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The care of Education entrusted to them; their modes of grant-
TO THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE.
GENTLEMEN :-The task which you have imposed upon me, and which I come before jou this evening to fulfill, is one for which I am ill prepared. Habits of retirement long indulged, are not easily laid aside. The occupations of the sick-room favor a close, sententious manner, rather than fluency of speech.
It may, indeed, be said, that in this respect I am only on a par with my associates. Few of us, it is true, are known as public speakers. Eloquence gives spirit to the pulpit, gives spirit to the bar; but the Genius of Medicine sits pensive and alone, her finger on her lips, as if admonishing her votaries by the example of her own silence, to bury deep within the recesses of their bosoms the disclosures of the sick. Ours is the quiet profession.“ The prudent physician is the keeper of his own counsel; thinking much, and speaking little.
But, Gentlemen, though not given to elocution, I have not felt at liberty to refuse this opportunity of addressing you. I cannot plead the diffidence of a stranger. I am not here among you for the first
time. I stand in the midst of friends,—of brethren, of those who for many years have been my companions in daily toil, moved by the same impulses, agitated by the same fears, excited by the same hopes, elated by the same successes as myself. With the associations of a quarter of a century clustering thick around me, on this our common hearth, I feel that I am at home, and can speak, as well as breathe, without restraint.
To the initiated, Medicine is something more than a profession. It is a world within itself. It has its history, its philosophy, its politics, its literature, of which the world at large knows nothing. It has its subsidiary arts and occupations. It has its organizations and institutions, its ranks and grades of honor. It has its polemics and dissensions, not always amenable to logic or to the learning of the schools. In ethics, traditions, and superstitions, it is older than the church. In use before the civil law, it recognizes no arbitrary enactments. Nature is its only court of equity. And who of us shall forget its everliving charities; its moving scenes of joy and sadness; its many sunny aspects; its benignant, ennobling, liberalizing influences; which few beyond our own circle can properly appreciate, and none so well understand as ourselves !
No wonder, then, that the members of our profession, drawn together by these hallowed ties, should be disposed to band together as a brotherhood. Such has always been their course. The Druids of early Gaul and Britain, the Asclepiadæ of Greece, the priests of ancient Egypt, the lamas of Central
Asia, the Vaidhyas of India, the fraternities of the
With these facts before us, our origin and growth
This subject is one which has often furnished occupation for my leisure hours. It
It is pleasant as 'well as profitable to turn, on fit occasions, from the bustle of active life, to the study of the past, -to the origin of our art, to the principles and necessities that called it into being, to the struggles of our ancestry. We are thereby better able to understand our own position, to know how far, we have advanced, to whom we owe our progress, the labor still before
us, and the places we ourselves are likely to occupy in the estimation of those who are to follow
THE CONDITION OF MEDICINE IN THE EARLIEST OR
GANIZATIONS OF SOCIETY.
The art of medicine is at the present day so universally exercised, that we can hardly suppose an organized community ever existed in which it was overlooked ; and yet such appears to have been the fact.
There is reason to believe that among the Assyrians and other early Asiatios, it was never pursued as a distinct occupation. The eastern Magi must have devoted some attention to it; and the seers of Palestine may have had some pretensions to skiļl in the cùre of diseases as a part of their divine calling. Job speaks of his counselors as “physicians of no value;" and Moses, of the preparation of the sacred oil after “the apothecary's art.” King Asa, when his disease was exceeding great “sought not the Lord, but his physicians; and Jeremiah asks, “ Is there, no balm in Gilead ? is there no physician there?" From these and other allusions in the Old Testament, it is evident that among the Israelites there were, perhaps after the manner of the Egyptians, certain men giving their attention to medicine. But the Babylonians, as we learn from Herodotus,*
* Book I. chap. 197.