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THE NEW BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY
OF THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY.
The recently opened biological laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University is eighty-four by fifty-two feet in external measurement, and consists of three stories and a basement. It is built of Baltimore pressed brick; with steps, entry, window-sills, and band-courses of Cheat-river bluestone. A fact that at once attracts attention is the number and large size of the windows; as the laboratory is free on all sides, it is therefore very well lighted.
On ascending the front steps, and passing through the door, the visitor enters the main hall, from which a wide staircase ascends to the third story, and on which most of the rooms of the first floor open. This floor is given up to the regular class-instruction of students not engaged in special work. It has on it (see plan, fig. 1) a lecture-room with seats for sixty; a storeroom connected with this, for the keeping of diagrams and lecture-apparatus; an administration-room, the headquarters of the chief assistant; a preparationroom containining a supply of the reagents, specimens and material required for the daily practical class-work; and the large general laboratory, thirtytwo by forty-eight feet.
The latter has windows on three sides. Around these sides runs a worktable, supported, independently of the floor, on brackets attached to the walls, and affording ample space for thirty students. If necessary, a second table can be set inside this, giving places for fifteen or twenty more. The centre of the room is in part occupied by a dissecting and a chemical table. The latter is supplied with the reagents and appliances for practical work in elementary chemical physiology. The dissecting table has a slate top, and is provided with a sink and water-tap between every two students. The inner side of the room has, against the wall, tables for scales and the warm-water oven; a large hood for the performance of chemical operations calculated to give rise to noxious vapors; and a dumb-waiter leading to the basement, on which articles can be sent up from the storerooms there when called for. Near the centre of the room is a chute, lined with plate-glass (so as to be readily kept clean), and passing direct to the furnace-room below. Through this chute all refuse is at once got rid of. The floor of this room, and of several others in the building, is of asphalt, and the walls of hard cement to a height of two and a half feet. Thus the floor can be flooded with water, and thoroughly cleansed whenever desirable.
The work to be done in this room annually is as follows: by the first-year students, a thorough macroscopic and microscopic examination of about twenty-five selected vegetable and animal organisms illustrative of the course of lectures on general biology, and a study of the embryology of the chick; by second-year students, a course in practical animal physiology and histology a little more extended than that given in Foster and Langley's 'Practical Physiology.'
The second floor (see plan, fig. 2) contains the following rooms: a laboratory for research and advanced study in animal morphology, and a corresponding room for botanical work (used at present as the laboratory of psycho-physiology); a photographing-chamber, with heliostat and other appliances for micro-photography; a library of biological text-books, monographs, and journals; a small lecture-room, capable of seating about thirty; an assistant's private room; a museum containing such typical osteological and other specimens as are needed by students pursuing the regular courses of class-instruction, and the beginning of a collection of the local fauna and flora, made by the members of the field-club; and a store and preparation room for the curator of the museum.
The third floor (see plan, fig. 3) is mainly given up to advanced students in physiology and histology. It has three large work-rooms; a dark chamber for spectroscopic work, for experiments in physiological optics, etc.; the director's private room; a room for the myograph; an assistant's private room; the mechanics' shop, for the construction and repair of instruments; and a small balance-room.
The building being heated by steam supplied from a boiler in the neighboring chemical laboratory, the basement (see plan, fig. 4), which is well lighted, is left free for use. The scientific work-rooms in it are a large, well-equipped room for advanced study in chemical physiology, a balanceroom, and a room for the study of animal electricity. The basement also contains a suite of three rooms, which form the janitor's headquarters,
where he has charge of the necessary stock of chemicals and glassware, and has also a carpenter's bench, at which he does any simple bit of carpentering required. From one of these rooms a shaft two feet square runs to the top of the building, communicating with each floor. Through this shaft it is intended to run wires to various work-rooms, transmitting electical currents for the running of chronographs, and for similar purposes. The shaft was also planned in the hope that ultimately the clock-work of kymographs and such instruments will be replaced by electrical energy generated by an engine and dynamo in the basement, and distributed thence over the building. The remaining rooms in the basement are, the 'animal room,' fitted up with tanks for the keeping of frogs, terrapins, and so forth; and the furnace-room. The latter contains a cremation-furnace, in which all the combustible débris of the laboratory is disposed of, and a boiler and condenser for the preparation of distilled water: it has also in it a small steamengine, designed to be used for running a centrifugal apparatus.
