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185
PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTATION.

example, as that of Alexander Walker, or that of his own first "Idea."

These assertions are not now made for the first time, with the view (as might be urged) of lowering Sir Charles Bell's credit, and thereby-weakening the force of the testimony borne by him in regard to the uselessness of experimentation as a means of physiological discovery. Forty-two years ago, the history I have now sketched (which was then a matter of contemporary knowledge) was told in detail in the leading medical "Quarterly"; the misrepresentations of Mr. A. Shaw as to Sir C. Bell's "Idea" of 1811 were fully exposed; and Bell himself was distinctly charged with having altered what professed to be exact reprints of his papers in the "Philosophical Transactions," in order to make them square with the corrections supplied by the experiments of Magendie. To those charges, so far as I am aware, no reply was ever made, either by Mr. A. Shaw or Sir C. Bell; but a new and more correct history, including a reprint of Bell's "Idea," was given by Mr. A. Shaw nearly thirty years later in the "Journal of Anatomy and Physiology" (vol. iii, 1869). Further, in Professor Vulpian's "Leçons sur la Physiologie du Système Nerveux" (Paris, 1866), the history is narrated in terms almost identical with my own, omitting only the reference I have supplied to Magendie's first knowledge of Bell's views, but inserting several of the altered passages in Bell's papers. And, finally, the venerable Professor Milne-Edwards, in his admirable "Leçons sur la Physiologie et l'Anatomie Comparée" (tome xi, pp. 361, 362), has given a most true and just appreciation of the respective shares which Bell and Magendie had in this great discovery.

 

I have never admitted the truth of the well-worn adage, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"; because every one who studies any subject whatever must begin with "a little knowledge," and only by its possession can know where and how to obtain more.

But "a little knowledge" is dangerous when it leads its possessor to imagine that he (or she) knows all about the subject; and is doubly dangerous when it is taught as the whole truth to others. And this is exactly what Mrs. Dr. A. Kingsford has done, in her desire to excite a prejudice against physiological experimentation; fastening eagerly upon Sir Charles Bell's depreciation of it, without taking any trouble to ascertain historically what that depreciation is worth.—Fortnightly Review.