Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 53, 1888

Butler, G. I.

Healdsburg, California

February 10, 1888

This letter is published in entirety in 20MR 373-377.

Dear Brother Butler:

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing W.C.W. [W. C. White] read your good letter to him in reference to many important matters. There is one matter I wish particularly to notice—that is the subject of Dr. Gibbs in connection with Dr. Maxson. You know that he has resigned his position at the [Rural] Health Retreat and this will make it necessary for some facts to be presented before you and the sanitarium at Battle Creek. I can but feel that there is a determined purpose, whether Dr. Maxson and his wife are aware of it or not, to misinterpret and misunderstand Dr. Gibbs’s methods of practice; and notwithstanding I have plainly presented before Dr. Maxson that he certainly views matters in a wrong or incorrect light, yet this makes not a whit of difference with his ideas and plans of action. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 1

When the great question of health reform was opened before me, the methods of treating the sick were plainly revealed to me. [In] the old-school cruel practice and the sure results, where one claimed to be benefited, there were thousands [who were] made life-long invalids who, had they never seen a physician, would have recovered of themselves without implanting in their systems diseases of a most distressing character. Eclectic was less dangerous. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 2

The homeopathy which creates so deadly opposition from the regular practice, was attended with far less evil consequences than the old-school practice, but did much harm because it could be resorted to so easily and used so readily with so little expense that many practice upon themselves and fall back upon this without real knowledge of their ailments and do great harm to themselves, when a proper regulation of their diet, abstinence from tea, coffee, and all spices and flesh meats [and] gaining an intelligent knowledge of temperance would be medicine above all drugs. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 3

But Dr. Maxson has insisted in putting his manner of treatment in a false light. He has repeatedly stated that if Dr. Gibbs did not use drugs he was afloat and could not do anything. In Oakland I had another conversation with Dr. Maxson, and I urged him not to make so wonderful a specialty of methods of drug using. I told him [that] after the whole system of drug medication had been laid open before me, I was shown of God that we should have an institution conducted on hygienic principles. In that institution lectures should be given, not on how to use drugs, not to lead minds and educate them in the methods of drug using, but [to] teach the people the better way—to live healthfully and do without drugs. The words were repeated, Educate! Educate! Educate! 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 4

I then saw that [with] an intelligent knowledge of pure air, making use of it wisely and abundantly, and [with] simple, healthful food taken into the stomach temperately, and eating and drinking to the glory of God, ten thousand would be well who are now sick. Then I was taken from room to room and shown disease and its causes, and the result of drug medication. I was then shown through rooms of a hygienic institution that was conducted on hygienic principles and these simple means—sunlight, pure air, healthful habits. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 5

Constant instruction needs to be given, line upon line, precept upon precept, in regard to the necessity of clean bodies, clean houses, and clean premises. Breathing clean air would preserve health without the use of drugs. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 6

But to deny self, to restrict the appetite, to eat only wholesome food and exercising temperance in eating the wholesome food, abstaining almost wholly from the flesh of dead animals that creates nine-tenths of [the] disease in our world, is too severe a process for a large part of our world and of professed Christians to enter into; so they eat [and] they drink without reference to health, and the result is a depraved condition of the system; then they resort to the [use of] drugs, because [that is] easiest, and there continues to be a wicked disregard of the laws of life and of health in taking care to preserve good health. There are diseases of every stripe and type because self-indulgence is practiced through willing ignorance. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 7

I tried to present to Dr. Maxson something of the matter the Lord had shown me, but I think it did not make the least impression on his mind. He stated that he regarded homeopathy as of the devil; of the same character as spiritualism and mesmerism. Now, Dr. Gibbs is not a homeopathic physician, but he takes the good of all. He obtained his education in the regular school and has his diploma from that school. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 8

The use of water to help the sick, plenty of exercise, education as to how to breathe, and education as to purity of habits would throw drugs in the shade in their own place where they naturally belong. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 9

Dr. Maxson thinks he knows a great deal more than he does, and here is the very seat of the difficulty. Were I sick, I would not trust myself in his hands, for the principles of kill or cure, I fear it would be to kill. A deeper knowledge than he now has would give him a sense of [the] little knowledge he really has and the much more that he needs to know by precept and practice before human life is safe in his hands. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 10

In Oakland I tried to show Dr. Maxson that his ideas were not after God’s order in the set ideas that he could not harmonize with Dr. Gibbs. You say you have had an education in hygiene. Now, Dr. Maxson, you have all the opportunity in the world in the Rural Health Retreat to practice that education and demonstrate to Dr. Gibbs the fact that hygiene will do wonderful things. Just demonstrate this. Do not, if you see hard work in this practice, like many others, leave it aside and resort to your strong doses of drugs. I have positive light that this is tampering with human life. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 11

But notwithstanding all I could say, he would go over the same ground again, presenting the infallibility of the allopathy above the homeopathy. I was sure all that I had said of the light which the Lord had been pleased to give me was in his mind as thistledown before the wind. He has asserted that he used less drugs than Dr. Gibbs, while Dr. Gibbs declares it is otherwise. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 12

