Imagens das páginas

like the eagle that has once soared in the ethereal blue and dwelt upon the heights, he may ever after be loth to keep to the valleys or plod upon the lower ground. It is this, possibly, that Trousseau meant to guard against when he warned his students of Physic to let Physics alone, or at least to expect nothing from it when applied to questions of health and disease. The fields of knowledge are so vast, the questions awaiting answer so many, that the ardent student is apt to overrate his time, his strength, his powers, and so, unless he be watchful, he may be drawn aside from questions as to the nature of cholera germs to the nature of the light by which he sees them—from the nerves themselves to electricity, and like Helmholtz, from being a physiologist occupied with the functions of the eye and ear, to becoming a physicist occupied with the nature of sound or light itself - from researches upon

accommodation and the curvature of the cornea or crystalline lens, to vortex motion, and the possible curvatures of space—from the functions of the cochlea and the fibres of Corti, to elliptic functions and the series of Fourier.

Of the mutual helpfulness of the sciences and medicine however, the history of science is full. Black was both an admirable physician and the discoverer of Carbonic Acid gas, and a great chemist generally. Hope and Gregory, names eminent in Chemistry, were celebrated physicians, and at least one has been able to combine the doctor's duties with the marvelous task of tracking the subtle comet through the depths of space by mathematical analysis, after but three separate and distinct determinations of the body's position in the sky. I refer of course, to the celebrated Dr. Olbers, of Bremen. Such examples however, while comparatively numerous, must always constitute the exception and not the rule.

I hold that for most men the only road to great success in any profession or calling lies, when once that calling or profession has been determined upon, in an absolute and complete concentration of all one's thought and work upon it, to the practical exclusion of everything else save in moments of relaxation or rest. Hence the reason why it is desirable to get beforehand, so far as possible, those mere accomplishments which, while not essential, yet add so much to the pleasure of life as we go upon our way. Still it must not be forgotten that the exigencies of life often put men at first into the places for which they are not intended. Oliver Goldsmith studied medicine in one of the largest and best schools of medicine in the world, but the world would hardly exchange the poet for the M. D. that the latter would doubtless have been. So too with that other Oliver (W. H.), whose wit has become the pride, and many of his writings the joy of our own land. Ireland made Hamilton her Astronomer royal, but he neglected his astronomy that he might give to posterity his fourfold Algebra—the wonderful quaternion calculus. It is difficult to account for or restrain the impulses of genius, no matter in what direction they may turn.

The world of nature and of man is apt to be much larger than our thoughts, and we are ever and again surprised by unlooked-for things. What is, is after all the great thing for us to attend to and not what our narrow ideas may lead us to believe ought to be.

It would sometimes seem as if mankind had an unfortunate tendency to underrate or conceal the truth. From the fig leaf of Eden to the modern pads, society tries to cover its nakednesses and deceits. It talks in sweet tones to its neighbor, and lashes him to scorn when he is gone. The glib charlatan has honor, while the blunt truth teller is tabooed. It surrounds with a sickly sentimentalism of tolerance nauseous humbuggery; and arrant nonsense, if loud enough and uttered with sufficient self-confidence, is listened to as if ii were truth, nay, too often passes unchallenged for truth. Plain fact, simple statement, lacks the flavor of sensationalism-society must be perpetually tickled with the excitement of something new. This leads to a tolerance and even fostering of those who can make the most startling statements or carry us away with a positivism that is rarely the accompaniment of simple truth. I believe it to be a characteristic of the study of the exact sciences, when done with faithfulness, to foster in the mind a desire for sobriety and guarded consciousness in statement, and a habitude of regarding things as they really are without the garniture of a false sentimentalism. I believe them to discourage dogmatism, to foster a wholesome doubt, and to lead to that just latitudinarianism which must be present as a condition of all true progress in any direction. It is too easy to be mistaken in science, one finds, to continue dogmatic very long. There are too many conditions required for the complete success of most experiments to allow the true scientist to be boastful or vainglorious. Wider experiences may lead to different results, the old may be so modified as to become quite the new, and a statement perfectly true

It may

to-day may (paradoxical as it seems,) be false to-morrow. be fact under one set of conditions—falsehood under another. Prof. Clark Maxwell used to claim time for reading, experiment and study in order, as he said, that he might not "tell lies in his lectures." No brighter example of reverence for truth than he could well be adduced.

