Honors to Pasteur


Louis Pasteur overseeing the inoculation of patients with the vaccine for hydrophobia.

Pasteur at 70 is worthily the recipient of many honors. He is the most illustrious exponent of the principle of inoculation. Its development has been side by side with the progress of tracing to their germ forms some of the most destructive diseases by which humanity is affected and its numbers are reduced.

Sir Astley Cooper, referring to medicine and not to surgery, has been credited with the remark that “It is a science founded on conjecture and improved by murder.” The over statement was designed to indicate the dependence of medicine on experimentation and to condemn arrogance in the claims made for it as well as some of the hazards indefensibly incurred in its name. Pasteur and the germ theorists have done something to bring medicine within the range of certainty. They have, in doing that, only brought the principles of it within the sway of principles in nature.

There are some who think they are clearly on the right track as to express the belief that their predecessors were not on it at all; in other words, that to them and to their century will be due the distinction not only of having revolutionized, but of having reversed medicine and started it on the course of the laws of nature. The statement illustrates the profound impression the reformers have made on the minds of the race and the place they will be likely to occupy in history.

The EAGLE is a medical conservative-radical. Every advance in medicine should be approved before it is accepted. Any declaration for a new discovery which impeaches the accuracy of value of prior ones is in itself suspicious. It is like the claim of a cure all for a remedy. Such remedies exclusively benefit those with whom nothing is the matter. Medicine, however, does advance. It has advanced and far in recent years. Some of these advances have been made against and over the protest and skepticism of the Bourbons of books in the profession. The advances have been confined to no special school. Each school has tempered the other. True methods represent the consensus or harmony of each of the three scientific schools recognized by the state. The quacks in the new schools and the Bourbons in the old should be equally discounted. The men and women hospitable to investigation and friendly to learning in any school of healing should be cultivated.

Precisely these men and women have been sided by Pasteur and by his contemporaries the germicides. The honors to Pasteur are honors to these men and women. They are tributes to science. They are recognitions of very rare personal qualities, as well as of learning, labor and skill. None will rejoice more than Americans in these testimonies to Pasteur. His genius and services are appreciated here. The alertness of this country to scientific discoveries is appreciated by him. The monument he has reared is as broadly based as the area of suffering. It draws to it the gaze and homage of those who in every land would ameliorate the pains and lengthen and strengthen the life of the race.

Originally published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on December 28, 1892

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