In the general internal fitting up of the laboratory, the trustees of the university have acted upon the belief that it is, in the long-run, more economical to provide students with furniture which is good and attractive, and trust them to take care of it, than to supply cheap tables and cases, which the average undergraduate, at least, is apt to feel no hesitation in mutilating. The halls and lobbies are comfortably covered with cocoa matting; the tables, instrument cupboards, and cases of drawers are of polished cherry. But there has been no attempt at ostentation: the furniture is all simple; though handsome, and finished in every essential in the best manner. Every drawer runs as smoothly as in the best cabinet work; and each has its own lock, to be opened only by its own key, or the master-key for each floor kept in the administration-room.
The library is a little more luxuriously furnished than the other rooms. It is carpeted, and supplied with armchairs. So many students can only afford to hire rather uncomfortable lodgings, that it was believed desirable to provide in the library a really pleasant study, in which they might find at hand, not only the books they wanted, but writing-tables and other conveniences. None of the books are locked up. The student, on entering, finds before him a list of books which are not to be taken from the room, including text-books, monographs on the plants or animals which are used as types in the regular class-instruction, and the last-received numbers of periodicals: all other books may be taken (subject to call for immediate return at any time) on the student writing his name, and the title of the book he desires to take away, on a card provided for that purpose, and then slipping this through a slit in a locked drawer. The fellows and scholars in the biological department act in turn as librarians for the day, and are present at a stated hour to received books returned, and restore the receipts for them until the card is returned to its signer, he is responsible for the book. This system of almost absolute freedom in taking books from the library is still on its trial: it has now been in practice for four months, and with the best results. Those who desire to take books home appreciate the trust reposed in them, and also the convenience to them of the present plan, and are anxious to secure its continuance.
The principle on which the library is managed, of inviting students to co-operate with the administrative officers in making it possible to allow the freest use of all books in it compatible with their safety, has been extended to the instruments in the various rooms for advanced work. On admission, each man has assigned to him a microscope, microtome, other histological appliances, and such chemical glass-ware as he is pretty certain to need. For these he signs a receipt, undertaking to restore the articles in good order on demand, or pay a specified sum for them. Glass slides and covers are purchased in quantity, and supplied by the janitor at cost. Other glassware, only occasionally needed, is supplied to any member of the laboratory on requisition, the recipient signing an agreement to return or pay for it. With these exceptions, free use of all the instruments required for such work as he has been permitted to undertake is allowed to every student, on condition that upon removing any piece of apparatus from its drawer or cupboard he shall leave in its place a card bearing his name. The only alternative, of course, is to lock every case, and only issue apparatus on formal application to a special officer. The men are on their honor,
and also know, that, if instruments cannot be traced, the present system must cease. Hitherto the endeavor to secure their aid in carrying out this plan of making all the apparatus accessible with the minimum of trouble or delay, has had most satisfactory results; largely, no doubt, owing to the fact that the majority of the students are graduates old enough to have a sense of responsibility and to influence the younger men. Once a month one of the fellows, or graduate scholars, examines the instrument cupboards in each room, compares their contents with the inventory, notes what piece of apparatus has been taken and who has taken it. If any instrument is not accounted for, he posts a notice asking who has it. During the past four months the latter proceeding has been necessary only three or four times, when students had, in the hurry and excitement of an experiment, forgotten to write the required receipt: in every such case the delinquent has at once come to apologize and explain. What may be called the 'permanent' apparatus in the laboratory, as distinguished from glass tubing and other perishable 'current' apparatus renewed yearly, has cost more than ten thousand dollars: about fifteen hundred dollars are annually provided for repairing and adding to it. During the current year another five hundred dollars has been placed at the disposal of Dr. G. Stanley Hall for the purchase or construction of apparatus for psycho-physiological teaching and research. This stock of instruments is so valuable, and in many cases so easily
injured, that a longer trial will, of course, be necessary, before it can be decided whether the present system of leaving every thing unlocked and trusting students to leave an acknowledgment for such instruments as they take, can be continued without undue risk of loss, or injury by carelessness for which no one can be found responsible.
