The following book comprises a history of medicine and the medical profession from the earliest times to the beginning of the present century, and is published in the hope that it may form a not unwelcome contribution to a neglected department of medical literature. The period of purely professional education has been prolonged, the tendency to this narrowness of view is likely to increase, and no better antidote could possibly be found than the study of medical history, a subject which makes us acquainted with the most diverse forms of thought, and brings before us every phase of civilisation. The neglect of this study, especially in England, has often been noticed, and seems due to two causes ; first, that those who might write histories of medicine are more practically employed,—some, perhaps, in the nobler task of making history,—secondly and chiefly, that there is no demand for such works. The power and originality of modern medicine, the vigour and success with which it has opposed the scientific methods of observation and experiment to the old reverence for system and authority, tend to create a contempt for medical history, and a half-confessed feeling that we are the men, and knowledge was born with us, or at least with our fathers.
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