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In an article in the Contemporary Review for January, 1874, on the Treatment of the Body after Death, by Sir Henry Thompson, the writer takes exception to intramural disposition of the remains of the dead, for the reasons given above, and makes a strong argument in favor of cremation, or burning. And he quotes some recent examples of the process as practised by Dr. L. Brunetti, Professor of Pathological Anatomy in the University of Padua. "These," he observes, "were exhibited at the Exposition of Vienna, when I had the opportunity of examining them with care. Professor Brunetti exposed the residue of bodies and parts of bodies on which he had practised cremation by different methods, and the results of his latest experience may be summarized as follows: The whole process of incineration of a human adult body occupied three and a half hours. The ashes and bone earth weighed 1-70 kilo., about three pounds and three-quarters avoirdupois. They were of a delicate white, and were contained in a glass box about twelve inches long, by eight inches wide, and eight deep. The quantity of wood used to effect absolute and complete incineration, may be estimated from its weight, about 150 pounds." He adds that its cost was one florin and twenty kreutzers, about two shillings and four pence, English.
But let us return to our subject-water. The peculiarity of water, to absorb noxious and other elements from all possible sources, is not without its compensations in nature and human life. The very properties which tend to destroy its purity and inorganic simplicity produce a most wholesome influence upon the atmosphere. Many of the most noxious qualities of impure water are derived, in fact, directly from the air as we have seen. Such is especially true of some of the most deleterious gases, of which cold water absorbs many times its volume, and thus removes from the air, elements, to breathe which would be attended with consequences the most mischievous. The peculiar influence of water in purifying and disinfecting the atmosphere, and rendering it thereby the better fitted to subserve the high purposes of respiration, is not, we are confident, so generally appreciated as it deserves
to be. The subject is easily illustrated, on a small scale, in one's sleeping apartment. If a pail of pure water be left in such a room over night, the air of the apartment in the morning will be perceptibly sweeter in consequence, while the water itself has acquired a most disagreeable odor and taste. This well-known fact illustrates in a forcible manner one of the great uses of that element, and the advantages of living near large bodies of water. The air of such districts could not but be sensibly purer and better calculated to promote long life and good health. Prichard, in his Natural History of Man, has remarked the mental and physical superiority of people who live on the sea-coast and near large bodies of water. While he attributes the fact to the more direct influence of water upon the elements of nutrition, we believe it is also, in no small degree, owing to the influence of the water in depurating the atmosphere of many of those elements which necessarily impair its wholesome quality and vitalizing agency. "The cradles, or remains of the first nations, of those at least who became populous and have left a name celebrated in later times," says Dr. Prichard, "appear to have been extensive plains or villages, traversed by navigable channels, and irrigated by perennial and fertilizing streams. Three such regions were the scenes of the earliest civilization of the human race, of the first foundation of cities, of the earliest political institutions, and of the invention of the arts which embellish human life. In one of these, the Semitic or SyroArabian nations exchanged the simple habits of wandering shepherds for the splendor and luxury of Nineveh and Babylon. In a second, the Indo-European or Japhetic people brought to perfection the most elaborate of human dialects, destined to become, in after times and under different modifications, the mother-tongue of the nations of Europe. In a third, the land of Ham, watered by the Nile, were invented hieroglyphical literature, and the arts in which Egypt far surpassed all the rest of the world in the earlier ages of history."*
Due credit should also be given, in this matter, to the
* Natural History of Man, p. 136. London: 1848.
influence of ozone in localities bordering the seas and rivers. It is well known that ozone is present in the atmosphere of the sea in a maximum proportion, and its purifying agency can be no small factor in accounting for the superiority of sea air.
The specific uses of water in sickness and in the prevention of disease must not be overlooked altogether in this connection, although it is no part of our purpose to enter at length upon this phase of our subject. As a therapeutic agent, water admittedly takes high rank. It is nature's own febrifuge. Its value in all affections of an inflammatory character is generally recognized. In gastric disorders and derangements of the digestive system generally, pure water possesses highly salutary and remedial virtues. It is said of Burke that when he was indisposed, his great and only remedy was water, of which he drank great quantities, sometimes as much as four quarts during a morning-simply water, unmixed with any flavoring extract, acid, or alcoholic appetizer, or infusionwater as hot as he could drink it. "Warm water," he said, "would relax and nauseate, but hot water was the finest stimulant and most powerful restorative in the world." He seems to have had "water on the brain," as well as in it. But his confidence in the remedial virtues of his favorite specific was not misplaced, as physicians well know. The course pursued by him when ill was wiser that of his contemporaries, who were bled, blistered and "bolused" to death, secundem artem, according to the most approved practice of his time. But the medical common-sense of mankind of today is not equal to that of the distinguished Burke of the last century. If it were so, there would be fewer doctors and druggists and smaller incomes on the part of those that survived the decline of the number of nostrum-venders and nostrumtakers.
So vastly important is water from a therapeutic point of view, that a new school of medicine was established in New York, a few years since (1855), with water as its chief cornerstone (liquid). It proposed to cure all curable-and many incurable diseases by a judicious use of water and the
adjuvants of sunlight, air, diet and other hygienic agents and influences. The broad principle on which the hydropathic system of therapeutics was founded is, that disease is remedial effort on the part of nature in the direction of health-towards restoring the normal equilibrium of the organism. Its oracles maintained that such remedial effort (disease) required wise control only, exciting, diffusing or repressing, according to the nature and occasion of the special affection. All these ends, it was contended, could be attained by water, of a temperature and mode of application which the peculiar exigencies of the individual case demanded. The rationale of morbid action thus formulated is unquestionably sound; the therapeutics is simply nonsense.
However that may be, following up the wild impulse of the one idea, having for its raison d'être the flagrant abuses and absurdities of the "regular" practice, increased and intensified by exaggerated reports of marvellous cures by water, the hydropathic movement gained rapidly in public favor and public patronage, bringing into its ranks many worthy members of the regular profession who were disaffected with the grovelling routine of "scientific" medicine. Medical "reform" seems to have been the dominant idea, taken up and preached by men and women who were ignorant of the first elements of medicine. For a time hydropathy became the rage of the world. Institutions, fitted up at great expense, and with most ingenious devices for applying the "water-cure," sprung up in all civilized countries, and were filled to overflowing with the diseased and infirm of every variety. The one idea of the ignorant peasant of Graefenberg, Priessnitz, swept the two hemispheres, and for a time seemed destined to revolutionize the medical sense of the time and extinguish the medical lore of ages. But a few years of actual experience with the disorders of mankind sufficed to convince the hare-brained enthusiasts who engineered the movement that the ills of the race are too deeply rooted and of a character too subtle and chronic to be washed out with a few buckets of water and a few hours' soaking between the wrappings of a sheet pack or the folds of a wet-wrapper. And thus ended a movement