The work for which the laboratory has been planned and built is stated in Professor Martin's lecture, (see p. 87 of this Circular). Briefly, it is to train beginners in biology in the fundamental properties of living matter, and the structural and physiological characteristics of the chief groups of plants and animals; in co-operation with the seaside laboratory of the university, to afford opportunities for advanced study and research in animal morphology and embryology; and, ultimately, similar opportunities for advanced students of botany. In addition, very special attention has been giving to providing facilities for class-instruction, advanced study and research in animal physiology and histology; and opportunity for such senior students as intend to become physicians to learn the methods of experimental pathological and therapeutical research, so far as they can be carried on in a laboratory. It is hoped that in this way the biological laboratory may prepare annually some students to enter special laboratories of pathological or pharmacological research more immediately connected with a medical school.-(Reprinted from Science, March 21, 1884.)
DIAGRAMS SHOWING THE ARRANGEMENT OF ROOMS. FIRST FLOOR.
WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY THEY ARE.
(AN ADDRESS DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORMAL OPENING OF THE NEW BIOLOGICAL
Professor H. NEWELL MARTIN.
A little more than seven years ago I announced from this platform that the old biological laboratory was ready for use,-that set of rooms in the third story of this building, which, inconvenient in many respects as it was, will, I trust, always be remembered by some of us with affection, and mayhap with a little pride.
This night on which we have met to celebrate the completion of the new laboratory is an occasion for looking forward rather than back. But before proceeding to speak in detail of the new building, I feel sure I do what every one of the members of the biological department present would think me remiss to omit, in pausing a moment to express our gratitude to those to whom we owe it,-first to our founder, Johns Hopkins, for his munificence; and next to his trustees. Probably very few present realize how much time and thought the trustees spent on the building before a stone of the foundation was laid, and during its erection. No one but myself knows how often I have been put in good heart by the cheering words, "Well, Dr. Martin, let us get it right when we are about it." In this connection I cannot refrain from saying, that, while we owe all so much, we owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. J. Hall Pleasants, the chairman of the building committee. Throughout the summer there was hardly a morning on which he did not visit the building; and that not merely for a glance, but far more often to spend an hour or two hours in or about it, and make sure that all was going right. The material result of this liberality, forethought, and supervision is that stately building on the top of the hill. Handsome though not ostentatious, comfortable but not luxurious, pleasant to work in without unnecessary finery, it stands there, for its purpose unrivalled in the United States, and not surpassed in the world.
Substantial, solid, well thought out, suited to its ends, and with no frippery about it, it is now for the biologists to see that their work agrees in character with the building.
There are many here to-night, who, not being biologists, may desire to know what such laboratories are for, and why there is any need of them. I shall perhaps best begin my attempt to answer these questions by stating briefly what our own laboratory is.
