INTRODUCTION. 27 1704, contained a description of a new and secret method of treating wounds, by which healing took place quickly without inflammation or suppuration; but it is to one of old Scotia's sons, Sir Joseph Lister, that the everlasting '• gratitude of the world is due for the knowledge we pos- sess in regard to the relation existing between micro- organisms and inflammation and suppuration, and the power to render wounds aseptic through the action of germicidal substances." l Lister was not the discoverer of carbolic acid nor of the fact that it would kill bacteria; but, convinced that inflammation and suppuration were due to the entrance of germs from the air, instruments, fingers, etc. into wounds, he suggested the antisepsis which would insist upon the use of sterile instruments and clean hands and towels; which would keep the surface of the wound moist with a germicidal solution to kill such germs as accidentally entered; and which would conclude an ope- ration by a protective dressing to exclude the entrance of germs at a subsequent period. Listerism, originated (1875) a few years before Koch published his famous work on the Wundinfectionskrank- heiten (traumatic infectious diseases) (1878), spread slowly at first, but surely in the end, to all departments of sur- gery and obstetrics. The discovery of the yeast-plant by Latour and Schwann as the cause of fermentation, and the later dis- covery by Bassi of the yeast-like plant causing the mias- matic contagious disease of silkworms, had led Henle (1840) to believe that the cause of miasmatic, infective, and contagious diseases must be looked for in fungi or in other minute living organisms. Unfortunately, the methods of study employed in Henle's time prevented him from demonstrating the accuracy of his belief. " It would indeed have been difficult at that period to satisfy every condition that he required to be fulfilled: the methods now in use were then unknown, and have 1 Agnew's Surgery, vol. i. chap. ii.