Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/58

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

For a long time the only chemical laboratories known were the pharmacies, and of course all chemical work was then done by the pharmacists. If any one desired a knowledge of chemistry, his only way to acquire it was to enter a pharmacy, and this whether he desired to practice the art or not. It was not until between the twentieth and thirtieth year of the present century that there existed any laboratory in which a student could acquire a special knowledge of chemistry.

In another way we see the intimate connection which but a short time ago existed between chemistry and pharmacy. The principal chemical journal of the world, which was started in the year 1832 by Liebig, was called during a period of forty years the "Annals of Chemistry and Pharmacy," and only about ten years ago was its name changed to the "Annals of Chemistry"; and many other publications might be mentioned whose titles give clear indications of the close relationship existing between the two subjects.

The fact is, the interests of chemistry and pharmacy were identical during the period to which I have referred. What helped the one helped the other. But, beginning as a partial offspring of pharmacy, chemistry has attained to a position of great importance in the world, and has become gradually the foundation of more than one occupation. To-day not only pharmacists, but those of many other professions, have to look to chemistry for that knowledge of substances and of kinds of action which is necessary for their success. An extended examination of the subject would show us that pharmacy played a very important part in the founding, particularly of that field of chemistry which is usually designated by the name "organic chemistry"—a field in which many of the brilliant modern victories of chemists have been achieved. Without the fundamental work of pharmacists in extracting from plants their valuable constituents, organic chemistry would to-day be in its infancy, instead of being what it is—a giant of mighty strength, exerting a controlling influence upon a number of important occupations, including pharmacy. But what this subject is to-day is only a promise of what it is to be when the results, which we now see plainly foreshadowed, shall have been accomplished. I think it is clear, then, that Chemistry has much to thank Pharmacy for; but what has Chemistry done toward paying the debt she owes? Much, very much, directly and indirectly. It is impossible to enter into details this evening. I can only refer to a few features which seem to me worthy of special notice.

The accurate scientific study of chemical substances, whether these are of use to pharmacy or not, has led to the introduction of more accurate methods in pharmacy. The extraction and preparation of medicinal compounds were at first very crude and simple operations. These were gradually improved upon, of course, as time passed on, but they were only perfected when the science of chemistry began to exert its influence. The point to be particularly observed here is this,