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What is interesting about all these men is that they faced the same problems in medicine that we have to, in much the same temper of mind that we do ourselves, and that, indeed, they succeeded in solving them almost as well as we have done, in spite of all that might be looked for from the accumulation of knowledge ever since.
It was very fortunate for the after time that in the period now known as the Renaissance, after the invention of printing, there were a number of serious, unselfish scholars who devoted themselves to the publication in fine printed editions of the works of these old-time makers of medicine. If the neglect of them that characterized the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had been the rule at the end of the fifteenth and during the sixteenth century, we would almost surely have been without the possibility of ever knowing that so many serious physicians lived and studied and wrote large important tomes during the Middle Ages. For our forefathers of a few generations ago had very little knowledge, and almost less interest, as to the Middle Ages, which they dismissed simply as the Dark Ages, quite sure that nothing worth while could possibly have come out of the Nazareth of that time. What they knew about the people who had lived during the thousand years before 1500 only seemed to them to prove the ignorance and the depths of superstition in which they were sunk. That medieval scholars should have written books not only well worth preservation, but containing anticipations of modern knowledge, and, though of course they could not have known that, even significant advances over their own scientific conditions, would have seemed to them quite absurd.
Fortunately for us, then, the editions of the early printed books, so many of them monuments of learning and masterpieces of editorial work with regard to medieval masters of medicine, were lying in libraries waiting to be unearthed and restudied during the nineteenth century. German and French scholars, especially during the last generation, have recovered the knowledge of this thousand years of human activity, and we know now and can sympathetically study how the men of these times faced their problems, which were very much those of our own time, in almost precisely the same spirit as we do ours at the present time, and that their solutions of them are always interesting, often thorough and practical, and more frequently than we would like to think possible, resemble our own in many ways. For the possibility of this we are largely indebted originally to the scholars of the Renaissance. Without their work that of our investigators would have been quite unavailing. It is to be hoped, however, that our recovery of this period will not be followed by any further eclipse, though that seems to be almost the rule of human history, but that we shall continue to broaden our sympathetic knowledge of this wonderful medieval period, the study of which has had so many surprises in store for us.
What we know of the life of the Founder of Christianity and how much He did for the ailing poor would make us expect that the religion that He established would foster the care and the cure of suffering humanity. As we have outlined in the Introduction, the first of the works of Christian service that was organized was the care of the sick. At first a portion of the bishop's house was given over to the shelter of the ailing, and a special order of assistants to the clergy, the deaconesses, took care of them. As Christians became more numerous, special hospitals were founded, and these became public institutions just as soon as freedom from persecution allowed the Christians the liberty to give overt expression to their feelings for the poor. While hospitals of limited capacity for such special purposes as the sheltering of slaves or of soldiers and health establishments of various kinds for the wealthy had been erected before Christianity, this was the first time that anyone who was ill, no matter what the state of his pecuniary resources, could be sure to find shelter and care. The expression of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, that admission to these hospitals was not limited to Christians, is the
best possible evidence of the liberal charity that inspired them.
The ordinary passing student of the history of medicine or of hospital foundation and organization, can have no idea of the magnitude of some of these institutions, and their importance in the life of the time, unless it is especially pointed out. St. Basil, about the middle of the fourth century, erected what was spoken of as “ a city for the sick,” before the gates of Cæsarea. Gregory of Nazianzen, his friend, says “ that well built and furnished houses stood on both sides of streets symmetrically laid out about the church, and contained rooms for the sick, and the infirm of every variety were intrusted to the care of doctors and nurses." There were separate buildings for strangers, for the poor, and for the ailing, and comfortable dwellings for the physicians and nurses. An important portion of the institution was set apart for the care of lepers, which constituted a prominent feature in Basil's work in which he himself took a special interest. Earlier in the same century Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, had built similar institutions around Jerusalem, and during this same century nearly everywhere we have evidence of organization of hospitals and of care for the ailing poor.
Not only were hospitals erected, but arrangements were made for the care of the ailing poor in their own homes and for the visitation of them, and for the bringing to places adapted for their care and treatment of such as were found on the street, or neglected in their homes. The Church evidently considered itself bound to care for men's bodies as well as their souls, and many of the expressions in common use among Christians referred to this fact. Religion itself was spoken of as a medicine of the soul and the body. Christianity was defined as the religion of healing. The word salvation had a reference to both body and soul. Baptism was spoken of as the bath of the soul, the holy Eucharist as the elixir of immortal life, and penance as the medicine of the soul. It is not surprising to find, then, that Harnack has found among the texts that illustrate the history of early Christian literature this one: “ In every community there shall be at least one widow appointed to assist women who are stricken with illness, and this widow shall be trained in her duties, neat and careful in her ways, shall not be self-seeking, must not indulge too freely in wine in order that she may be able to take up her duties at night as well as by day, and shall consider it her duty to keep the Church officials informed of all that seems necessary."
The saving of deformed and ailing infants or children whose parents did not care to have the trouble of rearing them, required the establishment by the Christians of another set of institutions, Foundling Asylums and Hospitals for Children. Until the coming of Christianity parents were supposed to have the right of life and death over their children, and no one questioned it. In every country in the world until the coming of Christianity this had always been the case. Besides, there were institutions for the care of the old. These are the classes of mankind who are especially liable to suf