"brought a bit of mahogany wood with him ... put one end over the lady's heart and the other to his ear, and listened carefully."

Nineteenth-century stethoscopes (catalog illustration, 1869; National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md.)

The stethoscope was devised in 1816 by the Breton René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781–1826). Instead of having to depend on subjective accounts of their symptoms, the physician could now rely on his own interpretation of the sounds he himself heard. This meant that diagnosis could become more objective and more scientific. Many other instruments came into use in the course of the 19th century, such as the laryngoscope, the bronchoscope, the ophthalmoscope, the endoscope and the urethra-cystic speculum, also allowed for objective diagnosis by penetrating beneath the body’s exterior. The culmination of this development was the introduction of X-rays by Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen (1845–1923) in 1895. [further information at http://www.karger.com/gazette/69/furst/art_1.htm]