But there has been positive harm done by the strong doses of medicine given by Dr. Maxson—such enormous quantities of quinine given to his patients which he maintains is far better in influence than less. We have not a knowledge of the same results following the use of drugs from Dr. Gibbs. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 13

Dr. Maxson had things his own way for many weeks, for Dr. Gibbs was away. He had all the opportunity to lecture, all the room to work that he chose, and then Dr. Gibbs did not stand in his way at all—let him have all the room he asked. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 14

When he sent in his resignation, a copy [of which] I will send you, he worded it in a manner that needed explanation. He resigned, it was stated, because of the incongruity of the physician associates. Incongruity—what is that he said? It was the methods of practice. He was asked to explain himself. He stated that he would stay only on one consideration—that he should have the liberty to plainly state to his patients the difference between his practice and Dr. Gibbs’s and that he should state the errors of his practice by expressing freely his opinions. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 15

This would not, he was told, be tolerated for it was just this course that Dr. Burke pursued and brought about a state of things that would break down the institution. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 16

At another meeting of the board it was proposed that it be recommended by the board that Dr. Maxson reconsider this matter of his disconnecting from the Rural Health Retreat. Elder Rice promptly answered that it would not be of the least use, for this was no hasty conclusion but a matter of deliberate thought and arriving at decided conclusions. So his resignation was accepted. There seemed to be a good understanding between himself and his wife and Elder Rice. All were perfectly united in their plans and purposes. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 17

Elder Rice could not be kept as superintendent for he was considering himself [as] constituting the whole board, planning and managing, buying and selling; and the board knew not the first syllable of the matter. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 18

He was incurring great expenses and without one word of advice or counsel from the board of directors. His sharp dealing with outsiders has cut off outside patronage, and he seems to lack the power of discrimination. He asks all the price that is set in the terms, which is looked upon as very high for board and treatment, and then if one asks for a hot water bag to be supplied with hot water, he or she is charged extra. [On] every little favor is put an extra price until they go away mad, vowing they will never enter the institution again and telling their friends never to enter. These cases are being revealed more and more, and in a very agony of distress we have been unable to correct the evil. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 19

I think now it was understood [that] if Eld. Rice did not remain, Dr. Maxson and his wife would also leave. They have formed a bond of union from the first. I wrote a letter to Eld. Rice but he made no response; but [as] soon as possible comes one from Dr. Maxson making all [the] excuses for Eld. Rice. It was evident that a firm bond of union has been formed with these parties. I will go to St. Helena in a few days and will then obtain something definite from Dr. Maxson. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 20

Eld. Rice has been very imprudent with Mrs. or Sister Heald, and I have handled this familiarity with decision in the fear of God under a great burden. Elder Rice was warned, but he persistently kept on his course. He stated that it was his privilege for the superintendent to ride with the matron, and he told me, quite aggrieved, that the church members had much talk of his always taking Sister Heald to the meeting. When the matter came up in the camp meeting at Oakland in the presence of about twenty, he justified himself that he had, he said, been spoken to in regard to Sister Heald’s riding with him and her husband not being with them, but he knew that this was no moral wrong, and therefore he went on just the same. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 21

I just arose and told him plainly he was not a Bible Christian; that the Word of the Lord was positive—abstain from the very appearance of evil and give no action for reproach to fall upon the cause of God. But, knowing that much talk was being made over his close association with another man’s wife, he had not sought in his own course of action to cut off the reproach, but justified his course. Had he seen another man taking the same liberties with his wife when she was living, he would have felt indignant. Had he seen any of the men connected with the institution, young or old, thus intimate with a married woman or young girls, he would have seen the evil and with no soothing words would have made short work of this matter. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 22

He stated he should have done so, but that he considered he was a minister, above suspicion and above temptation, he had thought, and therefore it was safe for him to do that which would be sin in another. He acknowledged that this was wrong reasoning, but every time the matter was talked upon he brought forward the same excuses. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 23

I first took Sister Heald, for I had in a dream been shown some things. Then I talked with her. Nothing, not one thing, was specified as wrong until I urged the matter and asked pointed questions and then drew out by direct questioning that Elder Rice had lain upon the bed with Bro. and Sister Heald, [and] that this was done several times. They had kissed each other and she had sat on his lap. This matter was all through the institution and has gone far and near. Bro. and Sister Maxson stated to me this was all talk. No such things had been done as were talked of, but in a few hours I had the statement from Sister Heald’s lips. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 24

After this, just about the last interview we had with Dr. Maxson and wife, Sister Maxson stated that Sister Manoah, Bro. Rice’s mother, told her all the circumstances of that one occasion of their lying on the bed together and made it a very innocent, accidental affair. I said to Sister Maxson, “I do not accept this statement, for I have had the matter from Sister Heald’s lips.” 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 25

Everything shows that these parties, Bro. and Sister Heald, and Bro. and Sister Maxson, and Elder Rice have been closely connected in bonds of sympathy, and when the board felt, for the prosperity of the institution, that Eld. Rice must not officiate any longer, then all agreed to leave together and did leave together. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 26

There has been some thought that they will unite together to start an institution on this coast, and this he has plainly stated in a letter to me that a wealthy man was urging them to do this and would help them. It is not improbable that Eld. Rice may marry Dr. Maxson’s niece. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1888, par. 27