What true physician has not seen the charlatan succeed by brazen assumption or bland deception, where honest word and work went begging? These things are not encouraging. Nevertheless, let the good fight go on. Only by constant extermination can noxious weeds be kept down. Eternal effort is the price of progress as eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

liberty. No compromise with quackery under any form in Science, Medicine, or Art! This is our watchword and cry. Lay the foundations of preparatory knowledge broad and deep. Scout the mere vagarist and fling away


vagaries. Wait for more light until honest work shall bring it. Little by little it will come ; very slowly it may be, but most assuredly come it will some day. Meanwhile you will be comforted by the assurance that no matter how strong the trial, or how sore the temptation, you for one have never bowed the knee to Baal. All this is perfectly consistent with open receptivity and the sincerest regard for new truth—nay more, in my humble opinion, it is one of the fundamental conditions for its comprehension and reception.

It seems to me then proper to require a most thorough training in the elements of the exact sciences of every proposed candidate for a medical degree. Make it an absolute essential that every such candidate should have a good grounding in the fundamentals of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Chemical Analysis and the use of the microscope.

Let him add experiment to experiment, observation to observation until his knowledge of the things studied becomes an integral part of himself-a priceless possession of that ground work upon which for the remainder of his life all else must rest; a globe of truth on whose solid nucleus ever more and more of permanent result shall be precipitated from the surrounding mist of conjecture or doubt. Who more than medical men can help to create a healthy sentiment in this regard as to the necessity for perpetual experiment and laboratory work? I cannot help here alluding to to the splendid laboratories now open at many Universities for the study of Histol. ogy, Physiology and Pathology, as well as those for Chemistry, Physics and so on. Men like our own Senn should not be compelled to carry on their experiments with their own material and at their own expense. The money now so meagrely voted to Science by legislatures ought to be increased ten and a hundred fold. It ought to be the pleasure as well as pride of governments to foster in every way and in all directions the increase of knowledge and its diffusion among men. Legislatures as well as individuals sometimes overlook the distinction between knowledge of the individual and that of the race. They say, it is useless to try to teach so much. For the individual this is true, for the race it is false. For the latter let knowledge abound-make the mists of ignorance fly. Let in light everywhere-light, Light, divine, glorious light, the light of TRUTH.

It is well also not to reduce everything to its bearings upon merely practical results and life. It is well to consider that we owe something to the higher and more speculative faculties of man. There are questions that will ever interest us, although the practical bearings of their answers, may be only dimly seen, or not seen at all. Moreover, practical applications may arise when least expected or foreseen. The discoverer of Aniline was seeking for an artificial alkaloid, and not for coal tar dyes—yet an almost limitless number of practical results have followed his discovery, and we are yet far from realizing the end. It is not easy to see the bearings on practice of researches upon molecular motion, the size of atoms or the number in a given space, the nature of magnetism, or electricity, or chemical force, and hosts of questions of a kindred kind, yet we may depend upon it that when the answers come, medicine will profit by them as well as the mind of man; they will as much increase the power of therapeutics as they will bring satisfaction to the souls of men.

We can then afford to add on to our preliminary studies as much as our student can be induced to give the time to, of profounder work in the more advanced parts of the exact Sciences.

If he be led away thereby from the more active practical work of the profession, it is not at all uncertain but that both science and medical art may be the gainers. He may discover what others shall apply; a new principle is often of greater practical value than a new process, and, as I have said, new processes may arise where least expected. Humanity may gain what mere art may not acquire. And so I say,

in the future let the exact sciences, even the more abstract parts of the same, occupy more than ever the time of the

preparatory medical student, and take a higher rank in preparatory training than ever before.

« AnteriorContinuar »