Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/552

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II. The Development of Laboratories for the Medical Sciences

IT would be interesting to trace in the events and activities of the later years of the eighteenth and early years of the nineteenth centuries that development of general thought which exerted indirectly an influence on modern medicine; but, under the circumstances, I can outline only a few; it was the period of the struggle for American Independence, of the French Revolution and of England's abolition of the slave trade. The world was becoming wiser and more humane; men and women were no longer hanged for witchcraft; the principle of education for all was being recognized; and it was also at this time that the insane were treated as persons ill of disease and not as prisoners, to be chained together and crowded into filthy pens until death should end their misery.

Captain Cook was enlarging the boundaries of the known world, Daguerre was establishing the art of photography, Murdoch was developing the use of coal gas as an illuminant. Watts was improving the steam engine, Fulton was concerned with the steamboat and Stephenson somewhat later with the steam locomotive. Machinery was being invented to replace hand labor, and advances in technical and industrial procedures were rapidly following one another.

It was likewise a period marked by the rise of great chemists and physicists, as Lavoisier, Scheele, Priestley, Avogadro, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Davy, Volta, Franklin and Galvani; great naturalists as Cuvier, Humboldt and Lamarck; and great astronomers and mathematicians as Herschel and Laplace. At the time, the activities of these men were not seen to be directly contributory to the science and practise of medicine, but as the years went on and it became more and more evident—largely as the result of their work—that knowledge was to be gained not by establishing all-embracing systems of philosophy, but by the accumulation of facts through exact observation and experiment, their methods became the property of all branches of science and so, naturally, of medicine. In addition to method, moreover, these men offered, in the fruits of their labors, a not inconsiderable amount of data of

  1. The Hitchcock lectures, delivered at the University of California, January 23-26, 1912.