Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.


  • The Muscles
  • Brain Headquarters
  • The Army of Muscles
  • The Secret of God
  • How to Live Long and Loud
  • Time Coming for Big Dinners
  • Command to Eat
  • Off to the Country
  • Osteopathy Cures Seasickness
  • Country Friends
  • Quiet and Shady
  • Explaining the Cause of Lumbago
  • Tired Nature Seeks Repose
    THROUGH the kindness of Funk & Wagnalls Company, of New York, we are permitted this elaborate cut, which shows about one-fourth of the muscles of the human body, each of which is a useful servant in performing the labors of life.  I give place to those beautiful pictures of some of the parts of that greatest of all known machines, who bears the name of man.  Will those, of you who have not had the chance to study anatomy in schools or otherwise please look for a few minutes and see the shapes of a few muscles; see how nicely they are formed and properly placed to do the great duties they have to perform in life?  You see they have great strength, and all equal to the duties they have to discharge.  If you look all over the being from head to foot, you find braces at all parts of the body, and they are powerful in quality and size, just to suit the place, and are fixed to hold all bones in position, with much power, left after doing the work of bracing, to lift much additional weight.

[graphic 442: "MUSCULAR SYSTEM OF MAN."]
By courtesy of Funk & Wagnalls Company.

    Each muscle is so distinct from all other muscles in form and office, in fact we might call each muscle an officer whose rank is a division commander.  He must answer to the grand roll-call himself, which is from the commanding general, whose headquarters and name are the brain.  Each muscle must report to the commanding general and salute him with becoming dignity, and this high officer must salute and respect all subordinates, or the great battle of life will be lost.  He must keep his couriers to each division commander in motion, all the time bearing despatches of the condition of all camps that are being reported at headquarters.  Each division commander shall receive and read all despatches in the field of action -- the quartermaster, commissary, company, squads, and sections, not of one camp or division, but all of the whole army.  We have only brought out a few soldiers or muscles on dress parade, that you may be the better able to judge what a soldier looks like, that kind servant that raises or lowers your arm for your convenience and comfort; who moves one limb and sets it down until another servant can pass by it, which command is better known as walking.  Another commander opens and closes the eye and mouth.  Another firing up the engine of life and heart.  Others are looking after the mill that grinds crude material, and separates it from the blood of life, which supplies the nerves of force, motion, sensation, nutrition, voluntary and
involuntary, and sustains all the machinery of life and reason.

    We hope by these atoms of intelligence that you may be called into the ranks, and become active explorers for knowledge in this great field of reason that is free to all.

    Your taste may not be to become great anatomical engineers, but a few thoughts given to this field of philosophy, with a few illustrations, may cause you to investigate far enough to see and know that your brother Osteopath is trying to acquaint himself with the laws of life, the machinery of life, and the man of life, who is now on exhibition at the end of many thousand years without an equal.  He is better acquainted with himself who knows most of the laws as given by that Intelligence whom the civilized world have called God.  Other terms are and have been used, such as Nature, the Unknowable, Creator, the All-Wise; but man, the result is here the mystery of life, the problem for man to solve -- the secret of God -- the result of the numbered days of eternity.

    The time is now at hand for Christmas, New Year's, and great big dinners.  Big turkeys, big pies, apple, goose, and chicken pies with oysters as big as Cleveland in the stuffing.  Cheese with celery, sausage with sage, garlic and onions to kill, nut-cakes and soup, ice cream and frozen vinegar, slaw with Jersey cream, and walnut-cakes with it, filibusters and codfish, "taters," sweet and Irish.  With "grannie's" kind of pies, flavored with pure, good old brandy or whisky, all served in an air-tight room, heated to kill by a furnace to 120' F., and not a single vent of pure air.

    Now to eat is the command.  Eat means to sit still for two hours and cram your body with from three to twelve changes or courses of dishes.  Then I thought of the fighting preacher who always prayed before he went into battle among shot and shell.  He said: " 0 Lord, I ask Thee to save my body, if possible, from those vultures of lead and iron; if not able to save my body, oh, please save my soul." Now the battle is open.  I see the gunners and aids all in line.  The rockets are high in air, which say the first course is so close you can see their eyes, and the command from the general is to charge along the whole line and show no quarter.  Eat up the enemy if you can.  The first line is a regiment of bread, black and white, ham, butter, celery, cheese, turkey, coffee, tea, slaw, and cream, and lots more.  We downed the first line.  I felt good and brave to know I had helped to down the first great line of the enemy.  I wanted to go home and tell our wonderful victory, and asked the commanding general for a furlough.  He said No, and handed me his field-glass, and said: "Look at the second regiment; you may fall at their feet and be trampled to death, and left there for the beasts of the field, or sent to Dr. Smith's room for an autopsy."  I took in the sight, saw the arms of the second great and extended division, that we must charge and slay at once, or be branded cowards by a drumhead court-martial.  Oh, my! can I stand another such engagement as the last?  I dread their arms.  They are the essence of danger.  Sausage by the yard at the enemy's side.

