How to discover a medical quack according to a 1858 newspaper

How to discover a medical quack

(Humorous story transcribed from Memphis Daily Appeal., August 08, 1858)


Hon. David Paul Brown, of the Philadelphia Bar, relates the following good story in a late work of his:

A quack had instituted a suit for medical services against one of his neighbors, and the suit being brought for the use of another, became himself the witness.

The Medicine bottle 1913 by Lewis Wickes Hine (Library of Congress)

A Mr. Williams, who was employed to defend the suit and expose the quackery and ignorance and worthlessness of the service rendered, subjected the doctor to the following examination:

  • Counsel — Did you treat the patient according to the most approved rules of surgery?
  • Witness — By all means, certainly I did.
  • Counsel — Did you decapitate him?
  • Witness — Undoubtedly I did; that was a matter of course.
  • Counsel — Did you perform the Caesarian operation upon him?
  • Witness — Why of course; his condition required it, and it was attended with great success.
  • Counsel — Did you, now, doctor, subject his person to autopsy?
  • Witness — Certainly; that was the last remedy I found.
  • Counsel — Well, then, doctor, as you first cut off the defendant’s head, then dissected him, and he still survives it, I have no more to ask, and if your claim will survive it, quackery deserves to be immortal.

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She cohost the Podcast: Alabama Grist Mill and developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and

All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.