It is a building constructed primarily to afford facilities for instruction and research in physiology; and secondarily, similar opportunities in allied sciences, as comparative anatomy and botany, some training in which is essential (and the more the better) to everyone who would attain any real knowledge of physiology. As so many distinct branches of biological science are pursued in it, we call it in general the biological laboratory; but it is a biological laboratory deliberately planned that physiology in it shall be queen, and the rest her handmaids. If, therefore, you visit the building prepared to see a great zoological museum or an extensive herbarium, you will be disappointed. I do not underrate, and no one connected with this university can,-having in mind the brilliant anatomical researches of Dr. Brooks and others, made among us,-the claims of morphology; and in time I trust we may see a sister building specially designed for study of the structure, forms, and development of plants and animals. But one or the other had to be first chosen unless we were to do two things imperfectly instead of one well, and there were strong reasons for selecting physiology. In the first place, I think even the morphologists will admit that hitherto, and especially in the United States, they have had rather more than their fair share; numerous museums and laboratories have been built for their use; while physiology, if she got anything, has been usually allotted some out-of-the-way room in an entirely unsuitable building, if no one else wanted it; and been very glad to get even that. A second and still stronger reason is, that as medicine is slowly passing out of the regions of empiricism and rule-of-thumb treatment, or mal-treatment, it has become evident that sound physiology is its foundation; and this university will at no distant day have a medical school connected with it.
As you walk presently through the rooms of the new building, and see the many instruments of precision for teaching and research-the batteries, galvanometers, induction-coils, and spectroscopes; the balances, reagents, and other appliances of a chemical laboratory; the microscope for every student; the library of biological books and journals; the photographic appliances; the workshop for the construction and repair of instruments-when you see these things, it may interest you to recall that sixty years ago there was not a single public physiological laboratory in the world; nor was there then, even in any medical school, a special professor of physiology. So late as 1856 Johannes Müller taught in Berlin human anatomy, comparative anatomy, pathological anatomy, physiology, and embryology.
DuBois-Reymond, now himself professor in Berlin, has graphically described the difficulties of the earnest student of physiology, when he attended Müller's lectures in 1840.*
"We were shown a few freshly prepared microscopic specimens (the art of putting up permanent preparations being still unknown), and the circulation of the blood in the frog's web." So much for the histological side.
"We were also shown the experiment of filtering frog's blood to get a colorless clot, an experiment on the roots of the spinal nerves, some reflex movements in a frog, and that opium-poisoning was not conducted along the nerves. There were some better experiments on the physiology of voice,— a subject on which Müller had recently been working; and there was finally a demonstration of the effect upon respiration of dividing the pneumogastric nerves."
In all, you see six experiments or sets of experiments, in the whole course, in addition to the exhibition of some microscope slides; and all these mere demonstrations. It was hardly thought of that a student should use a microscope, or make an experiment, himself. If he desired to do so, the difficulties in his way were such as but few overcame.
"He must experiment in his own lodgings, where on account of his frogs he usually got into trouble with the landlady, and where many researches were impossible-there were no trained assistants to guide him-no public physiological library-no collection of apparatus. We had to roll our own coils, solder our own galvanic elements, make even our own rubber tubing, for at that time it was not an article of commerce. We sawed, planed, and drilled-we filed, turned, and polished. If through the kindness of a teacher a piece of apparatus was lent to us, how we made the most of ithow we studied its idiosyncrasies-above all, how we kept it clean."
Of course certain men, the men who were born to become physiologists, and not mere students of physiology, surmounted these difficulties. has only to recall the names of DuBois-Reymond himself, and of his contemporaries, Brücke, Helmholtz, Ludwig, Vierordt, Donders, and Claude Bernard, to realize that fact: and undoubtedly there was a good side to it all. Triflers were eliminated; and the class of individuals was unknown who sometimes turn up at modern laboratories (and judging from a good deal of current physiological literature, sometimes get admitted to them) with a burning desire to undertake forthwith a complicated research, though they hardly know an ordinary physiological instrument when they see it; much less know how to handle it. But they cannot wait; they must begin the next morning, believing, I presume, that laboratories are stocked with automatic apparatus,- -some sort of physiological sausage-machines, in which you put an animal at one end, turn the handle, and get out a valuable discovery at the other.
