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An Address to the Class of the Medical College of Georgia,
at the opening of the Session of 1846-7. Containing a sketch of the improvements in Medicine during the present century. By L. A. DUGAs, M. D., Professor of Physiology and Pathological Anatomy. 8vo. pp. 16. Augusta, 1846.
A Lecture on Practical Education in Medicine and on the
course of Instruction at the New York Hospital ; delivered at the Hospital, Nov. 3, 1846. By John WATSON, M. D., one of the Surgeons of that Institution. 8vo. pp. 19: New York, 1846.
Introductory Lecture delivered before the Class of the Medical
Department of the Saint Louis University. Session of 1846–7. By HENRY M. BULLITT, M. D. Professor of Physiology and Pathology. Svo. pp. 19. Saint Louis, 1846.
An Introductory Lecture on the Reciprocal Obligations of the
Medical Profession und Society. By John P. HARRISON, M. D. Professor of Materia Medica in the Medical College of Ohio. Delivered November 2, 1846. Svo. pp. 28. Cincinnati, 1846.
Lecture Introductory to the Course of Materia Medica and
Pharmacy in the Medical Department of Pennsylvania College. Session of 1846–47. By HENRY S. PATTERSON, M. D. (With a motto from Weinhart.) 8vo. pp. 20. Philadelphia, 1846.
An Introductory Lecture delivered before the Class of Jefferson
Medical College, November 5, 1846. By ROBERT M. Huston, M. D. Professor of Materia Medica and General Therapeutics. Svo. pp. 24. Philadelphia, 1846.
Introductory Lecture. By Charles D. Meigs, M. D. Professor
of Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children in Jefferson Medical College. 8vo. pp. 24. Philadelphia, 1846.
Lecture Introductory to a Course on Obstetrics and the Dis
eases of Women and Children. Delivered October 30, 1846. By GUNNING S. BEDFORD, M. D. Professor of Obstetrics and the Diseases of Women and Children in the University of New York. 8vo. pp. 26. New York, 1846.
Introduclory Lecture to the Course on the Principles and
Practice of Surgery in the Medical Department of Pennsylvania College. Session of 1846–47. By David GILBERT,
M. D. Svo. pp. 18. Philadelphia, 1846. An Introductory Lecture delivered before the class of the
Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, at the Session of 1846–47. By A. WESTCOTT, A. M., M. D. Professor of Operative and Mechanical Dentistry. 8vo. pp. 32. Baltimore, 1846.
Lectures introductory to courses on the various departments of medicine are often “abstracts and brief chronicles of the time."
The professor does not feel himself necessarily restricted to the subject which he has to illustrate during the course. Common custom permits him to digress, and occasionally it happens, that he leaves the domain of medicine and wanders into other departments of science. We have heard of an introductory lecture to a course of Institutes of Medicine on · Hunting,' which might, however, be regarded hygienically; and we have ourselves listened to a learned but somewhat imaginative discourse on the Natural History of the Seventeen year Locust'-Cicada septendecim-The prolegomenon to a course of lectures on the Theory and Practice of Medicine.
The lectures before us are somewhat discursive. A few are strictly introductory to the departments taught by their respective authors. Others touch more or less directly on the agitating question of medical reform-as it is commonly designated ; and as few but reformers have much zeal in the cause, most of the writers are on that side of the question. Moral courage is de. manded of any one who feels satisfied with the things that be,' and declares so openly; and it is too much the habit with the over-zealous—and therefore, too often intemperate, hasty, and injudicious—to consider those who do not belong to the move.
ment party arrogant,' as if the charge did not apply rather to active agitators, who are dissatisfied with arrangements over which they have no direct agency-although such agency would doubtless be most grateful to them.
It has been often said, that the present is eminently an age of improvement; and with this sentiment we fully accord. The profession, within the last few years, has advanced at a more rapid pace than probably at any former period of the same duration in medical history. We believe that there never were in the ranks of the profession so many who have had the benefit of medical instruction in the schools; and we doubt whether there was, at any time, so great a proportion of readers; and whether in all respects the profession was as respectable. Improvements may be, and are, suggested; some of them feasible; but most of them not; and it must ever be borne in mind, that modifications of educational systems which have been wisely suggested, and sustained by long experience, onght not to be made hastily; and that every great change is an experiment, which in a government-or system of twenty-nine governmentslike ours, may not be found as satisfactory in practice as it seenis to be sound in theory.
