While, it cannot be said to be absolutely true that a full knowledge
of the histories and biographies of the institutions and men who have preceded us can be taken as an infallible guide in our actions, it is certainly true that the indications furnished by such studies are exceedingly apt to give us the surest general guides that we can have. That experience is the best teacher is proverbial, but it is also equally true that it is the most costly of teachers; therefore a good knowledge of the recorded experiences of others may be of considerable economic value to us.
There is evidence that the Egyptians practiced veterinary medicine and surgery in very remote times; but it is from the Greeks that we first obtain any definite information in regard either to veterinary or human medicine, in antiquity. The writings of Hippocrates, about four hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era, afford excellent evidence of the study of medicine both among animals and man.
From this onward, for hundreds of years, the practice of veterinary and human medicine proceeded hand in hand, descending through a line of men whose names are even now familiar, all of whom industriously studied diseased animals and men and wrote, to great length, the results of their work. Therefore it is seen that veterinary medicine of antiquity was really a system of medicine applied to both men and animals, oftentimes by the same individual.
It was then, as it is today, true, that during all of the long period, the followers of medicine at different times became divided into various sects, cults, or schools; each of which was able to defend the new positions taken by them with more or less plausible statements, the relation of which would be entirely outside of the present purposes.
From the third century onward, veterinary medicine began to have a literature and regular practitioners of its own, especially in the service of the Roman army; and it was not until during the fifth century that the first indications appear of the introduction of the absurd and irrational practices which were, for so long a time, causes ofŐ discredit to the veterinary art.
In excuse for this, however, it may be said, that this time was
that of the beginning of the so called Dark Ages, or period of intellectual darkness in Europe, during which medicine and much other scientific knowledge was maintained, until nearly at the end of the fifteenth century, by no more than a thin connecting line, kept for the most part by the monks, who certainly, while not adding anything to the ancient knowledge, allowed it to become thoroughly mixed with magic, demonology, and superstition. Therefore it is that toward the end of the fifteenth century Anglo Saxon animal medicine, from which that of the present day in America has almost entirely descended, was made up of a mixture of magic, superstition, and the remnants of the ancient science.
Because, apparently, at about this time the King of England and others of wealth in that country began to desire better horses than were then available to them at home, and to have these animals better cared for, a farrier of repute was imported from Italy to give instruction to this end. This is interesting as giving the time of the beginning of the application of the term Farrier to those who had theretofore been "horse doctors"; just as since then the term Veterinary Surgeon has supplanted that of Farrier, and within a few years the term Doctor of Animal Medicine has begun to be used instead of "Veterinary Surgeon." It may be that we are slowly working back to the condition of the beginning; and that the terms Science of Medicine and Medical Doctor will come into common use and be understood to mean *hat it did in the beginning; that the graduate of a medical school is capable of practicing his art and science upon either the animal or man, as he may elect; much as now the physician divides practice among men into several various specialties.
Further facts concerning the more modern progress of medicine and the different schools of practice can be advantageously read by those interested in the subject, in the earlier part of this volume, under the title of "Progress of Medicine and the Different Schools."
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