It is a matter of common observation in the
world at large that new ideas political, ethical and
religious occasionally arise, one hardly knows how,
and become for the time being, the dominating question, interesting nearly the whole of civilised
humanity. Numbers of books are written on such
questions; acrid controversies very often arise;
and finally the idea is either accepted and becomes
a recognised part of the common stock of human
thought, or is rejected and sinks back into the
limbo whence it arose.
In the Medical Polity the same phenomena take
place on a smaller scale. The unknown cause of a
disease is said to be discovered, or a new remedy
is devised for some hitherto incurable malady.
Protagonists and antagonists hasten to the combat.
The air rings with recriminations and the shouts of
triumph. The question occupies a place of paramount importance in the medical journals. Even the
lay press deigns to give the ever sanguine public
some scraps of information, too often incorrect.
If it be a new treatment, the results are lauded to
the skies. Intemperate writers hasten to announce
that death has lost its terrors, that 70, 80 or 90%
of those afflicted with some virulent disease are
cured and cured easily, even in the most advanced
stages (cf. Nineteenth Century, March 1899) and
then comes the inevitable reaction. The intemperate
prophets are shown to have drawn brilliant pictures
at the expense of the truth and gloomy seers are
received with favour, who announce that the new
treatment is no better than the old, but perhaps,
if anything, worse. Finally, after much futile
and unnecessary controversy, the results of the
treatment are established on the basis of common
sense, statistics, and extended observation.
It is no exaggeration to say that the subject
of the open air treatment of phthisis about which
this Thesis is concerned, has been, and is indeed
even now to a certain extent, passing through these