Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/24

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

repeated. Later this lot, and also twenty-five untreated sheep and four untreated cows, were to be inoculated with a virulent culture of anthrax bacilli. Ten sheep were to have no treatment at all. "The twenty-five unvaccinated sheep will all perish," wrote Pasteur, "the twenty-five vaccinated ones will survive." This magnificent faith based on exact experimentation was justified. All happened as Pasteur predicted. For medicine a new era was at hand; Huxley, in 1880, estimated that the money value of the results of Pasteur's vaccination treatment was sufficient to cover the war indemnity paid by France to Germany in 1879. As the years go by and the influence of Pasteur widens the horizon of preventive medicine and the treatment of disease by immunizing methods, civilization's indebtedness to Pasteur is almost beyond the grasp of the imagination.

His discoveries in vaccination against swine erysipelas and hydrophobia are as fascinating, in their "mingling of experimental skill and scientific imagination" (Herter), as all that he did before. But while Pasteur is an engaging figure, worthy of much more than this simple lecture that we are devoting to him, yet he is not the whole story, and at this point we must turn away from him and proceed to another line of advance: one, however, which was in part the result of his genius and his indefatigable labor. This, the discovery of antitoxic sera, will be discussed in the next lecture, in connection with other modern problems and methods in medical research. But here let me remind you that it was Pasteur, afflicted at the age of 46 with a hemiplegic paralysis—which, by the way, left its traces during the remaining twenty-five years of his life—who said,

Work can be made into a pleasure, and alone is profitable to a man, to his country, to the world.

It would be difficult to find in any field of human endeavor an individual whose life and labors exemplified this precept better than do the life and labors of Louis Pasteur.