can not climb trees." "Well," replied the American, "I guess this one had just got to." Now this society played to me the part that the American did to the beaver and forced me both to speak and write, and I am therefore very grateful to it. My first attempt at writing was the dissertation which the rales of the society demanded, and my first attempt at speaking was made in this room when I stammered out half a dozen words, each one broken into bits by the palpitations of my heart, and then thankfully sat down.
But it is not only in speaking and writing that I owe my training to the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh, I owe to it also my first initiation into scientific methods—my first instruction in scientific skepticism. I well remember that on one occasion a member made a certain statement; he had no sooner sat down than he was challenged by my friend Dr. John Wyllie. The first member again rose to his feet and maintained that his statement was true, and that his facts were correct because Professor So-and-so had said so. Again Dr. Wyllie rose, and with the simple question, "But is Professor So-and-so right?" swept away the ground from under his opponent's feet and gave me a new insight into scientific evidence. Previously I had been inclined to accept all the dicta of the professors as gospel truth, but from that time onward I accepted them only with the proviso that Professor So-and-so might possibly be wrong. Training like this, gained by a student in the discussions at the meetings here, is of the utmost possible importance as supplying a valuable part of medical education and complementing the instruction which he gains in the lecture rooms; it enables him to sift the statements which he there hears and to assimilate them in his own mind, so that they become as it were part of himself, and afford him a basis of knowledge upon which he not only can act in daily life, but from which he may advance onward and benefit both his profession and the world at large by new discoveries. This training is so invaluable that I should look upon anything which would interfere with it as detrimental to the student; for a little knowledge, like a little food, if well assimilated, is more useful than an undigested mass, which may be not only useless but positively injurious.
The numerous discoveries which have been made during the twenty-nine years which have elapsed since I first took my seat in this hall as a member of the society have tended to increase the mass of facts which the student has to learn; and the numerous examinations have tended to foster a system of cramming which is totally distinct from that of true education. For the purpose of examination the student is tempted to load his memory with many details and to learn by heart statements which may or may not be true, simply for the purpose of committing