The present work has been undertaken in the belief that by obtaining the co-operation of a considerable number of physicians of acknowledged authority, who should treat subjects selected by themselves, there could be secured an amount of practical information and teaching not otherwise accessible. It was determined to restrict the selection of authors to those of this country—including Canada—not from any want of recognition of the importance of the studies of certain special subjects by European investigators, ...
The present work has been undertaken in the belief that by obtaining the co-operation of a considerable number of physicians of acknowledged authority, who should treat subjects selected by themselves, there could be secured an amount of practical information and teaching not otherwise accessible. It was determined to restrict the selection of authors to those of this country—including Canada—not from any want of recognition of the importance of the studies of certain special subjects by European investigators, but because it was felt that the proper time had arrived for the presentation of the whole field of medicine as it is actually taught and practised by its best representatives in America.
It is a matter of importance also that a comprehensive study shall be made of the various forms of disease as occurring among our highly composite population and under our varied and peculiar climatic influences. Of course, in the present work comparative studies of this kind must occupy a subordinate position; yet it cannot fail to enhance both its interest and its value to have the various forms of disease as they occur in this country discussed by those among us who are confessedly the most competent and experienced.
The force of these observations must have been felt by the distinguished men to whom I made application, for with scarcely an exception they joined cordially in the laborious undertaking. I take the greatest pleasure in testifying to the courtesy which has marked all our relations, and which has lessened materially the labor and strain inevitable in the production of such a work.
To ensure greater accuracy in the revision of the large amount of proof-sheets, as well as to relieve me of some of the details connected with the editorial work, I associated with myself Dr. THOMAS HOLMES CATHCART, and, after sudden illness had cut short his very promising career, I was fortunate in securing the assistance of Dr. LOUIS STARR for the same purpose.
In order to render the work as valuable as possible to the general practitioner, its scope has been made as comprehensive as could be done without exceeding the limits prescribed by the nature of the undertaking. This will be particularly noted in the section on Gynæcology, where is presented a series of articles by eminent specialists upon the subjects of chief importance to the general practitioner, written with special reference to their constitutional relations and their bearings on associated morbid conditions, while, among the general diseases, a full article on puerperal fever has properly been included. Important articles will also be found on Tracheotomy, the Diseases of the Rectum and the Anus, and those of the Bladder and the male sexual organs. Comprehensive sections have further been provided, from the pens of distinguished specialists, upon medical ophthalmology, medical otology, and on skin diseases, presenting these large and complicated subjects in a clear and practical light and with special reference to their relations to general medical practice. In the presentation of such subjects as hydrophobia, glanders, and anthrax care has been taken to ensure the full discussion of these affections, not only as occurring in man, but also in the lower animals, since it is highly important to provide the physician with authoritative information on at least such points of Veterinary Science as have a direct practical bearing on morbid processes in man.
In view of the intimate relations of all questions of hygiene to the causation and prevention of disease, in regard to which medical men are constantly consulted, and are, indeed, often obliged to assume weighty responsibilities, interesting articles on Drainage and Hygiene have been provided.
In order to avoid repetition and confusion, and at the same time to secure a comprehensive presentation of the subjects of General Pathology and of General Etiology, Symptomatology, and Diagnosis, considerable space has been devoted to their full discussion. The chapter on General Morbid Processes will be found to convey distinct and conservative teaching on all points included under that comprehensive title, and will thus supply a solid basis for the subsequent discussions of special morbid conditions. In any work on General Medicine at the present day frequent allusion must be made to the relations of various low organisms to morbid processes. This question—or rather the series of questions which arise in connection with this subject, and which at present form the most fruitful topic of discussion and of investigation—will be found treated by different authors in various places and from various standpoints.