Imágenes de páginas

been previously adopted by medical authorities, but plaintiff had carried out the system more effectively than had been done previously.

Mr. Robert Curtice, of 86, Bond-street, manager of Messrs. Corbyn's drug establishment, deposed that he supplied drugs to plaintiff, who in the first year paid 8001. for drugs.

Mr. Edward Morensey, of Uxbridge, and Major Hughes, formerly of the Bengal Army, respectively deposed to having consulted plaintiff for asthma, bronchitis, &c., and to finding great benefit from his treatment.

Mr. Fres deposed that he had spasmodic asthma, and on seeing plaintiff's published letters he consulted plaintiff, whose inhalation system had so much effect that witness was in a month declared off the doctor's books. Plaintiff gave him so much medicine that, with economy, it lasted three months, and only cost at the rate of 8s. 9d. a week.

Mr. Calcraft, of Toronto, barrister, and several other witnesses deposed to a similar effect.

This closed the plaintiff's case.

Evidence was then given for the defence. The advertisements published by plaintiff in several London newspapers having been read, Dr. C. J. Williams, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and consulting physician of the Brompton Hospital, said he had practised in London for thirty-five years, and he paid much attention to diseases of the lungs. He had read Dr. Hunter's work, which stated that “the root of consumption was in the lungs, and that tubercles were but the fruits of imperfect respiration.” Witness considered that doctrine to be wholly opposite to truth. The witness then pointed out at length the erroneous doctrines professed by plaintiff. In cross-examination, witness said he did not agree in plaintiff's opinion as to the inefficiency of cod-liver oil in consumption. He was aware that Dr. M‘Cormack held that all the cod. fish in the mighty ocean could not delay for a single instant tubercular decay, but that opinion should only be taken valeat quantum. On re-examination, the witness said that Dr. Jas. Clark was somewhat incredulous as to the value of medicine at all.

Dr. Bennett, physician to the London Hospital, and to the Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, and Dr. Cotton, physician to the Brompton Hospital, also expressed opinions adverse to the doctrines laid down in the plaintiff's work.

Further evidence was given for the defence by Dr. Markham, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians ; Dr. George Johnson, M.D., University of London ; Dr. Richard Quain, M.D., of London University; and Dr. Hodgkins, M.D., a lecturer on chemistry at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, who deposed to opinions similar to those expressed by the other medical witnesses for the defence.

Mr. Karslake, Q.C., for the defence, then reviewed the evidence on both sides, and asked, Could any one read plaintiff's work without feeling that its object was to inculcate the opinion that he and his assistants possessed the great secret for the cure of consumption, and that if he and his assistants were, by a railway accident or otherwise, removed from the world, the great secret of curing consumption would be irrevocably lost? It was no wonder that in one year he pur. chased 8001. worth of drugs, to be made up into 86001. worth of prescribed medicines. The learned gentleman concluded by saying, if the plaintiff had sought by a system of terrorism and misrepresentation to practise on the credulous and ignorant, then they could come but to one conclusion, namely, that his conduct had been characterized in language which was not too strong, and that the writer had well discharged a duty which he owed to society.

Mr. Coleridge, Q.C., in reply on behalf of the plaintiff, vindicated him from the allegation that he was a medical quack, and said that the libel complained of was beyond the bounds of fair criticism. The learned gentleman concluded an eloquent address by saying he trusted the verdict of the jury would enable Dr. Hunter, if he left England, to say that he came to this country with a new theory, and set himself against great authorities, provoking thereby a certain amount of prejudice; but that when he complained of being assaulted with insinuations the most brutal, in language the most cruel-not in a low journal, but in a paper well written and ably conducted - English gentlemen flung aside their prepossessions, and did him justice.

