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ence to the right to practise and recover fees, provided for in an act which we shall notice presently. We have already observed that the power to regulate admission to any of its privileges should have been vested exclusively in the Society. It was conceded to Harvard University, solely as a matter of necessity, because that institution possessed a similar authority, even before the existence of the Society; and this authority could not be taken away. But this case furnishes no reason that the Society should relinquish their rights and duties to another institution which has no such claim upon them.
Before the Society had gone sufficiently into operation in the more remote parts of the state, to exhibit its full efficacy, an act was passed, in 1818, for regulating the practice of physic and surgery. But the provisions of this act were found to be so impracticable, that before any attempt was made to execute them, they were entirely altered, the following year, by an additional act. This act divided the state into districts for the appointment of censors, and provided that no person who should commence practice after the first of July, 1819, should be entitled to the benefit of law for the collection of any fee for professional services, unless he had been licensed by the censors, or had received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in Harvard University; and a subsequent act included Doctors of Medicine of Williams College; a copy of the letter of license, or diploma, being deposited with the town clerk of the town in which the practitioner resides. These provisions, it should be remembered, form no part of the true system of the Massachusetts Medical Society, but are an appendage, wholly extraneous, and are regarded by many of its members as impairing both its beauty and its usefulness. They were not sought for by the Society, but were rather forced upon it, and it was better to execute them, than to contend with the legislative authority. In their practical effects they are nearly inoperative. We believe they have done very little either of good or harm, and therefore, although we could wish they had never been made, they are hardly of sufficient importance to call for an effort to procure their repeal.
A proposition is now before the medical public for an attempt to extend still farther the benefits of concert and coöperation among the members of the profession. In December, 1825, a letter was addressed by the Vermont Medical Society to the several societies and medical schools in New England, VOL. XXVII.-NO. 60.
proposing that each should agree to the adoption of certain terms for the admission of candidates to the profession; which they had themselves adopted, subject to the condition that the other institutions should do the same. This letter, after various discussions and correspondences led to the appointment of delegates, which met in convention at Northampton in June, 1827, for the purpose of agreeing on a uniform system of instruction and examination of students of medicine. The convention agreed upon a system of regulations, which they referred to the several medical societies and institutions for their adoption or rejection. It remains to be seen what will be the result.
This system proposes to form an association of medical societies and institutions for the purpose of establishing the same course of education and examinations throughout the whole of New England and New York, and to include as many of the other states as shall adopt the the same regulations. Such a proposition seems at first view a very interesting one, and yet on a little reflection, it becomes very questionable whether the different parts of the country varying so much as they do in their habits and condition do not require some difference in the general qualifications of their physicians. It is true that the value of human life is everywhere the same, and the same degree of knowledge and skill may everywhere be necessary to preserve it. But it is no less true that no higher standard of acquirements can be maintained in any community, than that community will pay for. If in one place the fees of the profession are high, and in another, low, no system of regulations that human wisdom can devise, or human power execute, can provide an actual equality in the qualifications of its practitioners. It is as true in medicine as in everything else, that where the compensation is the best, there will be the best qualified men to receive it. If the standard is the same for different places, however unequal in the rewards which they yield to the profession, then that standard must be too low for some of them, and consequently not only useless, but injurious in its operation, or it must be too high for others, and therefore incapable of being maintained in practice. We have already seen that no regulations can be enforced, whose requisitions are essentially above the actual wants of the community. The regulations will be either broken or evaded, or some new class of practitioners must be introduced to take the place of those who
are excluded by them. The introduction of apothecaries to practice in England, is a most striking proof of the impotency of such regulations.
We regard it therefore as certain that if the system prepared by the convention is adopted at all, it can only be, after many and some of them very important modifications; and it is to our minds extremely doubtful whether any modification can fit it for such an extensive application, as that for which the convention designed it. Still the benefits of a general concert and coöperation may remain, although each institution should be left at liberty to establish such regulations as it shall deem most useful for its own community.
ART. IV.-1. A Statement by the Council of the University of London, explanatory of the Nature and Object of that Institution. London. 1827.
