Thursday, April 12, 2012
Isaac and the 200 Year Club
The times in which he lived, however, were inundated with all sorts of quack medicines. Isaac never mentions buying or using any patent medicines, nor does he regard the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes favorably. He did occasionally visit dentists, and tooth brushes were among the personal items sold at his estate sale. As for visits to a doctor, that was rare. Once, when he developed severe stiffness and swelling of the fingers of his left hand, he treated it with a poultice he made for himself from linseed oil, and by the time he finally went to town on business and at the close of his day visited a doctor, his hand was nearly healed. He did continue during the following days applying a poultice of linseed oil and the ointment the doctor had given him, and his hand slowly improved but remained stiff.
So, as Isaac's health began to fail, instead of consulting a doctor, he wrote for a membership in the 200 Year Club. Edgerly was a savvy marketer. Part 4 of his book emphasized that members were to accept the idea that "...the acquisition of perfect health is by far the most important thing in life," and having accepted that idea it was their duty to spread the Ralston doctrines through forming and attending local clubs--obviously bringing more customers for Edgerly's books.
The first step in accomplishing this process was to stop allowing circumstances which "disturb, annoy, embarrass or affect you." Instead of responding negatively, you should take life as it comes, without worry or irritation; present an open face through calmness, sweetness, and purity; and observe the Nine Great Laws of Nature. Using these techniques, those who practiced Edgerly's advice could change their Nature.
What Edgerly was doing with his 200 Year Club was telling people how they could improve their lives for themselves. Self-help books are nothing new, although they seem to have exploded in today's market, expanding beyond the printed page onto electronic screens, the internet, health club membership, lectures, seminars, and DVDs. Enter "self-help" as a search topic on Amazon and you will get 254,913 results! However, you can also look backward and find self-help advice from classical antiquity. As a young man, Isaac sought self-improvement through acquiring a personal library, believing he could educate himself with the wisdom contained in those books. It was natural for him to turn to the advice contained in Edgerly's book for improving his failing health.
Remember that you can click on an image to enlarge it, especially to read the text accompanying these advertisements from the 1890s.