, but somehow or other it is dangerous to handle . . ."
Writing in an editorial in August 1861, Trail said: "Water possesses no power whatever to cure any disease. Nature is the remedial principle." He had come to realize that hydropathy was a system of palliation, or in other words, of symptomatic suppression. He asserted that when fever is reduced with hot or cold applications, it is "killed or cured" on the principle of inducing vital actions in another direction. If the fever is an evil, this redirection of vital action may somehow be construed as a benefit; but if the fever is part of a remedial process, the redirection amounts to suppression of the remedial effort.
So great became Trall's criticism of hydropathic practice that he was accused of trying to destroy hydropathy. Replying in an editorial in the August 1858 issue of the Journal to a charge made by a hydropath that he "will almost be the ruin of hydropathy," Trall said: "We intend to ruin it completely." This indicates that he had come a long way since he first began practicing as a hydropathist.
Precisely at this point we may close our story of hydropathy or the water-cure. Instead of being a revolutionary movement, it turned out to be a mere reform movement; instead of calling for radical changes in the ways of life, it sought merely to substitute water in the form of baths, hot and cold applications, enemas, douches, packs, fomentations, dripping wet sheets, etc., for drugs. Such treatments have no legitimate place in a system of Hygiene.