D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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races is — whether as cause or as consequence — nearly proportionate to
the increasing variety of knowledge. And it has become proverbial,
and is nearly true in science and art, as it is in commerce and in na-
tional life, that, w^hatever work is to be done, men are found or soon
produced who are exactly fit to do it.

But it need not be denied that, in the possession of this first and
chief est power for the increase of knowledge, there is a source of
weakness. In works done by dissimilar and independent minds, dis-
persed in different fields of study, or only gathered into self-assorted
groups, there are apt to be discord and great waste of power. There is,
therefore, need that the workers should from time to time be brought
to some consent and unity of purpose ; that they should have oppor-
tunity for conference and mutual criticism, for mutual help and the
tests of free discussion. This it is which, on the largest scale and most
effectually, our Congress may achieve ; not indeed by striving after a
useless and happily impossible uniformity of mind or method, but by
diminishing the lesser evil of waste and discord which is attached to
the far greater good of diversity and independence. Now, as in num-
bers and variety the Congress may represent the whole multitude of
workers everywhere dispersed, so in its gathering and concord it may
represent a common consent that, though we may be far apart and dif-
ferent, yet our work is and shall be essentially one ; in all its parts
mutually dependent, mutually helpful, in no part complete or self-
sufticient. We may thus declare that as we who are many are met to
be members of one body, so our woi'k for science shall be one, though
manifold ; that as we, who are of many nations, will for a time forget


our nationalities, and will even repress our patriotism, unless for the
promotion of a friendly rivalry, so will we in our work, whether here
and now or everywhere and always, have one end and one design — the
promotion of the whole science and whole art of healing.

It may seem to be a denial of this declaration of unity that, after
this general meeting, we shall separate into sections more numerous
than in any former Congress. Let me speak of these sections to de-
fend them ; for some maintain that, even in such a division of studies
as these may encourage, there is a mischievous dispersion of forces.
The science of medicine, which used to be praised as one and indivisi-
ble, is broken up, they say, among specialists, who work in conflict
rather than in concert, and with mutual distrust more than mutual

But let it be observed that the sections which we have instituted
are only some of those which are already recognized in many countries,
in separate societies, each of which has its own place and rules of self-
government and its own literature. And the division has taken place
naturally in the course of events which could not be hindered. For
the partial separation of medicine, first from the other natural sciences,
and now into sections of its own, has been due to the increase of knowl-
edge being far greater than the increase of individual mental power.

I do not doubt that the average mental power constantly increases
in the successive generations of all well-trained peoples ; but it does
not increase so fast as knowledge does, and thus in every science, as
well as in our own, a small portion of the whole sum of knowledge has
become as much as even a large mind can hold and duly cultivate.
Many of us must, for practical life, have a fair acquaintance with
many parts of our science, but none can hold it all ; and for com-
plete knowledge, or for research, or for safely thinking out beyond
what is known, no one can hope for success unless by limiting him-
self within the few divisions of the science for which, by nature or
by education, he is best fitted. Thus, our division into sections is
only an instance of that division of labor which, in every prosperous
nation, we see in every field of active life, and which is always justified
by more work better done.

]Moreover, it can not be said that in any of our sections there is not
enough for a full, strong mind to do. If any one will doubt this, let
him try his own strength in the discussions of several of them.

In truth, the fault of specialism is not in narrowness, but in the
shallowness and the belief in self-sufficiency with which it is apt to be
associated. If the field of any specialty in science be narrow, it can
be dug deeply. In science, as in mining, a very narrow shaft, if only
it be carried deep enough, may reach the richest stores of wealth and
find use for all the appliances of scientific art. Not in medicine
alone, but in every department of knowledge, some of the grandest
results of research and of learning, broad and deep, are to be found



in monographs on subjects that, to the common mind, seemed small
and trivial.

And study in a Congress such as this may be a useful remedy for
self-sufficiency. Here every group may find a rare occasion, not only
for an opportune assertion of the supreme excellence of its own range
and mode of study, but for the observation of the work of every other.
Each section may show that its own facts must be deemed sure, and
that by them every suggestion from without must be tested ; but each
may learn to doubt every inference of its own which is not consistent
with the facts or reasonable beliefs of others ; each may observe how
much there is in the knowledge of others which should be mingled
with its own ; and the sum of all may be the wholesome conviction of
all, that we can not justly estimate the value of a doctrine in one part
of our science till it has been tried in many or in all.

