Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/279

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269
LITERARY NOTICES.

tific investigation to which we owe all the progress that has yet been achieved in this important field. There has never been a time in the history of medicine when the need of independent original research was so great as now, when the questions demanding elucidation were so numerous and so grave, and the encouragements to their pursuit so promising. The sciences of observation and experiment have done much for the world in many ways, and the medical art has fully shared in the advantages they have conferred; but work in this direction is modern, and that which has been accomplished is as nothing to what yet remains to be done. It is well for the medical colleges to teach what is known, but they need to know a great deal more, and it is certainly high time that we should have a class of professional investigators in this country so thoroughly qualified and prepared for their work that our students will not have to go to Europe after the facilities for profound and exhaustive research. Mr. Carnegie's gift, by establishing an ample and well-appointed laboratory for the experimental study of important medical subjects, will favor the progress of American science, at the same time that it promotes those interests of humanity that are wider than nationalities. The questions to be taken up in such an institution and that are now in most urgent need of solution are many, and one of them was so well stated by a writer in a morning paper that we quote it:

Histological investigations—that is, by means of the microscope—have within late years shed much light on the heretofore occult processes taking place in the different parts of the body in health and disease, and, quite recently, scientific developments in this field of study have shown the vast importance of these investigations, together with experimental researches, as regards our knowledge of micro-organisms. Already it has been demonstrated that several of the infectious diseases are caused by specific parasitic bacteria, and it is more than probable that investigations now in progress will lead to further discoveries rendering preventable and controllable many diseases which occasion much human suffering and contribute largely to mortality. It is, perhaps, not extravagant to say that the discoveries already made, conjoined with those which are foreshadowed, will prove of greater importance in their influence on the science and practice of medicine than any since the great discovery of the circulation of the blood by Harvey.
 


LITERARY NOTICES.

A Treatise on Insanity in its Medical Relations. By William A. Hammond, M.D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 767. Price, $5.

Whether insanity is on the increase throughout the civilized world, as is claimed by many and is certainly not improbable, or whether the apparent increase is due to increasing knowledge in regard to its real extent, the growing interest and importance of the subject are not to be questioned. It is impossible that science should not have made great advances in the elucidation of this most complex subject, depending as it does upon the progress of physiology, psychology, pathology, and therapeutics, and cultivated by specialists as an independent branch of practical medicine; while through the whole historic period down to quite recent times the ignorance, prejudice, and barbarism that have been displayed by society toward the most unfortunate of our fellow-creatures have been one of the darkest chapters of human experience; on the other hand, the spirit of investigation can offer no triumph so great as that which has been achieved by the medical profession in dispelling old prejudices and illusions, and giving a rational account of the conditions, causes, and diversities of mental alienation. The subject is, indeed, yet full of obscurity, and far enough from having been cleared up, but great steps forward have been taken, and in no field is there more continued activity of research. Dr. Hammond's comprehensive and able work is a contribution to the subject made in the light of the latest achievements in all its dependent branches of inquiry. We have looked through his treatise with much interest and constant instruction, and have already given in the "Monthly" some important passages from