Let the youth intended for the medical profession havemas we remarked in our last number—thé intellectual and moral training that befits the well educated gentleman;-let boards of examiners see that the candidate for practice has the necessary qualifications, and there can be no well founded cause of complaint on the score of insufficiency of attainments. The standard of qualification must ultimately be determined by such examining boards; and if they do their duty, the wildest reformer can see no necessity for periodical meetings of the profession with the expressed intention of pointing out, and attempting to rectify, defects, some of which are doubtless real; but even if real, their repeated promulgation is calculated to do more harm to the profession in its connexion with the people than all the vagaries of the empiric, and all the follies of homeopathy and mesmerism, against which certain journalists appear to direct their shafts, whilst they pass over in silence the employment of secret agents by members of our own profession, who, by publishing the results of their experience with such agents,
become the open abettors of quackery, and scarcely more elevated in the moral scale than the quacks themselves. Reform-it appears to us—is as imperiously demanded on the part of many of those already in the profession, as of such as are preparing to enter within its pales. We know it will be said, that the imperfectly educated, the low in the social scale, are more apt to embrace those very practices, and such may be the fact; still truth must compel us to admit, that examples are occasionally given by those who occupy high places, and whose conduct becomes the more injurious in consequence. Instances of this kind have been recently sufficiently and lamentably notorious, and may suggest interesting reflections to the members of the Convention who are about to congregate in this city.
But:to the lectures before us:
That of Dr. Dugas professes to be a sketch of the improveients in medicine during the present century. As in many similar productions, there is in it, we think, an overstrained eulogy of the medical profession. In the latter part of the following quotation, too, the exception appears to us to be brought forward as the rule: for so far as our own observation has extended, the mass of aspirants for medical honors have been impelled to enter the profession solely by their desire to obtain through it an honorable mode of subsistence.
« In Europe, where the Church, the Bar, the Army and the Navy are the high roads to political as well as to social preferment, we find the members of these professions almost exclusively derived from the wealthy and aristocratic classes of society. In our country, those who are ambitious of political station usually select the Bar. The medical profession is, on the contrary, made up of those whom neither wealth, nobility nor political ambition, prompts to seek any other than scientific distinction—that which can neither be bought with gold nor acquired by hereditary transmission, but which must flow from personal merit alone. It cannot be conceded that many enter this profession as a means of earning a livelihood; but it is an innate love of knowledge, a desire to look into the mysteries of nature, which prompts them, unconsciously perhaps, to select this in preference to other pursuits in which less scientific research is necessary." p. 6. VOL. X.
The progress of medical knowledge in all its departments, during the present century, is a field which might be tilled most productively; but the author before us has scarcely broken the surface; so that the announcement on the title-page is not satisfactorily fulfilled. Not much opportunity-it is true—is afforded for detail in a discourse of the kind, but many of the materials might, we think, have been better selected.
We do not know what amount of authority the lecturer has for the following broad assertion.
“ Modern medicine has been peculiarly successful in facilitating the treatment of infantile diseases. At a time when the patient's testimony was the only source of information, a correct knowJedge of the diseases of those deprived of language or of intelligence, as children and idiots, was unattainable; whereas, with the aid of physical signs and the method of exclusion, by which all organs ascertained to be in a healthy state are excluded from farther observation, there are few, very few, cases in which any difficulty will be experienced in the formation of a correct diag. nosis.” p. 14.
Or for the following.
“ There is no disease in which the usefulness of our profession is more signally illustrated than that commonly called bilious fever, for whilst, if left to the unaided efforts of nature it will almost invariably terminate fatally, it now rarely if ever does so under early and skilful medication.” p. 15.
Or for the following. “The Medical College of Georgia may justly claim the merit of having been the first to promulgate the great reformation in the treatment of paroxysmal fevers." p. 16.
The lecture “on practical education in medicine" by Dr. Watson naturally dwells, but in no measured terms of eulogy, on the New York Hospital, which, if we were to judge from the Announcements and other advertisements of the Medical Department of the University of New York, affords to the student of medicine facilities not enjoyed elsewhere, and of which we would infer from the same sources he is not slow to avail himself. Under this impression, indeed, students have been induced—we had almost said enticed-to visit New York, when they have been surprised to find scarcely any in attendance. So late, indeed, as the winter of 1845-6-according to the New