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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/817

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THE BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND MEDICINE.

that of chemistry with physics is of still more modern revelation; that of physics and chemistry with physiology has been stoutly denied within the recollection of most of us, and perhaps still may be.

Or, to take a case which affords a closer parallel with that of medicine. Agriculture has been cultivated from the earliest times, and from a remote antiquity men have attained considerable practical skill in the cultivation of the useful plants, and have empirically established many scientific truths concerning the conditions under which they flourish. But it is within the memory of many of us that chemistry on the one hand and vegetable physiology on the other attained such a stage of development that they were able to furnish a sound basis for scientific agriculture. Similarly, medicine took its rise in the practical needs of mankind. At first, studied without reference to any other branch of knowledge, it long maintained, indeed still to some extent maintains, that independence. Historically, its connection with the biological sciences has been slowly established, and the full extent and intimacy of that connection are only now beginning to be apparent. I trust I have not been mistaken in supposing that an attempt to give a brief sketch of the steps by which a philosophical necessity has become an historical reality, may not be devoid of interest, possibly of instruction, to the members of this great Congress, profoundly interested as all are in the scientific development of medicine.

The history of medicine is more complete and fuller than that of any other science, except, perhaps, astronomy; and, if we follow back the long record as far as clear evidence lights us, we find ourselves taken to the early stages of the civilization of Greece. The oldest hospitals were the temples of Æsculapius; to these Asclepeia, always erected on healthy sites, hard by fresh springs and surrounded by shady groves, the sick and the maimed resorted to seek the aid of the god of health. Votive tablets or inscriptions recorded the symptoms, no less than the gratitude, of those who were healed; and, from these primitive clinical records, the half-priestly, half-philosophic caste of the Asclepiads compiled the data upon which the earliest generalizations of medicine, as an inductive science, were based.

In this state, pathology, like all the inductive sciences at their origin, was merely natural history; it registered the phenomena of diseases, classified them, and ventured upon a prognosis, wherever the observation of constant coexistences and sequences suggested a rational expectation of the like recurrence under similar circumstances.

Further than this it hardly went. In fact, in the then state of knowledge, and in the condition of philosophical speculation at that time, neither the causes of the morbid state nor the rationale of treatment were likely to be sought for as we seek for them now. The anger of a god was a sufficient reason for the existence of a malady, and a dream ample warrantee for therapeutic measures; that a physical