Story type: Essay
The word anatomy is derived from two Greek spatters and three polywogs, which, when translated, signify “up through” and “to cut,” so that anatomy actually, when translated from the original wappy-jawed Greek, means to cut up through. That is no doubt the reason why the medical student proceeds to cut up through the entire course.
Anatomy is so called because its best results are obtained from the cutting or dissecting of organism. For that reason there is a growing demand in the neighborhood of the medical college for good second-hand organisms. Parties having well preserved organisms that they are not actually using, will do well to call at the side door of the medical college after 10 P.M.
The branch of the comparative anatomy which seeks to trace the unities of plan which are exhibited in diverse organisms, and which discovers, as far as may be, the principles which govern the growth and development of organized bodies, and which finds functional analogies and structural homologies, is denominated philosophical or transcendental anatomy. (This statement, though strictly true, is not original with me.)
Careful study of the human organism after death, shows traces of functional analogies and structural homologies in people who were supposed to have been in perfect health all their lives Probably many of those we meet in the daily walks of life, many, too, who wear a smile and outwardly seem happy, have either one or both of these things. A man may live a false life and deceive his most intimate friends in the matter of anatomical analogies or homologies, but he cannot conceal it from the eagle eye of the medical student. The ambitious medical student makes a specialty of true inwardness.
The study of the structure of animals is called zootomy. The attempt to study the anatomical structure of the grizzly bear from the inside has not been crowned with success. When the anatomizer and the bear have been thrown together casually, it has generally been a struggle between the two organisms to see which would make a study of the structure of the other. Zootomy and moral suasion are not homogeneous, analogous, nor indigenous.
Vegetable anatomy is called phytonomy, sometimes. But it would not be safe to address a vigorous man by that epithet. We may call a vegetable that, however, and be safe.
Human anatomy is that branch of anatomy which enters into the description of the structure and geographical distribution of the elements of a human being. It also applies to the structure of the microbe that crawls out of jail every four years just long enough to whip his wife, vote and go back again.
Human anatomy is either general, specific, topographical or surgical. Those terms do not imply the dissection and anatomy of generals, specialists, topographers and surgeons, as they might seem to imply, but really mean something else. I would explain here what they actually do mean if I had more room and knew enough to do it.
Anatomists divide their science, as well as their subjects, into fragments. Osteology treats of the skeleton, myology of the muscles, angiology of the blood vessels, splanchology the digestive organs or department of the interior, and so on.
People tell pretty tough stories of the young carvists who study anatomy on subjects taken from life. I would repeat a few of them here, but they are productive of insomnia, so I will not give them.
I visited a matinee of this kind once for a short time, but I have not been there since. When I have a holiday now, the idea of spending it in the dissecting-room of a large and flourishing medical college does not occur to me.
I never could be a successful surgeon, I fear. While I have no hesitation about mutilating the English, I have scruples about cutting up other nationalities. I should always fear, while pursuing my studies, that I might be called upon to dissect a friend, and I could not do that. I should like to do anything that would advance the cause of science, but I should not want to form the habit of dissecting people, lest some day I might be called upon to dissect a friend for whom I had a great attachment, or some creditor who had an attachment for me.