We were taught this in our schools ; and many of us have taught
that all the parts of medical science are necessary to the education of
the complete practitioner. In the independence of later life some of
us seem too ready to believe that the parts we severally choose may
be self-sufficient, and that what others are learning can not much con-
cern us. A fair study of the whole work of the Congress may convince
us of the fallacy of this belief. We may see that the test of truth in
every part must be in the patient and impartial trial of its adjustment
with what is true in every other. All perfect organizations bear this
test ; all parts of the whole body of scientific truth should be tried
by it.

Moreover, I would not, from a scientific point of view, admit any
estimate of the comparative importance of the several divisions of our
science, however widely they may differ in their present utilitica. And
this I would think right, not only because my office as president binds
me to a strict impartiality and to the claim of freedom of research for
all, but because we are very imperfect judges of the whole value of
any knowledge, or even of single facts. For every fact in science,
wherever gathered, has not only a present value, which we may be
able to estimate, but a living and germinal power of which none can
guess the issue.

It would be difficult to think of anything that seemed less likely
to acquire practical utility than those researches of the few naturalists
who, from Leeuwenhoek to Ehrenberg, studied the most minute of
living things, the Vibrionidae. Men boasting themselves as practical
might ask, " What good can come of it ? " Time and scientific indus-
try have answered : " This good — those researches have given a more
true form to one of the most important practical doctrines of organic
chemistry ; they have introduced a great beneficial change in the most
practical part of surgery ; they are leading to one as great in the prac-
tice of medicine ; they concern the highest interests of agriculture, and
their power is not yet exhausted."


And as practical men were, in this instance, incompetent judges of
the value of scientific facts, so were men of science at fault when they
missed the discovery of antesthetics. Year after year the influences of
laughing-gas and of ether were shown : the one fell to the level of the
wonders displayed by itinerant lecturers, students made fun with the
other ; they were the merest practical men, men looking for nothing
hut what might he straightway useful, who made the great discovery
which has borne fruit not only in the mitigation of suffering, but in a
wide range of physiological science.

The history of science has many similar facts, and they may teach
that any man will be both wise and dutiful if he will patiently and
thoughtfully do the best he can in the field of work in which, whether
by choice or chance, his lot is cast. There let him, at least, search for
truth, reflect on it, and record it accurately ; let hira imitate that
accuracy and completeness of which I think we may boast that we
have, in the descriptions of the human body, the highest instance yet
attained in any branch of knowledge. Truth so recorded can not
remain barren.

In thus speaking of the value of careful observation and records of
facts, I seem to be in agreement with the officers of all the sections ;
for, without any intended consent, they have all proposed such subjects
for discussion as can be decided only by well-directed facts and fair
direct inductions from them. There are no questions on theories or
mere doctrines. This, I am sure, may be ascribed, not to any dis-
regard of the value of good reasoning or of reasonable hypotheses,
but partly to the just belief that such things are ill-suited for discus-
sion in large meetings, and partly to the fact that we have no great
opponent schools, no great parties named after leaders or leading doc-
trines about which we are in the habit of disputing. In every section
the discussions are to be on definite questions, which, even if they be
associated with theory or general doctrines, may yet be soon brought
to the test of fact ; there is to be no use of doctrinal touchstones.

I am speaking of no science but our own. I do not doubt that in
others there is advantage in dogma, or in the guidance of a central
organizing power, or in divisions and conflicting parties. But in the
medical sciences I believe that the existence of parties founded on
dominant theories has always been injurious ; a sign of satisfaction
with plausible eiTors, or with knowledge which was even for the time
imperfect. Such parties used to exist, and the personal histories of
their leaders are some of the most attractive parts of the history of
medicine : but, although in some instances an enthusiasm for the mas-
ter-mind may have stirred a few men to unusual industry, yet very
soon the disciples seem to have been fascinated by the distinctive doc-
trine, content to bear its name, and to cease from active scientific work.
The dominance of doctrine has promoted the habit of inference, and
repressed that of careful observation and induction. It has encouraged



that fallacy to which we are all too prone, that we have at length
reached an elevated sure position on which we may rest, and only think
and guide. In this way specialism in doctrine or in method of study
has hindered the progress of science more than the specialism which
has attached itself to the study of one organ or of one method of
practice. This kind of specialism may enslave inferior minds : the
specialism of doctrine can enchant into mere dreaming those that
should be strong and alert in the work of free research,

I speak the more earnestly of this because it may be said, if our
Congress be representative, as it surely is, may we not legislate ? May
we not declare some general doctrines which may be used as tests and
as guides for future study ? We had better not.

