Upon the occasion of the recent dedication of the new buildings for Harvard Medical College one of the distinguished representatives of the institution spoke eloquently and at length respecting the relation of materia medica to chemistry, bacteriology, biology, etc., and of the advancing endeavor to seek the explanation of our physical ills in "the nature and conduct of primitive forms of life," and one often meets with those who express the most self-satisfied assurance as to the natural, causative relation of germs, bacilli, spores, etc., to our physical ills.

The desire to escape suffering can but prompt the many to give heed to the advice of those who have been pursuing this interminable quest for the physical origin of disease, and the agitation in this line can but tend to increase the amount of thought directed to disease with all its elaborated possibilities. But if it be true that human sense assimilates and brings into expression that upon which it feeds, thoughtful people will surely be led to wonder whether this procedure does not beget a receptivity to disease which will result in the multiplication of the very ills from which they would escape.

In considering this question it must be remembered that many undeniable facts go to show that human ills have not decreased in keeping with the asserted advance of materia medica. To cite a single illustration, it is probable that no body of men are subject to more careful medical and hygienic oversight and instruction than the sailors in our navy; and yet, according to the report of the surgeon-general for 1905, it appears that, despite the most scientific and extraordinary precautions, the increase of tuberculosis is alarming, being nearly three times as great as among the people at large, who have no such medical supervision and counsel.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

January 12, 1907

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.