University of Virginia Library

8789. VETERINARY COLLEGES, Utility.—[continued].

That there are certain
diseases of the human body, so distinctly pronounced
by well-articulated symptoms, and recurring
so often, as not to be mistaken, wherein
experience has proved that certain substances
applied, will restore order, I cannot doubt.
* * * But there are also a great mass of indistinct
diseases, presenting themselves under no
form clearly characterized, nor exactly recognized
as having occurred before, and to which
of course, the application of no particular substance
can be known to have been made, nor
its effect on the case experienced. These May
be called unknown cases, and they may in time
be lessened by the progress of observation and
experiment. Observing that there are in the
construction of the animal system some means
provided unknown to us, which have a tendency
to restore order, when disturbed by accident,
called by physicians the vis medicatrix naturœ, I think it safer to trust to this power in the
unknown cases, than to uncertain conjectures
built on the ever-changing hypothetical systems
of medicine. Now in the Veterinary department
all are unknown cases. Man can tell his physician
the seat of his pain, its nature, history,
and sometimes its cause, and can follow his
directions for the curative process; but the poor
dumb horse cannot signify where his pain is,
what it is, or when or whence it came, and resists
all process for its cure. If in the case of
man, then, the benefit of medical interference
in such cases admits of question, what must it
be in that of the horse? And to what narrow
limits is the real importance of the veterinary
art reduced?—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. vi, 105.
(M. 1813)