The best work of our International Congress is in the clearing and
strengthening of the knowledge of realities ; in bringing, year after
year, all its force of numbers and varieties of minds to press forward
the demonstration and diffusion of truth as nearly to completion as
may from year to year be possible. Thus, chiefly, our Congress may
maintain and invigorate the life of our science. And the progress of
science must be as that of life. It sounds well to speak of the temple
of science, and of building and crowning the edifice. But the body
of science is not as any dead thing of human work, however beautiful ;
it is as something living, capable of development and a better growth
in every part. For, as in all life the attainment of the highest con-
dition is only possible through the timely passing-by of the less good,
that it may be replaced by the better, so is it in science. As time
passes, that which seemed true and was very good becomes relatively
imperfect truth, and the truth more nearly perfect takes its place.

We may read the history of the progress of truth in science as a
paleontology. Many things which, as we look far back, appear, like
errors, monstrous and uncouth creatures, were, in their time, good and
useful, as good as possible. They were the lower and less perfect
forms of truth which, amid the floods and stifling atmospheres of error,
still survived ; and just as each successive condition of the organic
world was necessary to the evolution of the next following higher
state, so from these were slowly evolved the better forms of truth
which we now hold.

This thought of the likeness between the progress of scientific
truth and the history of organic life may give us all the better courage
in a work which we can not hope to complete, and in which we see
continual and sometimes disheartening change. It is, at least, full
of comfort to those of us who are growing old. We that can read in
memory the history of half a century might look back with shame and
deep regret at the imperfections of our early knowledge if we might
not be sure that we held, and sometimes helped onward, the best things
that were, in their time, possible, and that they were necessary steps
to the better present, even as the present is to the still better future.


Yes — to the far better future ; for there is no course of Nature more
certain than is the upward progress of science. We may seem to
move in circles, but they are the circles of a constantly ascending
spiral ; we may seem to sway from side to side, but it is only as on a
steep ascent which must be climbed in zigzag.

What may be the knowledge of the future none can guess. If we
could conceive a limit to the total sum of mental power which will be
possessed by future multitudes of well-instructed men, yet could we
not conceive a limit to the discovery of the properties of materials
which they will bend to their service. We may find the limit of the
power of our unaided limbs and senses ; but we can not guess at a
limit to the means by which they may be assisted, or to the invention
of instruments which will become only a little more separate from our
mental selves than are the outer sense-organs with which we are con-

In the certainty of this progress the great question for us is, what
shall we contribute to it ? It will not be easy to match the recent
past. The advance of medical knowledge within one's memory is
amazing, whether reckoned in the wonders of the science not yet ap-
plied, or in practical results in the general lengthening of life, or,
which is still better, in the prevention and decrease of pain and misery,
and in the increase of working power. I can not count or recount all
that in this time has been done ; and I suppose there are very few, if
any, who can justly tell whether the progress of medicine has been
equal to that of any other great branch of knowledge during the same
time. I believe it has been ; I know that the same rate of progress
can not be maintained without the constant and wise work of thou-
sands of good intellects ; and the mere maintenance of the same rate
is not enough, for the rate of the progress of science should constantly
increase. That in the last fifty years was at least twice as great as
that in the previous fifty. What will it be in the next, or, for a more
useful question, what shall we contribute to it?

I have no right to prescribe for more than this week. In this let
us do heartily the proper work of the Congress, teaching, learning,
discussing, looking for new lines for research, planning for mutual
help, forming new friendships. It will be hard Avork if we will do it
well ; but we have not met for mere amusement or for recreation,
though for that I hope you will find fair provision, and enjoy it the
better for the work preceding it.

And when we part let us bear away with us, not only much more
knowledge than we came with, but some of the lessons for our conduct
in the future which we may learn in reflecting the work of our Con-

In the number and intensity of the questions brought before us,
we may see something of our responsibility. If we could gather into
thought the amounts of misery or happiness, of helplessness or of


power for work, which may depend on the answers to all the questions
that will come before us, this might be a measure of our responsibility.
But we can not count it ; let us imagine it ; we can not even in imagi-
nation exaggerate it. Let us bear it always in our mind, and remind
ourselves that our responsibility will constantly increase. For, as men
become in the best sense better educated, and the influence of scientific
knowledge on their moral and social state increases, so among all sci-
ences there is none of which the influence, and therefore the responsi-
bility, "will increase more than ours, because none more intimately con-
cerns man's happiness and working power.