*Emil DuBois-Reymond. Der physiologische Unterricht, sonst und jetzt. Berlin, 1878. The quotations from this pamphlet, while giving, I trust, a true idea of the substance of Du Bois-Reymond's statements, have been curtailed, and are not to be regarded as literal full translations of the original.-H. N. M.
With one exception, Berlin was not in 1840 worse off than other German universities so far as facilities for physiological study were concerned, and certainly better off than any university in England or the United States. The exception was in Breslau, where the celebrated Purkinje, single-handed, had founded a physiological institute. It has usually been supposed that in this he followed the example of Liebig, who founded at Giessen the first public chemical laboratory; but this, pace the chemists, can hardly have been the case. It is to Purkinje that the honor belongs of founding the first public laboratory. Liebig undoubtedly conceived the plan when working in Paris in Gay Lussac's private laboratory, but it was not until 1826 that he began to put it into execution; and at that date Purkinje had already, largely at his own cost, started a physiological laboratory at Breslau, open to students, on a small scale, it is true, but still the germ of all those great laboratories of physics, chemistry, and biology, which are now found in every civilized country, and to which, more than to anything else, modern science owes its rapid progress. Of these there must be at least forty now organized for physiological work; and almost every year sees an increase in their number. How has this come about in the fifty odd years which have passed since the opening of Purkinje's poorly-equipped and little known workrooms?
First, because of the improvement in philosophy which took place when men began to break loose from the trammels of mediaeval metaphysics, and to realize that a process is not explained by the arbitrary assumption of some hypothetical cause invented to account for it. So long as the phenomena exhibited by living things were regarded, not as manifestations of the properties of the kind of matter of which they were composed, but as exhibitions of the activity of an extrinsic independent entity,-a pneuma, anima, vital spirit, or vital principle which had temporarily taken up its residence in the body of an animal, but had no more essential connection with that body than a tenant with the house in which he lives,-there was no need for physiological laboratories. Dissection of the dead body might, indeed, be interesting as making known the sort of machine through which the vital force worked,-just as some people find it amusing to visit the former abode of a great author, and see his library and writing-table and inkstand; and there might be discussions as to the locality of the body in which this vital force resided; to carry out our simile, as to what was its favorite armchair. Various guessers placed it in the heart, the lungs, the blood, the brain, and so forth. Paracelsus, with more show of reason, located it in close connection with the stomach, on the top of which he supposed there was seated a chief vital spirit, Archaeus, who superintended digestion. It is mainly to Descartes,* who lived in the earlier half of the seventeenth century, that physiology owes the impulse which set it free from such will-o'-the-wisps. Putting aside all consciousness as the function of the soul, he maintained that all other vital phenomena were due to properties of the material of which the body is composed; and that death was not due to any defect of the soul, but to some alteration or degeneration in some part or parts of the body.
The influence of Descartes, and, in the same half-century, the demonstration of the circulation of the blood by Harvey, gave a great impulse to experimental physiology. Both Harvey and Descartes, however, still believed in a special locally placed vital spirit or force which animated the whole bodily frame; as the engine in a great factory moves all the machinery in it. What a muscle did, or a gland did, depended on the structure and properties of the muscle or gland; but the work-power was derived from a force outside those organs,-on vital spirits supplied from the brain along the nerves, or carried to every part in the blood. As the pattern of a carpet depends on the structure and arrangement of the loom,-which loom, however, is worked by a distant steam-engine,- -so the results of muscular or glandular activity were believed to be determined by the structure of muscle and gland; but the moving-force to come from some other part of the body.
