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Notes on Micro-organisms Pathogenic to Man

Nature volume 57, page 52 | Download Citation



THIS compact and well-written little volume does not make any pretensions to be a text-book in the ordinary sense of the word, and we should be sorry if the “students and practitioners” for whom it is intended should in their turn make any pretensions to a knowledge of the subject after its perusal. Indeed, students and practitioners “who have no opportunity of working at the subject themselves, or time to read a larger book,” had better remember the old adage, a little learning is a dangerous thing. Bacteriology, unfortunately, suffers at the present time from the idea that it is essentially a popular science—that it is a subject well within the comprehension and well within the grasp of any one who chooses to hold out his hand for it. Thus we too frequently find it taken up by totally unqualified persons, and the results of their recondite researches serve to bring the whole domain of microbes into disrepute. We do not quarrel with Surgeon-Captain Leumann's little book, for it is clearly and concisely written, and makes every endeavour to be accurate and up to date; and of particular interest is the local colouring, if we may use such an expression, which characterises it in dealing with the most recent work in India on plague and cholera. We have no desire to depreciate these notes, but we do regret that the author encourages the practice of reading about bacteria instead of working at them in a class of professional men who ought certainly to be able to do something more substantial than talk about them. Bacteriology to be of any value must be studied in the laboratory; and without a practical acquaintance with micro-organisms, the latest and most exhaustive manual “made in Germany” will fail to do more than acquaint the reader with the superficial phraseology of the subject.

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