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How easily, how secretly, how safely in books do we make bare without shame the poverty of human ignorance! These are the masters that instruct us without rod and ferrule, without words of anger, without payment of money or clothing. Should ye approach them, they are not asleep; if ye seek to question them, they do not hide themselves; should ye err, they do not chide; and should ye show ignorance, they know not how to laugh. 0 Books! ye alone are free and liberal. Ye give to all that seek, and set free all that serve you zealously.

RICHARD De BURY, Philobiblon,
Grolier Club Edition, voL ii. p. 22


Books delight us when prosperity sweetly smiles; they stay to comfort us when cloudy fortune frowns. They lend strength to human compacts, and without them grave judgments may not be propounded.

Ibid. p. 113.

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain apotency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

JOHN MILTON, Areopagitica.


                            BOOKS AND MEN1

      THOSE of us from other cities who bring congratu-
lations this evening can hardly escape the tinglings
of envy when we see this noble treasure house; but in my
own case the bitter waters of jealousy which rise in my
soul are at once diverted by two strong sensations.  In the
first place I have a feeling of lively gratitude towards this
library.  In 1876 as a youngster interested in certain
clinical subjects to which I could find no reference in our
library at McGill, I came to Boston, and I here found what
I wanted, and I found moreover a cordial welcome and
many friends.  It was a small matter I had in hand but I
wished to make it as complete as possible, and I have al-
ways felt that this library helped me to a good start.  It
has been such a pleasure in recurring visits to the library to
find Dr. Brigham in charge, with the same kindly interest
in visitors that he showed a quarter of a century ago.
But the feeling which absorbs all others is one of deep
satisfaction that our friend, Dr. Chadwick, has at last seen
fulfilled the desire of his eyes.  To few is given the tenacity
of will which enables a man to pursue a cherished purpose
through a quarter of a century—" Ohne Hast, aber ohne
Rast" (‘tis his favourite quotation); to fewer still is the

1 Boston Medical Library, 1901.


fruition granted.  Too often the reaper is not the sower.
Too often the fate of those who labour at some object for
the public good is to see their work pass into other hands,
and to have others get the credit for enterprises which they
have initiated and made possible.  It has not been so
with our friend, and it intensifies a thousandfold the plea-
sure of this occasion to feel the fitness, in every way, of the
felicitations which have been offered to him.
      It is hard for me to speak of the value of libraries in
terms which would not seem exaggerated.  Books have
been my delight these thirty years, and from them I have
received incalculable benefits.  To study the phenomena
of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while
to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.
Only a maker of books can appreciate the labours of others
at their true value.  Those of us who have brought forth
fat volumes should offer hecatombs at these shrines of
Minerva Medica.  What exsuccous, attenuated offspring
they would have been but for the pabulum furnished
through the placental circulation of a library.  How
often can it be said of us with truth, "Das beste was er ist
verdankt er Andern!"
      For the teacher and the worker a great library such as
this is indispensable.  They must know the world’s best
work and know it at once.  They mint and make current
coin the ore so widely scattered in journals, transactions
and monographs.  The splendid collections which now exist
in five or six of our cities and the unique opportunities of
the Surgeon-General’s Library have done much to give
to American medicine a thoroughly eclectic character.
      But when one considers the unending making of books,


who does not sigh for the happy days of that thrice happy
Sir William Browne1 whose pocket library sufficed for
his life’s needs; drawing from a Greek testament his di-
vinity, from the aphorisms of Hippocrates his medicine,
and from an Elzevir Horace his good sense and vivacity.
There should be in connection with every library a corps
of instructors in the art of reading, who would, as a labour
of love, teach the young idea how to read.  An old writer
says that there are four sorts of readers: "Sponges which
attract all without distinguishing; Howre-glasses which
receive and powre out as fast; Bagges which only retain
the dregges of the spices and let the wine escape, and Sives
which retaine the best onely."  A man wastes a great
many years before he reaches the "sive" stage:
      For the general practitioner a well-used library is one of
the few correctives of the premature senility which is so apt
to overtake him.  Self-centred, self-taught, he leads a
solitary life, and unless his every-day experience is con-
trolled by careful reading or by the attrition of a medical
society it soon ceases to be of the slightest value and be-
comes a mere accretion of isolated facts, without corre-
lation.  It is astonishing with how little reading a doctor
can practise medicine, but it is not astonishing how badly
he may do it.  Not three months ago a physician living
within an hour’s ride of the Surgeon-General’s Library
brought to me his little girl, aged twelve.  The diagnosis
of infantile myxcedema required only a half glance.  In

   1 In one of the Annual Orations at the Royal College of Physicians
he said:  "Behold an instance of human ambition ! not to be satis-
fied but by the conquest, as it were, of three worlds, lucre in the
country, honour in the college, pleasure in the medicinal springs."