The next important advance was made by Haller, about the middle of the eighteenth century. He demonstrated that the contracting-power of a muscle did not depend on vital spirits carried to it by nerve or blood, but on properties of the muscle itself. Others had guessed, Haller proved, that the body of one of the higher animals is not a collection of machines worked by a central motor, but a collection of machines each of which is in itself both steam-engine and loom; leaving aside, of course, certain of the purely mechanical supporting and protecting apparatuses of the skeleton. This
*See Huxley: The connection of the biological sciences with medicine (The Lancet, Aug. 13, 1881).
was the death-blow of the 'vital force' doctrine. Extensions of Haller's method showed that it was possible to destroy the brain and spinal cord of an animal, and separate its muscles, its heart, its nerves, its glands, and yet keep all these isolated organs working as in normal life for many hours. Henceforth the life of an animal could not be regarded as an entity residing in one region of the body, from which it animated the rest; the word gradually became a mere convenient phrase for expressing the totality or resultant of the actions of the individual organs. Physiologists began to see that they had nothing to do with hunting out a vital force, or with essences or absolutes; that their business was to study the phenomena exhibited by living things, and leave the noumena, if there were such, to amuse metaphysicians. Physiology became more and more a study of the mechanics, physics, and chemistry of living organisms and parts of organisms.
Progress at first was necessarily very slow; physics and chemistry, as we now know them, did not exist. Galvanism was not discovered, osmosis was unknown, the conservation of energy was undreamed of; modern chemistry did not take its rise until the discovery of oxygen by Priestley, and the extension and application of that discovery by Lavoisier towards the close of the last century. Physiology had to wait then, as now, for its advance upon the development of the sciences dealing with simpler forms of matter than those found in living things. But little by little, step after step, so many once mysterious vital processes have been explained as but special illustrations of general physical and chemical laws, that now the physiologist scans each advance in chemistry or physics in full confidence that it will enable him to add others to the phenomena of living bodies, which are in ultimate analysis not peculiar or 'vital,' but simply physico-chemical. Apart from the phenomena of mind, whose mysterious connection with forms of matter he can never hope to explain, if a physiologist were to-day asked what is the object of his science, he would answer, "not the discovery or the localization of a vital force, but the study of the quantity of oxidizable food taken into the stomach, and the quantity of oxygen absorbed in the lungs; the calculation of the energy or force liberated by the combination of the food and oxygen; observation of the way in which that force has been expended, the means by which its distribution has been influenced, and the form in which the unused matter, if any, has been stored."
Once it was recognized that the majority of physiological problems were problems admitting of experimental investigation, the necessity for special collections of apparatus suitable for experiment on living plants and animals, and for affording students an opportunity to study the play of forces in living organisms, had not long to wait for recognition. Physiological laboratories were organized: at first in such rooms as could be spared in buildings constructed for other purposes; later, in structures built for this special end. The first laboratory specially erected for physiological work was built for Vierordt, in Tübingen, less than twenty years ago. So far as I know, our own is the first such building in the United States. There is still another reason which has combined with the recognition of the independence of physiology as a science to make the modern laboratory, open to all properly prepared students, a possibility; and physiology owes it to this country. I do not forget how Brown-Sequard in Philadelphia clinched and completed Bernard's great discovery of the vaso-motor nerves; nor the researches of Weir Mitchell on the functions of nerve-centres, and the action of snake-poisons; nor, in later years, the researches of Wood on the physiology of fever; and, on various subjects, of Bowditch, Arnold, Flint, Minot, Sewall, Ott, Chittenden, Prudden, Keyt, Sedgwick, and others. But speaking with all the diffidence which one, who, at least by birth, is a foreigner, must feel in expressing such an opinion, I say, that considering the accumulated wealth of this country, the energy which throbs throughout it, and the number of its medical schools, it has not done its fair share in advancing physiological knowledge; but for one thing, which makes the world its debtor. I mean the discovery of anaesthetics. When Morton in 1846, demonstrated in the Massachusetts General Hospital that the inhalation of ether could produce complete insensibility to pain, he laid the foundation-stone of our laboratory, and of many others. No doubt the men whose instincts led them to physiological research, and who realized that by the infliction of temporary pain on a few of the lower animals they were discovering truths which would lead to alleviation of suffering and prolon gation of life, not only in countless generations of such animals themselves, but in men and women to the end of time, would have tried to do their work in any case. But those who can steel their hearts to inflict present pain for future gain are few in number. The discovery of anaesthetics has