    I fell and was trampled to unconsciousness, as our general said I might be.  All was dead within me but my dreaming powers, and they kept up a perpetual panorama of the lives and customs of the fowls and beasts; how they ate and how they lived -- the lion, panther, eagle, vulture, elephant, and many other long-lived animals.  All animals, from the ape to the eagle, told me big dinners composed of a hundred kinds of eat and drink would ruin the stomach of anything but a buzzard, which was never known to be foundered.

    All long-lived birds and animals, that live on but few kinds of food, should be a lesson for man not to eat and drink till the body is so full that no blood-vessel can pass in any part of the chest or abdomen.  Our great dinners are only slaughter-pens of show and stupidity.  Some would say: "It is such a nice place to talk and visit." Does an owl hoot and eat at the same time?  Let me eat quick and trot, and I will have health and strength.

    Off to the country with a flour-sack full of darkey bones in 1877, and have been doing so ever since.  At that time I was very anxious to know if God could cure chills and fever without quinine and whisky, fevers without drugs, headache and a few more diseases without opium and other sedatives.  I did not know at that time that I could apply this science successfully to all diseases of the land and sea.  Still I had stopped all dry-land vomiting, but had not had an opportunity to have it tested on the sea.  But it has proven its efficacy in seasickness just the same as on the land.

    I could not have the quiet in town that I had in the country; still it was very country-like in the town, as the hogs ran at large, and had rooted out holes fifteen to twenty feet across to wallow in; and when a rain came, it was a great resort for them to bathe.  They all had bathing-suits and snouts, and would often come in the kitchen in search of food, so it was necessary to have a few dogs to chase them out.  Many thought it was economy to raise hogs in town, and let them eat their slop.

    I found it more pleasant to study Osteopathy in the country, and discovered there some as well-posted persons as I ever met.  They could talk on all literary subjects, and were qualified by learning to listen to and decide on the merits of this philosophy, by which I reasoned that all the drugs man needed were put in him by nature's quartermaster, and that the supply was abundant, but our knowledge was limited of how to use the remedy nature had provided for us.



    I found in the family of William Novenger, William Hughes, and Dr. Hendrix, of the Northwest part of the country; A. H. John, Andrew Linder, W. Bulkly, and many others of the West part; Calvin Smoot and many more in the East part, all kind to me and anxious to learn.  But most of them are now dead, and their homes no longer my country resorts.  Their goodness to me in the dark days of infant Osteopathy has stamped in me a love that will last to my grave.  I was about to close, and leave out those of the South part, Captain Bumpass, Sol Morris, Gillmores, Meeks brothers, and a host of others who have been kind to me for long years.

    I was made welcome and encouraged to go on and unfold the truths, and demonstrate by applications to sickness the efficacy of nature's ability to cure the sick without the help of drugs.  Their houses gave the much-needed encouragement to unfold the hows and whys to set hips, arms, and all the bones of the spine.  Many valuable ideas unfolded to my better understanding while dwelling in the quiet country with the friends of progress.

    The man of the farm came in with backache, bad enough to be allowed a pension, and asks Osteopathy to give the cause of so much weakness and pain in the small of his back, and how to ease and cure without porous plasters, blisters, resin pills, and so on.  I answer, "Perhaps the wheels of you back are cramped, just as your wagon cramps if you make a short turn.  Man at best is a machine; sit down and I will straighten the coupling-pole of your back."  And I did.

    Dear friends, now you see me on a cot sound asleep.  I have been hard up for many years.  Economized, saved up, and paid the last cent I owe to any man, and have a few cents left.  Oh, how sweetly I snooze!  I never go to sleep and forget to pray.  I was taught my little prayer when I was young: "I pray the Lord my soul to take."

    Now I pray the Lord to keep my head combed with a fine comb, and get all ignorance out or it, for Thou knowest the dandruff of laziness is rank poison to knowledge, success, and progress.  It is the dust of hoggish meanness.  Keep it off, O Lord.  Amen.