placid contentment he had been practising twenty years
in "Sleepy Hollow" and not even when his own flesh and
blood was touched did he rouse from an apathy deep as
Rip Van Winkle’s sleep.  In reply to questions: No, he
had never seen anything in the journals about the thyroid
gland; he had seen no pictures of cretinism or myxcedema;
in fact his mind was a blank on the whole subject.  He had
not been a reader, he said, but he was a practical man
with very little time.  I could not help thinking of John
Bunyan’s remarks on the elements of success in the prac-
tice of medicine.  "Physicians," he says, "get neither
name nor fame by the pricking of wheals or the picking
out thistles, or by laying of plaisters to the scratch of a
pin; every old woman can do this.  But if they would
have a name and a fame, if they will have it quickly, they
must do some great and desperate cures.  Let them fetch
one to life that was dead, let them recover one to his wits
that was mad, let them make one that was born blind
to see, or let them give ripe wits to a fool—these are
notable cures, and he that can do thus, if he dost thus first,
he shall have the name and fame he deserves; he may lie
abed till noon."   Had my doctor friend been a reader he
might have done a great and notable cure and even have
given ripe wits to a fool!   It is in utilizing the fresh know-
ledge of the journals that the young physician may attain
quickly to the name and fame he desires.
      There is a third class of men in the profession to whom
books are dearer than to teachers or practitioners—a small,
a silent band, but in reality the leaven of the whole lump.
The profane call them bibliomaniacs, and in truth they
are at times irresponsible and do not always know the


difference between meum and tuum.  In the presence of
Dr. Billings or of Dr. Chadwick I dare not further charac-
terize them.  Loving books partly for their contents,
partly for the sake of the authors, they not alone keep
alive the sentiment of historical continuity in the pro-
fession, but they are the men who make possible such
gatherings as the one we are enjoying this evening.  We
need more men of their class, particularly in this country,
where every one carries in his pocket the tape-measure of
utility.  Along two lines their work is valuable.  By the
historical method alone can many problems in medicine be
approached profitably.  For example, the student who
dates his knowledge of tuberculosis from Koch may have a
very correct, but he has a very incomplete, appreciation
of the subject.  Within a quarter of a century our libraries
will have certain alcoves devoted to the historical con-
sideration of the great diseases, which will give to the
student that mental perspective which is so valuable an
equipment in life.  The past is a good nurse, as Lowell
remarks, particularly for the weanlings of the fold.

                                                 ‘Tis man’s worst deed
                 To let the things that have been, run to waste
                 And in the unmeaning Present sink the Past.

      But in a more excellent way these laudatores temporis
acti render a royal service.  For each one of us to-day, as
in Plato’s time, there is a higher as well as a lower edu-
cation.  The very marrow and fitness of books may not
suffice to save a man from becoming a poor, mean-spirited
devil, without a spark of fine professional feeling, and
without a thought above the sordid issues of the day.
The men I speak of keep alive in us an interest in the great


men of the past and not alone in their works, which they
cherish, but in their lives, which they emulate.  They
would remind us continually that in the records of no
other profession is there to be found so large a number
of men who have combined intellectual pre-eminence with
nobility of character.  This higher education so much
needed to-day is not given in the school, is not to be bought
in the market place, but it has to be wrought out in each
one of us for himself; it is the silent influence of character
on character and in no way more potently than in the
contemplation of the lives of the great and good of the past,
in no way more than in "the touch divine of noble natures
      I should like to see in each library a select company
of the Immortals set apart for special adoration.  Each
country might have its representatives in a sort of alcove
of Fame, in which the great medical classics were gathered
Not necessarily books, more often the epoch-making con-
tributions to be found in ephemeral journals.  It is too
early, perhaps, to make a selection of American medical
classics, but it might be worth while to gather suffrages
in regard to the contributions which ought to be placed
upon our Roll of Honour.  A few years ago I made out a list
of those I thought the most worthy which I carried down to
1850, and it has a certain interest for us this evening.  The
native modesty of the Boston physician is well known,
but in certain circles there has been associated with it a
curious psychical phenomenon, a conviction of the utter
worthlessness of the status pręsens in New England, as
compared with conditions existing elsewhere.  There is a
variety to-day of the Back Bay Brahmin who delights


in cherishing the belief that medically things are every-
where better than in Boston, and who is always ready to
predict "an Asiatic removal of candlesticks," to borrow
a phrase from Cotton Mather.  Strange indeed would it
have been had not such a plastic profession as ours felt
the influences which moulded New England into the in-
tellectual centre of the New World.  In reality, nowhere
in the country has the profession been adorned more plen-
tifully with men of culture and of character—not volu-
minous writers or exploiters of the products of other
men’s brains—and they manage to get a full share on the
Roll of Fame which I have suggested.  To 1850, I have
counted some twenty contributions of the first rank, con-
tributions which for one reason or another deserve to be
called American medical classics.  New England takes
ten.  But in medicine the men she has given to the other
parts of the country have been better than books.  Men
like Nathan R. Smith, Austin Flint, Willard Parker, Alon-
zo Clark, Elisha Bartlett, John C. Dalton, and others
carried away from their New England homes a love of
truth, a love of learning and above all a proper estimate
of the personal character of the physician.
      Dr. Johnson shrewdly remarked that ambition was
usually proportionate to capacity, which is as true of a
profession as it is of a man.  What we have seen to-night
reflects credit not less on your ambition than on your
capacity.  A library after all is a great catalyser, accelera-
ting the nutrition and rate of progress in a profession, and
I am sure you will find yourselves the better for the sacri-
fice you have made in securing this home for your books,
this workshop for your members.

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