not only led to ten physiological experimenters for each one who would have worked without them, but by making it possible to introduce into the regular course of physiological teaching demonstrations and experiments on living animals, without shocking the moral sense of students or of the community at large, has contributed incalculably to the progress of physiology. On the occasion of the opening of the old laboratory I used these words: * "Physiology is concerned with the phenomena going on in living things, and vital phenomena cannot be observed in dead bodies; and from what Í have said you will have gathered that I intend to employ vivisections in teaching. I want, however, to say, once for all, that here, for teaching purposes, no painful experiment will be performed. Fortunately the vast majority of physiological experiments can nowadays be performed without the infliction of pain; either by the administration of some of the many anaesthetics known, or by previous removal of parts of the central nervous system; and such experiments only will be used here for teaching. With regard to physiological research, the case is different. Happily here, too, the number of necessarily painful experiments is very small indeed; but in any case where the furtherance of physiological knowledge is at stakewhere the progress of that science is concerned, on which all medicine is based, so far as it is not a mere empiricism-I cannot doubt that we have a right to inflict suffering upon the lower animals, always provided that it be reduced to the minimum possible, and that none but competent persons be allowed to undertake such experiments."
Those words were a declaration of principle, and a pledge given to this community, in which I was about to commence my work. That the work has been carried on for seven years among you, without a murmur of objection reaching my ears, is sufficient proof that Baltimore assents to the principle; and, gratifying as the building of our new laboratory is to me from many points of view, there is none so grateful as its witness, that, in the opinion of our trustees and of my fellow-citizens, I have carried out my pledge. There has been no hole-and-corner secrecy about the matter: the students in the laboratory have been no clique living isolated in a college building; but either your own sons, or boarders scattered among dozens of families in this city; and no room in the laboratory has ever been closed to any student: what we have done has been open to all who cared to know. On this occasion, when we make a fresh start, I desire to re-assert the principle, and repeat the pledge.
We have seen that Haller laid the foundation of our knowledge that the body of one of the higher animals is essentially an aggregation of many organs, each having a sort of life of its own, and in health co-operating harmoniously with others for the common good. In the early part of this century, before scientific thought had freed itself from mediaeval guidance, this doctrine sometimes took fantastic forms. For example, a school arose which taught that each organ represented some one of the lower animals. Du Bois-Reymond relates that in 1838 he took down these notes at the lectures of the professor of anthropology:
"Each organ of the human body answers to a definite animal, is an animal. For example, the freely movable, moist, and slippery tongue is a cuttlefish. The bone of the tongue is attached to no other bone in the skeleton; the cuttlefish has only one bone, and consequently this bone is attached to no other. It follows that the tongue is a cuttlefish."
However, while Professor Steffens and his fellow transcendentalists were theorizing about organs, others were at work studying their structure; and a great step forward was made in the first year of our century. by the publication of Bichât's 'Anatomie générale.' Bichât showed that the organs of the body were not the ultimate living units, but were made up of a number of different interwoven textures, or tissues, each having vital properties of its own. This discovery paved the way for Schwann and Schleiden, who laid the foundation of the cell-theory; and showed, that, in fundamental structure, animals and plants are alike, the tissues of each being essentially made up of aggregates of more or less modified microscopic living units called cells. Our own generation has seen this doctrine completed by the demonstration that the essential constituent of the cell is a peculiar form of matter named protoplasm, and that all the essential phenomena of life can be manifested by microscopic bits of this material; that they can move, feed, assimilate, grow, and multiply; and still further, that, wherever we find any characteristic vital activity, we find some variety of protoplasm. Physiology thus has become reduced in general terms to a study of the faculties of protoplasm; and morphology to a study of the forms which units or aggregates of * Pop. sc. monthly, December, 1876.
