Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/57

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CHEMISTRY AND PHARMACY.

who establishes the facts which are to be made use of. He spends his time in delving in out-of-the-way corners, turning over this and that, and endeavoring to get at the principles which underlie what is called chemical action. Such a one is following the science of chemistry. Now you, gentlemen, are primarily chemists in the first sense—you are to practice to a limited extent the art of chemistry.

It has seemed to me that, during the short time to be devoted to my remarks, it might be both interesting and profitable to examine into the questions: What has Chemistry to thank Pharmacy for? and what has Pharmacy to thank Chemistry for?

As regards the former question, it may be answered that, in the first place, the desire to discover new substances for medical purposes originally formed a strong incentive to those engaged in chemical work, and undoubtedly a large number of valuable observations have been made by those who were working primarily to gain possession of substances which might be valuable to pharmacy. We know that the collection and the manufacture of drugs of many forms is one of the most ancient of occupations, and it seems to have been regarded as a very important one, as all who have ever been afflicted with the ills that flesh is heir to (and who has not?) can easily appreciate. The alleviation of human suffering is a high object to strive for, and for this purpose the physician and pharmacist join hand to hand, and they had been working together for long ages before chemistry and chemists were ever heard of. While gaining experience which proved of direct value to them in their professions, they were also, though unconsciously, doing something toward laying the foundations of a science which has since been developed. They were helping to collect the material, the accurate scientific study of which was undertaken at a later date. Finally, there came the time when men began to study some of the substances which they gained possession of, with no other purpose in view than to learn something more with reference to their general properties, and their conduct under different circumstances. When that time came, the science of chemistry was born.

Again, in addition to the collection of much of the material which formed the basis of the first chemical study, indeed, as a consequence of this, we find that during a considerable period—from the middle of the seventeenth century—many of those who achieved the greatest distinction in chemical work were those who began as pharmacists. Among the earliest of these may be mentioned Kunkel, the discoverer of phosphorus; Lemery, author of one of the most valuable of the text-books of chemistry; Geoffroy, whose investigations on chemical affinity were of such great importance to chemistry; Marggraf, the discoverer of alumina and of the composition of gypsum; Scheele, the great discoverer of oxygen and of chlorine; in France, Lefêvre, Glaser, and others; and, finally, more recently, the most influential chemist of modern times, the great German, Liebig.