Progress in the development of hospitals, as an economic, beneficent factor in human experience, was painfully slow. During the long ages which produced the masterpieces of sculpture, of architecture and painting, and which gave to the world its splendid models of classic literature, the institution which to-day is foremost in making existence tolerable, and life sweeter for the afflicted was but a mockery. At every stage of progress, ancient, medieval and fairly modern, hospitals afford glaring and altogether pathetic examples of blind groping, hopeless indirection and wasted energy. Up to, and well past the middle of the last century, their best achievement was little more than an expression of the primitive, the pitiable, the grotesque. Universally deplored, they were shunned by the intelligent and became the final refuge of the helpless.
During the Revolutionary War, on the authority of the Surgeon-General of the American Army, Dr. Benjamin Rush, hospitals were