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Harriet Beecher StoweA Life$
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Joan D. Hedrick

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780195096392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195096392.001.0001

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The Water Cure: 1846–1848

The Water Cure: 1846–1848

(p.173) Chapter Sixteen The Water Cure: 1846–1848
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Joan D. Hedrick

Oxford University Press

Harriet Beecher Stowe's religious conversion of 1843 was paralleled in 1846 by a secular conversion to the water cure. Both were informed by the millennial hope of a perfect world, and both placed a baptism and a crisis at the heart of the cure. “Wash and Be Healed,” proclaimed the banner of the Water-Cure Journal, unabashedly appealing to millennial hopes. Hydropathy promised to do for the body what religious conversion had done for the soul. Appealing to the reformist striving of the age, hydropathy's goals were framed in specific, this worldly terms, that siphoned off religious energies into secular channels; in this respect the water cure was a harbinger of late-Victorian culture. Hydropathy taught that hygienic living was the best prevention of illness, and that through self-care one could enjoy good health and freedom from drugs and doctors. Hydropathy had strong links with homeopathy, which advocated the use of miniscule doses of medicine.

Keywords:   Harriet Beecher Stowe, secular conversion, water cure, hydropathy, baptism, self-care, health, homeopathy

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