"And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took fire-brands, and turned tail to tail, and put a fire-brand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives."
The parable of the foxes—and I trust our readers will see that it is a "parable "—for though Judea might have been a good country for foxes, and Samson a strong man and a good hunter, the catching of three hundred alive, tying their tails together, a fire-brand between each pair of tails, and their running, partakes a little too strongly of the marvellous for actual fact—was intended doubtless to point a moral in medicine, and we therefore desire to call attention to it.
That men have believed it to be a simple record of fact only proves that men will believe anything, if they give general credence to the book it is in. We have many stories in medical books like the story of the foxes, and men believe them and offer them in testimony to this day.
But it not only shows the credulity of men, and their disposition to take the most absurd statements for the truth, but their indisposition to reason for themselves. Go over the story again, having the natural history of a fox before you, and the more you think the stronger the absurdity will seem. (Don't understand me to say that in the symbolical language of the East, it does not convey a spiritual truth, if in fact it is a fiction.)
But the literal story of the foxes, well illustrates the shot-gun practice of the day. No fox is more mischievous than the common drug; and the physicians have three hundred with which they purpose to afflict the Philistines." They tie them tail to tail. Try this operation with a couple of dogs and see how they want to run in contrary directions, and don't run at all if of well proportioned strength. Just so in ordinary practice—many times medicines are tied tail to tail, and—you can imagine the rest.
And they do go in and destroy not only the shocks (diseases) 'but also the standing corn, and the vineyards and olives."
In the same Scripture we read—"and she fastened it with a pin"—the reader will oblige by sticking a pin here:
"The fox's head is small an' trim,
An' he is lithe an' long an' slim,
An' quick of motion an' nimble of limb,
An' ef you'll be
Advised by me,
Keep wide awake when ye're ketchin him!"
The Eclectic Medical Journal, Vol. XXXIV, 1874, was edited by John M. Scudder, M.D.