Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/700

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ridicule of our satirists. Medicine and physiology in that era were treated under the form of philosophic argument, science and imagination were blended, and "reasoning banished reason." The history of transfusion, at its beginning, looks like an important but empirical discovery; new experience rests simply on scholastic discussions, the true mingles with the false, and, after the spectacle of a barren contest presented by detractors and enthusiasts, transfusion was proscribed, and doomed to oblivion; and it will be long before its recovery, for the true scientific method has not yet been found.

In the last half-century we have returned to the method of observation; nor is that method now, as it was in Harvey's time, the privilege of a few savants; it has become the guide of all men of science in our day, and the real cause of scientific progress. Amid the general development of the sciences, transfusion has come up once more, transformed and widened; it will not satisfy the extravagant hopes indulged at first, but it will throw a broad light on the problem of health and disease. The principles on which this grand experience now rests are well settled—the functions of the blood have been clearly determined. We know that life dwells in every fragment of our being; the mass of nerves, the flesh of our muscles, the tissue of our glands, need the indispensable assistance of the blood, yet live by themselves. If general anatomy has followed out the work of Bichat, in studying the elements of dead Nature, physiology has realized Haller's conception, in analyzing the functions of these elements. Comparative study of animal and vegetable organization and the independent development of the tissues, after the evolution of the germ, has supplied general views upon the life of the parts; physiological dissection on the living animal, and particularly the mode in which poisons act, has completed the former results, and shown that each element in the organism has its individual activity. The experience of transfusion gains greater importance at this day, proportioned to the advanced state of science. Transfusion is not simply an operation practised on man; it finds its peculiar reason for existing as a process in scientific investigation. By it the properties of tissues and organs are analyzed, the independent life of the elements is once more made plain, and, when the secrets of the mechanism of our organization have thus been laid bare, transfusion is no longer an experimental remedy—it has become a process of reasoning.

At a time like our own, while the movement of minds is turning, with almost exclusive devotion, toward the justly-valued labors of Germany, it is not without interest to recall a course of discoveries peculiarly French. The history of transfusion in the nineteenth century, after the account of the fruitless efforts made in the seventeenth, has the advantage, besides, of allowing us to judge of the worth of methods by the nature of their results. These scientific triumphs of late date have hitherto been preserved only in special publications; but