Page:The Evolution of Surgery.djvu/25

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The Evolution of Surgery.

higher evolution of social law, and a nobler gift of individual self-control shall finally eliminate or shall truly cure those human ills with which, in our imperfect knowledge, we still deal so crudely. The removal, the readjustment and even the replacement of parts of the human frame are not in themselves our ultimate ambition. At the best we may venture to hope that they are but a passing phase, for, however skilfully we may handle the knife, it must always be an evil in itself and the day may come when it can be laid aside forever. Surely we may trust that in the endless war against disease, the scalpel and the suture are no more the final hope of medicine than are the Dreadnought and the rifle the last resource in the civilisation and progress of mankind. Doubtless, gentlemen, it is too much to hope for the realisation of such a dream in the lifetime of any who are here to-day, but it is not too much to expect and trust that you who are now devoting yourselves to the great study of medicine may hereafter play a worthy part, not only in advancing the art of surgery, but also in replacing that art by the still more perfect methods which it is our duty to seek and to which ultimately we may attain.