The Lord Chief Justice summed up the evidence at considerable length. That this was an important case there could be no doubt; it was important to the plaintiff unquestionably, because upon their verdict would depend his professional position, his fortune, success, and, what was of more importance, his personal character in society; for if he was convicted of being an impostor, his personal character would be irretrievably ruined. The case was also of importance, because it involved more or less the principle by which the conduct of a public writer, and his responsibility for what he wrote was concerned. It was also important because incidentally they might have to consider how far the character and dignity of an honourable profession might be sullied and tarnished by recourse being had to a course of puffing by advertising to which the plaintiff had thought fit to resort. There were one or two prelimi. nary matters which might as well be disposed of before they came to the real matter in issue. In the first place, there could be no doubt that unless it could be justified on the score of its truth, or excused as privileged, the article was libellous. To say that a man was an impostor—that he first frightened people into becoming his patients, and then treated them by pretended remedies, and that he did all this for the sordid purpose of putting money into his pocket, was unquestionably matter of a very serious and libellous character. Again, there could be no doubt but that the article was directed against the plaintiff. He was named by name, the unfortunate circumstance of a charge having been brought against him by Mrs. Merrick in the police court was referred to, bis double diploma was remarked upon, and no reasonable man could doubt that the plaintiff was the person to whom the article intended to refer. Indeed, no attempt had been made on the part of the defendant to disguise that fact from the jury. Lastly, the defendant was unquestionably liable to this action; he was the printer and the publisher of the newspaper in which the article appeared, and as such was responsible, whether the alleged libel was written by himself or by others. It was when they came to the pleas put upon the record by the defendant that they came to the real contest between the parties. The defence was rested upon two grounds. In the first place, the defendant said, “ What I have written and published is true; and as by the law of England truth is not libellous, I am justified in writing the article complained of.” In the second place, he said—and it was a matter well worthy of their consideration—"Even if I should fail in making out to the necessary extent the plea of justification—in other words the truth of the libel-nevertheless I say that, looking at all the circumstances of the case, I, having exercised all needful caution in the matter, having exercised my judgment to the best of my ability in discussing a subject concerning the public, was justified in writing the article in question." He would proceed to deal with those questions in the order in which he had referred to them. In the first case came the question whether the defendant had established his plea of justification, -in other words, whether they were satisfied that the facts set forth, however damaging to the plaintiff's character, were true; and in order to arrive at a decision upon this point it was quite obvious that they must look very critically at the book which the plaintiff published. But before they turned to that work he would shortly refer to the charge contained in the alleged libel. Having carefully considered what the charge was, they would be enabled to see how far the contents of the plaintiff's work and of his advertisements justified it. Now the charge was, that the plaintiff, in dealing with one of the most fearful diseases to which the human frame is subject, with the intention of obtaining profit and gain to himself, began by exciting unnecessarily the fears of those who might read his publication, and then proceeded to hold himself out as the only person who could cure them effectually—that he induced them to trust in the remedies which he prescribed, which he knew to be delusive, and that thus he tampered with their health and trifled with their hopes, for the sordid purpose of putting money into his pocket. If the charges were true, hardly any thing could be worse than the conduct of the plaintiff. The language used in the article was of the strongest and most bitter character ; but if the facts upon which the article was assumed to be grounded were true, --if it were true that the plaintiff had intentionally, fraudulently, and dishonestly put forward such statements as were contained in his book in order to make those who read that work his victims in purse, if not in person,

,-no language could be too strong in which to describe his conduct, for he would not only be an impostor, but an impostor and a swindler of the very worst description. Of course it was obvious that the more serious such a charge, if well founded, would be, so much more would a person against whom an unfounded accusation of the same was made be entitled to look at the hands of a jury of his countrymen for ample and proportionate redress. Bearing in mind what the charge was, let them look at what the plaintiff had done. He must, in the first place, draw the attention of the jury to one or two parts of the alleged libel as to which it was contended,—the defendant having offered no justification, as he had tendered no evidence with respect to them, the plaintiff was entitled to their verdict. That must greatly depend upon the construction they put upon those passages, which were those relating to the proceedings in the police court in Mrs. Merrick's case. Now, did they believe that in writing those passages the author of the article intended to convey that Dr. Hunter was guilty of the offence with which Mrs. Merrick charged him? Because in that case, the defendant having offered no evidence on that point, the plea of justification utterly failed, and their verdict must be for the plaintiff upon that plea. Or, on the other hand, did they believe that the charge at the police court had only been made use of as the occasion, and was not the substance of the article against the plaintiff? These points, however, although they might enable the plaintiff to obtain a verdict, were not the real matters of contest between the parties. The plaintiff had been acquitted by the verdict of a jury of Mrs. Merrick's charge; and therefore the article in question could not injure him in that respect, although it was doubtless published at a most inopportune moment, namely, when the charge was still hanging over the plaintiff's head. The main question between the parties was this: Was the system which Dr. Hunter had propounded one which an honest medical writer and practitioner would have put forward ? Was it put forward for the mere purpose of enlightening the profession and the public as to his system of cure; or was it a system of quackery which he promulgated for the sordid purpose of putting money into his pocket P He would, in placing before the jury the subject, tenour, and spirit of

[ocr errors]

the plaintiff's book, endeavour to do the best justice he could to the system put forward by the plaintiff. The plaintiff came forward professing to understand as others had not understood the true cure of consumption; he came forward professing that whereas the whole medical profession had abandoned the hope of curing this terrible disease, he had discovered means whereby in its incipient stage certain cure could be effected, while even in its more advanced stages the patient who submitted to his system might be restored to health. By way of introducing his mode of treatment, and in order to show that it must be efficacious, the plaintiff in his book entered into an account of what were the causes of this fatal disease. He said it had been the fashion hitherto to believe that consumption, or, in other words, tubercles in the lungs, was the consequence of an hereditary predisposition to disease. That, he said, was a fallacy. The true and only cause of it was impaired respiration, which acted in this way: that whereas the healthy condition of the lungs depended upon the free respiration of atmospheric air, whereby the blood might be purified, when the respiratory organs were obstructed the consequence was that the due amount which nature required of the oxygen derived from the atmosphere failed, and the consequence was that they got an excess of carbonaceous matter, which, being brought by the blood to the lungs, accumulated there, and was not disposed or got rid of.

