A reputable paper could have been expected to give Barter an
opportunity to add
his own comments to Madden's paper at the time of publication
or, at the very least, give him a right of reply in the following
issue. They did neither.
The Dublin Hospital Gazette
refused to insert
Barter's reply. The editor had been prepared to publish it; had, in
fact, 'gone over the letter line by line' and, together with Barter,
had made a few alterations to it. But he was over-ruled by the
governing committee; it appears that Dr Corrigan 'was an influential
proprietor' of the journal.
Barter was no stranger to ill-informed
criticism. He had borne it stoically when he added vapour-baths to
St Ann's, and again when he built his first Turkish bath there. He
had confidence enough to let it ride, firmly pursuing his medical
objectives in the knowledge that he was right. He knew that once
they had accustomed themselves to the new ideas, those diehard
'traditional' hydropathists among his patients who had stopped
staying at St Ann's,
would return. They did.
But he could not allow himself the luxury of
such a response on this occasion. His reply showed that he was well
aware that this time it was not merely his personal investment which
was being threatened. The Turkish Bath Company of Dublin was a joint
stock company; the investments of some small shareholders were also at
The day after the attack appeared in the
Dublin Hospital Gazette, it was reprinted in the Cork Daily
Herald which could be considered Barter's local paper and one,
moreover, which a much larger number of his potential patients would
read. Barter sent his unpublished reply to the Herald whose editor
was less constrained than that of the Gazette.
He wrote that he should have thought that a
statement so full of error as that of Dr Madden was not deserving of
comment or correction if Dr Corrigan, a man who stood so high in his
profession, had not 'endorsed it with his own name, thereby coming forward
to criticise in a public manner a question which he had not cared to
honour with a personal investigation.'
He denied that the atmosphere of the bath was
'composed of dry parched air'; on the contrary it was pure and
fresh, constantly renewed with an effective ventilation system and
'amply supplied with moisture.' The exclusion of 'visible vapour'
had been explained on many occasions in his public lectures and in
print, and 'ignorance on this point on the part of members of the
profession' was inexcusable.
As for the serious accusation that the hot
room was heated by a flue which channelled fume-laden hot air
directly from the furnace, he said that he had, 'a just claim' upon
to set this matter in a true light before the
public, by correcting the errors or mis-statements in question, in
as open a manner as he has now put them forward.'
The change from visible vapour to pure air, he
explained, was made after much experimentation. He considered that
the bath which David Urquhart had first erected at St Ann's was more
like a true Oriental bath.
It was heated by a hypocaust, and the washing
fountains being situated on the highest level and hottest part of
the bath, caused the water which the bathers had used, saturated
with soap and other impurities, to flow over the heated floors. By
this means a disagreable cloudy atmosphere of steam was maintained,
which however enjoyable to those accustomed from their infancy to no
better, was found by me and other medical men to be highly
objectionable, and especially prejudicial to invalids, on account of
its tendency to raise the circulation and produce other distressing
When not actually quoting from Madden, Barter
was terse. He denied that the air was heated by hot fumes led from
the coke-fed furnaces through channels into the bath room. Finally, he hoped that if the two writers,
again venture before the public, they will
endeavour to master their subject, and not lend their names to fill
the pages of a respectable journal with statements based on utter
ignorance, and thus occupy my time, as well as the time of others,
in reading, correcting, and contradicting their puerilities. I shall
be happy to afford them ample opportunity of doing so at my
establishments at Blarney, Cork, Killarney, Limerick, Bray, &c, &c.
Barter chose to answer his critics briefly and
with dignity, preferring to challenge them to visit his
establishments and then correct their mistaken assertions.
reprinting of the letters of Corrigan and Madden in the Cork Daily
Herald allowed others to participate in the fray.
Support from others
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