The Revolution in Medicine BY J.H.CLARKE.
I.- DARKNESS AND DAWN NIGHT
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One hundred years ago the Art of Medicine still lay wrapped in Cimmerian night. The power of the Dark Ages, which the Protestant revolution had rolled away two hundred years before from other pursuits and avocations of men, unfettering the intellect in science and the conscience in the moral world, still lingered like a trailing, inky cloud after a storm over all that concerned the treatment of sick humanity. No ray of reason pierced the impenetrable fog of theory and conjecture in which the ministers of Healing moved, blindly led by blind Tradition, and blindly worshipping the fetich, Authority. Now and again the bolder spirits has ventured, like Paracelsus, to rise in revolt against powers of darkness; but in their attempts to break the rusted and corroding chains of Authority-chains, which to the generality were a glory instead of shame-they had succeeded in breaking only themselves. Systems of treatment based on fanciful theories of disease had risen, had had their day, and had sunk into their native night. Discoveries in anatomy and physiology has been made-and left the practice of medicine no better than before. A century and a half had passed since Harvey wrote the treatise which contained his grand induction of the circulation of the blood -an induction, be it here remarked, honestly made from anatomical observations, and not, as is commonly alleged, from the observation of vivisected animals,-thus completing the work of Servetus, Realdus and Cesalpinus, who had been before him in the field and had paved his way.
But Harvey did not dream of saying a word against the prevalent custom of bleeding for almost every disease-or, indeed, of suggesting any improvement in the Healing Art. So absolutely without effect on practice had Harvey’s great discovery proved to be, that in the succeeding generation the physician in ordinary to the son of Harvey’s master, the second Charles, published a work Aurora Chymica, by Edward Bolnest. M.D., Physician in Ordinary to King Charles on “mummiall quintessence,” among which a quintessence to be distilled “in the mouth of June or July” out of a “great quantity of overgrown old toads” was one the least objectionable.
1786 In the year of our Lord, 1786, when the Old Regime in France wad rapidly approaching its tragic end, and when the man who was destined to master the wild forces of the impending revolution, and to lead them through the length and breadth of Europe, overturning thrones and dynasties and shaking to their foundation the social and political institutions of the western world, was a young lieutenant of Artillery in his nineteenth year,-in this year a man who was born to inaugurate a very different revolution-to put an end to the reign of Darkness in the world of Medicine,-already twelve years the great soldier’s senior, was a general medical practitioner in the town of Dresden, dreaming as little as the other of the great part in the world’s history he was to be called upon to play.
At this date Hahnemann was innocent of homoeopathy.
I must not trench to much on the ground so ably occupied by may predecessors in this place, who have spoken of Hahnemann, the Man and the Physician, Hahnemann as a Medical Philosopher, as the Founder of Scientific Therapeutics, and of Hahnemann and his Works; but it will not be possible for me to avoid it altogether. And though some of the ground may be old, the recent publication in English of the great work by the lamented Dr. Ameke, of Berlin, Homoeopathy; its Origin and its Conflicts, translated by Dr. Drysdale, of Cannes, and edited by Dr. Dudgeon, opens up much that is both valuable and new..