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Memoir Committee, Drs. Joseph T. Smith, Frank D. Sanger, Hugh H. Young, Philip Briscoe and E. L. Whitney. Committee on Fund for Widows and Orphans, Drs. Eugene F. Cordell, Wm. Osler, John W. Chambers, Robert W. Johnson and Daniel W. Cathell.
Committee to Confer With Maryland Pharmaceutical Association, Drs. Chas. H. Riley, William F. Lockwood and J. F. Crouch.
Delegates to the American Medical Association, Drs. Clotworthy Birnie and William Osler; Alternates, Drs. Samuel T. Earle, Jr. and Charles M. Ellis.
Delegate to Committee of American Medical Association on National Legislation, Dr. Samuel T. Earle, Jr.
Delegates to the State Medical Societies-Pennsylvania, Drs. J. M. Spear and D. C. R. Miller; Delaware, Drs. George S. Dare, W. Frank Hines and Benjamin Whiteley; West Virginia, Drs. James G. Wiltshire, Richard W. Trapnell and L. M. Allen; Virginia, Drs. Thomas Opie, Hugh H. Young and I. Ridgway Trimble; North Carolina, Drs. St. Clair Spruill, Randolph Winslow and A. D. McConachie.
In accordance with Article IX, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President appointed the following as the first Councilors:
Councilors, Drs. Wm. Osler, Robert W. Johnson, Thomas S. Latimer, Randolph Winslow, Henry O. Reik, Charles M. Ellis, Charles W. Wainwright, J. McPherson Scott, Clotworthy Birnie, Thomas H. Brayshaw, D. C. R. Miller, the President, Secretary, Treasurer and Chairmen of the Board of Trustees and Library Committee as members ex officio.
Dr. Charles M. Ellis offered the following motion, which was adopted: That all Committees not provided for by the Constitution and By-laws be hereafter appointed by the President.
The house then adjourned.
W. S. GARDNER, M. D.,
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE.
By EUGENE F. CORDELL, M. D.,
Between ancient and modern historians two essential points of difference are readily observable. While the former make no use of critical research and confine themselves chiefly to contemporary events, to what they themselves have seen, perhaps participated in, or at least learned from eye-witnesses, with the latter research work is a conspicuous and essential feature, and there is no limit as to the period dealt with. Nothing does so much credit to modern culture, or has been so fruitful of results as the improvement seen in the methods of historical study. Until a comparatively quite recent period, it was true that under the name of history was accepted almost everything that had been handed down from earlier times, no matter how contradictory to sense and reason it might be. The
same absurdities-such, for instance, as the suckling of Romulus and Remus by a wolf-were repeated generation after generation, and every one accepted implicitly and literally the story of the Garden of Eden. From this undigested mass our historical iconoclasts have sifted out all such chaff, and subjected the remainder to the most searching and critical study, with the result that we may feel reasonably certain that what remains represents actual occurrences. By the careful study of original authorities, of manuscripts, inscriptions, tablets, excavations, etc., they have gotten as near as possible to contemporary sources, that is, to the events themselves. And while we must acknowledge our limitations and feel that all human knowledge is in the nature of the case fallible, even that which we acquire from eye-witnesses, and still more that which is handed down through many ages, the thought that we have exhausted all available sources of information and removed all obvious error, places the subject upon a much higher plane and gives us a sense of confidence and mental repose, which is a very gratifying exchange for that blind belief in everything which formerly prevailed among the unlearned, or that distrust and disbelief which characterized the mental condition of the few who were real scholars. History may, therefore, now be said to have assumed something of the attitude of an exact science and we are warranted in accepting it as the basis for philosophical deductions.
Now, since history is ever repeating itself, it is manifestly the part of wisdom to make it the object of our closest study, that we may profit by its lessons, both of success and failure; for what others have done or have failed to do should point the way to their successors, whether in search of individual, social or national guidance. And what is true of history in general must be equally true of it in particular; the principles of the one are no less applicable to the other, of the whole to the part. The same evolution is seen in both; there is the same devious, uncertain path of human progress—now a sudden leap forward, now a halt, now an attempt to surmount or to find a way around some opposing hill, now a purposeless wandering hither and thither over the plain, now actually a retrogression. "It is
unfortunately, but too certain," says the learned Adams,1 "that there is a tendency in the human mind, at certain times, to retrograde, as well as in others to advance both in knowledge and virtue." May not a study of the chart of progress teach us, or at least give us hints, how to make these leaps, to avoid these arrests, to surmount these obstructions, to escape this purposeless wandering, or to shun the greater humiliation of actual loss of ground?
It is a remarkable fact that the great Father of Medicine, 2,400 years ago, almost at the very beginning, laid down the only true principles of progress-principles that, under the name "inductive method," were falsely claimed for Lord Bacon 2,000. years later-and that all real advance has been coincident with their observance. When the profession has gone astray or fallen back, it was in consequence of their neglect, and more than once our art has been revived by restoring them to their place as our guides. It seems to be an imperative condition of our life and progress that we should be ever impressing upon ourselves that there is no royal road to knowledge, medical or other, and that he who would attain to its hidden treasure must be satisfied to dig deep into the everlasting hills without other guide than the uncertain chart left by those who in still greater darkness have previously delved therein. Every one who has studied the history of medicine to any extent must realize the importance of this precaution.
Now, if I am justified in claiming that medical history is but a part of general history and, as such, entitled to the same consideration, it certainly must strike us as strange that the two should be held in such different estimation in our system of education. No subject is considered of more importance in the literary courses of our universities. As evidence of this, I find from the register of students, attending the present session of the Johns Hopkins University, which I presume may be considered as representative, that the number of those pursuing historical study is exceeded in only two other departments, i. e., English and Chemistry, while it exceeds and mostly far exceeds those taking Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Zoology, Latin, Greek,
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, translated by Francis Adams. London, 1849; Vol. 2, p. 521