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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/657

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THE PHYSICIAN OF THE FUTURE.

prayers where they should exert intelligent will." This may be true, but it is certainly less true than formerly, and the physician of the future is to see to it that it becomes wholly untrue. If man can ever reach a time when epidemic diseases shall be of rare occurrence, when all zymotic diseases shall be confined within narrow bounds, and be speedily eradicated within these, he must remember with profound gratitude those to whom he owes his happy estate. Is there any other way in which the physician can so alleviate suffering and so help mankind as by striving to bring to pass such a blessed state of things? Is this too much to hope for? Possibly, but we may approach it much more nearly than we have as yet. Even in its beginning preventive medical science is far from a failure. Epidemic diseases that once raged as the pestilence are now largely prevented; others, once objects of unspeakable terror, are robbed of much of their virulence. Life-insurance statistics show us that human life in England is more than thirty per cent longer to day than it was one hundred and fifty years ago, and the end is not yet reached.

The relief of suffering, which is commonly thought to be the chief mission of the physician, is indeed a great and noble work, but I believe that he may do a higher and grander work. There are a pathology and a morbid anatomy, not of the body only, but of the moral nature as well. Many physical disorders are also moral and mental, and can only be rightly treated as this is understood. If it be true that men are not only more comfortable and happy when well than when ill, but that they are better morally, a new and most important field of usefulness is opened before the physician. If a well man, other things being equal, is a better man than a sick one, more certain to act wisely, to judge candidly and fairly, and live rightly—if a well man is of more worth in every way than a sick one—then all that has been said of the need and the value of hygienic instruction has added force. I do not for a moment forget the many heroic natures that have been grand enough to rise above bodily pain and feebleness, and with pathetic earnestness have sought to do some good work for the world, and have sent forth from their chambers of suffering golden words, melodious, heart-stirring verses, helpful soul-inspiring thoughts. And yet we need to recognize the fact that good is more certain to come from health than from disease. Pain may have its mission, physical and moral, and may bring out the richness and sweetness of a character as nothing else can, but in and for itself it is not desirable, and it can not be doubted that a community that is sound physically will be more sound morally than it could be if harassed by pain and weakness. I believe that there is such a thing as sin in the world, and I would not call it a disease for which man is not responsible; but none the less do I believe that physical disorder, that sickness and pain, morbid conditions of the body* causing morbid conditions of the mind, may and do lie at the foundation of very much that we call crime. A man