Billeder på siden


discard all new-fangled notions, as they style the improvements and discoveries first laid before the profession through this medium, and annually repeat to their classes the old and often obsolete theories which they themselves learned when students. These teachers are by no means exceptional, even in our most flourishing schools. We have listened to lectures on surgery, medicine, and obstetrics, within a few years, not a whit in advance of the age of Hunter, Cullen, and Denman. Is it not time that this class of professors were supplanted by men who are capable of teaching these branches in the light of modern science? The question has frequently been asked at what age does a medical man become unable to keep pace with scientific discoveries, and at what age are professors in our medical colleges no longer competent to instruct classes in the latest improvements in the medical sciences? We shall give to both queries one answer: when a medical man reaches an age where his self-conceit leads him to believe that he can learn nothing from medical journals, he is no longer able to keep pace with the progress of the medical science, nor to instruct classes in its latest improvements. In view of these facts, therefore, and of the 'deliberate advice given from professional chairs, we deem it our duty at this time to enter a plea in behalf of medical journals, as the proper reading of recent graduates, of established practitioners, and even of the professors

in our medical colleges. What is the proper office of a medical journal? Undoubtedly it is to be the medium of communication between the members of the profession. Such a medium is now recognized as essential to the progress of every science and every art. It stimulates to active effort, not only in research, by the constant attrition of minds engaged in a common pursuit, but to the practical application of principles and newly discovered facts. It performs in this respect, to the profession at large, the same office that a local organization does to the few, being the medium of mutual improvement and encouragement. The advantages of a medical journal to the general practitioner, who has to grapple with the stubborn facts of every-day practice, are incalculable. They have not unfrequently contributed to his immediate success, by giving him timely information of new and important discoveries. Many of the most valuable methods of practice introduced to the knowledge of the profession within the last five, and in some cases even ten years, have not found a place, as yet, in practical treatises, but must be studied in the original journal where the paper first appeared. It is, indeed, a common remark that the physician who keeps pace with the improvements in his art, must be a careful student of medical periodicals. Again, the medical journals fulfill another, and not less important mission. They elevate the tone of professional morality; they

cultivate a just and liberal criticism; and finally, they establish a higher standard of attainments. In this view, we welcome the appearance of new and well-conducted periodicals in distant localities, and regard them not only as evidences of the progress of legitimate medicine, but as safeguards against the bickerings of individuals and the encroachments of quackery. And we take this occasion to urge upon physicians living in localities where such publications exist, the duty of sustaining them liberally, both by literary and pecuniary contributions. Finally, they tend powerfully to unite the profession in a common brotherhood for the attainment of those rights and privileges, whether social or political, which are due to legitimate medicine. The triumph of the British medical profession in obtaining the enactment of laws designed to establish it upon a firm legal basis, is a striking proof of the power of medical periodicals to concentrate its sympathies and influences. No country has greater need of such publications than ours, and in no country may they exert a more salutary influence. With free institutions susceptible of infinite modification, the medical profession forming a most respectable element in every community, however remote, may wield a power of unlimited extent. This power it is the province of the medical journals of this country to organize and concentrate, and thus ennoble the profession, and advance the best interests of society.




T is well established, that promptness and certainty in the punishment of criminals are the most powerful safeguards which society has against the reckless commission of crime. When retributive justice overtakes the murderer while his hands still reek with the blood of his victim, the most salutary check is given to homicide. In the early history of all communities, we find abundant examples of the sudden and permanent arrest of high crimes by the summary punishment which an excited populace has promptly inflicted upon the offenders. In older communities, where criminal jurisprudence is so administered as to be tardy in the arrest of criminals, doubtful in their conviction, and slow to inflict penalties, we see crimes of every grade gradually multiply. It follows, therefore, that that community is best protected against the commission of crime which has the most effective regulations for the apprehension and conviction of criminals. But it will be apparent, that efficiency in the execution of any code of laws presupposes activity, vigilance, and intelligence on the part of those whose duty it is to enforce it; without these,


laws had better never have been enacted, for they serve rather to embolden than check and deter the vicious. One of the most important officers in the execution of our criminal laws is the coroner; and it is to the duties of his office, and the manner in which they are now too often performed, that we wish to direct attention. English jurisprudence has bequeathed to us not only the form, but the spirit of the office of coroner. Originally, it was connected with the Pleas of the Crown, and was of the most honorable character. The Lord Chief Justice of England was the principal coroner in the kingdom, and could exercise the duties in any part of the realm. The coroner was of equal authority with the sheriff in keeping the peace; he was to be a lawful and discreet knight; and was to receive no fees for his services. But his special duties were, by means of a jury, to make inquiry as to the cause of death where persons die suddenly, or are slain, or die in prison. He was directed to inquire "when the person was slain; whether it were in any house, field, bed, town, tavern, or company, and who were there. Likewise it is to be inquired, who were culpable, either of the act or of the force; and who were present, either men or women, of what age, if they can speak or have any discretion. And such as are found culpable by inquisition, shall be taken and delivered to the sheriff, and committed to jail." It will thus be seen that the original duties of a coroner were


« ForrigeFortsæt »