But, more clearly in the recollections of the Congress, we may be
reminded that in our science there may be, or, rather, there really is,
a complete community of interest among men of all nations. On all
the questions before us we can differ, discuss, dispute, and stand in
earnest rivalry ; but all consistently with friendship, all with readiness
to wait patiently till more knowledge shall decide which is in the right.
Let us resolutely hold to this when Ave are apart : let our international-
ity be a clear abiding sentiment, to be, as now, declared and celebrated
at appointed times, but never to be forgotten ; we may, perhaps, help
to gain a new honor for science, if we thus suggest that in many more
things, if they w^ere as deeply and dispassionately studied, there might
be found the same complete identity of international interests as in ours-

And then, let us always remind ourselves of the nobility of our
calling. I dare to claim for it that, among all the sciences, ours, in the
pursuit and use of truth, offers the most complete and constant union
of those three qualities which have the greatest charm for pure and
active minds — novelty, utility, and charity. These three, which are
sometimes in so lamentable disunion, as in the attractions of novelty
Avithout either utility or charity, are in our researches so combined
1 liat, unless by force or willful wrong, they hardly can be put asunder.
And each of them is admirable in its kind. For in every search for
truth we can not only exercise curiosity, and have the delight — the
really elemental happiness — of watching the unveiling of a mystery,
l)ut, on the way to truth, if we look well round us, we shall see that
we are passing wonders more than the eye or mind can fully appre-
hend. And as one of the perfections of Nature is that in all her works
wonder is harmonized with utility, so is it with our science. In every
truth attained there is utility eitlier at hand or among the certainties
of the future. And this utility is not selfish : it is not in any degree
correlative with money-making ; it may generally be estimated in the
welfare of others better than in our own. Some of us may indeed
make money and grow rich ; but many of those that minister even to
the follies and vices of mankind can make much more money than we.
In all things costly and vainglorious they would far surpass us if we
would compete with them. We had better not compete where wealth
is the highest evidence of success ; we can compete with the Avorld in




the nobler ambition of being counted among the learned and the good
who strive to make the future better and happier than the past. And
to this we shall attain if we will remind ourselves that, as in every
pursuit of knowledge there is the charm of novelty, and in every at-
tainment of truth utility, so in every use of it there may be charity.
I do not mean only the charity which is in hospitals or in the service
of the poor, great as is the privilege of our calling in that we may be
its chief ministers ; but that wider charity which is practiced in a con-
stant sympathy and gentleness, in patience and self-devotion. And it
is surely fair to hold that, as in every search for knowledge we may
strengthen our intellectual power, so in every practical employment of
it we may, if we will, improve our moral nature ; we may obey the
whole law of Christian love, we may illustrate the highest induction
of scientific philanthropy.

Let us, then, resolve to devote ourselves to the promotion of the
whole science, art, and charity of medicine. Let this resolve be to us
as a vow of brotherhood ; and may God help us in our work ! — Nature.




FOR the purpose of comparing the movement of the colored
population before and since emancipation, we begin with the
following table, which shows the percentage of colored increase in
each of the slave States for the last decade of slavery :

Texas ....
Arkansas . .
Florida. . . .
Mississippi .
Louisiana. .
Missouri. . .
Alabama.. .
Georgia.. . .




per pent.






133-2 '






















North Carolina .




South Carolina.


Dist. of Columb.






I Gain
per cent.





It will be observed that South Carolina and the border States
added very little to their colored population during this decade. This
was largely due to emigration, no doubt ; and in most of these States
this took opposite directions, part of it going southward by compul-
sion, and part of it northward by choice. Canada in a small Avay,
and the new and great planting States of the South mainly, received
the benefit of these tendencies of the colored movement.

The following table gives the colored increase of the same States


for the decade from 1860 to 1870, embracing the last three years of
slavery and the first seven of freedom :


Dist. of Columb .



Georgia I 465,698

Tennessee i 283,019

Arkansas 1 111,259

Alabama 437,770

North Carolina., i 361,052


per cent




Louisiana ....


Mississippi . . .
South Carolina


Va. and W. Va



per cent.

118,071 0-4 loss
530,821 3-3 "
222,210 |5-9 "

The drift is mainly toward the two new States, Texas and Florida.
A great change has come over the District of Columbia. From stand-
ing near the foot of the list in the previous table, it is now at the
head. The freedmen found protection and encouragement, with a
large demand for such labor as they are qualified to do, and hence
they flocked to the District. The border States are worse q|F than
during the previous decade, owing, no doubt, to the war and to the
proximity of the old free States, in which the freedmen found more
sympathy than among their foi'mer neighbors.

The following table shows the colored increase of the principal

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 98 of 110)