Madison Courier on

"Dark Forebodings"

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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