The plaintiff said that carbon was tubercle, and tubercle was carbon; and how were you to remedy the disease set up by the obstruction of the organs of respiration? The only mode of remedying the disease was to introduce oxygen by artificial means. He said he had discovered a preventive, or rather that he possessed an instrument whereby oxygen could be inhaled or artificially conveyed into the lungs. He further said that the medical profession knew nothing of his system—that they treated the disease by medicines administered through the stomach; that it was all idle and delusive, because medicine taken through the stomach could not reach the part locally affected, but that if oxygen was inhaled by his process they got not merely the regeneration of the blood by the admixture of oxygen which nature required, but they got direct and immediate application of the remedy to the lungs. The oxygen operated with twofold effect. In the first place it acted immediately upon the carbonaceous matter of the tubercle which it decomposed, whereby the lung healed; and in the second place it entered into the system by oxydizing the blood, which was thus enabled to restore healthy matter in place of the worn-out tissues of the body. If the plaintiff's theory were true, no greater blessing could have befallen mankind than the discovery of which the plaintiff boasts himself the author. But they were told, and upon high scientific authority, that the whole of this supposed discovery was purely delusive; in the first place that it was not true that imperfect respiration was the cause of tubercles in the lungs, and that the assumption of what appeared to be the foundation of his system was wholly delusive, since it required either hereditary taint or circumstances which conduced to a scrofulous disposition in order to produce consumption. They said further that the plaintiff was deluding himself or the public when he said that tubercle was carbon, or at all events was carbon united with worn-out tissues, and that it was those two assumptions which proved the basis of the plaintiff's whole system, both as regarded the disease and the means of treating it. With regard to the imperfect respiration being the cause of tubercles, the medical profession gave facts which would appear to afford an obvious and an immediate answer. In the first place they said there were instances in which imperfect respiration had been going on for years, yet the patient had not suffered from tubercle. Cases of asthma and of distortion of the spine were given as instances in which respiration had been imperfect, sometimes in a very great degree, without tubercle following. So they said, taking the reverse of the proposition, that there were many persons who died of tubercle whose air passages were healthy; and again they said, what was more striking, that many people died of consumption whose other important organs were affected by tubercle, which could never be affected by imperfect respiration. They said, therefore, that Dr. Hunter's views, so far, were utterly untenable. Then came the question whether tubercle was, as he described it, composed of carbon. The defendant's witnesses said that it was certainly untrue, and they said that the authority upon which he based that assumption, namely, Scherar's analysis, was misunderstood, or, more properly speaking, misrepresented by the plaintiff, as to tubercle containing more carbon than the other animal tissues. It only entered into the tubercle in chemical combination, and it was not until decomposition took place that it could be separated or eliminated from the other elements with which it formed a chemical combination. To suppose, therefore, that

oxygen could act specifically upon the tubercle without at the same time acting upon the other parts of the lungs, was absurd ; and that, therefore, the whole of the plaintiff's theory was perfectly delusive. They said that had he been an ordinary intelligent medical man, he must have known that what he was writing was untrue. But the matter did not stop there. They said that even assuming that he was right in his assumption that the principal element of tubercle was carbon, and that the introduction of oxygen removed the disease by purifying the blood or by decomposing the carbonaceous deposit, when they came to the practical treatment proposed by the plaintiff, they would find it to be utterly untenable either in theory or in practice. In the first place, oxygen could only be introduced into the system to a limited extent, because the act of inhalation was exhausting to the patient and could only be carried on for a limited period. Considering the enormous quantity of oxygen that was inhaled by ordinary respiration, they were told by the medical profession that the quantity of oxygen that could be inhaled by artificial means would be so infinitesimally small that it would be of no effect; that it would not be more-as they had been informed by that very intelligent gentleman the professor of chemistry at St. Bartholomew's Hospital—than 1 per cent. Therefore the medical profession said that that part of Dr. Hunter's theory was a delusion also; and further than this, they said that even if they could get the oxygen into the lungs, it would not be beneficial. Then it was shown that oxygen could only be obtained in combination with other bodies, and that if it is evolved by the use of choloric acid, as stated by Dr. Hunter, both oxygen and choloric gas were produced, the latter of which was most irritating to the lungs of the patient-in fact, it would be so irritating to the lungs as to preclude its use; and if alcholic tinctures were used, the alcholic would seize upon the oxygen the moment it was evolved. He did not know which three of the gentlemen of the jury—for that was the proportion, according to the doctrine of Dr. Hunter, which should be affected with incipient or actual consumption-were in that unfortunate state; but he was sure they must be most interested in this discussion. However, it was not because a man put forward erroneous notions in any science that he was to be held up to universal scorn. When a man put forward views of any kind on a matter of public concern, he challenged criticism; and those who differed from him were those justified in criticizing them with severity, and might even hold up his views to ridicule, although they had no right to impute sinister motives to him. It

« AnteriorContinuar »