2. Report of a Committee of the Overseers of Harvard College, January 6, 1825. Cambridge. 1825.
POLITICAL Wisdom has to solve the difficult problem of directing the industry of the people, under the limitations of their constitutional compacts, to the advancement of the public good. The public felicity which attends the accomplishment of this task, bestows the means of private prosperity on every individual, whom the laws protect. The means used for the attainment of this end, are suggested by sound, practical reason, and ratified by successful experiments, which will ever outstrip philosophy in her fanciful visions and speculations. The acquisition of property, made accessible to a whole nation on equal terms, and guarded by a wise constitution, opens the richest sources for the free and unlimited exercise of talents, industry, and enterprise. Wealth accumulated by these means is honorable, and promotes national welfare in the same degree, that acquired in all other ways it it dishonorable, and directed against the public good. The great difference in the capacities and occupations of men must, from natural causes, give rise to inequality of worldly advantages, notwithstanding the level on which the whole nation stands in a political view; and the same reasons operate upon the formation of
the various stages of society in different communities. Equal rights and privileges may be equally enjoyed by a whole community, without giving a monotonous uniformity to civil life, which, were it practicable, would not be desirable. Frugality and integrity are the two guardians of popular institutions. They must impart strength and stability to the political fabric in its steady progress. They are inseparable and support each other. If they should cease to be respected and cultivated, licentiousness will begin to prey upon the vitals of the frame, and prepare its decline and ruin. It must, therefore, be the sacred duty and highest aim of patriotic zeal, as it is the favorite wish every philanthropist, to secure the continuance of popular institutions in their native purity, by obstructing the strong current of abuses and vices which may break in upon them. Societies formed by charity for the suppression of various vices are honorable in their purposes, and laudable in their exertions. They check, at least, an inveterate evil, by a system of temporary restraints. Thus, intemperance, the base mother of many other vices, may, in some degree, be restrained, through the vigilance of those respectable societies. But this perhaps is the most that can be expected. The evil, to a great degree, will remain. Great precaution may likewise put a similar check upon other abuses. But restraints and checks, salutary as they are, will soon lose their power over a crowded population, as has been proved by the experience of all countries.
The moral influence of individuals decreases proportionably with the augmentation of numbers. A numerous population is, undoubtedly, one of the true causes of national prosperity, when existing in unison with frugality and industry; but without these allies it annihilates that moral force, which is and must be the basis of popular governments. Rome, and more especially the Grecian republics, disregarded this principle; and their crowded population became, consequently, a great calamity to them, of which, at various times, they attempted to rid themselves, by encouraging the surplus of the people to seek a new home in different climes of Europe, Asia, and Africa. But the extermination of an evil can never be effected by measures of temporary benefit. Military force, when all other means prove ineffectual, has generally taken the place of moral force, and terminated in licentious despotism; an infallible sign of moral debility and the entire loss of freedom. It is a most useful study to investigate the origin of such evils as
have been prejudicial to republics of all times and countries, in order to avert them from our own. How accurately the political forms and governments of the ancient states were known to the framers of the constitution of the United States, is manifest from the documents which contain the records of their deliberations; and the result of their labors shows, how well they have succeeded in erecting the republican fabric on a highly improved plan. Its maintenance in its primitive purity is committed, as the most sacred trust, to the discretion of each successive generation; whose duty it is to do something, for the promotion of humanity, as a legacy for ages to come.
Whoever has looked deeply into the interior of the ancient republics, will discover the origin of their dissolution, in the neglected education of the youth. We are dazzled by the splendor of some shining characters, which appear in the decline of most of the popular governments of former times, and this circumstance sometimes leads to an erroneous inference in favor of the high mental improvement of the majority of the people. But we forget that luminous bodies shine the brighter for the surrounding darkness. A large majority of the Grecians, in the time of Demosthenes, and by far the greater part of the Romans, after Augustus, were entirely uneducated. This prepared them for despotism. Tyranny raises her iron sceptre over ignorance; liberty rests on knowledge. For knowledge is power, and liberty, founded on such power, is the purest liberty; but without this, it soon degenerates into licentiousness. Sound knowledge expands the mind, strengthens virtue, enlarges the sphere of liberty, and is in fact its very soul. The understanding, like the soil, is softened, improved, and rendered fertile, by constant and industrious cultivation, that is, by learning and thinking; while it becomes hard and sterile by negligence. A solid and liberal education, therefore, guided by religious and moral sentiment, is the most invaluable boon that a country can confer on her youth. In our own country, universal education will contribute more than any thing else to stay the powerful currents of national jealousy, rushing against each other from the north and south; to combine the energies of so great a nation, occupying an immense territory, in one common cause; to strengthen the ties, and confirm the pledges of mutual friendship and harmony, which arise from our history, our institutions, and our prospects.
What, then, can be of greater moment for an age of public