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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/704

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vital phenomena by the help of a wisdom which comes of enlightened experience, and an ingenuity which is born of practice. Were there not a single case on record in which physiology had given special and direct help to the cure of the sick, there would still remain the great truth that the ideas of physiology are the mother-ideas of medicine. The physiologist, unincumbered by the care of the sick, not weighted by the burden of desiring some immediate practical result, is the pioneer into the dark places of vital actions. The truths which he discovers in his laboratory pass over at once to the practitioner, busy in a constant struggle with the puzzling complexity of corporeal events: in his hands they are sifted, extended, and multiplied. The property of the physiologist alone, they might perhaps lie barren; used by the physician or surgeon, they soon bear fruit. The hint given by a physiologist of the past generation becomes a household word with the doctors of the present, and their records in turn offer rich stores of suggestive and corrective facts for the physiologists of the generation to come. Take away from the practical art of medicine the theoretical truths of physiology, and you would have left a crowd of busy idlers in full strife over fantastic ideas. The reader has laughed with Molière over the follies of the doctrinaire physicians of times gone by. He has to thank experimental physiology that he has not the same follies to laugh over and to suffer from now. The so-called practical man is ever prone to entangle himself in and guide his conduct by baseless speculations. Such has been the case with medicine. The history of medicine in past centuries is largely occupied with the conflicts of contending schools of pathology—schools which arose from this or that master putting forward a fancy, or a fragment of truth, as the basis of all medical judgment. These have given place in the present century to a rational pathology, which knows no school and swears to the words of no master, but is slowly and surely unraveling, bit by bit, the many separate tangled knots of disease. They have given place because men have come to see that maladies can only be mastered through a scientific comprehension of the nature of disease; that pathology, the science of disease, being a part of, is insepable from, physiology, the science of life; that the methods of both are the same, for in each a sagacious observation starts an inquiry, which a well-directed series of experiments brings to a successful end.

Many, if not most, of these experiments must be made on living beings. Hence it is that animals are killed and suffer pain, in order that physiological knowledge may be increased, and disease made less.

Take away from the art of medicine all that with which physiology has enriched it, and the surgeon or the physician of to-day would be little better than a mystery-man, or a quack vender of chance-gotten drugs. Take out of the present system of physiology all that has been gained by experiments on living animals, and the whole structure