The Consumptive Remedy

There is a fellow in Williamsburg who calls himself a clergyman, and

sells a "consumptive remedy," by which I suppose he means a remedy for

consumption. It is a mere slop corked in a vial; but there are a good

many people who are silly enough to buy it of him. A certain gentleman,

during last November, earnestly sought an interview with this reverend

brother in the interests of humanity, but he was as inaccessible as a

chipmunk in a stone fence. The gentleman wrote a polite note to the

knave asking about prices, and received a printed circular in return,

stating in an affecting manner the good man's grief at having to raise

his price in consequence of the cost of gold "with which I am obliged to

buy my medicines" saith he, "in Paris." This was both sad and

unsatisfactory; and the gentleman went over to Williamsburg to seek an

interview and find out all about the prices. He reached the abode of the

man of piety, but, strange to relate, he wasn't at home.

Gentleman waited.

Reverend brother kept on not being at home. When gentleman had waited to

his entire satisfaction he came back.

It is understood it is practically out of the question to see the

reverend brother. Perhaps he is so modest and shy that he will not

encounter the clamorous gratitude which would obstruct his progress

through the streets, from the millions saved by his consumptive remedy.

It is a pity that the reverend man cannot enjoy the still more complete

seclusion by which the state of New York testifies its appreciation of

unobtrusive and retiring virtues like his, in the salubrious and quiet

town of Sing Sing.

A quack in an inland city, who calls himself E. Andrews, M. D., prints a

"semi-occasional" document in the form of a periodical, of which a copy

is lying before me. It is an awful hodgepodge of perfect nonsense and

vulgar rascality. He calls it "The Good Samaritan and Domestic

Physician," and this number is called "volume twenty." Only think what a

great man we have among us--unless the Doctor himself is mistaken. He

says: "I will here state that I have been favored by nature and

Providence in gaining access to stores of information that has fell to

the lot of but very few persons heretofore, during the past history of

mankind." Evidently these "stores" were so vast that the great doctor's

brain was stuffed too full to have room left for English Grammar.

Shortly, the Doctor thus bursts forth again with some views having their

own merits, but not such as concern the healing art very directly: "The

automaton powers of machinery"--there's a new style of machinery, you

observe--"must be made to WORK FOR, instead of as now, against

mankind; the Land of all nations must be made FREE to Actual Settlers

in LIMITED quantities. No one must be born without his birthright

being born with him." The italics, etc., are the Doctor's. What an awful

thought is this of being born without any birthright, or, as the Doctor

leaves us to suppose possible, having one's birthright born first, and

dodging about the world like a stray canary-bird, while the unhappy and

belated owner tries in vain to put salt on its tail and catch it!

Well, this wiseacre, after his portentous introduction, fills the rest

of his sixteen loosely printed double-columned octavo pages with a

farrago of the most indescribable character, made up of brags, lies,

promises, forged recommendations and letters, boasts of systematic

charity, funny scraps of stuff in the form of little disquisitions,

advertisements of remedies, hair-oils, cosmetics, liquors, groceries,

thistle-killers, anti-bug mixtures, recipes for soap, ink, honey, and

the Old Harry only knows what. The fellow gives a list of seventy-one

specific diseases for which his Hasheesh Candy is a sure cure, and he

adds that it is also a sure cure for all diseases of the liver, brain,

throat, stomach, ear, and other internal disorders; also for "all long

standing diseases"--whatever that means!--and for insanity! In this

monstrous list are jumbled together the most incongruous troubles.

"Bleeding at the nose, and abortions;" "worms, fits, poisons and

cramps." And the impudent liar quotes General Grant, General Mitchell,

the Rebel General Lee, General McClellan, and Doctor Mott of this city,

all shouting in chorus the praises of the Hasheesh Candy! Next comes the

"Secret of Beauty," a "preparation of Turkish Roses;" then a lot of

forged references, and an assertion that the Doctor gives to the poor

five thousand pounds of bread every winter; then some fearful

denunciations of the regular doctors.

But--as the auctioneers say--"I can't dwell." I will only add that the

real villainy of this fellow only appears here and there, where he

advertises the means of ruining innocence, or of indulging with impunity

in the foulest vices. He will sell for $3.30, the "Mystic Weird Ring."

In a chapter of infamous blatherumskite about this ring he says: "The

wearer can drive from, or draw to him, any one, and for any purpose

whatever." I need not explain what this scoundrel means. He also will

sell the professed means of robbery and swindling; saying that he is

prepared to show how to remove papers, wills, titles, notes, etc., from

one place to another "by invisible means." It is a wonder that the Bank

of Commerce can keep any securities in its vaults--of course!

But enough of this degraded panderer to crime and folly. He is beneath

notice, so far as he himself concerned; I devote the space to him,

because it is well worth while to understand how base an imposture can

draw a steady revenue from a nation boasting so much culture and

intelligence as ours. It is also worth considering whether the

authorities must not be remiss, who permit such odious deceptions to be

constantly perpetrated upon the public.

I ought here to give a paragraph to the great C. W. Roback, one of whose

Astrological Almanacs is before me. This erudite production is

embellished in front with a picture of the doctor and his six

brothers--for he is the seventh son of a seventh son. The six elder

brethren--nice enough boys--stand submissively around their gigantic and

bearded junior, reaching only to his waist, and gazing up at him with

reverence, as the sheaves of Joseph's brethren worshipped his sheaf in

his dream. At the end is a picture of Magnus Roback, the grandfather of

C. W., a bull-headed, ugly old Dutchman, with a globe and compasses.

This picture, by the way, is in fact a cheap likeness of the old

discoverers or geographers. Within the book we find Gustavus Roback, the

father of C. W., for whom is used a cut of Jupiter--or some other

heathen god--half-naked, a-straddle of an eagle, with a hook in one hand

and a quadrant in the other; which is very much like the picture by one

of the "Old Masters" of Abraham about to offer up Isaac, and taking a

long aim at the poor boy with a flint-lock horse-pistol. Doctor Roback

is good enough to tell us where his brothers are: "One, a high officer

in the Empire of China, another a Catholic Bishop in the city of Rome,"

and so on. There is also a cut of his sister, whom he cured of

consumption. She is represented "talking to her bird, after the fashion

of her country, when a maiden is unexpectedly rescued from the jaws of


Roback cures all sorts of diseases, discovers stolen property, insures

children a marriage, and so on, all by means of "conjurations." He also

casts nativities and foretells future events; and he shows in full how

Bernadotte, Louis Philippe, and Napoleon Bonaparte either did well or

would have done well by following his advice. The chief peculiarity of

this impostor is, that he really avoids direct pandering to vice and

crime, and even makes it a specialty to cure drunkenness and--of all

things in the world--lying! On this point Roback gives in full the

certificate of Mrs. Abigail Morgan, whose daughter Amanda "was sorely

given to fibbing, in so much that she would rather lie than speak the

truth." And the delighted mother certifies that our friend and wizard

"so changed the nature of the girl that, to the best of our knowledge

and belief, she has never spoken anything but the truth since."

There is a conjurer "as is a conjurer."

What an uproar the incantation of the great Roback would make, if set

fairly to work among the politicians, for instance! But after all, on

second thoughts, what a horrible mass of abominations would they lay

bare in telling the truth about each other all round! No, no--it won't

do to have the truth coming out, in politics at any rate! Away with

Roback! I will not give him another word--not a single chance--not even

to explain his great power over what he calls "Fits! Fits! Fits! Fits!