This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Dr. Edwin M. Snow, Health Officer of the City of Providence, R. I.; Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Rev. Horace Bushnell, D.D., Rev. George A. Crooke, D.D., D.C.L., and others.
On its appearance, the work was received with enthusiasm by both the medical press and the public. While a few journals and individuals were inclined to condemn it and censure the author, the intelligent and the pure-minded, on all sides, recognized in him the only writer who had yet appeared able to treat these delicate subjects with the dignity of science and the straightforwardness necessary for popular instruction.
Satisfied that he had chosen the proper exercise for his talents, he composed and placed in the hands of his publisher, the following year, his not less extraordinary work, " The Transmission of Life," a treatise addressed to the male, as his previous one had been to the female sex. It was dedicated to the late Rev. John Todd, so well known for his interest in young men, and his "Student's Manual " and other works addressed to them. He accepted the dedication and addressed the author a letter, in which occurs the following high compliment to his work: "I am surprised at the extent and accuracy of your reading ; the judiciousness of your positions and results; the clear, unequivocal, yet delicate and appropriate language used ; and the amount of valuable information conveyed." Similar expressions poured in from many other distinguished critics, as, for intance, Dr. Noah Porter, President of Yale College; the Rev. Henry Clay Trumbull, the Rev. Abner Jackson, President of Trinity College, Hartford, etc.
In the same year (1870) he brought out the first edition of his " Modern Therapeutics," a technical work, addressed to physicians. This was enlarged in successive editions, until in its present form, as continued by other hands in its latest editions, it comprises two parts of 600 pages each. Although the author claimed little other originality in this work than the selection and arrangement of known facts, yet in these respects he displayed the strongly practical and original turn of his mind. As a student of the art of Therapeutics in large hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries, he had convinced himself that it is not by experiments on lower animals, nor yet on the human body in health, that the physician can attain the glorious power of alleviating pain and curing disease; it is only through the daily combat with sickness, by the bedside and in the consulting room. Chemistry and physiology, he believed, could teach but little in this branch ; observation and experience everything. Hence, in his work on Therapeutics he announced himself as "aiming at a systematic analysis of all current and ap-proved means of combating disease," selecting his formulae and therapeutical directions from the most eminent living physicians of all nations.
This work was most favorably received by medical men; and, edited and revised by competent hands, continues to be regarded as one of the most valuable works in American medical literature. The unanimous opinion of the leading medical journals, as well as of its numerous purchasers, have testified to its real and great worth to the practitioner of medicine.
Having thus established a wide, popular and professional reputation, one which would have guaranteed him a lucrative practice, it would have tempted another, no doubt, to make the most of this opportunity, so rarely granted a young physician. Not so was it with Dr. Napheys. No sooner had the three works mentioned been completed than he sailed for Europe, in order to familiarize himself with the famed schools of learning of the Old World and its rich stores of material for culture. The summer was that of the Franco-German war; and spending most of it in Paris, he was witness of several of the most exciting scenes which attended the dethronement of the Emperor. These he would describe afterwards with a vividness and power of language rarely excelled.
The excitement of the period did not, however, withdraw his attention from the studies he had in view. These were partially indicated in a series of letters he contributed to various periodicals during his absence. While these letters were principally of a scientific character, it is noteworthy how the relations of medicine to the welfare of man always occupied his attention. Thus we find, in one sent from England, June, 1870, a description of the Liverpool Medical Missionary Society, a charity which combines religious instruction with medical advice; and again, he comments on the popular instruction in hygiene which was supplied at that period to the English workingmen by a committee of competent physicians, organized for that purpose. It was the author's purpose to collect and expand these letters into a volume, but the project was not carried out.
The siege of Paris, which city he left in one of the last trains before the blockade commenced, and the prolongation of the war, induced him to return home. In the United States he found offers from several publishers awaiting him, which would more than occupy him for a full year. There was a new edition of his "Therapeutics " demanded, and a revision of both "The Physical Life of Woman" and "The Transmission of Life." A New England firm urgently pressed him to superintend the production of several hygienic works, and secured him as literary adviser to their house. He assumed the editorship of the "Half-Yearly Compendium of Medical Science," and also of a "Physi-cian's Annual," besides undertaking a number of articles for the periodical press, both scientific and popular.
To this active literary life he devoted the year 1871; but at its close felt more strongly than ever that he must give himself several years of studious quiet, in order to accomplish his best. Refusing, therefore, any further engagements, he sailed for Europe again, late in 1871, and did not return this time until the spring of 1875. In this period, of more than three years, he visited almost all the principal cities of Europe, and enjoyed the friendship of many eminent men at London, St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Paris. Reading, visiting hospitals, and attending clinics, he accumulated a mass of material which he designed to work up into future literary enterprises.