Madison Courier on
April 12, 1882
This article from the Madison Courier is an interesting insight into the psychological and scientific thoughts of late nineteenth-century Americans. It begins by giving detailed accounts of the symptoms and deaths of men suffering a disease that seems to strike randomly and among prominent men. What I found interesting were the scientific analysis that this reporter was using as evidence for his claims about the disease and the references to well-known physicians and cases to encourage the reader to accept his claims. Of course, the author also uses these cases to encourage readers to buy a certain remedy for this ailment, and he makes somewhat exaggerated claims about Bright's disease. So while we see this rise in scientific debate and study, we also see the use of public marketing and the abuse of the media to influence readers to buy certain products and believe certain things. - David Brownell '09
N.B. The text below is transcribed verbatim, including the occasional typographical error.
"An Investigation of the Causes of Those Dark Forebodings Which Make Powerful Man Weak." Madison Courier, 12 April 1882, 1.
Much apprehension has been occasioned throughout America from the announcement made by Professor Proctor that the return in nineteen years of the great comet of last summer will cause the destruction of the earth. But while people are becoming so strangely exercised over this announcement, an event of far more serious importance, which is taking place to-day, seems to be almost wholly overlooked. The nature of this most vital subject can be best explained by relating the following experiences:
Bishop E. O. Haven, known to the entire land, was unaccountably awakened one
night out of a sound sleep, and lay awake until morning. His mind seemed unusually
active, and he not only reviewed his past life, which had been an eventful one,
but laid extensive plans for the future. He did not feel especially ill, but
could not account for the unusual activity of his brain, nor the restlessness
which seemed to possess him. In the morning he had but little appetite, but
was apparently well in other respects. In a few days, however, he began to feel
restless and morbid, although he tried earnestly to overcome the feeling which
had taken possession of him. But try as he would the shadow of some evil seemed
to follow him, and he was conscious of a gradual sinking and wasting away of
all his physical faculties. He had been an earnest and diligent worker, and
in his zeal frequently over-taxed his strength, and being absorbed in his duties
failed to observe the cammon symptoms with which he was afflicted, thus permitting
the work of destruction to go on unheeded. But the end finally came in a most
peremptory manner. Shortly before his death he wrote a letter--- the last one
he ever indited---in which he speaks as follows: "A belief that death is
near effects different minds differently, but probably all who are in fair condition
of physical and mental strength instinctively shrink from it with an indefinable
dread and horror. A dying man is no more able of himself to foresee his own
destiny or the destiny of those he leaves than he was before he began to die."
The recent sad and sudden death of Hon. Clarkson N. Potter is one of the most serious warnings ever given in the long list of innumerable cases of fatal neglect. It is not sufficient to say that many other brilliant men, including Everett, Sumner, Chase, Wood, Wilson and Carpenter, were swept away by the same fatal trouble. The question is, were these men sufficiently careful of their health, and could they have been saved? The Albany Argus, in speaking of Mr. Potter's sudden illness and death, says:
"One of the physicians who attended Mr. Potter here was interviewed last
evening. He stated that Mr. Potter's inability to converse had for some time
served to baffle the physicians in their efforts to determine the root of his
illness. It seems, however, that Mr. Potter, some two years ago, suffered a
slight attack of kidney disease. Unwise dependence upon a robust constitution
and naturally perfect health, and neglect of proper clothing, doubtless sowed
the seeds of disease that needed but some such personal neglect as that of Tuesday
morning to develop. From the symptoms at first shown, it was thought that his
only trouble was nervous prostration; but his long continuance in a semi-unconscious
state led to the belief that his illness was seated in a chronic difficulty
more mysterious and dangearous."
Up to the latter part of last year Mr. Edward F. Rook, a member of the New
York stock exchange, was doing business in Wall Street, New York. He had everything
to encourage him, and make life happy, but was the victim of unaccountable uneasiness.
His experience as described by one who knew, was as follows: "At unexpected
times, and on occasions when he had the greatest reason to feel joyous he was
irritable and haunted with strange feelings of discontent. He endeavored to
check these feelings and appear pleasant, but it required a great effort to
do so; after which he would again relapse into his former morbid mood. This
feeling continued for a number of months, when he became conscious of an added
sensation of lassitude. He was tired even when resting, and although experiencing
no acute pain had dull aching sensations in his limbs and various parts of the
body. Shortly afterward his head began to ache most frequently and his stomach
failed to digest properly. Being told that he was suffering from malaria he
consulted an eminent physician, who informed him that his kidneys were slightly
effected, and gave him medicine to restore them. But he grew worse instead of
better. He then consulted other eminent doctors of another school and was informed
that he had a brain difficulty somewhat in the nature of a tumor, but in spite
of all efforts to the contrary he continued to grow worse. At this time his
condition was terrible. What were at first simple symptoms had developnd to
terrible troubles. He was flushed and feverish, constantly uneasy, and yet always
weary. He had an intense appetite one day and very little the next. His pulse
was irregular, his breathing labored, and every moment of existence was a burden.
