THE importance of bacteriology is undeniable; in fact, the study of the action of bacteria in health and in disease, inside and outside the animal body, has revealed so many new facts, it has already explained so many phenomena which formerly belonged to the realm of mystery and yet promises so much more, that we can easily understand why there was a danger, not even now totally removed, that, beguiled by this entrancing branch of science, pathologists would be led astray to regard bacteriology as the only portion of their subject worth taking up. We have at present a large number of “bacteriologists” in this country and abroad, many of whom are specialists who have entirely dissociated bacteriology from pathology, physiology, chemistry and botany. It requires comparatively little skill and study to be a “bacteriologist,” and probably more incomplete and unsound work is published on bacteriology than in any other science. It is so easy to create a sensation with bacteria, especially where disease, or the prevention of disease, is concerned. Many bacteriologists, unfortunately, are quite satisfied in performing a few laboratory experiments without at the same time studying the disease itself, and they argue, only too often, from immature observations. They are ever criticising without being critical. In the study of disease, bacteriology cannot, and must not, be severed from pathology and clinical medicine or surgery. We insist on this, because recently an attempt has been made to have bacteriology recognised as a separate branch of the medical curriculum, with compulsory attendance and the inevitable examination at the end, without which there is no perfection. The principles of bacteriology must be, of course, taught with biology, pathology, clinical medicine and surgery, but the art and practice of bacteriology can only be taught by carefully-conducted courses extending over some weeks or months. If general compulsory classes were instituted, the student would acquire a smattering of practical bacteriology which is worse than useless, and this would encourage him in the idea that bacteriology is quite simple and mere child's play. Dr. Klein has warned us against the bacteriological cheap-jack.
A Text-book of Bacteriology.
By E. M. Crookshank Fourth edition. Pp. xxx + 715. (London: H. K. Lewis, 1896.)
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