Based on the author's own life as well as the life of Ohio itinerant preacher Jacob Young, this 1874 novel of a frontier Methodist minister and Bible agent presents a rollicking yet realistic view of early American life in the Midwest. Corn-shuckings, camp meetings, revivals, revels, and highwaymen color this novel-as-social-history.
Before the white people came, there were no houses in this country but the little huts of the In-di-ans. The In-di-an houses were made of bark, or mats, or skins, spread over poles.
Some people came to one part of the country. Others started set-tle-ments in other places. When more people came, some of these set-tle-ments grew into towns. The woods were cut down. Farms were planted. Roads were made. But it took many years for the country to fill with people.
This is the tale of the rise and fall of a gullible young woman who comes under the tutelage of a "quack," a practitioner of faith healing. Phillida firmly believes that she has the gift of healing and the reader finds herself wanting to warn her that she is about to unwittingly harm herself and others. The polemic against this form of medical charlatanism is only thinly veiled in the "art" of the romance form in which it is written. The plot itself is much less intriguing than the cast of characters Eggleston creates to expose the methods of late nineteenth century spiritual mesmerism as a means of public exploitation. --litmed.med.nyu.edu.
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