Nowadays, if one preach anything but ceaseless lavations,...

The Medical Press and Circular

Nowadays, if one preach anything but ceaseless lavations, he is dubbed an apostle of filth; yet Aristotle, the wisest of our race, proclaims that wisdom lies in the mean, and not in the extreme; and Bacon teaches us that we are often the slaves of a word like "filth." I will invoke a third great name to keep me in countenance, and recount that Carlyle tells us it is better to be dubbed a fool because one does not follow a beaten track than to be called wise for following the crowd.

Thus fortified, I assert that the washing of new-born infants is a superstition of the cruelest character, and is responsible for the death, by bronchitis or otherwise of very many of them. Kind nature provides the child with an emollient, unctuous armor—a most admirable shield for its cutaneous nerve endings against the sudden shock of the chill, extra-uterine world—and, instead of allowing it to discharge its beneficent function, and be shed in due course of time, we insist on flaying the infant of it, despite its howls of agony, and inflict awful torture by washing the raw and quivering flesh. Seriously, I suggest that the practice is cruel and unscientific, and should be stopped.

June 27, 1908

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