units of protoplasm, or their products, may assume. The isolation of botany, zoology, and physiology, which was threatened through increased division of labor, due to increase of knowledge necessitating a limitation of special study to some one field of biology, was averted; and the reason was given for that principle which we have always insisted upon here,―that beginners shall be taught the broad general laws of living matter before they are permitted to engage in the special study of one department of biology. If I be asked, what have biological science in general and physiology in particular done for mankind to justify the time and money spent on them during the past fifty years, I admit it to be a perfectly fair question; fortunately it is one very easy to answer. Leaving aside the fruitful practical applications of biological knowledge to agriculture and sanitation, I will confine myself to immediate applications of the biological sciences to the advance of the theory, and, as a consequence, of the art of medicine.
So long as the life of a man was believed to be an external something distinct from his body, but residing in it for a while, diseases were naturally regarded as similar extrinsic essences or entities, which invaded the body from without, and fought the 'vital force.' The business of the physician was to drive out the invader without expelling the vital spirits along with it,- -an unfortunate result, which only too often happened. To the physicians of the sixteenth century a fever was some mysterious extraneous thing, to be bled, or sweated, or starved out of the body, much as the medicine-men of savages try to scare it off by beating tomtoms around the patient. Once life was recognized as the sum total of the properties of the organs composing the body such a theory of disease become untenable, and the basis of modern pathology was laid. Disease was no longer a spiritual indivisible essence, but the result of change in the structure of some one or more of the material constituents of the body, leading to abnormal action. The object of the physician became, not to expel an imaginary immaterial enemy, but to restore the altered constituent to its normal condition.
The next great debt which medicine owes to biology is the establishment of the cell-doctrine,—of the fact that the body of each one of us is made up of millions of little living units, each with its own properties, and each in health doing its own business in a certain way under certain conditions; and no one cell being more the seat of life than any other. The activities of certain cells may, indeed, be more fundamentally important to the maintenance of the general life of the aggregate than that of others; but the cells, which, by position or function, are more essential than the rest, are, in final analysis, no more alive than they. Before the acceptance of the celldoctrine pathologists were practically divided into two camps,-those who believed that all disease was primarily due to changes in the nervous system, and those who ascribed it to alteration of the blood. With the publication of Virchow's 'Cellular pathology' all this was changed. Physicians recognized that the blood and nerves might at the outset be all right, and yet disease originate from abnormal growth or action of the cells of various organs. This new pathology, like the older, was for a time carried to excess. We now know that there may be general diseases primarily due to changes in the nervous system, which binds into a solidarity the organs of the body; or of the blood, which nourishes all: but we have also gained the knowledge that very many, if not the majority, of diseases have a local origin, due to local causes, which must be discovered if the disease is to be successfully combated. An engineer, if he find his machinery running imperfectly, may endeavor to overcome this by building a bigger fire in his furnace, and loading the safety-valve. In other words, he may attribute the defect to general causes; and in so far he would resemble the old pathologists. But the skilled engineer would do something different. If he found his machinery going badly, he would not jump forthwith to the conclusion that it was the fault of the furnace, but would examine every bearing and pivot in his machinery, and, only when he found these all in good workingorder, begin to think the defect lay in the furnace or boiler; and in that he would resemble the modern physician instructed in the cell-doctrine.
A third contribution of biology to medical science is the germ-theory as to the causation of an important group of diseases. To it we owe already antiseptic surgery; and we are all now hoiding our breath in the fervent expectation that in the near future, by its light, we may be able to fight scarlet-fever, diphtheria, and phthisis, not in the bodies of those we love, but in the breeding-places, in dirt and darkness, of certain microscopic plants. From one point of view the germ-theory may seem a return to the idea that diseases are external entities which attack the body; but note the difference between this form of the doctrine and the ancient! We are no