These disastrous symptoms continued, his face and body became discolored, his
heart was irregular in its action, his breath came in short, convulsive gasps.
He grew constantly worse, notwithstanding, the utmost precautions of his friends
and finally died in the greatest agony. After his death an examination as to
its actual cause was made, when his brain was found to be in a perfect condition,
and the reason of his disease was of an entirely different nature."
The experiences which have been cited above all had a common cause and were
each the result of one disease. That disease, which so deceitfully. yet surely
removed the people above mentioned was Bright's disease of the kidneys. In the
case of Mr. Rook the examination after death, while showing the brain to be
in perfect condition, revealed the terrible fact that he was the victim of a
slight kidney trouble, which had gone unchecked, until it resulted in acute
Bright's disease. The leading physicians and scientists of the world are fast
learning that more than one-half the deaths which occur are caused by this monstrous
scourge. It is one of the most deceitful maladies ever known to the human race.
It manifests itself by symptoms so slight and common, as to seem unworthy of
attention; and yet these very insignificant symptoms are the first stages of
the worst complaint known in the history of the world. Thousands of people have
died from troubles that are called heart disease, apoplexy, pneumonia, brain
fever, and similar diseases, when it was, in fact Bright's disease of the kidneys.
The ravages of this disease have been greatly increased from the fact that until
recent years no way was known to prevent its beginning nor check its increase
when it had become once fixed upon the system. Within the past two years, however,
we have learned of more than four hundred pronounced cases of Bright's disease,
many of them much worse than those above described, and most of whom had been
given up by prominent physicians, who have been completely cured. The means
used to accomplish this end has been Warner's Safe Kidney and Liver Cure, manufactured
in Rochester, N.Y., a remedy that has won its way into the confidence of the
public solely upon the remarkable merits it possesses. As a result, it is more
widely used and thoroughly praised than any medicine which has ever been before
the American public. Indeed there is not a drug store in the entire land where
it cannot be found.
Although Bright's disease is so common in cities, it is still more prevalent
in the country. When eminent physicians in the largest cities are not able to
recognize Bright's disease, it is only natural that in the country, where there
are few physicians of any kind, and those few so unacquainted with the disease
as to call it by some other name, it should rage terribly and yet unknown to
the ones who are suffering with it. Thousands of people can look back and recall
the death of friends from what was supposed to be some common complaint, when
it was really Bright's disease, AND NO ONE KNEW IT. The terrible pleuro-pneumonia,
which has been so dreaded, is usually the result of uremic or kidney poison.
Lung fever can be traced to a similar source. Most cases of paralysis arise
from the same difficulty, as well as innumerable fevers, lung, throat, head,
and bowel troubles. A vast number of ladies have suffered and died from complaints
common to their sex called, perhaps, general debility, when, could the real
cause have been known, it would have been found to be Bright's disease, masquerading
under another name. In marked contrast to the sad cases which have been above
described are the experiences of many prominent people who were as low as any
of the persons mentioned, but who were remarkably restored to former health
and vigor by this same remedy. Among this number are the following names: Col.
John C. Whitner, Atlanta, Ga.; B.F. Larrarabee, Boston, Mass.; Gen. C.A. Heckman,
Phillipsburg, N.J.; Rev. D.D. Buck, D.D., Geneva, N. Y.; Dr. F.A. McManus, Baltimore,
Md.; Edwin Fay, Davenport, Iowa; Rev. A.C. Kendrick, LL. D., Rochester, N.Y.;
J.S. Matthews, Portland, Mich.; C.W. Eastwood, New York; Dr. A.A. Ramsay, Albia,
Iowa; Chancellor C.N. Sims, D.D., Syracuse, N.Y.; Dr. S.P. Jones, Marienette,
Wis.; T.S. Ingraham, Cleveland, O.; Henry T. Champney, Boston, Mass.; Elder
James S. Prescott, North Union, O., who is a prominent member of the Shaker
Community, and many others.
To all candid minds the force of the above facts must come with special power.
They show the importance of promptness and attention to the first symptoms of
disordered health before disease becomes fixed and hope departs. They show how
this can successfully be done, and that the dangers which await neglect can
only with difficulty be removed.
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